I motion for genetically modified dinosaurs to eat the Blackstone bigwigs of Sea World.

More seriously, this summer’s revisit to dinosaur man eating hell could be a boon for helping more people realize how ridiculous Sea World’s entertainment platform has always been. Even those who boohoo supporters of Blackfish will probably go see Jurassic World.

Here’s where where box office hits merge with cause (pardon, the ‘cultural media studies’ vibe). All the voices of the Sea World debate are featured in Jurassic World (although it was a shock that women’s tan pumps are still in vogue).

There’s corporate PR full tilt Claire, “People want more teeth and genetically modified dinos are the wave of future entertainment”. There’s the ‘Dino Whisperer’, Owen, “These animals trust me and they have feelings. Don’t eat me Blue!”. There’s Hoskins, “I’m training these raptors for Military Combat and world domination”. There’s Dr. Henry Wu, “All dinosaurs are genetically modified, this embryo is part Monsanto and named after the company”.  There’s Masrani, “You people are up to no good, but I die in a helicopter crash before I can make a difference”.

There’s Barry, “Owen knows best and I know what these animals are capable of, but I am powerless…the woman in the tan pumps makes the decisions”. There’s the stereotypical out to lunch brothers, Gray and Zach. Gray says, “Mommy and Daddy aren’t getting divorced, are they? Hey, that Mega Marine Dino just splashed me! I’m happy again!” Big Brother Zach says, “I totally didn’t want to hang out with you, but now that we bonded over Mega Marine Dino, I’ll always be your brother”.

Suck up the pending divorce Gray and Zach, this is going to take some Animal Rights Activism. Had the boys arrived on Dino Island to free the Dinosaurs, I guess that would have been a completely different movie; one that some would label ‘propaganda’. But for those who believe Blackfish is ‘propaganda’, could we not look at Jurassic World in that very same way? The film does make a complete mockery of that whole ‘Shamu Sea World Splash’ thing. Or are man eating mega dinosaurs enough of a distraction to say the film is purely entertainment?

Jurassic World may be one up from the third sequel where Sam Neil plays a pushover and William H. Macy can’t find that annoying son lost in the jungle. As a mainstream voice immersed in the world of pure air conditioned hot summer entertainment, Jurassic World offers talking points on the morals of animal entertainment and captivity. We can of course dance around that moral circle all night and not reach common ground. Yet, Jurassic World has in affect, raised the question that perhaps being splashed by a magnificent animal in an arena has in fact run it’s course. Just as Claire’s tan pump heels were extremely out of date, so is the paradigm of Sea World entertainment.

These are the “Days of Our Lives” and Orca whales belong in the oceans, not in theme parks. More and more of us are waking up to this. Even Blue the Raptor is on the front lines, “Ocean sanctuary for Tilikum, Lolita, Morgan and all the others!”.

A Cause Business for Animals without Venture Capital: The True Story of an Entrepreneur’s Struggle to Succeed and the Making of Species Spectrum

In a world of meme’s and tweets, I ask you to please read my story. You might learn something and I’ll unload what’s on my mind.

When I worked for the animal shelter, I photographed dogs on my lunch break. It was the beginning of living my life’s dream; to not only help animals live better, but to educate the public to do better. The dogs shown here are some of the first dogs I ever photographed with the intention of generating a cause business.


Cupid. I keep his photo on my desk. He is the essence of why I created Species Spectrum. His story is one of the reasons people who work in animal welfare become bitter. Cupid was an ‘owner surrender’. His owner called him ‘Stupid’. At the shelter we celebrated him as Cupid. Although the staff worked to help him get adopted, he was difficult to place because he could soar over an 8 foot fence. On the back of Cupid’s photo I wrote his story, “I Remember Cupid”.


Magnus. I ended up photographing him just an hour before he was put to sleep. He was a magical hound.


Bolivia. After being an overlooked ‘brown dog’ with multiple afternoons at satellite adoption locations, she was finally adopted. What a happy gal she was!

With intense subjects, how do you infuse feel good cause into business and make it a success? The Charismatic Organization by Shirley Sagawa & Deborah Jospin asks, “How do we make people’s contribution tangible?”. Often passionate organizations strike out to change the world and while driven with the best of intentions, the magnitude of a goal can seem so overwhelming it is difficult for people to see how they can make an individual impact. If people can see one animal and know her story, it puts a face on helping animals. Not a statistic, but this animal. Of course, ‘Ending world hunger’ and ‘Ending homeless animals’ are lofty goals, but if one can make progress measurable, people do want to help!

With one foot in non-profit, I studied retail distribution or what I like to call ‘gentle capitalism’. I read Stationery Trends and industry publications of paper products and greeting cards. Greeting cards alone are a $6 billion dollar a year business in the USA (not including the even stronger UK market). Twice I entered the GCA (Greeting Card Association) Louie Awards at a cost of $75.00 a year. The Louie Awards are the ‘Academy Awards’ for Greeting Cards. It was obvious there was a conflict of interest with American Greeting’s head honcho leading the judging. Who knew the greeting card industry could be so cut throat! After failing to place, I set my eyes on The Henries Awards (The UK’s Greeting Card Design Awards).

For Species Spectrum, all animals featured in my greeting card line feature rescue animals. I would go meet the animals, photograph them, learn their story and return to my desk to design a unique card that not only celebrated customers’ special occasions, but also the animal featured. One hand was driving cause for the non-profit world and on the other hand, I was designing for the retail market. Most importantly, my line was selling!

I wanted more than a promo product for an animal organization. Many non-profits have a variety of promo-products in an effort to offset their operational costs. But what non-profits didn’t have was a hand in the retail market and a dedicated designer to generate unique, memorable products dedicated to their cause. I sought for my business to be a bridge between good cause and retail, a combination that is quickly becoming a larger trend in consumer buying habits. Tom’s shoes being just one example.

In between marketing my business, I was in the mud one February with Louise the Pot-Bellied Pig. I was with Holly, the blind horse at The Horse Shelter, Dakota the wolf in Ramah, NM, Manny the iguana, Toots the tortoise, Brian the guinea pig, Koshari the bear, Moonshadow, the cougar, Forrest the fox, Spark the bobcat, Leilu the Macaw, Cleo the dog, Rachel the raccoon, Charm the goat, Crystal the javelina, Dewdrop the dove, Riley the cat, Wilbur & Ranger, foster dogs from Las Cruces NM, Dino the Yellow-billed kite, and Wallace the bush pig amongst others.

I had been told my product causes ‘too much thinking’ in what is an otherwise ‘gift-and-forget-it’ business. On the other hand, those who understood, those who ‘got it’ whole-heartedly supported and loved the line. These people are still enthusiastically supportive of my line and goals today.

Species Spectrum relates to so many people that even those who have never adopted a shelter pet, still appreciate the idea behind it. Those people have a birthday and those are the people I want to reach! If we can cause people to think while finding joy in the process/product, that is how we create change. Many of us would agree that sharing pictures of our own pets is an amazing icebreaker for connection. This is what Species Spectrum and greeting cards are about, sharing together.

Working at the animal shelter, was a balancing act of educating people without condemning them. One day all the employees got a letter in their box from the Operations Manager. The jest of the letter read, “We are to find homes for homeless animals, it may not be the best home in the world, but it may be a good enough home. We must consider this before writing off potential adopters”.

There is the old adage, “I love animals, it’s people I can’t stand”. But if we can’t learn to love people, how do we get them to help animals? The front desk of the animal shelter is an excellent place to find out if you can maintain a shroud of compassion for people that you wish knew or cared more.

The phone rang non-stop. “I’ve lost my dog, do you have any brown dogs?” “I can’t keep my cat”. The worst call, a new adopter: “The dog we adopted yesterday isn’t house broken and we want to return her”. At the same time someone was standing in front of me surrendering a litter of puppies they were unable to place.

People suggested, ‘How about selling your cards to/in shelters?’ The immediate problem there is that the shelters are the one’s needing money. They are not retailers looking for product and the people walking through the door, are already on the animal rescue bandwagon. I want to reach people in airports and grocery stores, places where animal rescue may not be at the forefront of their mind, but a cute greeting card can be bought. It’s the same reason rescue groups conduct ‘mobile adoptions’.

I was certain that cold-calling retailers would make it happen for Species Spectrum. Cold calling is one of those things people hate more than going to the dentist. My elevator speech is polished. Being someone that typically does things the hard way, I picked up the phone. I wrote pitches. The pitches always ended on the strong point, “I believe Species Spectrum (name of my product) will resonate with your customers (your benefit) in your shop (Widgets R’ Us) because you have (relates to me and you) organic stuff. This was a confident proposal versus a weak, “Will you carry my line?” Never ever end a pitch or letter or intent with “I look forward to hearing from you”. Hearing what? You want those people to place an order, you don’t care if you ‘hear from them’. Ask for it! So I did.

I spent a month riding a bicycle around Denver pitching people in person. I wrote and called Wholefoods Rocky Mountain Region. I needed that ONE big launch account, so I could relax about no longer having a day job and spending my savings. Sometimes when I got scared I even applied for day jobs. I wrote heartfelt letters of intent to potential employers. Sometimes I even got an interview. Interviewing is always something I excel in. While I might break down in private, in person, I always nail public speaking. Usually, I seem too comfortable or too much like a leader, not a paper pushing gopher. (No offense, sometimes I dream about being a paper-pushing gopher looking forward to Friday. Isn’t that easier?)

Other times, I was kicking myself for not working at a global advertising agency where I could work on a fast food campaign and climb the corporate ladder. Ogilvy could heal me. Why was I doing ‘this’ hard entrepreneurial thing?

When I got the call that I had not gotten the job, I did the right thing. Instead of saying, “Thanks” and hanging up to cry, I asked, “ What do you feel I was missing in landing this job?” It was usually a vague ‘lack-of-office-experience’ answer; or the even more vague something about a ‘salad mix’. This always thwarted me because here I was using Quickbooks, making invoices, experience with PO’s, maintaining financial records, B2B, B2C, maintaining wholesale accounts, PR, social media, all without supervision, so what the heck was I missing not to get the marketing assistant gig?

People who knew me, celebrated my line. They told me to calm down (strident is my middle name). But how could they understand? They had day jobs. They said, “How hard can it be? Your line is original, people look at it and love it!” If only it was that easy I would have the 6000 accounts I want by now.

I started out approaching small local retailers. “Hey, we have something in common, we’re local and we all care about animals! Species Spectrum is perfect for your store! “ Whenever a buyer took a moment to show me a picture of their own cat or dog, I knew I had an order. “This is Joseph my Persian Cat”. It was an immediate bond; I felt life flow through me with goodness and do-gooder success. Other times, I got an email reply saying, “No thank you, but good on you helping animals!” This left me on a crying jag explaining to my computer, that I could not help animals if people did not place orders! Where’s that box of tissues?

What the heck is ‘The Secret’ talking about? I want to talk to Rhonda Byrne about that whole ‘intention philosophy’!

People said, “You should sell in zoo gift shops! What about the aquarium?” Once again I got on the phone with KM Concessions who (at the time) turned me down. I learned about the retail (drool) world of ‘concessions’. Concessions are the companies behind the scenes that operate ALL the stores in the airport and ALL the Zoo (Aquarium, science museum) gift stores in a region. They run ALL the Art Museum shops. They run ALL the National Park and ‘Attraction’ stores. Concessions are the gate-keepers of distribution. They are the lobbyists of retail and the next best thing to selling in a national chain.

I got my line into the airport and a friend’s line by saying I was the acquaintance of someone who told me to approach them.

When the Rocky Mountain Wholefoods guy turned me down, I drove to Boulder, CO and went to the Headquarters like a stalker. The buyer was in a meeting, but I spoke to the front desk girl and hand delivered samples of rescue guinea pig greeting cards, adding how I knew ‘Species Spectrum resonated with Wholefoods customers’ as if it were a done deal. To the buyer’s credit, he at least always replied to my eager emails about my intense desire to sell my line in WholeFoods. My product was barcoded and I was ready to get liability insurance required for selling in larger grocery stores.

The buyer put it to me bluntly. Wholefoods now had shareholders. They were no longer interested in working with smaller companies and non-food items were the least of their concerns. Now they carried Papyrus (cards). Which is now owned by American Greetings.

I walked through Wholefoods looking at the number of candles, sandals and the plethora of ‘non-food’ items. I was mad.

After cold-calling, my skin became thick like a vacuum cleaner salesperson. I learned to never accept the first NO. Was it a “No”, as in “I’ll see you in hell No?” Or was it a softer, “Not this season No?”

Newbie sales people are sometimes conflicted about ‘bothering someone’. I learned to turn this around by re-framing (like they do in therapy). You are bringing awareness to something they need. You are the messenger of new, cool retail products! That is where I learned about being my own sale rep.

I looked at other people’s businesses with madness as to how they could have SO many retailers and here I was working SO hard and still treading water. A tsunami was definitely going to swallow me. But every time I’m about to drown myself metaphorically, I get mad enough to try something else.

Who are these ‘Manufacturer Rep Groups people keep talking about? Once again, I name-dropped some acquaintance who had put me in touch with a certain rep group company. I was grocery shopping when I got the call back (in fact my line was already carried in this particular grocery store). It was summer and the rep guy obviously no longer had his heart in the industry. I stared at the macaroni and cheese options, holding the phone close to my ear, asking to be represented while he rattled on about Trade Show season being over and the demise of life in general. Besides, there was Leanin’ Tree on the greeting card battlefield. Was my line ready for full frontal retail battle? Yes!

I hung up disenchanted and made more calls. Because I already had success with a small organic grocery store chain (Thank you La Montanita Co-op!), I confidently phoned HEB’s Central Market wellness buyer. They are the Texas upscale grocer competitor to Wholefoods. Before calling, I always researched the buyer’s name online so that when I called, it sounded as if I was already ‘in the network’ of grocer suppliers. Instead of asking for someone known as ‘the buyer’, I could say “Is Stacy in?” She was also in a meeting.

I learned more about Manufacturer Rep Groups and last summer almost nailed it. The owner of the company called me. So did one of the reps, based on my shot in the dark email pitch. The owner was scattered but enthusiastic. “This is great! Here’s how we work, I want to bring you onboard”. I called my mother and was in awe that Species Spectrum was about to be launched full throttle in hundreds of retailers!

A week later the deal was off the table when the head buyer called me ‘by accident’. “Who did I call? Oh yea, I was meaning to call you back, but we’ve talked it over. None of us can get behind Species Spectrum.” His fickle change of pace caught me off guard. He offered that perhaps what I needed was a day job with an $80,000 a year salary and to return to this project in a couple years. “Plus people don’t want all animals, they just want dogs and cats”.

I was devastated and ran out of the housing screaming ready to burn my inventory and call it quits. The post office woman was delivering the mail and said “Sweetie, just calm down, it will all be okay”. I guess it is ironic that my business does rely on post office workers and here was one offering kind support in my state of unassuaged turmoil. All because of my greeting card business people buy postage stamps! Maybe this was a sign to keep going, but it took a few crying jags to reach this conclusion. All those ‘Universe-meets-me-half-way’ ideas, seemed like a load of rubbish, but I pressed on. I wondered if I should have called the head buyer guy back and ask if he could offer me an $80,000 a year job since he implied they were a dime a dozen. There was a small part of me that thought if I could butt heads with this guy and prove myself in the field of retail battle, we might actually get along.

Right now at this very moment, I have another incredible opportunity to push Species Spectrum forward with much wider distribution. A lot of people talk about the road less traveled. I can say from experience the entrepreneurial road is often a lonely route. On this road, I have learned everything there is to know about retail, product design and non-profit. I have met many incredible animals along the way. They are my shareholders. Every time I’ve thought of quitting I see a crowd of animals standing behind me saying, ‘You can do this’. Yes, I can. So I hope that this time, the answer will be ‘yes!’.


Jessica Gilmore

Pet Selfie, Nepotism Dog on Being an Entrepreneur


This is Mason. He “looks cute” but that is not the same as embodying the quality of ‘cuteness’. Mason has been given many opportunities in this life without really trying. He is the guy that works in the mysterious sector of a large company called, ‘Human Resources’. (No offense if you work in Human Resources). He is the guy that the other employees talk about at the water cooler. “How did he get the job?” “Why is he still here?” And more importantly, “Why did HE get the promotion?”

There’s one answer: Nepotism. He is neither qualified or a delightful being to work with. He has food aggression, skin warts on his back and an overwhelmingly grouchy disposition. In one word he is best described as “Glitchy”.

Once I dropped something on my big toe. Jumping around in pain he immediately took offense and bit my foot; the same foot that had just been crushed by a heavy inanimate object.

So why is Mason still at the top of his game? Because he had a connection.
Malcolm Gladwell wrote in his book, The Tipping Point that it is the ‘soft connections’ that make our lives grow.  This is how we network. This is how we get the job (unless cousin Mason is in line).

In addition, Mason asks for what he wants repeatedly. If it’s 5:55pm he does his ‘I’m hungry dance’. This means crushing up his kibble with a dedicated coffee grinder and dousing it in chicken broth.

Asking repeatedly leads to success. As an entrepreneur, I know this is true by fierce practice. Cold calls no longer make me sweat. You must ask people several times. The first time you do the ‘I’m hungry dance’ no one notices.

Well, Species Spectrum is hungry for more retailers, reps, distributors, fans and and we’re heading west. Arizona, California, West Coast etc. Here is our current store locator map.
Help us grow it by sharing Nepotism Dog.

Mason is even featured on a Species Spectrum greeting card representing rescue terriers everywhere. Buy his Pet Selfie.

Go Mason! Thanks for sharing!








Mother’s Day, the Card for Mom: Mongoose Mama

mongoose baby

Orphan baby mongoose get a lot of care on their way back to the wild. 

Species Spectrum is all about quirky greeting cards and even more it’s about meeting real animals and hearing their stories. For Mother’s Day meet Mongoose Mama.

Mongoose aren’t exactly endangered, but when their colonies are in populated areas people like to relocate them (Similar to Prairie Dogs).

CROW, the Centre for Rehabilitation of Wildlife in Durban South Africa has helped relocate quite a number of mongooses (yes, mongooses, not mongeese).

Mother's Day Mongoose Card

This surrogate mother mongoose was rejected from her colony (girls can be so mean to each other sometimes!) so she was placed with a new crop of orphan baby mongooses.

This is my favorite Species Spectrum card for Mother’s day. Your mother will love the sentiment and even though mongoose can be ferocious like these guys in this video

…They sure are cute! Happy Mothers Day🙂







Why Chickens are Good for the (Local) Economy

(The owner has 21 hens). The best cafe for miles around with fantastic food, it’s a community meeting place, hang out and unique place to shop. 

The Peach BasketTEXAS HILL COUNTRY GEMS: THE PEACH BASKET, FREDERICKSBURG, TEXAS (They sell organic chicken feed because many of their shoppers have chickens at home). It’s a local, indie, one stop grocery store with excellent customer service.

When looking for a place to live or a store to carry Species Spectrum, I’m finding out that people who like chickens are good for local business. I wonder if it’s a useful question for market research because it seems that the more I think of stores that carry my line, I’m pretty sure just about all of them like chickens!

There’s a conspiracy against chickens in some first world HOA’s. While innocent single female chickens are disenfranchised, in other places, chickens are the heart of local business. Urban farming is taking root. Have you seen Modern Farmer Magazine?

chickens-belong             Get your chickens belong sticker here! 





On a recent trip to Texas, I handed out my ‘Chickens Belong’ sticker spreading the gospel of the HOA determined to exclude chickens from the semi-rural community. People laugh because it seems ridiculous that this non-threatening bird is at the center of a community lawsuit.

People have noticed the ‘Chickens Belong’ sticker on my car and the only response I’ve gotten is, “Right On!”.

Hating chickens just doesn’t feel healthy. Liking chickens is good for the soul and the economy. Look at creative business around you. You will see that where independent, socially conscious, local businesses thrive that chickens are in the background.

Caring about chickens says something about you. It says you use re-usaeable grocery bags. You are free range. You probably buy kale in large quantities. You probably have at least one adopted shelter pet. You read. You might even drive a Subaru (with bumper stickers). You like being outside. You go to the farmers market. You sign petitions for animals. You have a sense of humor. You like buying independent  products and will buy Species Spectrum greeting cards over mainstream brands. Thank You.

Chickens build more than community. They are a sign of a socially conscious thinking and innovative, thriving small business. These people want to make a difference. That’s where I want to be. Thanks to these stores and others for carrying Species Spectrum and putting us on the map in Texas!

Interested in having chickens? Learn more  about them here.
Just wondering, have you considered a rescue chicken?

– Jes McKay Gilmore,

On Getting A Dog (Not) “Just Like the Last One”

getting a dog                       Lilly, enjoys car rides in the front seat on a sleeping bag.
                       Please note: Any resemblance to ‘Andy Warhol Art’ is purely tragic. 
                       If you haven’t visited, please check us out! 

As a species we have a desire for familiarity and sameness. It’s a survival mechanism. It’s fine when that familiarity means ordering fast food on another continent or a trip down memory lane when we hear a certain song. However, it’s a different thing when we expect our future pets to be clones of our last pets (Unless cloning is your thing).

Recently I overheard a conversation of two women discussing a friend’s search for another dog. It was obvious the friend’s beloved dog had gone to what pet lovers term ‘Rainbow Bridge’. One said to the other, “They want to get a dog just like the last dog so they’re going to the same breeder and hopefully…” Just then the conversation drifted out of my ears’ reach.

“Get one just like the last one”; That is the phrase that stuck with me. We don’t say this about ex-lovers, just our dogs. In fact we hope that next fish is the total opposite of that idiot we previously dated. We love the familiar (and the new, once it is familiar). We are creatures of habit. In my cuisine experience, this means I almost always order enchiladas when I get Mexican food. When it comes to dogs, some people get hooked on a certain breed of dog. You know the parents that ‘Have always had Springer Spaniels’. We put bumper stickers on our cars (especially Subaru owners), that tell the world our type of dog is the best. It’s a Eureka! moment. “Chihuahuas Rule”. “Border Collies Rule”. “Labrador’s Rule”. Okay, I love Australian Cattle Dogs and English Mastiffs. There I said it. We also now praise mutts, with” They’re one of a kind” sentiments. This is the truth of every dog, mutts and ‘pure-breds’ alike.

I ended up with a very cool (neurotic) eighty pound mutt (healthy as ever with his mutt genetics) and pushing age twelve this year. He has never been anything like the bomb proof golden retriever I had before.

Once while walking dogs at my local Humane Society, a woman approached me through the fence facing the parking lot. She asked me, “Do you have any small, male dogs available or adoption?”. She then held up her small Sihi-tzu girl dog. “I’m looking for a male dog to breed with her so she can have puppies just like her”. The woman went on, “I want her to have puppies because I would be devastated without ‘Missy'” (random dog name).

I kindly explained to the woman how our shelter dogs were neutered. She genuinely thought adopting a male dog to breed with her dog was the solution to her concerns. I waxed on about dog breeding being very expensive (when done right) and to maybe consider adopting another dog with similar breed heritage as her beloved ‘Missy’.

Some of us really are ‘big dog people’, or ‘labrador people’ or some version of ‘small dog people’. Aside from Labradors and maybe Golden Retrievers, it’s very difficult and dare I say impossible to get another dog just like our last dog. Part of the reason for the popularity of Labradors and Goldens is that predictable, happy-go-lucky-fetch-retrieve-lovable-family-dog thing they have nailed into their DNA. Yet, even all Labradors aren’t the same. Some will go through guide dog training and just not have the personality to be a service dog. They might still, however, make an excellent therapy dog.

Dog genetics are the most manipulated in the world. The percentage of difference that separates the hundreds of dog breeds in the world are minuscule.

I write this on an informal leadership training spree with my boyfriend’s mother’s recently adopted Chihuahua. At first I wished she’d chosen an older, easy-going A-list, golden retriever from a rescue (you know, like my last dog). Instead she brought home a ten-year old Chihuahua. This week Lilly has gone almost everywhere with me. I’m not used to working with such a tiny dog and more accustomed to a bigger, burly dog on the other end of the leash. Yet, in a week’s time, I’ve come to enjoy training and hanging out with a Chihuahua–a breed that stumbled into my life.

Our desire to “Get another dog just like the last dog” reminds me of a book I read, “Stumbling on Happiness” by Daniel Gilbert. Gilbert writes about why we are not the best predictors of our own happiness. This is why we may THINK we want another dog just like the last dog, even if a different dog will be perfect for us. But like friends, no friend is exactly the same as another friend, yet they are both great friends. It is the same with dogs, even if they are the same breed. We may have many dogs in our lifetime and some we will describe years later as ‘the best dog ever’. We assume we won’t feel so sad if we can go get another dog just like the last one. In making this assumption, we might miss out on the next best dog looking for us. Keep your mind and heart open to who your next dog or pet may be. Please consider a shelter or rescue dog and good luck in finding your new best friend!

Jes McKay Gilmore

– publishes modern greeting cards for every occasion. Every Species Spectrum design begins with a photograph of a rescue animal. We photograph both wild and domestic animals in shelters, sanctuaries and rehabilitation centers that would otherwise not be seen by the public.
Our goal is to provoke awareness and thus increased responsibility toward how we view animals in society and the wild. Giving back to small organizations helping animals is the beginning. Please shop our site. Thank you for sharing Species Spectrum greeting cards.


Dispelling the Myth of Shelter Dogs – We are Adoptable!

Can you adopt us?

Can you adopt us? Wilbur & Ranger Contact APA Las Cruces, NM

Wilbur Chihuahua & Ranger Chiweenie are currently looking for a home! Right now, today! They are excellent examples of shelter dogs with everything going for them, except they have no family to call their own. 

Last week I met up with APA (ACTion Program for Animals) in Las Cruces, New Mexico. All of the dogs you see are looking for their forever home. Shelter Dogs Available for Adoption, Las Cruces, NM

We often hear the numbers associated with animal rescue. What is left untold are the many stories of the animals passing through animal shelters. People are at times surprised to hear that the wonderful dog they just met was once on his last day at the animal shelter. Many are in fact truly adoptable, still smiling, playing and loving life.

Shawna has been looking for a home since May.

ADOPT NEW MEXICO BROWN DOG!!! Shawna has been looking for a home since May, 2013. CLICK HERE 

Shelter dogs are NOT always riddled with dysfunction. Sometimes they need a little guidance just like any dog. Sometimes they are the easiest dog to live with you could have ever imagined!

I spent a Saturday morning photographing some of these available dogs looking for their forever home.
Photographing dogs sounds simple. Get out a yummy treat, make a chicken clucking sound for the endearingly cute dog heat tilt. Snap. Done. Instead I ended up with a whole group of dogs, large and small, all racing around a big backyard.

Adopt Jesse

Wilbur, Ranger, Duke, Shawna, Jesse and Tempura are just a small sampling of the dogs passing through the local area animal shelter each week. There’s no way I can photograph every good dog that ends up homeless.

Zeus is an active boy, smart, trainable with one blue eye.

Zeus is an active boy, smart, trainable with one blue eye.

While one neighbor is fostering several dogs, another neighbor has yet one more litter of unwanted Chihuahua puppies. This is a community problem. Let’s stop it. Here’s how you can help:


2. SUPPORT legislation that seeks to end puppy mills.

2. ENCOURAGE people considering a particular breed to look into breed specific rescue.

3. GET a cool shelter dog! Do you know his story? Tell people.

4. TRAIN your dog to be the best canine citizen he can be. Make him a COOL former shelter dog.

5. BEST DOG TRAINING ADVICE: A tired dog is a good dog🙂

6. PET FRIENDLY: If you’re a landlord, work to make it possible for renters to have a pet.

7. SPAY/NEUTER your PET. There are many low cost options available. Sometimes it’s even FREE.


Even pure bred dogs end up at the shelter like Duke, the perfect black labrador! 

Meet Duke, a beautiful, sweet pure bred black labrador. He worships the tennis ball and joyful retrieving. While there are many wonderful breed specific rescue groups, they don’t always have room for another dog. Duke was lucky to land in the care of ACTion Program for Animals, Las Cruces, NM.

Tempura, sharpei for adoption

                      Tempura, a pure bred shar-pei. 

Species Spectrum seeks to personalize the public’s association with rescue and to acknowledge the dedicated individuals and small non-profits working tirelessly to ensure that more dogs, cats and other pets find their forever home.

Please consider adding a shelter dog(s) to your family. Thank you if you already have a shelter dog, cat or other pet. Check  again soon because a few of these wonderful dogs will be featured in our upcoming greeting cards!

-Jes McKay Gilmore

Loss of Pet: How to Cope

loss of pet
Bella looks over Enzo’s Grave. Enzo passed away February 24, 2014. He is one of the first Species Spectrum greeting cards. Enzo helped create the best seller, “The real mountain is within you”. He will always be remembered as ‘We need more little dog in the hat”. We love you Enzo.
This sweet photo shows the essence of pet loss. Bella, a one year old rescued German Shepherd looks over Enzo’s grave. Bella was adopted just three months ago where she made friends with Enzo, an adopted Italian Greyhound. When we have beloved pets we are faced with one day losing them.

We are never prepared for this. The grief of pet loss is often  equated with the great pain of losing a human loved one (no offense to people). Our pets are family. Some of us will say the pain is too great and close the door to having another dog, cat or other pet. Grief comes in waves and we all cope differently. Most of us will go get another pet when it is right for us whether that is the next day or the next year. Many will say there is no dog like the dog no longer with us. This is true. No dog will ever be the dog you had before. It will be different, but it will also be great.

I have gone through pet loss many times with my own pets, but also those of friends and people who’s pets I have come to love. Enzo was of of those pets. I’ve been photographing rescue animals and other people’s pets for a long time. Each one has a story and this is what Species Spectrum is about. Enzo was one of the very first greeting cards I designed and published.  He is the basis for essentially the entire Species Spectrum greeting card line and the idea behind it: Showcase rescue animals in a positive way through a product people can share. Enzo has a great story. He was adopted through Greyhound Companions of New Mexico. He was an Italian Greyhound who came from Roswell, NM. Enzo is an example of how many ‘pure bred’ dogs end up needing help in finding a permanent loving home. He definitely found that and spent the remaining six years of his life being treated like the prince of yoga.


Enzo was a pure bred Italian Greyhound dog adopted from Greyhound Companions of New Mexico

Enzo’s little spirit is missed, but his mission is bigger than the pain of losing him. I am sad he is gone, but at the same time I’m not sad. Here’s why: Enzo lived out his days as well loved dog and died peacefully at home in his fleece dog bed at the age of nearly twelve. Any dog (or pet) that has lived a long life being loved and cared for is lucky. Having worked in animal shelters, I know not every deserving animal is so lucky. This is why I hope that in honoring the loss of your own beloved pet, your grief is tempered by a greater compassion in helping the lives of animals that need someone’s help today.

Enzo, you were one amazing little hound!

Jes McKay Gilmore,

R.I. P Enzo, you are always loved! I wish you lots of Golden Pride Chicken in your next life! Hear Enzo sing! 


How Westminster Dog Show Could Help Dogs

shelter dog, adopt

June, a PUREBRED Australian Cattle Dog, adopted on her last day at the animal shelter

I love dogs! I have always enjoyed watching the Westminster Kennel Club dog show, but ‘prestige’ at the hands of a judge who favors poodles and terriers is NOT helping the dogs of the world.

Each year the judge is accompanied onto the green in a satin gown, holding the famous Best in Show ribbon awarded to the best looking dog (which frequently isn’t). It is a waste of a captive audience, even if it were my favorite breed (the Australian Cattle Dog, the Mastiff and twenty five others) . This is the crowning dog centric moment of the year to motivate and educate people about dogs across America.

Did you know a third of dogs in America’s shelters are pure bred? Most people don’t know unless they have their ‘paw on the pulse’ so to speak. No acknowledgement in the airing of Westminster Dog Show is made to the many pure bred rescue groups working to adopt dogs across the country. I’m not even talking about America’s beloved ‘mutt’ (I have one). I’m talking about breed specific rescue.

Watching America’s beloved Labrador and Golden Retriever prance happily and perfectly groomed around the ring, you’d never think that dogs like this end up in the shelter. But they do end up in the shelter or in a newspaper classified ‘Looking for a Good Home Ad’ every single day in first world America.

Westminster Kennel Club shames me by ignoring ANY public coverage in supporting the work of the people helping many of America’s pure bred dogs that wind up homeless. A step in the right direction was their reference to mutts as ‘All American Dogs’ and the Agility Event. The later allowed non-pure bred dogs to compete. I support Westminster for these efforts, however I expect much more from this historic celebrated dog show showcasing pure bred dogs.

Westminster completely ignores educating the public about pure-bred rescue dogs.
This blatant conflict of interest in show vs rescue dogs is clearly illustrated in the nearly one million dogs registered by the AKC, which attributes to twenty five million in revenue each year for the American Kennel Club.

Therein lies the massive secret of the dog show: Many AKC registrable puppies are born in puppy mills also known under the euphemism ‘commercial kennel’.
How do you recognize a puppy mill? There are more signs than just a vast number of puppies and tired mother dogs kept constantly pregnant. The AKC condones vast numbers of puppies because as they say on their website “quality is not about quantity”. I am not against all dog breeding, nor am I suggesting a breeding ban,  but this point must be addressed.

Any good breeder knows that if they are making a profit from dog breeding, something is wrong in the care and attention to their animals. Further more, any good breeder will happily take back a puppy or adult dog that an owner is relinquishing because they know they are responsible for breeding the dog and ensuring that animal has a life time home.

I wholeheartedly understand the desire to raise a puppy and also a love for a particular breed of dog. What I am against is the wave of AKC endorsed irresponsible breeding allowed to operate and for another group of people dealing with much heart ache as they work to foster and place unwanted animals.

Perhaps I sound like an “activist” which is considered a bad word sometimes. However, I have worked and volunteered with animal shelters. I have been responsible for bringing a dog into the room in which he will be put to sleep because he can’t find a home. I have been in a room full of dead dogs because there were not homes for them.  Do not condemn your local animal shelter who is often faced with difficult decisions each day because the community relies upon the shelter to be the safe haven of unwanted animals.

We are the one’s responsible for dogs. All of us have a role to play and that is one of respect and responsibility. We are given the huge privilege of sharing our lives with dogs. Dogs in turn fit into our many varied lifestyles adapting to our world, working at our side and often in self-less service to us as assistance dogs, guide dogs, search and rescue dogs, police dogs,  therapy dogs, cancer and seizure detection dogs and beyond. For thousands of years dogs have been a part of our lives. We have bred them into every shape and size imaginable, often at the expense of their health.

The pushed faced breeds, such as pugs and bulldogs have suffered at the expense of an arbitrary ‘breed standard’ calling for a more foreshortened nose that makes it difficult to breathe and leaves them prone to heatstroke in warmer weather.  Bulldogs are frequently born via caesarian because their heads are so large. Many of the ‘tea cup’ dogs such as Yorkshire Terriers are born with collapsed trachea because we have bred them so small. The Chihuahua has been the victim of a breed standard calling for a ’rounded, apple shaped’ head leaving them vulnerable to epilepsy. Many of the larger breeds such as Newfoundlands are prone to hip-dysplasia as well as many cancers.

Outside the first world, no one is breeding the perfect dog. Instead millions of dogs live on the streets of the third world and in big cities where people attempt to exterminate them. This has come to attention during the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia. An outraged international public in light of the Olympics is actually making an impact for the better in the lives of these Sochi dogs.

There is the incredible photography of Julie McGuire, who photographed the rescue dogs of Penang Animal Welfare Society in Malaysia.

Martin Usborne’s is another photographer using photography to help dogs!  Check out Year to Help project.

This is the kind of thing Westminster Kennel Club needs to do if they want to put ‘prestige’ back in the Dog Show. Be a representative of that which you propose to love; help ALL dogs live well.

Purina in it’s advertising, also could have stepped up the ‘standard’ (pun intended) beyond the winning affenpinscher’s billowing hair in the wind and actually use their air time effectively. Be innovative. Don’t pander to celebrity dogdom and then do nothing. Get on the TODAY show and talk about dogs in need. You can sell yourself without selling out.

I have educated many people one on one about the availability of rescue pure-bred dogs. The fact is that many people still are unaware that breed specific rescue exists. I am not ignoring mutts in this process, but simply drawing awareness toward rescue in a way that Westminster can be a supportive asset.

I don’t know what happened to the Pedigree commercials this year, but that was a use of mass advertising acknowledging dogs in need. Kudo’s to Pedigree for making an effort in the difficult blend of advertising and feel good connection. I sure wish the Sarah Mclachlan ASPCA advertisement had aired during Westminster Dog Show. Maybe that is the pendulum swinging the other way showing desperation as a way to generate support. Well, if that’s what it takes.

I love dogs. Westminster Kennel Club purports being all about dogs. Making awareness and support for rescue dogs an integral aspect of Westminster’s ‘prestigious event’ should be an obvious component.

Lastly, was it just me or did last year’s Affenpinscher winner look like Eugene Levy in “Best in Show”? Activist is not a bad word, it is what makes you a ‘winner’.

Jes McKay Gilmore