Read the True Stories of All the Animals shared on our Greeting Cards one design at a time! Follow the Species Spectrum blog. Once upon a time there were two Disc Jockey guinea pigs living in Los Angeles. Well, … Continue reading
Read the True Stories of All the Animals shared on our Greeting Cards one design at a time! Follow the Species Spectrum Blog
Enzo, the wispy, petite and aerodynamic Italian greyhound had the body of a dog god. He was sleek, good looking and enjoyed custom made fleece pajamas. These pajamas were not like the store bought version, they were designed with the shape and needs of the Italian Greyhound in mind, a deep chest and a narrow physique with delicate, yet speedy legs.
When I photographed Enzo, I remember how the sunlight shined through the thin pink skin of his back legs. He brought me to the world of loving small dogs too, not just the big ones. Enzo would sing on command when his owner would say, “Whine like a baby”. Enzo tipped his snout upward and howled in that way that makes people upload YouTube animal videos.
A true sight hound, Enzo could still endear any scent hound in a howling contest. Sometimes Enzo did yoga practice. “Do your yoga” we would say and like a magically trained dog, Enzo lowered his elegant little greyhound body into a perfect downward dog outshining many yogis; hips pulled back, front legs held straight. He often struck this pose while wearing a sweater during the winter months.
I always shared one of Jay Leno’s pet peeves, “People dressing up Animals”. But clearly this was before our pets had their own Instagram accounts and were self-made celebrities. Enzo sure looked cute in a sweater and that’s when the woolen hat made an appearance. If this is truly what therapy in today’s digitally connected world has come to, I’ll accept it. Enzo struck the perfect pose and then came the perfect caption.
I wrote, “The real mountain is within you” and one of the most magnificent blank greeting cards I’ve ever designed was born.
Enzo didn’t always have a sweater. He was born into a puppy mill family somewhere in southern New Mexico. He supposedly spent his youth as “the stud dog”, although he never really struck me as “the stud type”. Maybe it was just that by the time I met Enzo he was already passed Waylon Jennings, “Rough and Rowdy Days”.
Enzo spent most of his life as an only dog, pampered by the finer things in life, in a comfortable condo with two yards and a vegetable garden. In the morning he would lay in the yard to the east where the morning sun would warm up his white fur and nearly hairless chest. Enzo only had to share that tranquil yard with a few turtles and in the winter they hibernated. In the summer Enzo pilfered the turtle’s food at every opportunity.
He was the dog with a basket full of furry toys and even his own backpack. The extra small pack had pockets big enough for a few treats. Enzo strutted his stuff down the street and I took more pictures of one of my favorite little dogs of all time.
One day a nervous German Shepherd girl moved in with Enzo. She didn’t have the confidence that Enzo always had. Enzo showed her how to live and let live. The main thing is to have a comfortable bed and to keep warm in the winter. Enzo liked to be wrapped up tight in his fleece Justin Bieber blanket. The Bieber blanket was a win from a raffle fundraiser to help other greyhound dogs. Enzo didn’t even have to be a “Beliber” to love his fleece blanket.
It’s amazing to know a little dog like Enzo ended up needing a home as a young adult. It was thanks to Greyhound Companions New Mexico that Enzo was given a second chance at life. He really did get the perfect forever home as all dogs should, and even now, across rainbow bridge, he is always remembered and celebrated. We love you Enzo.
“The Real Mountain is Within You”. Thank you Enzo for inspiring me in designing the best animal Greeting Cards that always have heart.
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Lilly, enjoys car rides in the front seat on a sleeping bag.
Please note: Any resemblance to ‘Andy Warhol Art’ is purely tragic.
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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
Speciesspectrum.com 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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
1. ADOPT. DONATE. EDUCATE. VOLUNTEER. FOSTER in your community.
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.
WANNA ADOPT DUKE?
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, 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 speciesspectrum.com again soon because a few of these wonderful dogs will be featured in our upcoming greeting cards!
-Jes McKay Gilmore
- 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.
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, speciesspectrum.com
R.I. P Enzo, you are always loved! I wish you lots of Golden Pride Chicken in your next life! Hear Enzo sing!