Friday, July 12, 2024

Furry Friends Feature: Say “Cheese”…or Woof or Meow for this Casting Call

Calling all dogs, cats, and pet members of the family! The second edition of Tails of Love by professional photographer Debbie Leanne Portraits is underway to celebrate area pets and pet lovers while helping area homeless pets at The Heritage Humane Society. Openings are now available for those interested in appearing in this year’s book, a celebration of the unique connection between a pet and their forever family.

A series comes to life

Tails of Love: Letters of Gratitude follows last year’s release of the sold-out, hardcover coffee table book, Tails of Love: Letters of Love, Loyalty & Devotion. The series is the brainchild of Debbie Jones, founder and owner of Debbie Leanne Portraits in Yorktown. The professional photographer began volunteering at The Heritage Humane Society in 2019. Having witnessed that the powerful bond between pet and forever family takes the form through many experiences and stories, Jones’s creativity sparked with a new idea.

The portrait photographer saw the opportunity to call on her drive of helping people celebrate their most cherished relationships by capturing it artfully in photography. Taking it a step further, she wanted pet people to pen a note to their furry friend sharing what the relationship means to them. To further the impact, Jones wanted to help The Heritage Humane Society in their drive as compassionate stewards of homeless pets transitioning them from stray or surrender to forever homes, and in providing humane care and treatment and animal welfare advocacy.

The launch party for the first volume held in Dec. 2022 was overflowing with those featured in the book along with pet lovers who were inspired by the portraits and stories. The success resulted in $7,900 being raised to support the shelter.

From to despair to delight

Each book features 50 selected, local families and their pets, all photographed by Leanne. Families pen letters to their pets sharing their bonds to one another. Each heartwarming story differs. Sometimes the pathway to connecting pets with their human companions were always happy journeys while others had devastating beginnings such as Ellie, the cover pet of the first volume.

Ellie was discovered by children where she was abandoned in the back of a truck in Williamsburg in Oct. 2019. She was missing all of her hair, her body covered with scabs, yet, the children cared for her and lovingly dubbed her “Fancy” as they sought help. The Williamsburg Police Department rescued her and brought her to The Heritage Humane Society. Fancy was in dire need of medical treatment. The six month old had Demodex mange, a skin infection caused by parasitic mites. The shelter’s dedicated staff and veterinarian immediately began providing around the clock care.

Over the week Fancy gradually showed signs of improvement. Her fur slowly grew back and the staff witnessed her tail wagging a bit more each day. Andrew MacDougall, DVM, a previous veterinarian for the shelter and now a board member, learned about Fancy’s story and ended up adopting her.

At the launch party for the first volume, the book cover was revealed to reveal Fancy, now known as Ellie. Sweet Ellie was on hand along with Dr. MacDougall and his fiancée Lisa Coleman.

In their love letter to Ellie, they shared:

“Do you remember the day we met? You were 6 months old and all alone in a cage, bald and itchy. You had skin like an Elephant, hence the origin of your name. You came at a time in our lives where we had lost so much and decided to rescue you at 6 months of age. The day we brought you home you touched grass for the first time, and haven’t stopped doing zoomies since. All we can remember is how tiny you were and that you smelled like a foot. We knew that things would get better with love, and within 2 months you grew hair again.

Today you are completely gorgeous and we love you no matter how stubborn you get at times. You have embodied the spirit of our prior dogs and it’s as if they have never left. We hope and pray for more fun and fantastic years to come.”

Join this year’s book for the gift of a lifetime

In 2022, more than 200 families applied to be a part of the first volume. Like last year, only 50 families will be chosen and featured in the 2023 book. Big pets, small pets, shy pets, big personality pets, dogs, cats, fish, reptiles, and more, along with their human companions are invited. Those interested can learn more and apply for consideration for this second volume, Tails of Love: Letters of Gratitude.

Accepted applicants will enjoy a luxury portrait session at Debbie Leanne Portrait Studio located at 5730 George Washington Memorial Hwy in Yorktown. Pet parents will have the option to purchase printed photographic artwork of their personalized session.

Who will be this year’s cover pet?

Every participating pet and portrait will be considered for the cover position for this year’s edition, Tails of Love: Letters of Gratitude. Will this year’s pet be the best friend their human companion needed during trying times? Will they be the joyous furry friend that teaches a family’s children how to be animal welfare advocates? Or, will the pet or pets be a broken soul made whole again by an understanding human?

This year’s 2023 edition will be unveiled at a book launch party to be held in Nov. 2023.
Is your next pet waiting for you to adopt them at the shelter?

The Heritage Humane Society has more than 220 dogs, cats and small pets currently in their care. Adoptable pets are available to meet during The Heritage Humane Society’s visiting and adopting hours from 12 to 4:30 p.m., Tues. through Sun.

To learn more, visit, call 757-221-0150, or visit The Heritage Humane Society located at 430 Waller Mill Rd, Williamsburg, VA 23185

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