CategoryDog Photographer Alaska
A tribute to MacKenzie: These posts are always the most difficult and I write this with tears in my eyes and an overwhelming heaviness in my heart. The world has lost another beautiful soul…MacKenzie, a stunning 12 year old Shepard. I received a call on Tuesday afternoon. The voice on the other end of the phone carried a sense of sadness. Jennifer, who is a veterinarian, told me she had recently diagnosed her beloved dog, MacKenzie with cancer and wanted to schedule… a photo session as MacKenzie didn’t have much time left. I made a few calls, re-arranged my schedule a bit and we met that same evening for the photo session. I met Jennifer, MacKenzie and Jennifer’s wonderful parents at the location. MacKenzie made my heart smile instantly. She was happy, her eyes sparkled and she had the gentlest of souls. She stayed close to her momma and you could tell that was her number one love! She wasn’t much for the squeaky toy, but she did like my husband’s antics. She and her human mom made for beautiful models and she was having a good day. She filled my heart with hope…hope that she would beat this disease. We took our time and let MacKenzie rest, we smiled, and we fought back tears. At the end of the session, Jennifer shared with me that MacKenzie was wearing the bandage because her blood would not clot after the IV and that she hadn’t responded to treatment. Still…my heart had hope. I heard of how Jennifer got MacKenzie as a 4 month old pup. She grew up in North Carolina and she and Jennifer had recently moved to Alaska. How she had been Jennifer’s best friend and loved to go for rides with Grandpa. The love and bond that she had with Jennifer and her human grandparents was beautiful. You could see that MacKenzie lived a life of much love! We said our goodbyes, but MacKenzie and Jennifer were heavy in my thoughts all evening. The next day, I received a text from Jennifer. MacKenzie had taken a turn for the worse that morning and had crossed rainbow bridge. My heart sank when I read the message and I cried like a baby while I edited her photos. My heart was breaking for Jennifer. Here are just a few of the photos from her “Golden Heart, Gray Muzzle” session.
I dedicate today to MacKenzie and her loving spirit. RIP sweet angel. Though our time together was short, you left paw prints on my heart that I will always cherish.
To Jennifer: Words cannot express how sorry I am for your loss of beautiful MacKenzie. I hope you are able to find comfort in your heart through the memories you shared with her.
Please keep Jennifer and her parents in your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time. Give your dogs an extra hug tonight…hold them tight!
3 x beauty…3 x energy…3 x fun = Amazing! Meet the stunning Boxer trio:
Zoe’, Miss Buttons, and Jasmine. These 3 ladies each have very unique personalities, but one thing is for sure…they are all 3 high energy, fun loving and will steal your heart!! And their FurMom is an awesome lady! This family is the definition of amazing!
Thank you, Diana for spending the afternoon with me and sharing your 3 beautiful boxers! It was a perfect day!! And thank you for taking part in the S.C.A.R.F. Project! A donation will be made to Alaska Dog and Puppy Rescue on your behalf.
Below are the stories about each of these amazing girls, as told by their mom, Diana:
Zoe (green scarf)
Zoe is almost 4 years old. I found Zoe on Alaska’s List in June 2012. There had been an ad for a litter of boxer puppies in Wasilla in May but wasn’t sure I wanted to have two dogs again. Jasmine was starting to get very clingy so I figured she needed a sister to play with so I found the Alaska’s List ad again and called. Leanne said that they had one female left and only because the lady who originally wanted her had never owned a boxer before and decided to back out. All of the other puppies in the litter were going to boxer experienced homes. I think someone told this lady what a handful boxers can be and I say that Zoe would have proven them right! A friend and I drove to Wasilla with Jasmine to meet Leanne and puppy. Two puppies came out of the garage and I fell in love. Jasmine got out of the car and it was love at first sight for Jasmine and Zoe. They have been bonded since day one and Jasmine is the typical big sister and Zoe can be the bratty little sister. Zoe can be leash reactive with other dogs but does well in doggie day care and she has her friends she loves to play with. Zoe is crazy and sweet and stubborn. She also thinks that she has to patrol our condo building and let everyone know that other dogs are not allowed on ‘her’ property. Typical boxer behavior is one dog sitting on the other. In our house, and at camp, Zoe uses Jasmine as her couch. Jas allows it but Zoe has tried it with other dogs and that doesn’t work too well. As you know, Zoe recently had her ACL in her right knee repaired so she hasn’t been able to go to camp, running, or swimming. She hasn’t let it effect her spunk and sweetness and cuddles as close as she can with me at night (all three dogs sleep with me). Getting Zoe was another great decision I made even though she can be a handful! I don’t think Zoe is afraid of anything and is full of love and kindness for me, Jasmine, Buttons, and the grandkids. And her tongue is too long to fit into her mouth and it’s the cutest thing to see but not so cute when she surprises you by sticking her tongue in your mouth.
Miss Buttons (pink scarf)
Buttons, or as I call her, Miss Buttons, (age 7) was surrendered to Alaskan Animal Rescue Friends (AARF) with two other boxers (ages 6 & 4) by their owner. My co-worker would get Facebook news feeds from this rescue group and would show me all the dogs up for adoption. At one time there was a male boxer (Charlie?) in need of foster care but with working full-time and already having two young boxers, I didn’t think adding another dog would be a good idea. Sometime in April, my co-worker showed me the three boxers up for adoption at AARF. I was getting ready to retire at the end of April so I said I’d think about checking out the dogs. I did visit the three boxers at the AARF kennel and talked to Bev a little bit about the dogs. I knew that I couldn’t take all three but I also didn’t want to split them up. Bev said that the two younger ones (male and female) were bonded and Buttons was the ‘third wheel’. I brought Jasmine and Zoe to the next adoption clinic so that they could meet Buttons and see how they got along. During that meet in the fenced area I asked the volunteer if Charlie had been adopted. Unfortunately Charlie and another dog got into a fight, Charlie had surgery but didn’t survive. He thinks Charlie was so stressed out that he couldn’t pull through. That made up my mind right then and there that I was going to adopt Buttons. I brought Buttons home mid-May 2015 and have had only one second of “uh oh maybe this wasn’t a good idea”. That was on day one when I tried to coax her into a kennel for the night. After a vet check, grooming at Pet Smart, and $1100. worth of dental work (cleaning and extractions), she was feeling much better and I had no more second thoughts. I was worried that Zoe wouldn’t want Buttons to actually live with us (playing is one thing, but living here is another thing). It’s actually been Zoe who has not given up on Buttons and being a little sister, Zoe bugged Buttons into playing. Jasmine was growled at a few times by Buttons and Jas would tune her out and ignore her for days. Zoe was also growled at by Buttons but that didn’t faze Zoe at all. Zoe was going to get Buttons to play no matter how long it took. Buttons was signed up for doggie day camp but because she’s older (7) and not as crazy as the other two, Buttons is in another playroom with all sizes of dogs that are a little calmer than the large, rowdy dogs. She loves going to camp and gets so excited when we pull up on Wednesdays. She also loves, loves kids! I have four grandchildren and she shakes with excitement when she sees them. Her favorite is my 11 year old grandson Austin. Buttons has progressed so much since May. I think the stress of being given up, spending time in a loud, smelly kennel with concrete floors, and not knowing what was going on was a lot for her. But she is loved by me, Jas, and Zoe and knows she’s home for good. She loves camp, the dog park, dog food shopping, and going to the swimming pool so she can walk around with her life vest on but she won’t go in the water. She is one of the sweetest, loving, sociable dogs I’ve ever met. There are still so many things about her that I don’t know and I am always learning something about her. She fits right in and gets spoiled just like the other two. Buttons is like the dog momma the way she cleans the other two. When Zoe came home from her knee surgery, both Buttons and Jasmine stuck very close to Zoe. She’s been a wonderful addition and I’m very happy that my co-worker showed me Button’s picture.
Jasmine (purple scarf)
I found Jasmine in February 2012 on Anchorage Craig’s List. I had just lost my male boxer, Rocky, in November 2011 a day after he turned 14. And just a year before that I lost my old Boston Terrier. I was visiting my parents for week in February 2012 in Arizona and looking online for a boxer puppy to bring back to Anchorage. My house was just too quiet without a dog so I was checking rescue sites, Craig’s List, and shelters. Three days before I was due to head back to Anchorage I checked Anchorage CL is the “Sale” section (not in the ‘Pets’ section) and there was a 5-month old brindle boxer. I figured I would call when I got back home and did that on my first day home. Josh had purchased this puppy from a breeder in Michigan and had her shipped up for a Christmas present for his two young daughters. Unfortunately Josh’s ex-wife was moving out of state and did not want to take the dog. Josh worked on the North Slope and couldn’t keep her. He did say that he had quite few calls but they just weren’t the right home. I told him that “I was the right home”. We met up on Saturday at my house so he could meet the turtles and iguana and his daughters could meet me. Jasmine has been with me for four years (this month) and she has been the greatest dog! She is even tempered, good natured, playful but can get fierce if someone or something she perceives as a threat to me or Zoe and Buttons. She loves my grandchildren, going to doggie day care, running at Connors Bog, and is learning to swim at K-9 Aquatics. She’s afraid of ladders, vacuums, or any type of furniture that gets moved. She will tear up my mail and newspapers if she gets a chance. She seems to think the mail is out to get her. We call her Jasmine, Jazzy Jas, Chunky Jas, Chunky Butt, and Sister Jas. She’s the best sister to Zoe and Buttons. She brought back laughter and fun into my house after taking care of Rocky (he had degenerative myelopathy and was unable to use his back legs). I also knew that Rocky would have loved Jasmine (and of course Zoe and Buttons).
Welcome to the Journey Photography. My name is Cris and I am a dog photographer based in Alaska. My goal as a photographer is to capture the very essence of the dog’s spirit and personality, as well as the special bond between them and their family. I specialize in actions shots, portraits, lifestyle and themed sessions (PAWternity, birthday, announcements and more).
I have had a lifelong journey surrounded by dogs and my love for them runs deep. If you’ve found your way here then I already know we share a love for dogs. So get comfy, kick up your feet, snuggle with your furry friend and take a look around. Check out my photo galleries featuring some of the amazing dogs I have photographed and see my photography style. Scroll down to see recent blogs and read a few stories of some super awesome dogs. You are sure to smile along the way.
From paws up action shots to sentimental portraits, as well as fun and creative themed session, the on location basic package offers it all and is sure to capture the unique spirit of your dog. I also offer a special package for the faithful senior dogs in your life, “Golden Heart, Grey Muzzle” and a special puppy package with the “Grow With Me” sessions. Check out my pricing and services section for details.
If you are interested in professional portraits or wall art of your beloved fur family, let’s talk about the amazing images we can create together of the four paw love in your life. Photographs that you will treasure for a life time. Contact me for details or for special requests.
Paw prints upon your heart…embrace the journey! Thank you for stopping by! ~ Cris
Be sure to follow me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/TheJourneyPhotographybyCris
Serving Alaska areas of Wasilla, Palmer, Eagle River and Anchorage.
WOW, this guy!!! Help me welcome Sir Lancelot, also known as Lance, to the S.C.A.R.F Project club. What a great personality…and.so.many.faces…a few of these need captions! He loves to ride in the truck and gets much attention. He LOVES to run and chase his toys…and of course, a plop in the stream after playtime. This 168lb gentle giant and his mom were a blast to photograph and spend the day with.
Cortney and Lance, thank you both for supporting the S.C.A.R.F Project and making it a wonderful day! A donation will be made to Alaska Dog and Puppy Rescue on your behalf. Thank you both, again!
Below is Lance’s story as told by his mom, Cortney, and she has included a photo of him when she brought him home as a pup:
“I’d been debating for a couple of months adopting a dog in the summer of 2012. A co-worker started emailing me pictures from the pound and then came a picture from an Alaska Classified’s posting of 5 little St. Bermastiff puppies lined up on an outdoor swing set. It was too hard to pass up, and after a concert at the Alaska State Fair I met the breeder in Wasilla and picked up this 18-lb adorable puppy I had chosen a few weeks earlier. I really didn’t take the vet seriously when they told me he would grow at 5 lbs/week, but he did. I think he’s finally reached his adult weight at 169 lbs. Sir Lancelot “Lance” has been by my side the last 3 ½ years. We have hiked the Winner Creek Trail, strolled up to Byron Glacier numerous times, hiked to Thunderbird Falls, played at numerous dog parks in Anchorage, swam at AK K9 Aquatics, played in Seward and have many more adventures when he’s not chasing tennis balls or one of his 30 or so toys. I don’t know how I got so lucky that day in August. He’s such a sweet and loveable dog and keeps the toes warm at night.”
Oh, Henry…what an amazing guy you are! Henry has such a sparkle in his eyes, just beaming with love and devotion. And you could see the puppy return when he played in the water. I was drawn to Henry from the time I heard his story and knew he was a special dog. I had such a great time meeting and photographing Henry and his owner. These two have such a heartwarming bond. A donation will be made to Alaska Dog and Puppy Rescue in honor of Henry. And a huge thank you to Tamara for the additional donation to ADPR. Thank you for participating in the S.C.A.R.F Project fundraiser.
Here is Henry’s story as told by his owner, Tamara.
”I found Henry at the Matsu animal shelter back in June of 2003, they had almost given up hope in finding him a home because he had a grapefruit size hernia in his belly. They had found him and his brother in a ditch abandoned. His brother had died. They think they had gotten hit by a car .
Well I fell in love immediately.
I booked his surgery for two weeks out and was able to adopt him in July. I was told to try to have him rest and not to let him run, however when he came home he was so playful and just bounced everywhere he went. Well 13 days went by and his hernia disappeared. His surgery was set for first thing in the morning but when they called to confirm I told them it went away. They said there was No way it would just ” go away” on its own. I took him in first thing as planned and the vet and all the techs were amazed by him. It had indeed just “went away”.
Henry has not left my side since. He’s been such a great dog, he’s never done a bad thing twice. He is the kind of dog that knows what you’re going to do almost before you do, you grab the broom and he goes to bed, you go for the vacuum and he moves off the carpet. You open the lid to the trash can and he lowers his head as to not look in. He has to be in the bathroom with me when I shower but the instant I open the shower curtain he refuses to look at me while naked. ( not sure if I should be offended by that one)
Now even though he’s only 12 he is an old dog, his hernia showed back up and it’s inoperable due to his age. His back legs are weak and he’s losing weight, these are the last photos of Henry. He has been the love of my life, my best friend, my protector. I only hope everyone gets to have a great dog like him.” ~Tamara Mill
I have spent many days contemplating the subject of my next blog and had many ideas. However, those went to the wayside as my heart feels compelled to blog about the events of yesterday. I do realize, this post might spark some controversy or criticism…but my hope is that it will ignite compassion, touch the hearts of others and most importantly make a difference for our furry, four paw friends in the world. This blog will be longer than most, but I feel it is an important subject, worthy of a share and a read.
I took a trip to the local animal shelter yesterday for two reasons. One, I wanted to sign up to volunteer my services as a photographer to capture the emotion and personality of the animals, share them with the community, in hopes it will help these animals find their forever home. Second, I wanted to check into the possibility of adopting a dog that my friend, who works at the shelter, had told me about. As soon as the dog came in the visiting room, she was excited to receive love and play ball with us. She was a sweetheart and has a very loving soul. We discussed her needs, her history and if she would be a good fit with our current FurFamily. It goes without saying, she stole my heart. After a bit, we said our goodbyes and knew we had decisions to make.
As we were leaving, I stood in the foyer talking with my friend who works there about the volunteer opportunities. Suddenly, I was distracted by a very familiar sound… click.click…click.click….click.click. At that moment, my chest felt heavy and everything around me changed to slow motion. Instantly, our old guy, Sirrus, came to mind (which I’ll share more about in a bit). I turned around to identify where the sound was coming from. As I turned, I see an old dog, the click.click…click.click of his claws as he walked so slowly, his head down, and he was being led by a vet tech from the kennel area down another hallway. My heart sank as I watched for a moment. I then turned to my friend and asked “where is he going”, even though I felt I already knew the answer. As she replied, “he is old and has cancer”, I felt a lump in my throat and my eyes began to swell up with tears. My heart filled with sadness knowing he was taking his last walk…but I also felt anger as I thought to myself, “where the bloody hell are his people?” Obviously he had lived somewhere other than the shelter all of these years…why is this old dog having to die alone? At that moment, I was overwhelmed with the feeling and desire to wrap my arms around the old dog, grab his leash and take him home with me…to embrace him, love him and give him a happy home to spend his final days, even if it were only a few. And then, when his final day was upon him, I’d have the vet come to our home and I would hold his paw, comfort him and he would feel nothing but love as the vet helped him close his eyes for the last time. The feeling was overpowering as I stood there powerless…his fate was already determined. As my tears continued, my sweet friend gave me a gentle hug and a shoulder. I left the shelter in tears, with a heavy heart since and my eyes swell with tears as I write this blog.
I mentioned our old guy, Sirrus. He was our Labrador Retriever and had been with us from 8 weeks old. He was a family dog, although Sirrus would have told you that he was his daddy’s dog (my husband). He followed my husband everywhere and would lay by his side while my husband did work on the computer. He would chase a tennis ball over and over and never tire. He had a huge heart, a beautiful soul…and loved unconditionally. The love and bond between Sirrus and my husband was magical. We gave him a happy home, and through vet bills and surgery, we never ever gave up on him. It was just last summer when he became ill and we had to say our last goodbyes. He had just turned 13. It was the hardest decision of our life as we promised to never give up on him, but we knew it was his time to cross Rainbow Bridge. We had the vet come to our home and we held his paw, comforted him, and he felt nothing but love and saw his daddy’s face as the vet helped him close his eyes for one last time. During his final months, he moved very slow and his claws made a click.click…click.click…click.click sound as he walked across the floor. The click.click was the familiar sound I heard at the shelter yesterday…the sound that took me back to Sirrus…and the same sound that made my heart hurt for the old guy at the shelter, who was going to be alone as he closed his eyes for the final time.
I dedicate this post to the old dog at the shelter… “I may not have known you, but you touched my heart and I was there with you in loving spirit when your eyes closed for the last time”. You, and the rest of the animals at the shelter, inspired me to write this blog in hopes to touch the hearts of others. I also dedicate this blog to our loving old Sirrus, who I miss every.single.day!! My message to the human race of the world – My heart pleads with you; Please NEVER give up on your pets…do not get a pet unless you are willing to be committed to them for the rest of their lives..to love them, care for them, protect them and be there for the in their final days. Please consider a shelter dog or a rescue if you do decide to add a pet to your home. Please spay or neuter your pet to help control the population and to help keep the shelters empty. Please always have a collar and tag on your pet, or a microchip, to ensure they can find their way home. Consider volunteering or donating to your local shelter or rescues…animal lives depend on it. To those who breed animals for a profit only…please stop with the backyard breeding and shut down the puppy mills…you are only making the situation worse! Let the responsible breeders who breed for purpose, and breed with health and temperament in mind, handle the purebred breeding. The animal over population, full shelters and full rescues are not caused by an animal problem…it is caused by a human problem. On a final plea; please don’t give up on your old dog or trade them in for a puppy…they loved you unconditionally…you should do the same. Their lives matter! Animals deserve a chance, but it will take compassion and responsibility of humans to make a difference.
Many may not feel the same about animals as I do…think that dogs feel, have memories, or that their lives should matter just as much as humans. Many may criticize me for the this blog. I can attest to the Power of Paws…the intelligence and love that animals possess. I’ve always been an animal person, but it was just a few years ago where my journey brought me to a full understanding of their being. I found myself facing medical issues. My doctor suggested a service dog to assist in alerting me to impending episodes and so I could avoid constant medication. To be honest, I was skeptical and it took many months of the illness to convince me to give it a go. So, the journey began…Cooper came into my life. We spent many days, (equating to years) in training with some of the most awesome trainers around. We had good days….we had bad days…we overcame many challenges…and together we became a team. He is now my trained medical alert service dog. He has taught me so much about the amazing abilities that dogs possess and has saved my life by alerting to my medical issues. It was not an easy transition for me…losing my independence, hearing people whisper and stare because I had a service dog. I faced “non believers” of a dogs ability, dealt with the judgmental and had friends fade away when I needed them most. Cooper has taught me much about people, much about myself and the true meaning of friendship and unconditional love. He reminded me to appreciate the little things, to never give up and to rekindle my dreams…which is how and why “The Journey Photography” came to be, along with the blessings from a loving husband and wonderful daughter. Please keep our story in mind before you criticize….this blog is written from my heart and soul.
In closing, I’d like to say, “thank you” to all of you who have taken the time to read this blog…my hope is that it has touched your heart and will encourage you to do what you can to help our fur friends have a better future. And “thank you” to my friend who works at the shelter. Though I left the shelter with heartache that made me unsure of my ability to volunteer my services, it was through my friend’s love and bravery for the shelter animals that I have found strength to continue forward with volunteering my time to the shelter. I have included a few photos in this blog…one of my husband and Sirrus, taken just before his final days…one of my boy, Cooper…one is of a very dear friend with his guide dog, Sarge…as well as a few other amazing dogs I have recently photographed.
Written with love for happy tails,