Animals / Dogs

Photographing Fido – Not so Easy

cjmarissadogs-500pixMy niece has sprouted wings! She is an angel. She rescues dogs from the shelter. She talks to homeless people on the streets of L.A. She cares about things that touch her heart – and it’s a pretty big heart.

As beautiful as she is, she does not dwell on her own physical beauty, but rather puts her energy into saving abandoned dogs with an emphasis on seniors. She herself adopted an older chihuahua named Billie Holiday, who is now her loyal companion, and loving “guard” dog. Billie minds the downtown apartment while Marissa makes the rounds walking dogs on a daily basis.

She introduced me to her world when I returned from Costa Rica to start a new chapter of life with a blank slate. I had no money, no car, no home, nowhere to be. She showed me her life and she showed me the way.

She prepared her fire escape for me knowing it would be a comfort to me. Having grown up in New York City, as a child I used to love to sit on the fire escape and watch the world from above. She set out a carpet, a red table and two chairs on the iron slatted contraption. On my arrival to her downtown apartment, with a twinkle in her eye she said, “Grab a glass of wine and follow me.”

I was puzzled when she stopped in front of a window. She raised the old wooden frame to reveal the cozy nook she had created. We crawled through the window, got situated, and a new world opened up to me. We chatted about life, laughed like two little school-girls and I marveled at the life she had created for herself. And the lightbulb went on – I could be a dog walker like Marissa! We are dog people, and the doggies always know it.


Carole Jean on Marissa’s Fire Escape

She then took me on her rounds as she collected her afternoon charges. It was time to walk the dogs. First stop was the Pug, second, the Collie, third the Great Dane, and finally the  Chihuahua. I had my hands full with Toby, my extra-large Chocolate Lab. I watched as she maneuvered the streets, greeting people as she passed. There were shop-owners, street people, vendors, and doormen. She greeted each with friendly respect no matter what their status. She adeptly picked up the doggie poop barely missing a step. I watched in awe.

She spoke of a book project she was working on. She is a volunteer photographer of shelter dogs. Getting dogs to pose for photos is…well, nearly impossible.

She can do it! Oh, can she do it. See for yourself here:

Please click on the link. It will explain everything. She needs support to get the project done. It is a unique photo journey of the dogs of downtown L.A. It is more than that – it is a display of art, love, caring, and a point of view that will melt your heart.

I’m so proud of my niece I could burst. Check it out. There are only a couple of days left to help her reach the goal. Give five dollars or five hundred dollars. Every little piece will contribute to the beautiful whole. Click on the link, watch the video, you will want the book.


Marissa and Carole Jean with patient dogs



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