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Monday, March 28, 2011

art prints

I have been adding art prints to my etsy shop

I have also been adding images to my main page

-- I am setting up a way to purchase them there also... but I haven't figured out how to add shipping yet.. so it is a little iffy now.. however- I do have many available images listed there- so please let me know if there is anything you like and I can set it up for you!

All of my prints are limited edition in series of 52 and come in a variety of sizes 8x10 ($52) 5x7($35) 4x6($25) and ACEO (baseball card size) ($10) .. the photos are currently being printed on some very nice metallic paper.. as are some of the digital works.. all of the images aside from the ACEO are matted and so all you need to do is provide a frame- I do have frames available at an additional cost.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

kitten funerals and art

The above image is a digital piece I created using a photo from a dog in the TN shelter that I had begun the project in. In fact, this dog was one of the first two that I had planned on using for the first portrait in the beginning. She was a beautiful pit or pit mix and so very friendly- she had puppies - I do not know what happened to them.. she was just skin and bones- I could feel every rib on her when I ran my hand over her scar covered body. It really struck me that no matter how horrible her condition she was happy. I remember how she didn't want me to leave her. I remember how she wiggled all over as she was petted and she constantly looked like she was smiling. She is one of the dogs that really makes me feel guilty when I work - guilty if I don't do the best that I can.

I took my work to the pet expo this weekend and I can't say that it was a striking success... people were very complimentary on my work- but some people wouldn't look at it simply because it involved shelter animals.. that really broke my heart. Some people didn't want to look at the work since it was of dogs/cats from the Miami Dade Animal Services and they - as if my subject matters had a choice of the shelter they ended up in... that broke my heart also. But most people were very interested and I hope that they check back in on the project and tell their friends.

While I was at the expo I got word that one of the foster kittens had passed away. When I got home I found another had passed as well. It is so unfair that those poor babies were born into the sickness that their mother picked up in the shelter. It is so unfair that their mother who was healthy became infected with a terrible URI in a place that is supposed to be a shelter. I don't know that I will ever make a piece of art about the kittens.. I am tired... and I am not sure if a drawing or painting or photo will ever make a difference.

Friday, March 25, 2011

The race is on for rescues to get as many dogs and puppies from the Miami shelter out before the big sterilization begins. I do not know how many have been saved and I do not know how many saved will end up becoming ill.. and of those who become ill how many will have distemper and how many a curable URI?

I am so torn on the issue. Today I thought my little foster cat family was out of the woods- Mom is clear and eating well and her coat is again shiny- but just this morning the babies are becoming sick. One is very ill and I am worried that we may lose this one... the vet has Mom on more meds and all I can do is make sure she gets them and hopefully enough is passed through her milk to save her babies. It is so heartbreaking to see the tiny little ones suffer. I knew taking them in that there was a possibility of sickness-- and due to my lack of cats I felt that I would make a good foster because of the inability for the illness to spread... but this is what bothers me...
All of the dogs and puppies who are being released from the Miami shelter have a 50/50 chance of being infected. I know the rescue groups are familiar with the quarantines and the treatments if needed- but I worry about the others. I worry that in a sensational move the shelter may be inflicting disease into the public. I worry about the families who bring home a puppy may be also bringing home a disease that spreads to their other animals and they may not be prepared for it. I worry about the people who adopt who a week from now take their seemingly healthy dog to the dog park and a few days later find it is sick-- but not before it spread the illness.

I hope to god that the staff at the shelter is educating each and every good hearted person who adopts what they may be getting in to. I think a better way for this whole situation would have been to allow experienced rescues in to take whatever they could- close down adoptions for a length of time and quarantine the remaining - treating if possible if they became sick.. once it was over the dogs who never got sick could safely be adopted out the public... but what do I know-- I am just an artist.

(the above picture is not of current dogs in the shelter - it was taken about a month ago.. but it is very representative of what is currently in the shelter)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Art, kittens, sneezing, tragedy and hope

So the first good news is that on this Saturday I will be taking my work to the Pet Expo in West Palm beach. I am so looking forward to being able to talk to the many pet lovers about the work that I am doing... I am just finishing up a painting to take - it is the one above. That image is from a photo I took of a dog in the Miami Dade Animal Services in late January. I do not know the fate of that dog... I do not know the fate of most of the thousands of pictures of dogs and cats I have. It can be crippling to think about it- but I must keep my head up and just keep making art -- and slowly but surely more and more people will see this- and see the faces of those that end up tossed aside by our society.. this is what I know how to do- I make art.

Now another thing big event has happened in my life... that being the cat I am now fostering. She became very sick- very sick! I had called the vet to take her in and when I went to put her in the crate I saw that she had her babies. Four tiny little ones- she was so sick that she was not caring for them and I scooped the whole family up and ran to the vet. She has a URI- which is like a very bad cold and spreads quickly in shelters- the poor thing had all kinds of goo running out of her nose and eyes and sounded like Darth Vadar. The vet cleaned up the babies and mentioned that they were too tiny- but seemed strong. Mom cat was given fluids and has been on antibiotics to clear up the sickness - she is doing so much better now and has become an ideal mother! The images above are of her and her babies- so tiny- but now that their mom is getting better- they are growing like weeds!

Now for the tragedy--- today I got word via posts on facebook that the Miami Dade Animal Services was going into lockdown due to illness. At first I thought it was just internet panic.... but it appears that many dogs have distemper... an unconfirmed source says over 50. The shelter is suspending many services and will no longer take in owner surrenders. They are going to do a massive clean- but what does that mean for the animals? Evidently that means that for now the cats are ok... what it means that there is great fear that the dogs not adopted or fostered out today will die. It is hard to know for sure.

One news source stated that there are over 500 dogs/puppies in the shelter right now. That number is insane- really. The news has stated that the director is saying there will be no mass kill off- but then what will they do with the hundreds of dogs not saved today? They say that dogs and puppies will be adopted out as normal with a disclaimer for possible distemper- will they all be tested upon entry to the shelter or prior to adoption? If no owner surrenders are allowed- then what will happen to the hundreds of dogs and cats surrendered each week to the shelter. It all just leaves so many questions to be answered. One thing I do know is that the entire day I have seen non stop posting on the subject on my facebook feed. I do know that at this very moment rescue groups all over the area are scrambling to save who they can from the shelter and that there has been much begging for foster care today.

Here is what I do know also- when I began this art project a few years ago it was at an animal shelter in rural TN. At the time the shelter had a incredibly high kill rate and there were times when the animals picked up infections- they spread and then many died in mass kills to stop the spread. However, during my time there things were changing under a new director. The mass kills stopped and the place became cleaner. As I volunteered there I worked with the dogs/cats who were to be transported and we were taught and hounded on to be vigilant with washing our hands and disinfecting our shoes as we entered the area. I worked with many cases of parvo puppies in that area and many cases of URIs in cats/kittens. We did lose some - but not many. As most shelters they needed more volunteers/money/ and support-- but unlike many shelters such as MDAS they stopped killing when parvo broke out- they contained it- they fought it and they often won. So that leaves me with hope. Things look bleak right now for the Miami shelter.. but I have seen things turn around elsewhere and I know it can happen in Miami.. So I have hope.

Here is a rescue group working on saving the dogs and puppies from this situation- I know there are many- I am sure they could use some extra financial help right now- please donate if you are able.

This group is who I am fostering through- they are very determined to save as many cats/kittens at they can in the shelter.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Things that Amaze Me

Tux ID A1330524
Hercules ID A1333051
Unknown name/ID (sorry) I was told is a senior
Joey ID A1331538
Torie ID A1331880
Garfield A1331489
Bronco ID A1332816
Boomer ID A1332534
Princess ID A1332639 and Wrinkles ID A1281860

I woke up a couple of days ago and was missing my cat - Stub the Wonder Kat. I lost him this last winter after having him in my life for 18 years. He was pretty much the coolest cat that ever graced this planet. He had a little nub for a tail that he wiggled when he was excited. I had gotten him as a tiny kitten when I lived in Central Florida and he died an old cat after I moved to South Florida. I really loved that cat and it was especially hard since only a few months earlier I had lost my 20 year old cat Escher - they both died with large tumors invading their bodies... I found that especially cruel since I had just beat cancer prior to their deaths.

So I woke up missing Stub. Not sure why since months had passed since he died, but for some reason I just really missed him. Since his death I have looked at countless numbers of cats up for adoption, but I always walked away feeling depressed. I had just resigned myself to being the crazy dog lady with no cats.

Later that same day I logged on to Facebook and was reading through the mountains of posts asking for help for dogs and cats at one shelter or another. It is always to heartbreaking to read the posts knowing that the person posting may be the only one advocating for each animal's freedom... and then there are follow up posts and begging and sometimes one has been adopted or fostered... but then there are the follow up posts that say R.I.P. and those always suck the most because no matter how hard someone tried it didn't matter. I have been drawing some of the ones I see in the R.I.P. folders... that is why I started this project to say something about the ones who mattered so little in our society that they died... but damn that is depressing. However, the time and energy that people put into it amazes me.

Something in amongst the mass quantity of pleas and images of dogs and cats caught my eye - pleas for help with pregnant cats.

Fostering is something I have never officially done- and it seemed a good idea... that way I could help a cat. So I let a rescue group that posts regularly on Facebook know I was interested... and the next day I was off to get my foster.

The drive to Miami is across a stretch of highway called Alligator Alley. It goes across the state and across the Everglades. It takes about 2 hours to get there and is flanked by two canals that are home to many alligators. I like the drive - it is beautiful ... never ending expanse of sawgrass and tons of heron, egret, and other large birds are always seen whenever I go. The drive across this beautiful state amazes me every time I go.... So I drove through the wilds of Florida into the large city of Miami - a haven for bad drivers and strangely designed roads.

I met with a woman from the rescue group who was waiting for my foster to be released. The wait times at the shelter are astronomical so I took my Iphone to the back to get some pictures. The first thing I noticed was something that I never have encountered much of before- volunteers walking dogs! I was so surprised - there were many and they seemed happy- no one ever has seemed happy when I had gone before. Maybe I just went on the wrong days- maybe I had only picked days of great grumpiness before. I dunno.

I took several pictures and as I wandered around I talked to other people looking at the huge number of dogs and cats up for adoption. In the cat room I came across a man and his daughter. I asked if they were adopting. He said no- he was waiting to pick up his pet who was just fixed- he said he was back there with his daughter- to show her what happens when people are not responsible. I told him he was a great father (I probably freaked him out a little since i got really excited) ... but really that is a great lesson... it was amazing to see a father taking the time to teach such an important lesson... I should have told him about how many times as a teacher I had kids tell me that their pets just had another litter that they had to get rid of.. I wish their parents had taught them about responsibility as well... it always amazed me and saddened me how many times I heard those stories.

Finally the unwed pregnant cat that I had come for was ready. She looks a bit like Stub the Wonder Kat did... I think it is a sign. (Except of course she has a giant belly full of kittens) She was so happy and seemed to know she was going someplace better. On the way home she hardly cried and every time I heard a squeak I was just sure she had produced a kitten-- but no kittens yet. (I had decided if they did show up on the way home I would have to name them Dodge, Ram, and Truck in honor of their birthing vehicle).

So we made it home without shooting out any kittens. She acts like she has always been here... I am keeping her in the guest room for now- I want her to get more settled before I introduce her to the hounds. Already she wants out though and has banged on the door. I hope she gets settled before my Dad arrives- won't he be surprised when he finds out he has to share the guest room with a very round and very happy cat.

All of the above images are dogs/cats that I saw in the Miami- Dade Animal Services- if interested in any of them PLEASE contact the shelter- lat year over 20,000 died in that shelter...if you know anyone in the Miami area who may be interested in adopting a pet - please share this with them! The images I have posted are but a small number of the homeless pets waiting for someone to save them.