The power of photography is well-documented among animal rescue groups. Beautiful photos of dogs in shelters can make them more likely to be fostered or adopted, helping to save their lives and creating space in shelters for more dogs to be rescued. However, we don’t often see the transformation of rescue dogs after they’ve been adopted.
Redemption Dogs, an organization started by Toronto-based photographer Nicole Simone, focuses on just that issue. She documents “rescue dogs and the humans that love them,” and the photos are truly powerful.
The Redemption Dogs philosophy
Nicole Simone started Redemption Dogs in March 2014 as a portrait series, and soon after began doing shoots on the streets of Brooklyn and Toronto. Not only did Simone want to show the transformation of pups after they’d been adopted into loving homes, but she also wanted to show “the positive impact they have on their human’s lives.”
“You see so many sad stories and people pleading to adopt, but you never see what happens years afterward.” (Nicole Simone, founder of Redemption Dogs)
As part of every photo shoot, Simone asks for the dog’s adoption story, which is included on Redemption Dogs’ Facebook page. Often the dogs have quirks which make them even more lovable.
Lily, pictured below, “has no balance and is super uncoordinated, so it’s not uncommon to see her running into walls or toppling over – she doesn’t seem phased by it… She also burps very loudly every single time she finishes a meal, often right in our faces,” according to her new family.
The human adopters often have just as many quirks, and the photos tell that story too. But one of the best parts of the photo series is the way people describe their lives changing for the better as a result of adopting a dog.
Simone told PupJournal, “People always surprise me with how their dogs have impacted their life.”
Simone explains that adopted dogs have often helped their owners through the lowest points in life. According to Simone, “it makes you…realize how powerful these dogs are,” and also how incredibly sad it is “that so many die in shelters everyday.”
Spreading the Redemption Dogs message
Building on the success of Redemption Dogs, Simone recently launched Redemption Puppies, a service that connects homeless pups with office employees. The concept helps find potential adopters for the pups, reduce work-related stress for the humans, and helps the dogs socialize and play outside of the shelter setting. Simone hopes the program will expand to eventually include adult dogs as well.
Redemption Dogs continues to add special themes to the photo series, including owners jumping (and looking ridiculous!) next to their dogs. Simone also has a soft spot for senior dogs, some of whom are adopted with only weeks or months to live. She’s convinced that having a home in those final days can truly elevate a senior dog’s life.
Simone tells PupJournal, “Senior or palliative dogs always seem to be the most impactful stories. Many people I’ve featured who have adopted senior dogs do not know anything about their dogs’ prior history. “
Simone goes on to explain that senior dogs “kind of become an enigma. To see [a dog] off in the last months or years in their life without any prior knowledge of their life before is quite fascinating and heartening.”
Kale, pictured below with her adoptive mom, Stacey, faced a number of hurdles: she was a senior (estimated to be 11 years old), was abandoned, had cancer, and faced breed-specific legislation. Stacey and her family took Kale in, provided her with holistic care for her cancer, and showered her with love and affection for the last six months of her life.
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