Saturday, August 09, 2008

Meet Eve.

On July 21st, the very first day of recommitting to the Be Brave Project, I met a woman who has changed my life forever. Her name is Marilou. I could not have known at the time of scheduling an appointment to meet for coffee that this would be the outcome. Although I have not known her for long, we know each other well and have connected on a very deep level.

Some of the very first words out of Marilou's mouth was the story of Ode. Come to think of it, I'm pretty sure we completely skipped the standard "hello-how-are-you-nice-to-meet-you" part of the conversation and just dove right into a friendship that feels like it is going to last a long, long time.

On Thursday I had the honor of helping Marilou celebrate her birthday AND meeting Ode (pronounced O-Day). I've written about Ode's story here. Since hearing her story, the direction of my pet portrait business, Stray Dog Arts, has been altered forever. From the very beginning I've wanted my work to benefit animals in need, but up until now I did not know how I could go about doing that.

When I began the Be Brave Project last October I had no idea what direction I was headed in. At the time I was feeling very lost and without a real sense of direction. That is part of the reason I decided to Be Brave in the first place. At the time I thought it was about finding a better paying job. Oh! But now I know that was only a teeny-tiny-little bit of it! What manifested for me because of the Be Brave Project is something that was beyond my wildest dreams. Being Brave led me to my truest self. It led me to create Stray Dog Arts.

On Thursday I met not only Ode, but Ode's incredible foster family as well. Ode is so full of energy and spirit! She is a warrior girl, without a timid bone in her body. It is so incredible to see a puppy who has been through so so happy. I am grateful for Mary and her family for fostering Ode back into not only physical health, but emotional health as well. If Mary is not able to adopt her, then I know someone else will. Ode is destined for greatness wherever she goes. She will be an adoption success story to the Nth degree.

There was another puppy that was rescued from Red Lake at about the same time as Ode. Her name is Eve. Eve is being fostered alongside Ode and they have become, much like Marilou and I, fast friends.

I fell in love with Eve.

Yes, that's her at the top of this post. She is a nondescript little black dog. She's also crawled right smack dab into the softest part of my heart. As hard as I try, I cannot seem to get her out.

To be honest, I feel like a bit of a weakling. I went with Marilou to meet Ode in order to get to know her and take some photos for a portrait I will be painting of her. In the process, I met Eve. This was the first of probably many photo shoots for the portraits I will paint of stray and rescued animals. Obviously, I can't go around adopting all the incredible dogs and cute puppies that I meet. I feel like I need thicker skin for this job--yet, at the same time, I know it is my thin skin that makes me good at what I do.

I should point out that I passed up many, many, many wonderful dogs before finally adopting Louie. I might have a soft heart for animals, but I also know that I need to be wise about the choices I make. Eve, on the other hand, perhaps proves this otherwise. There is a whole world of black dogs out there that will never get adopted simply because they are black. It is truly unfortunate, but often black dogs are invisible dogs. Eve, however, is nowhere near invisible--not to me, anyway.

Being a renter, already with 4 animals (2 dogs and 2 cats), I have resigned myself to the idea that I WANT HER!!! Even so, I am not sure that my landlord will agree to the actual having. If my landlord says no then I don't want Eve to miss out on an opportunity to be adopted while she is in her most adoptable state: puppyhood. She is scheduled to be at an adoption event today and I am absolutely terrified that someone else is going to bring her home! I also know that, if that happens, it was meant to be and, even if my heart gets broken, I would be happy for her.

If she is still available after today, then I am going to BE BRAVE and ask my landlord for permission to adopt her. My heart feels like it is on stilts.

Yesterday morning, as I drove to a photoshoot appointment, I think that meeting Ode and Eve finally hit me. To be honest, it hit me pretty hard. It felt like the valves of my heart were being compressed and flattened. To breathe was to threaten an entire flood of tears. Ooooh, this is some heavy stuff I have gotten myself into. It is also some of the most fulfilling work I have ever done. Although I will continue to do commissioned pet portraits, I will be gearing my artstic efforts towards helping to raise funds for rescue.

One of the portraits I've decided that I want to paint to raise black dog awareness is Eve's. I cannot imagine how hard it will be to paint her portrait if she is adopted by someone else. I fall in love with the animals I paint--all of them. But Eve...she has already become my little muse. These magnificent dogs...this is only the beginning.

But I'll tell you...I want Eve to be with me for the duration of the journey.

Please visit Pet Haven, the rescue organization who has helped Ode and Eve if you would like to make a donation to help other animals in need.

(More photos of Ode coming soon!)
(Thank you, Marilou, for capturing this photo of Eve and me.)


Anonymous said...

i have my fingers crossed for you. we can't save 'em all, jessie (think i'm reminding MYSELF of that, actually) but you are making SUCH a difference, and i am so proud and inspired by your commitment to animals. i hope eve comes home with you tomorrow.

Samosas for One said...

This photo of you and Eve is beautiful. I hope you get her.

Connie said...

As I read your post my sweetie-pie dog Nyla sleeps on the floor keeping the tops of my feet warm. I know exactly the immense, all encompassing love that you speak about. What a wonderful journey you have been blessed with, when the downfall of your career is trying to keep your heart from bursting from all the love it keeps manifesting.

Peace & Love.

bella said...

Gosh, girlie. She is so precious. And so are you.
Your love and commitment is so awe inspiring. I love how your journey is developing and watching you soar. xxxxoooo

Marilou said...

Jessie, thank you for walking with me in this journey of helping abused, neglected and abandoned animals. With an open heart and a brave spirit, we can truly make a difference in their lives. I am SO grateful our paths crossed, and to have you in my life.


Anonymous said...

i cried through this whole entire post.
what you are doing is the most beautiful thing i have heard in a very very long time.

i'm so happy for ode that wonderful people have rescued her and are helping her heal her physical AND emotional wounds.

i hope that eve comes home with you. she's such a perfect little puppy, and it seems like you two make a great pair.
i'm envisioning her resting in your lap on an on-going basis.


Sharon said...

Such a touching post... We fall in love completely with a dog... My Sony is still with me in my heart, and Maynard has entered now also. Such unconditional love... it is overwhelming. Bless you, Jessie for what you are doing. You are truly an inspiration!

maddie said...

oh Jessie ~ that photo of you
looking so utterly gorgeous and
luminous with baby Eve ~

she belongs with you honey ~
I just hope and pray she
ends up with you ~

my heart just grew tenfold
thinking of you bringing her


Anonymous said...

What you need to do is rent out a farm and bring all of these lovely babies home.

((hugs)) and I truly hope Eve is "meant to be".


Amber said...

You are such a beautiful person. Inside and out.

I love her little white pawas, and whit paint dipped tail. That is white on the tip, right? And it looks like paint... maybe she is truely meant to be your muse. she even comes with her own "paint brush".


Olivia said...

Dear Jessie, I too hope that you get to be with Eve. Your story is truly beautiful. You are in a wonderful place, and I'm very happy for you...Love, O

laundrygirl said...

Wow, it's amazing just watching your life in transformation... i hope you get her.

laundrygirl said...

Wow, it's amazing just watching your life in transformation... i hope you get her.

Kate said...

That picture of you and Eve is so precious. I am glad she is coming home with you.