Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Beyond Layers Day 29 : Brave : Part 1

The bravest dog I know ...  This is Maggie.  She came to us when she was about 5 years old.  (She's 11 now.)  The woman who runs the local Human Society knew I was looking for a big black dog after my old one died.  Two months later, she called with Maggie's hard-luck case.  This dog was in such bad shape, they didn't feel she could stay at the Shelter.  She was so depressed, she just wanted to melt away into the ground. And she was terrified of EVERYTHING.  Could we foster her, train her and get her ready for adoption?  I went to meet her, armed with turkey hot dogs cut into pieces as treats.   She was so depressed and inhibited, she wouldn't even let herself enjoy them, wouldn't even go for them, much less a pig ear.  Can you believe that?  What dog doesn't love pig ears?   After all that, she passed the aggression test with flying colors : Not one ounce of aggression in her.  That's why I decided to take her on. If she had been at all nasty, I would not have endangered my family--we'd seen that before too, and it's just not worth it.

When we got her to our house, we had to house-train her, among other things.  An 85-pound dog (She was underweight) who wasn't house broken?  Fortunately, she picked that up in a few days.  Thankfully!  The Shelter people and the Vet suspected she had been in a back yard puppy mill, where her only purpose was to churn out puppies.  Newfoundland puppies can sell for $1,400 a pup, so she was someone's cash cow.   And they probably didn't feed her much when she was young so that she wouldn't grow as big as Newfies tend to get.  When we got her, she was getting over another litter of pups.  It was obvious she was never socialized.  It still upsets me that those people never bothered to get to know her--She's the sweetest dog ever!

She was still afraid of everything.  It was weeks before she would come out of her box to spend time with the family, and then just for very short times before she was overwhelmed and retreated to her box.  It was 6 months before we could go for a walk down the street.  She was afraid of open spaces, so the park was out of the question for many months.  Sidewalks were scarey.  Cars terrified her ...  Even in our back yard, her favorite spot was the porch--I guess it was kind of like a dog house, or a crate.  We finally had to block that off to force her into the rest of the back yard.   We have another dog who could be considered normal : Purdy helped Maggie learn to be normal.  Maggie is a dog's dog, and she was very interested in Purdy's every move.  One day, after about 2 months, my husband caught them playing in the backyard.  This was a break through for Maggie to let loose like that.  He videotaped it and sent it to me at work.  I couldn't believe it!  She was making progress!  Of course I fell in love with her, and we decided to keep her. 

Another summer day, we had corn on the cob for supper.  We must have taken a break before clearing the table.  Maggie came out of her box when she thought no one was looking, approached the dining room table and helped herself to a "spent" corn cob.  I was thrilled!  This was an act of bravery and boldness like we'd never seen from her.  Normally, we don't feed our dogs at the table, so this was unusual for us, too.  She was finally coming out of her shell!

She's still shy, doesn't like to be photographed any more than my Beyond Layers classmates ;-)  These days, she has a light in her eye, and a spring in her step--until we bring out the camera.  Still--she's the bravest dog I know.  The Humane Society staff can't believe she's she same dog when we walk down the street.  It's a complete turnaround.  Maggie is one of the JOYS in my life.  Her fur is so soft, it's a luxury for me to come home from a stressful day at work and be able to scratch her chest, or rub her ears.  Now she leans in for the attention.  She's good for me, too!  I'm so glad she decided to stay with us.  She's got a good life now.  ;-)

As for the processing on the photo at the top ...  I started working with this image back on the black and white with a touch of color lesson.  

Layer 1 : Background Layer
Layer 2 - ?    I think I used one of the Free Actions from Pioneer Woman for Black and White.  Unfortunately, there's no signature as to which action I used.  It might be one of the Coffee Shop BW Actions as well.  I know now that I need to take better notes about things like this.  It was weeks ago that I was playing with these.  Then I brushed out the BW treatment on her collar so the color there would show through. 
Layer 3 : Playing Around Texture by Nancy Donaldson; Multiply Blend Mode at 50% opacity
Layer 4 : Text.   Gingerbread House Font at 250 pt.

This version uses several RadLab Filters (while I still have the free trial) :  EZ Burn, Lux-Soft, and Obvious Glasses.  It lightens her up nicely.

Here's the original photo of Maggie straight out of my camera.  As you might imagine, she's a difficult dog to photograph because she's so black.  This image sitting on the snow on a sunny day worked out quite well. You can see some red highlights in her fur.

1 comment:

Tammy said...

Wonderful story!!
Great work on the photo. :)