The Hundred Acre Wood

The Hundred Acre Wood

As a volunteer for Jack Russell Terrier Rescue Ontario (JRTRO) one of my favourite things to do is to photograph dogs in Foster care for their Pet Finder bios and for social media. I love to meet each and every rescue dog, many of whom are experiencing love and care like they’ve never known before. Their stories range from the sadly mundane to the tragic, mostly their history is unknown.

I have had the pleasure of fostering two Jacks with JRTRO. It can be challenging! It takes lots of time and patience, sometimes you need nerves of steel, mostly you need to be willing to love them unconditionally. At the end of the day…it is incredibly rewarding. It’s also really tough to let go, even when you know the perfect match has been found for them! I surprised everyone who knew me when I didn’t keep my first adorable foster, and even more when I was able to let the second go. I really enjoy being the bridge between their sad pasts and their wonderful futures. Like I say, I’ve managed to do this only twice so far.

Recently I drove to Angus, Ontario to photograph a little miss who was looking for her forever home. I was a little excited and nervous, because I was going to be meeting the JRTRO’s most prolific foster parents, Julie Ann and Alan Sawden. This couple have extraordinarily big hearts. In fact, in just a few short years they have fostered thirty three (yes, you read correctly, 33) Jacks for JRTRO. And that is in addition to managing their own pack with ever fluctuating numbers!

As I drove down the street looking for street numbers I knew I had reached my destination when I saw a Jack Russell Terrier sign on the side of the house. Jack marks the spot! Since I was there to photograph Katie for the rescue, I thought I would ask Julie Ann and Alan if they minded if I also took a few extra  minutes to also photograph the five permanent residents of The Hundred Acre Wood (the Sawden’s nickname for their home). Lucky for me they were up for it, so after I photographed Katie, I took on the pack before heading to Toronto for my next shoot!

Kaleb James and Thomas Jacob were less enamoured with the idea than the others, but I did manage to capture all of these dogs who welcome, teach, coax and cuddle with each new foster. They too are a hugely important part of the bridge from the past to the future – which is bright for any little soul that ventures into The Hundred Acre Wood. Here are their stories as told to me by Julie Ann…

“Lucy Lou had been in seven homes before us, as she had separation anxiety that was mistaken for aggression. JRTRO spoke for her and we fostered and fell in love with her. Working with her we found out it was a fear driven behaviour with her and constant positive reinforcement worked with her.  Mel who rescued her from a horrible home was told Lucy would never be able to live with another dog. Having two of her own already, she entrusted JRTRO to find Lucy a home where she would be safe and loved.”

Michael Henri  had been fostered by the Sawden’s but there were issues between he and the dog in his adoptive home. “He came back to be fostered but he bonded so quickly with Lucy, it didn’t seem fair to let him go! His previous adoptive mom had been very upset that the adoption hadn’t worked out, but she got to remain his mommy and she has regular visits with him.”

“Kalab James was a rescue from the pound, he was surrendered when he was just 6 months old. Ironically he had just lived down the street from us – and we didn’t know this when we adopted him!”

“Thomas Jacob was from JRTRO. He came up from the States, he had been living on the streets and he had a heart murmur – they were going to euthanize him because of it and JRTRO saved his life. He lives a perfectly normal life,  only has to take a pill for his blood pressure and one to keep the fluid from building up. He is healthy and has no restrictions and will live a long normal life.”

and last but definitely not least… “Matthew Benjamin is the last of our original Jacks, he turned 17 on March 23rd  we met him when he was six days old.”

 Katie was lucky! She found her forever family just 2 days after our photo session. After being mistreated for her entire life, Katie learned to trust humans and how to play at the Hundred Acre Wood thanks to Julie Ann, Alan and their pack. Now she is now enjoying the good life with her own family!