When Erica of Dolly’s Foundation contacted The Pet Shop to create a one-of-a-kind triple portrait with a crew of very special rescued pups, I was excited to bring her vision to life. Located in Orlando, Florida, Dolly’s Foundation rescues, rehabilitates and re-homes bully breed dogs, all the while bringing positive awareness to the breed. And because partnering with nonprofit animal rescues is so, so important to us (and Jack, Maddie and Libby too!), I asked if she would share the stories behind this trio, (from left to right) Betti, Gracie and Smiley:
Here’s what Erica has to say about these standout stars:
In December of 2011 I was contacted by the Highlands County State Attorney’s office out of Sebring, FL about 39 dogs they’d rescued from a cruelty case. All dogs were to be euthanized so they wanted to see if it were possible to bring in a rescue organization that could help prevent that and evaluate the dogs. I took the insanely large task on with full force and began spending much of my time at the shelter where a handful of the dogs were located. The shelter was 3 hours away but I was making trips there multiple times a week visiting with the dogs, evaluating them, photographing them, bringing treats to them while they sat and waited out this whole ordeal. I began to really connect with some of the dogs in the case – they were all amazing – but there were two that particularly stood out to me.
One of them was a little black staffy bull with such an underbite that you couldn’t look at without laughing. The deputy that led the raid found her first, and as he carried her out of the house he named her Smiley (above, right). Smiley had some serious medical issues while at the shelter. One day as we were visiting the shelter we noticed Smiley’s lack of interest for anything she typically loved. She was lethargic and her gums were pale, so we rushed her to the emergency clinic. This was a frustrating task considering these dogs were still owned by the defendant, as the forfeiture hearing was taking longer than expected, but after a few frantic phone calls, Smiley was in the ER. Her red blood cell count had plummeted to 15%, she was bloated, and she was near death. She stayed in the hospital for a few days while she recovered and was then transferred over to the local humane society so she could relax in the air conditioning rather than going back to the county shelter which was outside and awful with the heat and humidity.
Smiley was doing great until she had another episode; it was at that point that we decided to take Smiley into Dolly’s Foundation, requiring special permission from the court, and even met an Assistant State Attorney on the side of the road so we could rush Smiley to our vet clinic. We never found out the cause of Smiley’s episodes, though we suspect it was babesia, although she initially tested negative for it. (Babesia is a blood born disease that is common among dogs used in dog fighting, as they transmit the disease through blood shed in other dogs that are infected.) It has been a year and a half since we rescued Smiley and now, she is healthy and living happily with her family in central Florida, along with her sisters Betti and Gracie!
Gracie (above middle) is another girl who we rescued from the Sebring cruelty case. She was a quiet girl who had many, many litters in her day. She was missing nearly all of her teeth and was heartworm positive. Today, we’re proud to say that Gracie is now heartworm free and living the life on 10 acres in central Florida with her siblings Smiley and Betti.
Finally, there’s Betti (above left). She came to us after a few frantic emails from a woman about a dog running down the side of the road. We don’t typically take dogs from the public because we’re so inundated with requests, but once we received a photo of this dog we knew we had to take her. Betti was 20 lbs underweight and didn’t have a stitch of hair on her. Her face and head were scabbed over from the worst case of demodectic mange we’d ever seen! After taking Betti in, we soon discovered her heart murmur as well. However, a year of all natural treatment later, and Betti is big, beautiful and living an amazing life with her amazing family!
Erica, thank you for your huge heart and your advocacy for the bully breed. I adore reading about and “meeting” every single pet I paint – often times, Scott will come home and find me sobbing over my email, only to tell him the heartwarming tale of a pet that got his second chance! – and the outpouring of love for these four-legged kiddos is no exception.
You can learn more about Dolly’s Foundation right here, and find out more about partnering with The Pet Shop here. Betti, Gracie and Smiley were painted on two cutie, pint-sized 4×4 panels. For more information on custom work of your own, check us out at The Pet Shop, a tiny division of this Yellow Brick Home.
Last week, I received the sweetest, cutest, most black thumb friendly gift from my BFF Kalli (you might remember her from our week long Los Angeles photo safari last year!) – a Jellyfish air plant from the sweetest, cutest most black thumb friendly shop, Petit Beast. When the package arrived, I scrambled for what in the world I might’ve ordered in a late-night, wine induced online shopping spree, but was so pleasantly surprised when I found this note tucked inside:
As instructed, I lassoed that jellyfish and hung the gift in our kitchen window – just a little too high for Maddie and Jack’s reach (much to their dismay!).
Nestled in a pale pink-y purple sea urchin, our air plant (erm, jellyfish!) plays with the sun, reaching out towards the window on sunshine-y days, and I swear, it’s growing. In just the last handful of days in our home, the little limbs seem to be stretching longer, and it makes my heart so happy.
Such a clever little guy.
PS… here’s a fun interview with Cathy, the brains behind the operation at Petit Beast.
During our recent Friendapalooza (otherwise known as a glorious 4 day staycation!), you might have noticed that we dropped by the Randolph Street Market. (This was sandwiched between Do-Rite Donuts and a yummy lunch at Handlebar; yes, we absolutely indulged that day.) Our goal was to only browse and get those happy endorphins jumping, as they so naturally do during flea outings (I mean, right?) – but, damn! – Scott spotted an adorable, vintage Mid Century ottoman.
We’ve been promising ourselves to keep new things out of this home for now, but between this and our Baba Souk pillow, well, we haven’t been doing too good. We’re weak. We feed off each other and these homey-extras, and well, it’s a lose-lose if we’re spending a morning at the flea market. (But really, we’re both secretly thinking it’s a win-win.)
Scott negotiated the price tag down to thirty dollars, we happily brought it home, and while it looks nice from afar, it’s a different story up close. Luckily, there are no rips or tears in the naugahyde (we think it’s a pleather material, but we’re not 100% on this), but it was dirty. Filthy. The sewn seams were yellowed, the grain held years of grime, and the legs were dry and scratched.
Despite its surface condition, it really was in overall great shape – but it needed a good clean-up job. Not wanting to dive right into anything overly toxic, I started with a damp Magic Eraser – and, holy shmoly.
Scott followed that up with Simple Green (much nicer on the nose than, say, Purple Power!), brushing it into the creases, wiping it all up with warm water, and finally, buffing it with a soft cloth.
I took the legs, washed off any dirt with water, then soaked them with Feed-N-Wax – the same product we used on our velvety chair. We also took off the metal tips (they just popped right off), and Scott ran those through his usual Eagle One routine.
The original rubber tips on the legs had begun to rot (one of them had cracked off completely), so we picked up these nail-on glides from Home Depot as a replacement. After replacing the metal foot covers, we tapped them in (which is also what holds the metal in place), running into only one problem…
… One of the legs had a too-large opening, not allowing the glide to fit snug. As in, the hole was far too big for the tiny nail hole we needed. So, Scott remedied this by filling the hole with a barbecue skewer, although toothpicks could work, too. He just broke it off to the right length, tapped it in and “filled” the hole, allowing the glide to have something to grip onto.
And it worked! Also, you’ll see that all the rust was freed from the foot covers – but sadly, the Eagle One took away the faux-gold finish as well. We could always spray them gold down the road, but honestly, we we were just as fine with the clean, cool metal.
All said and done, we took less than 30 minutes restoring the ottoman back to health, with the majority of the time being spent waiting on the Feed-N-Wax to penetrate (the bottle instructions call for a 20 minute soak). Now, it’s white! The sewn seams are white! The legs are polished, nourished and (mostly) scratch-free!
You all know how small our living room is, so while we don’t have the extra space needed now, we’re confident we’ll have the space in the (hopefully near!) future. Regardless of the lacking space, I’m still scootching it up to the edge of the sofa and resting on it. Sometimes it’ll move to the empty wall space between our living room and kitchen (the former home of the painting table), but mostly it sort of just… floats. And that’s okay.
Is anyone else restoring vintage finds – especially as we head full force into flea and yard sale season (three cheers for that!)? Can we see?
First, a big congrats to Eileen Marie, the winner of last week’s Baba Souk giveaway!
Having the Do It Yourself crew on Monday was fun (understatement of the year, possibly), and Scott and I have been talking about it non-stop since then, hoping they could just come again, fluff our pillows every day, fill our home with fresh buds and switch things up to keep things interesting around here (okay, now I must sound crazy).
But a perk of their visit (as if their visit alone wasn’t enough!) was what they left behind – fruit for weeks (there’s no lack of vitamin C in this home!), pretty jars, vases and our first pretty fruit bowl; because believe it or not, until now, we’d been piling our produce on the counter or in a makeshift pasta dish (for real, we’ve had buy fruit bowl on our list for, hmm, years?). And left behind in those vases? The flowers!
We’ve split them up throughout the home – on the console and in the studio – and hey, how do you like our “grocery list”? That was my best attempt at having to write something on the chalkboard (I was put on the spot and panicked!) for the shoot. Way to go, Kim, for narrowing it down to the lowest common denominator.
Now, to see what that grocery list would bring home if either of us went solo to the store and each brought back our own versions of people food.