I learned recently that the collection of portraits I made for Caregiver Canines will be touring the Ocean County Library System in 2014 and 2015. I’m thrilled!
Caregiver Canines is an amazing organization doing beautiful work. Based in Toms River, New Jersey, Caregiver Canines matches volunteer therapy dogs and their humans with older adults for regular visits. Most of the senior citizens, referred to as “receivers”, are living in their own homes but are no longer able to own a pet. So the Caregiver visits provide the receivers with the opportunity to experience the joy that only a dog can provide. The relationship is ongoing, with the same dog visiting the receiver every visit.
Between August 2013 and May 2014 I had the privilege of creating portraits of the receivers and their Caregiver Canines dog. I visited the homes of the receivers, set up my portable studio, and tried to make an image that would portray the connection between the canine and the human. When I began I expected that I would see a bond between the two, but I could not have anticipated how meaningful the relationships are to the receivers. Often when I was setting up the dog would arrive at the home and all conversation with the senior would stop so they could devote their time and attention to their canine friend. As I would get to know the receiver they would often tell me stories about pets they had in their younger years, and I could see how happy those memories were for them. It was clear that the Caregiver Canines visits were one of the highlights of each week for the older adults.
The portrait project was completed in May, and on May 14 we had an exhibit at The Regency Memory Care Club in Toms River. We printed and framed large prints and invited our human and furry “models” to come and see their pictures. Supporters of Caregiver Canines attended, as did several local politicians and community partners. I was gratified to hear all of the kind comments about the work, and especially when people would tell me that they could see the emotion in the photographs. It was a beautiful evening. The event was covered in a front page article in The Brick Times.
And now the exhibit lives on at six branches of the Ocean County Library.
Caregiver Canines 2014 – 2015 Photo Exhibit Schedule
October 2014: Lakewood Branch
November 2014: Jackson Branch
January, 2015: Lacey Branch
March 2015: Point Beach Branch
September 2015: Upper Shores (Lavallette) Branch
November 2015: Manchester Branch
Several of the branches will be hosting an opening reception when the exhibit arrives there, and I hope you will join us there (I’ll post dates and times on Facebook.)
For more information about Caregiver Canines, including how you can get your dog certified as a therapy dog and volunteer to do this great work, visit www.caregivercanines.org or call 732-505-2273. Many thanks to Lynette Whiteman and Danielle Maley for making the project happen, and to all of the volunteers for participating in the project. You bring joy and happiness into the homes of your receivers every time you walk in the door.
(Click on a thumbnail image below to enlarge the gallery.)