Meet Joshua.

This is a blog post that I have been meaning to write for a long, long time. Between of all the shooting, editing, designing and ordering for private clients lately – it’s been hard to find a moment to do any personal work. (No complaints whatsoever, I feel so privileged to  be doing what I am busy doing everyday, and am so grateful for each individual person that I get to meet along the way! :)) But, that being said, blogging has been put on the back burner – and that really bums me out because I love sharing the adventures that I find myself on on a daily basis with all of you. So, I hope you can lend me your ear, and let me tell you a story about a little boy who changed my life forever..

Just about three months ago – on September 19th, 2012 – my life was affected in the most beautiful way. A humble, grateful and generally squishy little shelter dog wiggled his way right into my life. I knew from the moment I saw his sparkling little eyes peering through the metal bars of his cage that we would be perfect for each other. He had a smile that was selfless, bright and infinite. A smile that was big enough to fill up all of the little holes in my heart – the ones that come as an aside to the general pains that life can sometimes bring. And I had a heart with the door wide open, and with plenty of room for him to come inside. Over the course of the past 90 days, Joshua has done exactly that. He’s wandered into my heart and made himself home here. He adds color to my laughter and purpose to each and every day. If you have been following Dog Breath Photography for the past few months, there’s no doubt that you’ve seen him make an appearance at least once or twice, but I think it’s high time that I formally introduce you to him: Meet Joshua – the wiggliest, gooberiest, happiest little man on four legs…


Don’t get me wrong. Joshua wasn’t always this loved and lucky. Joshua was 1 year and 3 months old on the day that I adopted him. So, I didn’t get to experience Joshua’s puppyhood. Somebody else did. And that somebody else was Joshua’s dark, terrifying past.

Joshua came into the MSPCA at Nevins Farms shelter on an animal abuse case. He spent the first year of his life locked in a dark basement. He lived a life of neglect and abandonment. Joshua was starved for countless months. The only thing that I know for certain about his previous people is that they were (and I quote) ‘going to throw his body in the Merrimack River’ once he finally died of starvation. A good samaritan who knew of Joshua’s severe, tragic situation is the one who ultimately saved his life. As soon as she became aware of Joshua’s condition, she stood up in the face of evil and made contact with animal control. Animal Control’s private records make it impossible for me to know who this guardian angel is – but if I ever got the opportunity to meet her – she might never get free of my grateful embrace. I hope she knows how much brilliance and joy she inadvertently brought into my life when she found it in her heart to save a helpless animal.

When Joshua came into Nevins Farm – his paws were stained yellow from months of living in his own urine and excrement. He had small nicks and scars on his face. And, most glaringly, he was emaciated  – just a little pile of bones – ribs and hips poking out every which way.

This is when I fell in love with Joshua.


Since I volunteer at Nevins Farm, I had the opportunity to see Joshua very early on – while he was still a far cry from the adoption floor. He was under extremely close veterinary supervision and on a strict, regimented diet for the first part of his stay at the shelter. I was in one summer afternoon, taking photos of all of the adoptable dogs for their Petfinder profiles when I first saw him. I looked over my list and my eye got caught on the name -‘Joshua’. ‘Well that’s a strange name for a dog’, I thought and wandered over to the very quiet cage where he lay. This moment, the next one that I am about to tell you about, is a major turning point in this story. This is when everything changed.

I peered over the edge of the cage, down through the metal bars to the little mass of skin and bones on the floor. His eyes gleamed like little stars, even despite the rest of his depleted and famished body. He was weak, but he was aware. I could not mistake the sparkle of vitality and joy in his eyes. And just at that moment, after brief consideration of my face peering in on him – he wagged. His little tail slapped against the floor in a rage. Slap! Slap! Slap! All of the strength that he had left in his mangled little body, went straight into that tail.

All of that betrayal. All of that evil, and hate. Locked inside that dark basement, Joshua had experienced the very worst that my species had to offer. And yet, he forgave. He was showing me love despite only knowing terror and betrayal from my kind. I started to cry then. Right there, standing outside of his cage looking in on him. Other volunteers and staff members bustling all around me. Tears were running down my cheeks for him, for his pain. I knew from that very moment that I wanted to make it my personal duty to show him the truth about my kind. I wanted to win him back. I wanted to show him love. The love he deserved all along.

I wasn’t able to take Joshua’s photo that day because he was still too weak, confused and new for volunteers to handle him. He was had a sign on his cage that said ‘Staff Only’ – as is typical for dogs when they are newly admitted to Nevins Farm. So, instead, I just sat outside of his cage -talking to him and telling him stories until I had to go. I knew he liked the company. After all, he had been locked away, mostly alone for a year before that.

When I left the shelter that day – Joshua was the only thing on my mind. I worried about him all night; Would he get back up to weight and become healthy again someday? Would he pass his temperament tests? Was he cold? Did he need extra blankets? Would he make it to the adoption floor? I told everyone I could about him – my mother, my boyfriend, my brother, my best friend. Talking about him was all I could do.

When I was in the next week, I was finally able to take his photo. With the help of a staff member, we got Joshua outside and asked him to sit for his photos. He was such a good boy. This is the first photo I ever took of Joshua:


This would be for when he was ready for adoption. It would be up to me to upload to his Petfinder profile when he finally made it to ‘adoptable’ status. Way deep down inside, I was torn. I knew that of course, I wanted nothing but beautiful things for Joshua. But, I had the hardest time posting this photo up to his Petfinder profile when the time came. Selfishly, I was afraid that when people saw his perfect little face in their search for adoptable dogs online- that he would go home and be ripped from my life as quickly as he came in. (which, of course is the point of taking nice photos of shelter animals! haha) This is when I realized that I wanted Joshua. I had, after all, made a pact that day that I saw him, that I was going to show him the truth about love.

All kinds of different variables played a part in preventing me from adopting Joshua immediately. But, the biggest obstacle was the fact that I was in the process of looking for a new place to live and run my business. The place I was living in at the time didn’t allow for a dog of Joshua’s size, breed or energy level. Over the course of the next months that I spent searching for a new place, I continued my wonderful, weekly interactions with Joshua at the shelter. I would be so excited to go in and see him each week. About a month after the first time I met Joshua – I was asked to photograph a special campaign for the MSPCA’s annual Walk For Animals fundraiser. You can see the end result of my work on that here. The goal of the campaign was to communicate what the animals at Nevins Farm might say about their individual stories, if only they had their own voice to say it. It was about trying to make people understand why they should participate in the walk – and what types of miracles for animals the raised funds from the Walk would go towards. I knew immediately that I wanted to feature Joshua in this campaign. He was, after all, a brave little survivor – and a living embodiment of the miracles that the incredible staff at the MSPCA can work for homeless animals. His sign made direct reference to his condition when he came in:


The Walk for Animals fundraiser was held in September, and ended up being a huge success! I can’t help but think that Joshua’s starring role in the photo campaign had at least a tiny something to do with it. 🙂

Finally, three months after meeting Joshua – I found a perfect new place to live and work. An old renovated textile mill building from 1807 just outside of Providence, Rhode Island. The grounds were gorgeous, green and expansive – and the town was safe and quiet. I knew that it would be the perfect place for Joshua and I to call home. I contacted the shelter director immediately to let him know of my interest in bringing Joshua home with me – and much to my chagrin – he informed me that Joshua had been adopted earlier that same week.

My heart sunk.

Of course, I was so thrilled for Joshua – he had finally found his forever home and no longer had to wait behind cold bars for love. But, I was simultaneously devastated inside – I had taken too long.

My move in date to my new home was Saturday, September 15th. Well, wouldn’t you know – that on Friday, September 14th – I got a call from the shelter saying that Joshua had come back. The people who had adopted him had another dog at home. And while the two had gotten along perfectly outside of the home, when they got back to it – their existing dog became a bit territorial and began aggressively resource guarding. The family knew that the right thing to do would be to return Joshua to the shelter – to give him a home that might be better suited for him.

I’ve honestly never been a big believer in serendipity – but — at that moment, all I could think was ‘it was meant to be.’

Needless to say – I hastily drove up the shelter the next available moment that I had, eyes filled with happy tears, to whisk my fuzzy little man away into his new, loving life. When I got up to the shelter and approached his cage with sweaty palms (it was really happening!!) I found this note attached to it:


My heart just about melted all over the ground.

So, it goes without saying that this story has a happy ending. Joshua fell asleep in my car, head in my lap, on the way home that night. It was like he finally found peace. Like he knew, that he was finally headed off to the place where he would belong for the rest of his life.


The rest of this post is filled up with images from our past 3 months together. It’s such a short time compared to the amount that we have left – and yet we have had so many happy, wonderful adventures.

Here’s to a brilliant future, Mister Joshua. 🙂 … (oh, and a relentless camera in your face for the next 12 years or so. You are the dog of a pet photographer after all.) 🙂


He provides me with comic relief on a daily basis. On an every minute basis, really.

He’s joyful. He’s whimsical. He’s goofy. And, it’s a funny thing, but I can tell that he is grateful.

He exudes it from his smile and his little butt wiggle as he rolls around the room on his back. We call it the ‘happy dance’.



After our adventures at the dog park, we take Joshua to a fancy dog wash for bath time! He doesn’t seem to mind one bit..



He’s picked out his very favorite warm spot on the couch at home.



He loves the dog park! (Covered in mud. Hence the bath time photos above. Check out that filthy bandana! haha)



We like to take walks through the gorgeous forest trails behind the Mill that we live in.


Joshua is a superhero!



Even during sleep, he manages to crack me up. He is typically on his back just like this, snoring away. His human-like qualities make me giggle – he particularly enjoys blankets and pillows.



The second night Joshua was at home with us, he decided to dump all of his new toys out of their basket and eat the basket.


YUM! The basket is better than any boring ol’ squeaky toy, Mom!

We just wrapped up an incredible Christmas season together. Joshua was such a good boy for his Holiday photo shoot in front of the tree!




When I shared Joshua’s Christmas images over on the Dog Breath Facebook page, I had a few things to say about being grateful:

‘The Christmas season has always been a time for me to take a moment, step back and count my blessings. This year, I have so much to be grateful for. But, the brightest beacon of light and luck that shines so brilliantly into my life is this gorgeous, fuzzy little four-legged man. Just six months ago as Joshua sat chained in a cold, dark basement with no friends or food to speak of – I bet he wondered why love skipped over him, why it forgot him to long days of neglect and pain. He was worthy, wasn’t he? Well, the answer, my sweet little boy, is Yes. Yes, you are. And thanks to the team of heroes at the MSPCA who rescued you, I am now here to show you the meaning of love. I will keep you safe from harm, stay close by your side, and love you everyday – just the way you always deserved – for the rest of your existence. 🙂 From abandonment and starvation within four forgotten concrete walls, to this; a warm bed, a full belly and love so endless we could build a castle around you. Our hearts are so filled with gratitude.

Be grateful for something this Christmas.

Happy Holidays everyone.’


And here it is. The culmination of everything this blog post is based upon.

There is a difference between love and neglect. Love is valiant. Love can heal. It has the power to mend broken bones and broken hearts…


A canine’s ability to forgive will never cease to astound me.

And now that Joshua is with me, I will never ever let him forget what love feels like. Every minute of everyday for the rest of his life. Now that we are by each other’s sides, this is where we’ll stay –  him with a full belly and a smile that could save the world, and me with a full heart.


I love you my little wagging sunshine. Here’s to second chances.

I am so glad I finally got to introduce you to the happiest thing in my life. I hope you love that smile as much as I do. 🙂


37 thoughts on “Meet Joshua.”

  1. Crying tears of joy for you and Joshua. So very grateful that he found his forever home with you. Such an amazing story. Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful, handsome bundle of joy with us. You are an angel on earth!

  2. Just when you think there is so much darkness and gloom in this world, you’re reminded of the goodness of the world. Amazing and heart-warming story. Thank you so much for sharing.

  3. Kaylee,
    I love reading your blog and was SO happy to read your introduction post about your love Joshua. I remember even when you were visiting NY you mentioned Joshua with such a heart that I knew one day he’s be yours and you his. Here I sit at work trying to eat my lunch and I find myself wiping tears away as they fall into my chicken noodle soup. Such a good story, with a wonderful ending- or should we say beginning! Thank you! I cannot WAIT to meet this little goober!

  4. Kaylee – How absolutely wonderful your blog about Joshua is. I alternated between laughing and crying as I read about his wonderful self and you. I also cried when I first saw him — and loved him immediately. He is such a wonderful pup and he has such a wonderful Mom. I am so glad for you both — oh that all the dogs we see come into the shelter could have such a wonderful story – I am thankful that so many do find a loving home and that the majority have not had to live as Joshua did before he was saved. I’ll close by saying that I love the picture of a happy Joshua having decided the basket was his to do with as he saw fit! 🙂 Love your blog, your dog and the wonderful person that you are.

  5. This has to be one of the most heartwarming stories that I have had the pleasure of reading in a long long time. Enjoy your life with him 🙂

  6. I had a handful of tissues at the ready when reading this because I knew Joshua’s story already, but you did a wonderful job putting all your love into words and pictures with this blog. I wish you both many wonderful, happy, waggy years together.

  7. I cannot say enough about your story. It’s so touching and emulates the warmth, love and compassion you have for animals. The bond between you and Joshua, I believe, happened the moment your eyes caught each other’s. It does happen that way for a lot of us. Your photography is the best I’ve ever seen. You have a gift of capturing the emotions felt on the “click moment”. God bless you. You are a gift to animals; esp. Joshua and to everyone you’ve touched via your blog.

  8. Thank you for all that you do for the animals here at the MSPCA and especially for what you have done for Joshua. He touched so many of us here (sometimes with that big blocky head in overexuberant joyful jumps!), was my selfishly guilty pick whenever I needed a demo dog (there is a lovely brain to go with all that male-model beauty) or a helper dog for assessments, and I couldn’t have chosen a more perfect home for him than yours. Looking forward to many more years of wonderful pupdates about our dear boy!

  9. Your Joshua looks alot like my Suzy-Q I’m happy she did not have it so hard while she was in rescue; her foaster mom was a wonderful woman and took care of her for 4 months until we adopted her at 10 months. Suzy-Q is 2 yrs old now and is our wonder dog. I know just how you feel. Biskets for everyone, Happy New Year, Smokey

  10. Kaylee- you have both my 16 year old daughter & I laughing through our tears.. literally !! I was reading aloud to her when she came over to read along with me. Standing over me and dripping tears right down my back 🙂 Your words are beautiful and your images spectacular- we are so over the moon happy for Joshua and for the life you will share together. Thank you for being such a huge advocate for all the animals.. thank you for sharing Joshua’s story. We cant wait to follow along all the adventures to come.. All our best for a Happy Healthy New Year !! XXOO Heather & Erin Morey

  11. Oh my goodness Kaylee, what a wonderful person you are to tell this heart felt story about beautiful Joshua. Everything you said with the way you feel about beautiful Joshua and how he stole your heart is exactly how I feel about my gorgeous little white Staffy boy who has been with me since he was 8 weeks old, he is now 11 and he is the love of my life. While reading your blog I had to stop often as I could not read properly through all my tears. I have been considering adopting another Staffy and now after reading this how could you not adopt and give a dog the same opportunity that you have given Joshua. Thank you so, so much for sharing your wonderful story and giving Joshua the love & happiness that very animal should always have.
    Here’s to a happy life together for you & Joshua,
    All the best,
    Tanya….all the way from Australia! 🙂

  12. I cried for Joshua that he had to endure those harsh lonely, cruel times but people that did’nt deserve him. I am so glad that he has a forever home filled with love and devotion. Joshua is handsome boy and all the photos of him were of a grateful, happy dog who has won the lottery of human kindness at its best. God Bless you both.

  13. What a beautiful story! He’s such a gorgeous dog and deserves to be loved. Thank you for showing him that not all our kind are monsters! And thank you for sharing such a wonderful story with us.

  14. I don’t know what I loved better the story or your pictures!! They both were so moving and heartfelt. God Bless you and Joshua enjoy your days together and please keeping posting pictures of that lucky lad. He is such a handsome hunk. Give him a hug and kiss from me

  15. Thank you so much for sharing this story of Joshua…..I don’t even have dogs, but I can see how you fell in love with this beautiful soul. He is so remarkable and I am so happy for this dog to have such a good home. No one will ever mistreat him again. Merry Xmas to you both! 😀

  16. I have tears streaming down my face, what a face your boy has. I have 7 rescues in my home, yes 7 and while they all don’t get enough of my attention and I know one on one would benefit them more they are here with me, the throw backs, I have a poodle (9lbs) who is a biter but saved our rottie from drowning in the pool at 4 months of age, he is a bright shining star here and yet no one wants him but me. Poodle rescue told me if I didn’t keep him he would have to be put down so like your boy there is always enough love to go around. I cried for you when you said he was adopted by someone else and what a great ending, he, just like my fosters, behaved so that they would be returned to me to live out their lives. They know love and they know caring and they choose and he chose life and a miracle and he got it. One of my dogs came from the LA pound, I live in Phoenix! All is in divine time in a divine way. I am so happy for you and so glad you shared this glorious story with us. This made my day. They have an uncanny ability to forgive do they not, we humans could learn from that for sure. Many blessings your way and when a pittie smiles there is nothing like it in this world. The most misunderstood breed on the planet. Enjoy him and enjoy your bliss. Sandi from Scottsdale.

  17. i am so glad that you and your doggie soul mate have found each other! your commitment to show him what love is and that he totally deserves it is simply transcendent.

    my dear, truly awesome aunt, whom i lost this past october, adopted a cat from nevins farm. i think perhaps that place is like a match finder for animal/human soul mates. my aunt and turnip loved each other so much. turnip has now moved down with me in north carolina and joins our big, rowdy and motley pet family. love finds a way.

    thank you for sharing yours and joshua’s love story. thank you for your truth, your talent and your big ol’ heart.

  18. absolutely beautifully written … yeah, i cried … damn … i was holding it together until the note-on-the-kennel image. as someone who has only ever had shelter and rescue dogs, i absolutely know how vivid those early memories are, the moment you first meet that soul who will capture you. i will never forget the cold, wet, slushy ground and the smell of farm the day i went to rescue my merrick from a life of breeding on a puppymill/barnyard breeder … his tail tucked so tightly that i thought it had been full docked, how his belly never left the ground and he skittered to the side in terror whenever his ‘owners’ (abusers, to be honest) even shuffled their feet, fearful of being kicked.

    i’ll never forget his fear for their 8 year old daughter, and how she skipped along merrily through the slush, singing to herself … and when i asked her if merrick was her favorite (trying to dig for info about what other dogs might be in similar condition) and whether she played with him, she didn’t miss a beat in her skipping and said: “oh no, i like the white ones.”

    but the most resounding memory of that brief time on that miserable piece of property was when i scooped up this filthy, smelly, emaciated and terrified bag of bones, still engaged with the farmer to try to whittle out information, asking him: “so why don’t you want to breed him? he’s a fine dog!” “oh, people like the shorthaireds better.” and it was then that merrick touched me forever … as significantly as your Joshua’s tail wag … merrick snuck a very terrified lick to my cheek … just a quick one, but in that moment i realized that — as beaten and battered as his body was, and as dead as he seemed in his eyes — there was still a spark, still one small flare of courage … and the pact was sealed.

    thank you for sharing your story of Joshua. i look forward to seeing many more photos of this extremely handsome boy.

  19. what an incredibly beautiful story and photos… made me cry… bless you and Joshua. thank you so much for sharing this. I’d love to write about you and Joshua on my blog, have dog blog will travel. let me know.

    1. CeliaSue – Thank you so much for stopping by and taking the time to read this post! 🙂 I so appreciate your kind words – they mean the world to me! 🙂 I would be honored to have you write about Joshua and I on your blog. Please let me know if there is anything that you need from me to facilitate that and I can send whatever it might be over to you via email! My email address is kaylee@dogbreathphoto – just shoot me a message there and we can work out the details! 🙂

  20. I LOVE love LOOOOOVE this post!!! I am a fan of your’s on FB, but was piddling around and checked out your blog. I love the whole back story of how you and Joshua came to be. I am also a member of HeARTs Speak and volunteer at my local shelter. I have been doing it for over 2 years now and have managed not to bring any more pooches home, as we have 3 already, but it almost happened a few months ago. There was a 12 year old cocker spaniel that was found as a stray and later the owner was found only for her to say she didn’t want the dog anymore. Disgusting! However, she ended up getting a home the day before she was to come to our house for the meet and greet with our dogs. I was thrilled, because honestly, 3 dogs is plenty! =) But I know there will come a day that I won’t be able to resist a certain pound puppy. Thanks for sharing your story and your photos. I absolutely love everything about it and him!! Am looking forward to more awesome photos of your joyful Joshua!!

  21. Your story broke my heart and then mended it. With tears streaming, I read this with Ozzie snoozing on my lap. He is a corgi I rescued 4 years ago on this very day, Valentine’s Day. All these beautiful sentient creatures desire, is to share their immense capacity to love. We rescue them, they rescue us. Joshua had you at hello and each amazing portrait you take of him reflects the love you give each other. The ripples in this pool are still expanding, reaching kindred spirits who want to share that love with you and Joshua. It gives hope for the rescues still waiting for that hopeful hello.

  22. You are amazing! He is amazing! I started off bawling my eyes out to feeling like my heart is so full it could explode. His expression and body language from the before and after is astounding. I Love this dog and I love what you have done for each other. I wish there were more people in this world like you.

    Take Care,

  23. Oh…now you have my tears. I knew he was a rescue….but I didn’t see his previous condition until I looked at your blog. Only true dog people understand everything you say about Joshua. I don’t know you…but you have warmed my heart….twice now. ❤

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s