THIS IS MY STORY. IF YOU'RE READING I HOPE YOU'LL BE A PART OF IT. by jo lyons.
As a kid growing up in the 70s, my thing was farm animal sets. Many hours were spent setting all my plastic animals, fences, barns and haystacks up on the pool table for an afternoon of creating my perfect farm. Until my brothers would burst in and start playing pool and shooting my chickens and piglets with the pool ball only to destroy my fantasy world. I was the youngest of 7 and the only girl in the family which taught me the powerful art of independence.
I hated dolls with a passion. They scared the hell out of me. But as for teddy bears and soft toys, we were best buds. I still have a couple of the original crew today but dog only knows what I did with the rest of them. Most likely sent them all off to the Salvos when having a teenage moment and wanting to rid my life of anything childish.
My bedroom walls were plastered with posters and stickers of horses, and I'd hang out at the local saddlery store dreaming of what if. I cleaned stables and brushed horses at a nearby riding school just to get free rides on the horses.
I brought home stray animals fairly regularly. Often they weren't actually stray, but had just wandered away from their own family, but hey, who was to know that and who lets their dog leave their sight anyway? (If you read on, you'll find out this trait transferred to my adulthood!) The name "LambChops" comes to mind. A grey poodle I found at Centennial Park as a kid. There's quite a story behind that one! Make sure you ask me when me meet.
I remember each and every pet we had since I was a teeny tiny kid. Black Poodles dominated my childhood. Our first one, Patsy, was killed by a car... thankfully I was too young to remember the scene, or I've just blocked it from my memory. The second one, Kieron, lived until he was a very geriatric boy into my teenage years. He was the fierce protector of my Mum. Put your hand on Mum's leg and you got a snap.
Dogs have always been a huge part of my life. I can't imagine life without sharing it with at least two, three or four.
Sometimes all it takes is serendipity
For me, serendipity came in the shape of a stray dog (at least I thought he was a stray). “Jack”, as his named turned out to be, stopped me in my tracks. He literally stood in the middle of the road, so I scooped him up, put him in my car, took him home, and gave him a good bath. And that night, while searching for his people through a Facebook community for lost pets, I found my future.
As it turned out, I’d picked up Jack right in front of his own house. (You see a theme here?!) So really, he had a bath, met some new friendly faces, and then his life happily resumed, as normal. His people were relieved to have him home, and they secured the gate to their back yard, so he wouldn’t take himself on walks alone again.
My life, however, changed for more than just a day
Crossing paths with Jack opened my eyes to the world of orphaned companion animals and the great need to help them find homes. I began photographing animals in one of Sydney's largest pounds. I spent my weekends photographing all the dogs and cats who needed the world to see who they were, where they were, and just how much love they had to give.
Today my pro-bono rescue photography continues to be an integral factor in who I am and I have a vision for our shelters to become empty in a world where all pets are loved and cherished, and not bred for profit.
My journey has brought me home to the farm
My husband Neal, and our 3 DogKateers (that’s Daisy, Luna, and Harvey – all rescues) and our "big dog" Henry who we rescued from his final day of life from a local pound near our farm, are my world.
I’m blessed to be able to work from home and be with them every day.
My childhood dream came true and we live on a serene farm in beautiful Wootton in the Great Lakes Region of Barrington Coast NSW. Here we have 46 acres of abundant grasslands, bushland and incredible views. It is here where Australia's most cherished dogs have the best adventure during their farm photography experience.
What's your dog's story?
I'd love for you to tell me about it.
How did they come into your life?
You can’t imagine your life without your dog. I get it. If you're anything like me, you'll have hundreds, if not thousands of snaps of your pets on your phone, but do you ever go back to them, do you ever print them, or worse still, have you ever lost them when you haven't backed your phone up and something went wrong?
If you've read this far, let’s get together to honour your best friend by capturing who they are, forever.
AWARDS & RECOGNITION
Selected as one of 11 of Australia's top pet photographers to be part of the Western Digital My Passport Wireless Pro #WDPets campaign
Curated and co-hosted the "Remember Me" Exhibition in partnership with Maggie's Rescue as part of Remember Me Thursday
Official photographer for the "Dog Zone" at the Cruelty Free Festival in Sydney
Hosted the inaugural Volunteer Photography Workshop at Animal Welfare League NSW
Received a Humble Hero Award by Shine Lawyers