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This blog post is a nomination for the Fenced In By Love by Dog Fence DIY 2014 awards.

Rescuepawtraits lizbradley

There is nothing quite like the love of a rescued dog. Before we rescued Wellie, I had always heard people say that rescued dogs were extra special – but I didn’t really believe it. Sure they were great and all, but how different could they be?

Then along came Wellie.


We weren’t looking for a third dog, but when helping my Mom and sister in their search for dogs, I came across a snapshot of a scared little pup on Petfinder. I thought she was so cute, but being a Yorkie, she was not the energy level that my Mom and sister were looking for. Her cute little face imprinted itself in my memory and I kept checking back on her. Month after month she was still at the rescue. I couldn’t stop thinking about this little dog with the not-so-great photo so I finally brought it up with my husband. We talked it over, decided it was likely a good idea, and applied to adopt her the next day. We were approved within the hour and drove up to see her that night. That was it: the spunky little bundle of energy was meant to be in our family.

Lizthomas 2013 13

We are having a great journey with Wellie, the first year of which I documented on this very blog. I am not going to lie, sometimes it was really tough, but the bond we formed by working together made me realize what everyone had been telling me about rescue dogs. I finally understood.

In looking back, at first I couldn’t believe she stayed at the shelter for over three months before coming into our lives. But now I realize that part of it was probably her blurry and characterless photo. I say this with a lot of love for every volunteer at rescue organizations – they are amazing at what they do, but they are not photographers, and we don’t expect them to be. Their specialty is love and rehabilitation and they give that in spades.

When I am not dog blogging here, I am a full-time pet, family, and wedding photographer. I have been involved in several charity events raising funds for dog rescues, but nothing has been more fulfilling than helping to find homes for some really deserving rescue dogs through my photography.

Liz photographer

Three years ago, in our first year with Wellie, I decided that I wanted to help these amazing dogs find their forever homes through beautiful images. I work really hard with my photography clients’ dogs to make sure to capture their personalities, but there are plenty of adorable rescues that weren’t getting the photo love they needed. So my Rescue Pawtraits were born: to give back to the rescue community by capturing the full character and cuteness of adoptable dogs.

Willow before and after

Over these past three years I have met some wonderful and special dogs who have been such a joy to capture. From puppies full of spunk, to senior dogs who are blind and deaf. I am at my happiest when covered in dog slobber and rolling around on the ground. Most of these rescue dogs are quite nervous, so I work together with the foster families to get the best shots possible to showcase each dog’s personality. I really want their true being to shine through in the images so someone looking online can connect with them in a personal and emotional way. Sometimes this means lots of running and playing and other times it is a quiet walk in the park.

In 2013 I photographed 87 rescue dogs, with almost all of these dogs finding homes within weeks of the images being released. I make sure to help get the pup’s adorableness out after the photos are taken by posting on all of my social media platforms including Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus. The Pawtraits get a lot of attention – as the dogs deserve – and I believe it helps each dog find their forever home.

2013 RescuePawtraits social

With the exposure from the Fenced In By Love by Dog Fence DIY 2014 awards, my dream is that more photographers are inspired to work with rescued pets to help them find their forever homes. And for any rescue organizations in Ottawa who don’t already know about my Rescue Pawtraits, spread the word! I fully donate my time for these sessions and provide web ready images for sharing online through the rescue’s website and Petfinder as well as all social media platforms.

The rescue community is a network of amazingly talented and caring people and I am so happy to be able to contribute to this wonderful world.

I tell stories not with words but with images. The stories in my Rescue Pawtraits celebrate the beginning of a new chapter for these special souls – the start of the rest of their new, and better, lives.


  1. Jennifer Rose says:

    Thank you so much Liz for taking the time to help these deserving dogs. 100% for sure I can say your photos have helped some of my dogs find their forever homes. You manage to capture their love and personalities in your photos and that’s what people bond with when scrolling through the hundreds of available pets online. You need that instant connection and in order to achieve that you need a good clear photo. YOU ROCK!

  2. Thank you for what you’re doing to help rescue dogs! I foster for a rescue group in Ottawa, and I’ve seen how much a great photo of a dog can improve its chances of being noticed and hopefully adopted.

    Your furry family is adorable :-)

  3. Shannon M says:

    Thank you for all that you do to help rescue dogs find their forever homes. As a person who has helped to transport rescue dogs, I know that sometimes it’s hard to appreciate how precious they are – some of them come into rescue so dirty, smelly, matted, and spiritually damaged. Your photos always give me so much joy, because they so brilliantly capture the dignity, character, and beauty of each animal.

  4. Liz,

    I have said this before and I say it again, with the same level of truth plus sincerest of appreciation and gratitude. Your special ‘connective’ talent has aided not just the dogs of Birch Haven Rescue & Rehabilitation(BHRR), yet, many groups/animals in the community. I wish I had known much sooner about this incredibly generous and thoughtful gesture you give to others in your heart and gift of photography! So many more of our animals may have found homes much sooner!
    There could never be enough words of warmth and thanks to shout out to show my deepest of appreciation for all that you do and how well you do it!
    Your heart is as beautiful as your portraits and I wuv Wellie! You did a great job and a true pleasure to know all of you.

  5. Wow, I LOVE when people like you Liz, take something they are good at and combine it with a personal passion. This is also helping those who are vulnerable to boot: a real win-win-win situation! Great work. Your story is so interesting! I would love to share it in an upcoming newsletter I am putting together. Your example is one that I think would inspire those on the cusp of exploring passion-driven careers and show that following your passion is well worth it.

  6. Liz says:

    Thank you all for your kind words – you are wonderful!

    Nancy – I would be very honoured if you mentioned my Rescue Pawtraits in your newsletter!!

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