Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Pit Bull Project

Recently I had the pleasure of interviewing my long-time friend (if I told you how many years it would date us both, so I won't), Kat Soul, artist, musician and philanthropist.  Although today's blog post has nothing whatsoever to do with writing, it does have to do with art, reaching a wider audience for your art and causes though zazzle, and one of my other interests - dogs and animal rescue.

Kat is a self-taught artist. Of her art, she says:

"I love taking pictures and always carry a camera.  I love to paint with watercolors and try to paint a little every day.  I love how I can throw some paint on a wet paper and let it blend with the other colors by shaking the paper or tilting it.  Then I walk away while it dries.  Sometimes the paint makes its own art without my help. Then I’m surprised by my own work.  I’m inspired almost exclusively by nature and animals.  Lately I’ve been painting farm animals and dogs." 

Kat also runs a zazzle store, The Pit Bull Project.  Of her experience as a zazzle shopkeeper, she says:

"Having a Zazzle store has been fun.  It’s easy to upload images. We sell a good deal of merchandise and have been trying to update with new products regularly.  I like taking my art images and putting them on shirts and mugs.  In 2001 I started a community outreach program called the Pit Bull Project.  I take all the proceeds from the sale of my art and use it to spay and neuter Pit Bulls in my community."

Kat's website, Charm City Animal Rescue, The Pit Bull Project, gives more information about how she does this.  About spaying and neutering, she says, "I’ve never understood why there is so little emphasis on spaying and neutering dogs when so many are being killed in our shelters and on our streets.  To me, it seems like the most humane option.  Prevent the puppies from being born into a cycle of abuse and neglect.  It makes sense to me." 
Here are some examples of her wonderful art, supporting pit bull rescue:

I asked Kat a few questions about how she got into pit bull rescue and about pit bulls in general.  

How did you become involved with pit bull rescue? 

I met my first Pit Bull over 20 years ago.  She was the sweetest dog.  When I moved to Baltimore, I kept finding abused and abandoned dogs.  By trying to help them, I learned about the dog fighting culture.  Back then, there were very few people trying to help these dogs.  Our animal control facilities preferred to kill them and did little to educate the public about animal cruelty and population control.  In 2001, I started taking the proceeds from selling my artwork and using it to spay and neuter dogs for people in my community.  That’s how The Pit Bull Project began.

What are the best things about pit bulls?

I’m attracted to the breed for many reasons.  As a humanitarian, I wanted to help because they are so universally misunderstood and abused.  As a dog lover, they are wonderfully intelligent, easy to train, fun loving, excellent for protection, clean, and generally quiet.  As a single woman living in a big city, the Pit was the perfect dog for me.  Our shelters are full of them. Many shelters don’t adopt them out at all.  I’ve devoted the last 20 years of my life to help change the perception of the breed.

What are the worst things about pit bulls?

There are so many misconceptions about the breed. They’re popular with bad people.  The media focuses on negative stories and showing negative images of the dogs.  Local governments try to implement breed specific legislation instead of focusing on population control and community outreach.  The public is tricked into fearing the dogs instead of fearing the inhumanity of the people handling the dogs. 

What is the biggest myth about pit bulls and how would you address it?

There are a lot of myths about Pit Bulls.  As a dog lover with a great deal of experience with Pits I would say they are like any other breed.  Some have good temperament, some don’t.  Some dogs are great with kids, some aren’t.  The focus should be on kindness and humanity.  If you’re kind to any dog, the dog will repay you with kindness, regardless of breed.  

Thanks for sharing your art and educating us, Kat! Please visit Kat's zazzle store, The Pit Bull Project to see more of her art and products!   And remember - Pit Bulls are for hugs, not thugs!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

We Have A Winner!

Ladies and Gentlemen!  The First Place Winner of the Fall 2011 Write That Photo Contest is . . . (drumroll, please)

Melinda Mcguire!  Melinda is the author of several short stories available on Amazon and Smashwords and the upcoming debut novel, Josephine: Red Dirt and Whiskey.  

I asked Melinda about her thought process when she created her winning story, We Brave Seven (scroll down, her awesome story is posted today!).  I wanted to know how in the world she thought of her story.  

Melinda's answer:   "I stared at the picture, stared at the picture and stared at the picture some more. I tried to pick up on the colors and the impression from the photo. The pumpkins are almost supernaturally bright and the rest of the photo's colors were ominous. To me, the colors were foreboding. So, I thought, what would be a tragedy for a pumpkin? And, We Brave Seven came from there."

For her prize, Melinda will receive an 8x10 print from Kara Stewart, Art in Photography. She has selected The Old Store as her print of choice!

Aaaaand . . . as if all of that and having Melinda's story below were not exciting enough, we have a Second Place Winner!  Yes, that's right. Didn't know that was going to happen, but there you have it.

Second Place in the Fall 2011 Write That Photo Contest is Deborah Miller!  Deborah is Artist & Owner of Visages Gift Store at  Deborah will receive a 5x7 print of her choice from Kara Stewart, Art in Photography as her prize.


Thanks to all the wonderful entrants! Please continue to watch this blog and enter the next contest!

And now, the winning story:

We Brave Seven
Fear clings to us, like the dew did this morning. We brave seven. Alone now on this porch, cut off from communicating with our kin, we sit.
We see them sitting on porches and steps, just like us, all the way down the street. Orange blotches nestled next to houses everywhere you look.
How could we have known this morning that this is how our day would go, how our lives would turn and twist? We heard the rumbling of the tractor at sunrise. A new, strange sound accompanied the rumbling of the tractor’s engine - laughter.
The tractor pulled a wagon loaded with people and their cameras right into the patch, and out piled the people, one after the other, all walking over us and around us, pointing fingers, snapping pictures with their cameras.
And then, before we understood what was happening, out came the man’s axe, and we were cut, each of us, one after the other, from the vines.
It was horrendous! All of us, old, young, big and small, cut off from the vines, toted by these laughing people, held in their laps as they rode the wagon back to the barn.
I think I blacked out at this point. I know that I was loaded with these six others into the bed of a pickup. I don’t remember much of the ride, but the old man who lifted us out of the truck and placed us on these steps was careful. He was gentle with us, and it was welcomed after the rough ride from the farm.
But now, here we sit. We are weak and tired and growing more so as the day wears on. We seven, we brave seven, just waiting, but we don’t know for what. The sun is high overhead; all is quiet up and down the street. It is so strange to see all of our family members all around us but too far away for us to talk to them, to find out what they know about what is happening.
Soon there is movement at the houses across the street. People are coming out on their porches carrying black tarps and trash bags. There is lots of laughter. The people are picking up our friends and setting them on top of the tarps. What is happening?
I don’t feel well. I continue to grow weaker and all the hustle and bustle on the porches across the street is makes me nervous. What are those people doing to our friends? They’ve gone back in their houses now, leaving our friends on top of the black tarps. The trash bags are lying next to them. What are they going to do with those trash bags?
Out they all come, banging through their screen doors, what are they carrying? They sit down, surrounding our friends. I can see something long and glinting in the light. What is happening now? I see quick, sharp movements. I hear the most horrible sound I’ve ever heard, a sloshing, wet, swishing sound. I can’t see what is happening. The people are blocking my view, but I see the long, sharp glinting object moving back and forth in their hands and I continue to hear that awful sound.
One of the people moves away and picks up the trash bag. I can’t bear to look but I can’t look away. One of the littlest people is holding something wet and stringy in her hands; the top of my friend is cut completely off.
I can’t stand it. I can’t take it. I don’t want to see anymore. I don’t want to know anymore about what is happening.
We brave seven remain. Our friends and family across the street, all up and down the road, are gone now.
It’s growing dark now. We are all so tired and weak. I feel life ebbing away more quickly now. I have nothing left. There’s been no sign of the old man since he placed us here.
I wonder what has happened to all our loved ones. It is night now and the people come back on the porches. It is hard to see them, but I can hear them laughing and talking.
And then, all along the street, bright lights glow from inside round objects, smiling carved faces shining out at everyone. What are those things? They look familiar, so familiar, but my sight has dimmed and I can’t see that far.
I hear the footsteps of the man as he opens the front door of the house. I feel that the end is near for us, we brave seven.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Calling All Photographers and Pet Lovers!

This weekend, we have the pleasure of reading the entries for my Write That Photo! contest. I have visions of pumpkins pleasantly dancing in my head and I can't wait to read what you have written!  

In the meantime, until the winner is announced, here is a truly wonderful undertaking for photographers, if you have not yet seen this.  Teresa Berg, a photographer out of Dallas, was featured on September 18, 2011 on the CBS Sunday Morning News for her work with dog rescues.  It is tremendously inspiring and I plan to do this in my area. Perhaps you will be inspired to do the same in yours.  If we do this, and we spread the word, we really can save thousands of lives.  

Teresa also does dog rescue photography webinars for professionals and non-professionals, so check them out if you are interested!