My How We’ve Grown

four black cats at basement door

My how we've grown in the past year and a half!

No room for mom anymore! Here are Jelly Bean, Mewsette, Mr. Sunshine and Giuseppe lined up to observe the back yard. Compare to the photo below taken in September 2009 when they were just past two years old with Jelly Bean, Mr. Sunshine, Giuseppe, Mewsette and little Mimi, who is actually standing so she looks a little bigger than her regular size. I thought they were pretty big at two, but they are actually taller and more muscled at three-and-a-half. Their birthday is July 26.

five black cats at basement door

We do many things together.

A Memorial to a Loving Dog

animal sympathy card

Tika, Therapy Dog

I received the sad news that I’ve lost another member of my animal community. Karen Litzinger, author of Heal Your Heart: Coping with the Loss of a Pet, called to tell me that her sweet Tika ended her journey just yesterday, March 19.

Tika was an amazing senior dog who Karen adopted after the loss of her two dogs, losses which inspired Heal Your Heart. As she says, she went to the shelter looking for an adult dog but not a senior, especially after the losses of two dogs so close together. But Tika wouldn’t take no for an answer and made herself at home her very first day.

Even as a senior dog, Tika began a new career. Along with her outgoing and playful personality, Tika also had a special talent for drawing people out, especially children, and it wasn’t long before she and Karen were enrolled in the Pet Therapy Program at Animal Friends.

Tika as a model

Tika is also, to date, the only dog in my series of animal sympathy cards. I take very seriously the use of an image for my work bearing my message, especially in my series of sympathy cards. I know my cats and I feel comfortable having their images convey a message. I’ve been photographing dogs and other cats as well, but I don’t feel I know other animals well enough even though I love their images.

I took this photo of Tika when I visited Karen as we were working on the design of her CD. Even though I had just met Tika her personality conveyed a comfort with me, and I felt she saw herself as an ambassador to anyone who would come to her. I can truly say that I saw a loving depth in her warm brown eyes that I didn’t soon forget.

Heal Your Heart: Coping With the Loss of a Pet

Heal Your Heart: Coping With the Loss of a Pet

The animal sympathy cards

I met Karen and designed the art for her CD in 2009. In April of 2009 my Namir had an incident in his five-year battle with congestive heart failure that told him and me that his time was limited. I met Karen in May and in listening to her CD and designing the cover, with Namir on my lap, I went on a little journey back to my beginnings as an animal lover and to my earliest losses. I finished her CD in mid-June and lost Namir on July 1. During the following month, as part of my process of grief, I decided that I’d finally design the animal sympathy cards I had long planned. I’ve no doubt I would have wanted to design the cards after losing Namir for reasons I’ve explained, but it was my work on the CD that took me on a special journey and truly gave me the long view of that project, beyond the scope of my most recent loss and grief, and working on the CD art helped me to work out some ideas I’d been carrying for years.

Karen agreed that I could use Tika’s image, and I was so happy to have Tika for people to share. People who own dogs will often ask me if I have a card with a certain breed of dog, but dog owners in general are drawn to Tika’s card because her face is so welcoming and her eyes so kind even if she doesn’t look like their dog.

A Trail of Hearts and Paws

A donation in Tika’s memory

So when Karen called me to tell me of Tika’s passing and an idea she had for a donation in Tika’s name from purchases of my sympathy card, I had no doubt I’d help her with her memorial to Tika. We decided we’d not only use the card featuring Tika but also the card inspired by the art for Karen’s CD.

Purchase six of either of these two cards for $10.00, $1.00 of your purchase will be donated to the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society and $1.00 to the Animal Friends Pet Therapy Program with which Tika was associated. This donation will be made for every set of six cards purchased.

And to make an extra donation, each purchase of one dozen of any of my animal sympathy cards made in addition to a Tika Memorial purchase will donate another $1.00 to the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society and $1.00 to the Animal Friends Pet Therapy Program.

I am so glad that I decided to use Tika’s image on a card because now Karen knows that Tika will still be out there helping people as she did through life.

Please read Karen’s e-newsletter about Tika which includes lots of wonderful photos of Tika in action as well as more of her story.