In September 2014 I was asked by Best Friends Animal Society to photograph a very special San Diego rescue dog in Ramona. His story was moved to the May/June issue which was recently published online here (above). This dog’s name was Saffa and he was a long haired chihuahua who had physically recovered from gang symbols burned onto his back with acid in LA, but mentally still had a ways to recover when he was first rescued. It took a foster mom with a huge heart who specialized in overcoming such challenges to take in Saffa (formerly named Musafa and shortened). Saffa’s new mom, Janet, volunteers with Chihuahua Rescue of San Diego and has four rescue dogs and four cats, and also is the manager for Friends of Cats in El Cajon.
Saffa’s story, as told by his mom before our photo session: “He came to Chihuahua Rescue of San Diego in April of 2010 from an LA shelter. The vet there and our vet believe that he was burned with some type of acid, perhaps a gang sign. He spent three months with the Director of CRSD and then came to stay with me and my husband. We tend to take the more challenging dogs when we foster.”
“When Saffa first came into the rescue, the only way that you could pick him up was to throw a blanket over him, and boy was he not happy about that. He was very fearful of us and would run outside and go lay down in the dirt wanting nothing to do with us or our other animals. With this and his fear biting behavior it became apparent that it would be hard to adopt him out, so we were happy to make him our second foster failure (we are currently working on our third).”
“It has been four years and he has changed so much. He is definitely far from being a “normal” dog, but he seems so much more content and happy. He is still a grumpy little man even with us when he is in a mood, which does happen often. He lets us pick him up but will grumble pretty much the whole time. There are some people that just don’t understand why we would keep him, but we couldn’t imagine our life without him.” And in the article, a touching quote from Saffa’s mom is, “The day he jumped onto the couch to be with us was like a miracle! Rehabilitating Saffa is the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done.”
This photo shoot day full of 100 kinds of exciting treats was keeping Saffa from napping for a few hours, so he was getting tired and allowed his mom to hold him for longer than she ever had in the past. Of the photo Best Friends chose to publish where Saffa looks very smiley and happy, she said: “It truly captured how much he was able to grow from the first days that he joined our family!” It was a special day of memories, for sure!
Sadly, I received the news that Saffa passed away shortly before the print issue of this magazine was mailed out. I am glad to know he was so well-loved during the final years of his life. Thank you Janet, Chihuahua Rescue San Diego, and Best Friends Animal Society for all that you do to help pets in need! Thanks to Best Friends magazine for highlighting the life of this special dog, and for allowing him to have this photo session day full of happy memories!
Please not that I only photograph humans for editorial and commercial work, not for photo sessions commissioned by pet parents to hang in their home.