Category Archives: Animals

Fafa

baby

My husband/guest blogger Jamie “Punky” Buhr wanted to accommodate my photo tribute and I couldn’t resist. He’s only allowed on here once every couple of years though . . .

I wanted to provide proof of how much I loved my cat, and I think this does the trick:

I am opening myself up to well deserved ridicule, but I don’t regret the 3-4 hours I spent crafting this on a snowy drive home from Minneapolis last year. While the fact that I’m a little weird goes without saying, you don’t rework silly lyric after silly lyric, practicing multiple takes into the iPhone voice memo to get it JUST right, for some ordinary house cat.

My love affair with Baby AKA Fafa AKA The Striped Prince was one I never could have foreseen in 2003. I’ve always had a dislike for cats, especially when I met Lucas, who was Abbie’s cat. He didn’t exactly welcome me with open arms when I moved in, and it was clear he wanted no part of me once I was there. When Abbie decided she wanted to get another cat to keep Lucas company during the day, the conversation went something like this.

Me: You want to get another one of THESE?!?!

Abbie: Come on, this one will be more like our cat.

Me: Another Lucas…

I didn’t even go with Abbie to pick him out. I slept in, as I’ve often been known to do, and when Abbie arrived home she proceeded to tell me about our new cat “Antonio”. She had actually wanted this white Calico (breed talk) but “Antonio” would not let her get to the other cat. I still have dreams that she picked the other cat, and I’m so thankful Abbie saw what she saw in him. When someone from the shelter came to drop him off, I barely got a look at “Antonio” because he hid so quickly. After another few hours of still only having one cat, I turned to Abbie and said something like: “Great choice, we’re never going to see this one.”

An early snapshot of Baby, probably blurry because he was about to bolt out of frame
An early snapshot of Baby, probably blurry because he was about to bolt out of frame.

Things began to change fairly quickly. One, his name was in constant flux, Antonio was quickly followed by Henry. But because he couldn’t meow, managing only a pathetic squeak whenever his mouth opened, we simply started referring to him as The Baby and eventually just Baby. A second thing that changed was his presence in my life. When it was just Abbie and I at home, Baby was a regular on the futon or in the windowsill. But whenever a stranger was in the apartment, he knew it before anyone and would wedge his body into hiding spaces I didn’t believe were physically possible, even after I had witnessed them firsthand.

One day I awoke and Baby was sleeping next to me. Actually, right on top of me. I think Abbie had left for an early run and it was just the two of us. He stared at me for a moment and then got into what would become his prime napping position; a perfect circle with his tail safely tucked away. baby ballI still remember trying not to make any sudden movements, as I didn’t want to blow this new-found closeness. My position on cats began to evolve. Well, not on all of them, pretty much only Baby who I eventually mostly started calling Fafa. Lucas and I were still barely on speaking terms, but Baby quickly became a constant companion. When you’re around someone or something for that amount of time, it’s hard not to fall in love. Especially when the cost is simply providing them your love in return. That love is now burned into my memory through countless images I hope will always endure.

I can still picture how he sat in every windowsill, in every apartment we ever had. There were four in New York, two in Chicago. Baby Window Upper East

The back window of our apartment on West 29th street was like his own personal Botanical Garden, when the sun illuminated our back porch he would spend hours just watching the world around him. This one of him in the window of Abbie’s apartment on the Upper East Side before we moved in together is perhaps my favorite image of him (of Lucas too, it’s hard to be mad at him right now):

baby lucas window

I love it because it reminds me of everything that lay ahead in those next ten years Baby was in our life. I love the way he’s looking up into the sky. In that one look, those coming years always flash through my eyes. Our apartments, our cities, the dogs we did not yet have, the friends we did not yet know. I always think of my wedding day and then finally, of Leo. I’ll always be grateful that Baby lived long enough so that I have this photo:

Couch Nap

I’m also grateful that nine of the ten years I spent with Baby were before we decided to have kids. For what seemed like so long, it was just the four of us, then the six of us, and finally the seven of us when Leo was born last May. I’m grateful there was a time where it was just us, because things change before you even have a chance to catch up. This became evident when I was scrolling through my iPhone a couple days ago, desperate to round up every picture on every device we owned in case Baby’s prognosis became worse. The vet said his kidneys were failing and there was an unknown growth on his liver, potentially cancerous. She called his blood work “scary”.

The pictures on my iPhone told how the story had changed. There were plenty of pictures that sprang up of him in New York, our move to Chicago, our old Sedgwick apartment, during Abbie’s pregnancy, and then they just stopped. I didn’t want to believe it, but as I furiously scrolled throw my library I knew what I was seeing. The day Leo was born, the pictures of Baby stopped. I knew it wasn’t intentional, but it was the emptiest I had felt since the first moment I learned just how sick he was. It wasn’t guilt that my love for him had dissipated (please see above video again) it was the simple reality that a new baby changes things more than you even realize. That is why I’m glad there was a time it was just us.

Baby (here on Sedgwick), always loved a good pile of scarves
Baby (here on Sedgwick), always loved a good pile of scarves

I will forever remember Baby because he was my first pet. He was the first animal I ever loved, the rare soul that always wanted to be around me, no matter how foul a mood I was in. There was rarely a time I could go 20 minutes on the couch without him eventually joining me. And if he wasn’t with me on the couch there was a good chance he was attempting to lure me off of it, either by bringing me a foam ball to play our favorite fetch game on the stairs, or by squeaking at me until I could ignore its cuteness no longer. It will take some time for me to get totally used to my life without that squeak, but I am no doubt a better person for having heard it for close to a decade. Although I know I will never forget the day I held his paw for the last time, as if fate was just making sure, hours after Baby breathed his last breaths, Leo took his first real steps across our condo floor. And like with so much of life, a chapter ends, a chapter begins.

Love Always.

Baby in the bathroom waiting to play with floss.
Baby in the bathroom waiting to play with floss.
Baby and Maeby napping next to each other one afternoon.
Baby and Maeby napping next to each other one afternoon.
1) Baby being adorable as usual. 2) A typical evening in the Buhr house; Pia and Baby on the Couch with Punky, 3) Fafa could never resist hiding under an open umbrella.
1) Baby being adorable as usual. 2) A typical evening in the Buhr house; Pia and Baby on the Couch with Punky, 3) Fafa could never resist hiding under an open umbrella.
Baby rarely ventured outside, but sometimes he was extra brave.
Baby rarely ventured outside, but sometimes he was extra brave.
Baby and Lucas fitting together so perfectly, sitting in the window on Cornelia.
Baby and Lucas fitting together so perfectly, sitting in the window on Cornelia.
The striped prince was never too shy to expose some of his beautiful stripy belly.
The striped prince was never too shy to expose some of his beautiful stripy belly.
Fafa posing on the cat tree one winter.
Fafa posing on the cat tree one winter.
Loving a nap on the bed in the sun.
Loving a nap on the bed in the sun.

Spring Day

It was absolutely gorgeous today here in Chicago, and Maeby and I had lots of good QT in the backyard and out and about. Even Pia came on our midday walk, and aside from a little diva behavior (I will admit it was pretty windy at times), she did great. As you can see I also started embracing Instagrams which is a whole lot of fun! Us old school photographers who learned our craft in the darkroom; you know who you are, can really appreciate the cool effects different types of film, paper and processing can give to your images. I will admit though it is much easier to click a few buttons on your iPhone.

dog-sign

maeby-yard

Flickr Groups

guinea

I recently became more aware of groups on Flickr by accident. An adorable guinea pig name Caramel was dropped of at Animal Haven about a month ago and I took a few shots of it, then uploaded the photos to Flickr like I always do, and by tagging them “Guinea Pig”, they soon took notice of two Guinea Pig groups. Within days they were viewed by dozens of people and one was even entered into a Guinea Pig portrait contest. Since then I’ve joined a few more groups, and not only is it good for my work and allows me to view and get inspired by other photos, it’s kinda fun!

Clover’s Gallery & Alexis Trice

Monkey Painting

I entered the art buying community recently when I made my first official purchase of a wonderful painting from Clover’s Fine Art Gallery by the artist Alexis Trice. The show just ended and I was finally able to bring it home and have already made a place for it on my wall. Coincidentally, Alexis graduated from SVA the same year as I did. I was originally there to visit and take portraits of one of my oldest friends Charlotte who works as a curator at the gallery.

Portratis

charlotte-tri

Please check out her website, and also her adorable pet portrait site, Welcome to the Doghouse. Thanks Alexis! I promise to take good care of it and cherish it forever.

Wall Photos at AH

AHWall

I’m proud to announce that my photos are officially up at Animal Haven! The new “float wraps” will be a permanent fixture in the front of the shelter for hopefully years to come. Stay tuned for official gallery opening details, it should be in the next few weeks and I’ll provide lots to drink and maybe even some food. Thanks to the crew at Animal Haven for giving me this wonderful opportunity!

AH Slideshow & Party

Earlier this month I was asked to shoot Animal Haven‘s Winter Cocktail Party, which took place at a friend of the shelter’s spectacular loft apartment. Bulldog Gin supplied the liquor and the wonderful restaurant Salt supplied the amazing food. During the event, Australian singer Sia sang her hit song “Breathe Me” alongside a slideshow presentation that Kendra Mara (Director of Community Involvement at AH), put together featuring many of her photos as well as several of mine.

Kendra also had a few of my photos blown up to poster size displayed throughout the party. Go HERE to view the rest of the photos from the fabulous event. Click here to see the VIDEO I shot during the live performance, it’s pretty powerful stuff so look out. Oh and please excuse the shaky camera work, I promise to bring a tripod next time.

nycgo.com

nycgo.com did a wonderful feature on how to adopt a pet in New York (and why to avoid going to one of those terrible pet stores), and it brought some more fantastic press to Animal Haven and lots of the other New York shelters.

Click here to see the post, and scroll down to the link for Animal Haven to see more of my images (there’s also a link to the article on the homepage). Thanks again Jen!

Time Out NY

Exciting news! My work was featured on Time Out New York today. Not only did they credit me but they also put a link to my site! Please check out all 16 photos, and while you’re at it view some images from other shelters like the ASPCA, Bideawee and more. Many thanks to all the people at Animal Haven that made this happen, and of course to all the wonderful animals that were nice enough to model for me.

Current Adoptables

There are so many great adoptable dogs and cats currently at the shelter just waiting to meet their new owners, and I can’t help but love seeing my photos on the Animal Haven website (thanks for the credits ladies!). From left to right: Michaela (Rottie Mix), Snowball (White DSH), Moon (Orange Tabby), Michi (Calico DSH), Grand (Cane Corso, has been adopted, YAY!), Rhino (Shepherd/Pit Mix), Kitty Kahmir (Tortoiseshell DSH). These are only a handful, please spread the word or come visit!