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BlOg

A new life

Stephanie Graf-Vocat

Moving from Normandy, France to the gorgeous region of Valais in Switzerland (up in the mountains), new subjects get me inspired, probably because this is a come back to my roots. Nature, landscapes, feeling new vibes and getting lost in breathtaking atmospheres. Changes are good sometimes...

Tough year with the rescues

Stephanie Graf-Vocat

This year has been a rollercoaster with our organisation. Very few ups and sadly many downs: little support, few donations, disappointing collaborations, decreasing health of several rescues despite our efforts of providing the best care and environment, and deaths... We knew this was not always going to be easy, but when everything comes at the same time, it takes a lot of energy to stay positive. 

A session with puppies

Stephanie Graf-Vocat

Photographing puppies is not an easy task! They budge in every direction, want to discover their surroundings, want to get a closer look of that weird thing clicking in front of their noses, want to give you kisses... You have to find tricks and be quick to get decent pictures! But it sure is a lot of fun!

Don't buy a puppy on a sudden impulse, be responsible, you are committing yourself for several years! He/she will need care, education and love. It's a big adventure, full of responsibilities, but most of all full of joy and complicity!

But above all, understand that when you buy from a pet store or on the web, you contribute to animal traffic. Do some research, go see the puppy on site, ask to see the parents. The puppy must be current on his/her vaccines, be microchipped and have a valid health certificate. If anything seems dubious, that means there is traffic under there and that the parents are used as puppy machines in nasty conditions.

Prefer adoption, there are plenty of puppies and certainly older dogs, but with plenty of love to give.

Chichi Factory Rescue ~ December 2012

Stephanie Graf-Vocat

A few snowflakes for one day, a short-lived joy since we are not gonna have any snow for Xmas at Chichi Factory Rescue. Bonnie likes it this way, because having snow up the knees, even if there are only a few centimeters, not for her. 

Bob doesn't mind the cold, and whether it rains or it's windy, he doesn't care as long as he can play! The others prefer to stay warm inside and Cookie is starting to copy the others and charm us in order to get treats. He trusts us more each day.

And two new rescues arrived: two senior chichis whose owner passed away and the family couldn't take care of them. Gus is quite watchful, fearful and ready to bite, but relaxes once he trusts. His acolyte Domino is a gentle little guy, quiet and cool!

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Don't shop, adopt!

Stephanie Graf-Vocat

With the holiday season, it is necessary to remind you that you don't buy a pet! And surely not as a gift for Christmas!

Deciding to get a pet should be well thought out, because it is out of the question to let him/her down at the least trouble. A pet counts on you to love him/her, care for him/her, educate him/her, provide him/her with everything he/she needs to be happy. And until his/her last breath.

If you buy, you contribute to the animal traffic. Those you find at pet shops too often come from crooked breeders and puppy mills, ads hide more than dubious individuals. Behind all this, abuse, neglect and cupidity!

If you adopt, you save lives and above all, you make a pet who hasn't had any luck more than happy! This is priceless.

Be responsible, don't shop, adopt and especially assume!

A dog is not an object you give as a gift!

A dog is not an object you give as a gift!

Chichi Factory Rescue ~ November 2012

Stephanie Graf-Vocat

A month cold and wet, even though we have been able to enjoy a few lovely days.

On Chichi Factory Rescue's side, Bob got neutered and his teeth cleaned, which didn't affect his habits, always ready to clown around! Bonnie feels now great with her eye completely healed.

Cookie, the last rescue, is starting to trust and enjoys the comfort of the house. As for the others, they have it easy!

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Puppy mills

Stephanie Graf-Vocat

Here is Chichi Factory Rescue's last recruit and not among the least ones... A Chihuahua completely terrified, with a heavy past behind him, though still very young. Removed from a puppy mill of Eastern Europe, he spent his life in a cage and was only used for breeding. Saved from this hell and brought into France by SOS Chihuahua (a French organization), he was so terrorized in his foster home that he was growling and tried to bite, staying hidden under a bed, no way to approach him. A dog behaviorist gave a quite pessimist prognosis as to his chances of progress. So we offered to help this organization, who was looking for a solution for him, and he joined our team. Since then, he has started to trust a little, but his progression will take time.

Puppy mills are crooked breeding facilities, where dogs are stocked in insalubrious kennels or pens, who are neglected and too often mistreated, who are only good for making puppies. They do not get any care, females generate pregnancy after pregnancy, even if they are not in good shape, without knowing anything else. Males, if they are not good studs, will regret not being productive enough... Then the puppies are sold over the internet or fraudulently transported to cities like Paris (if they don't die during the trip, stacked in cages, without any water and light), to end up in flashy window displays of animal shops, priced outrageously high! Behind all this masquerade, few people know the horrible fate of these dogs, hidden in the shade. Because the parents of these puppies, they stay in this hell until their last breath, in pain and misery.

If you buy a puppy, you contribute to this shameful traffic! So please, don't shop, adopt! You will save lives.

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Chichi Factory Rescue ~ October 2012

Stephanie Graf-Vocat

A month a little hectic with Bob's arrival, an 8-year-old Poodle extremely stressed out, saved from euthanasia. A good shave was more than necessary since he really looked like Bob Marley (hence his name). A few days for adjustment and he blended in the Chichi Factory Rescue pack, with a soft spot for Mamie Nova, who he likes to kiss.

Bonnie got spayed and the big wart on her eye removed. The waking up for this 10-year-old granny was a bit difficult, but she recovered very well.

Tania and Arnold got a new trim and showed off so that we could see how beautiful they were!

Maggie and Gutz did not worry too much, enjoying the rare sunny days we've had, feels like Winter is approaching fast in Normandy...

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Chichi Factory Rescue ~ September 2012

Stephanie Graf-Vocat

Ahh, we love Fall with its beautiful light and mild temperatures... Chichi Factory Rescue's team knows how to enjoy it! We wander outdoors, hang around and when we head inside, well this lovely Norman countryside air makes us hungry, so we beg for food, as if we were starving, yeah for sure, really! Even though the wisest ones just wait. So when the message has been understood and we got a full bowl, we can finally rest, again...

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Little puppy will grow old

Stephanie Graf-Vocat

As a campaigner for the animal cause, SGV Photography adheres to the slogan "don't shop, adopt!". But still, many people prefer to buy a pet. If this is your case, at least be responsible. Please, do not buy over the internet. Look at registered breeders, discuss with them, go see the puppies on site as well as the parents of the puppies. Any good breeder will let you enter without any problem, will advise you, will have had the puppies vaccinated and microchipped before they sell them and stay available even after the sale.

And most of all, think about the responsibility of owning a puppy. You will have to train him/her, care for him/her, feed him/her. He/she will not stay tiny, he/she will grow, a lot for bigger breeds, he/she will need to exercise, etc. In order to become a happy and well-balanced dog, he/she counts on you. And for the whole duration of his/her life, which can go up to 15-20 years for smaller breeds! Too many dogs bear the brunt of irresponsible and/or ignorant people, finding temselves abandoned once grown up, or when they're declared too old, becoming much too cumbersome...

If you get a dog, it's for life, this is not some goods that you can give back once it's been used!

Thanks to the breeders of des plaines de Bierville for their trust and for letting me use the pictures of their dogs I had the pleasure to take.

An Interview

Stephanie Graf-Vocat

I've had the pleasure to be interviewed by Laura Benn, running the Pawsh Magazine. She wanted me to talk about my Fabulous Studio, so here is the interview (you can see it on Pawsh Magazine's blog):

Are you ready for a fabulous treat? Stephanie Graf-Vocat of Normandy, France runs a little home studio called ‘the fabulous studio’ where she photographs dogs and their personalities personified by clothes. Keep reading for insights into this clever photo project!

1) What was the inspiration for the ‘fabulous studio?’

I first did a personal project, as a commentary, about people choosing their dogs as accessories and matching them with their style. This was to mimic high fashion and, at times, superficiality. Then, because I think dogs are naturally fabulous, this inspired me to develop a “Fabulous studio”, where their personality is dressed up to match their human counterpart, but in a fun way.

2) What inspired the dog outfits and styles?
I thought about each dog’s personality and what style would best suit each of them. Then I chose colours and fabrics and tried my best to make it look fashionable.

3) What advice would you have for working with dogs in clothing?
Patience is the key! And treats, lots of treats. If it’s fun, they will gladly cooperate. All of my models are well trained, so it makes it way easier. The session should not be too long, because once they’re bored or have had enough, it’s over.

4) What new photo projects do you have coming up in 2013 — if you can share that?
I am currently working on “The 10 commandments of Chihuahuas” — hoping to make people realize they are not accessories, but little beings needing a lot of care, attention and good training, just like any other dog. And I just finished writing a book about dog rescue with many pictures; I’m hoping it will be published soon. I believe in trying to make people aware of dog abuse, the importance of spaying/neutering, buying vs. adopting, education, responsibility when owning a dog, etc.

5) What is your favourite thing about your work?
I have a passion for dogs and have learned so such from them, especially since being into rescue with our organization (Chichi Factory Rescue). Photographing them is a pure pleasure for me. I try to capture their essence and deliver moving pictures so that people realize that indeed, they are fabulous!

Chichi Factory Rescue ~ August 2012

Stephanie Graf-Vocat

When you find a dog and know nothing about his/her past, you can only get surprises! With this August heat, the last rescue of Chichi Factory Rescue came into her own heat... A scar on her little belly made us think she was spayed and well, she was not, she probably had a C-section. Another little one who served to have puppies and did not even have the right to be spayed to avoid any problems... Fortunately she is safe with us, no stalker male around.

As for Arnold, in order to avoid him creating any problem, he was neutered and had his teeth cleaned as well as two warts on his face removed. So he inherited the satellite cone. A little bath was needed after the stitches were removed, in order to feel fresh and new!

Maggie, the Cavalier, keeps on performing like an acrobat and swirls in the yard, enjoying herself to the full.

Tania, our diabetic Bichon, after feeling a little down, felt much better once the dosage of her insulin injections has been revised.

And our Mamie Nova is seriously losing her hearing, which doesn't prevent her from hearing what she wants to hear ... An old little gal's strategy ??

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Chichi Factory Rescue ~ July 2012

Stephanie Graf-Vocat

While the old cat is taking it easy, SGV Photography takes pictures and takes care of the Chichi Factory Rescue's residents.

An hypothyroidic Poodle in a bad shape, maybe a Crested cross as he is mostly hairless... His treatment will tell if his hairs grow back... A Shih-tzu found in the streets, unable to walk because her hairs were severely tangled! She has apparently been carted several times in her life, a punctured eye, the other one damaged, a heavy past behind her.

Maggie, the abused Cavalier King Charles, got her teeth cleaned and a big cyst and small mammary tumor removed.

As for Tania, the diabetic Bichon abandoned when her owner passed away, she is up for adoption and feeling great!

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Support Chichi Factory Rescue!

Stephanie Graf-Vocat

I mentioned it before and now it's done: we created a dog rescue organization! Go check the website Chichi Factory Rescue, every picture is from SGV Photography !

The organization rescues mostly Chihuahuas and Chinese Cresteds retired form kennels, but also Cavaliers King Charles, Poodles and any tiny dog in need, giving priority to the old and damaged ones... An instructive and interactive blog hopes to sensitize people and thus saving lives. Be part of the chichi community, it's free! Share your experience and story, whether be into rescue or any other activity of the K9 world. Besides, your expertise would be precious to us and you could write articles on a given subject (health, training, behavior, etc.). Help us change mindsets!

And follow us on facebook and twitter!

Have a quick dip... Well, not really!

Stephanie Graf-Vocat

Heat came suddenly in Normandy and everyone had a hanging tongue after one minute outdoors... So we thought it would be nice to buy a little pool for our furry pack! Surely some really enjoyed it, while others were a bit more sceptical... If not totally unhappy! Oh well, when you think you're doing the right thing...

A helping paw for the new terrace

Stephanie Graf-Vocat

Since sunny days are coming, we had to improve our outdoors, so we got down to build a new terrace! Of course, our little furry friends were there to help and especially to give their opinion! We first had to delimit the perimeter - a good opportunity for some agility -, then we had to dig, spread some sand, rake it - Elliott was ready to alert us if we were overflowing -, put the stones and hit them - Elliott was setting the tempo! And when everything was finished, we could all finally rest... Quite a task!