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Looking beyond appearances

Stephanie Graf-Vocat

I am helping another organziation, Rescue Dogs Rock NYC, who mostly rescues Pittbulls and Pitt mixes. They are sadly still very much misunderstood and abused. So many end up euthanized in shelters, it is so appalling. They are gentle giants when properly trained and loved.

This organization steps up and also saves many dogs with severe injuries, so of course, the vet bills add up quickly. If you want to support them, please go to www.rescuedogsrocknyc.org

New pack member

Stephanie Graf-Vocat

It happened, although we did not see it coming… We helped a foster family who intended to adopt. He was a puppy mill rescue senior who needed rehab, scared of everything and everyone, of course not house trained or leash trained, they were really struggling. After a week with us, he started letting his guard down, although we knew the road was going to be long. We discovered he loved going to the dog parks and he started to trust us more. Our amazing pack was of course of great help!

After a few weeks, despite his progress, they realized it was a lot to handle and their schedule did not allow them to give him enough time to continue the training. So we kept fostering him. Then the organization decided he should go to a sanctuary, it lingered, and he was up for adoption again until they decided what to do with him… It had been two months, he had settled with us and frankly, we thought he deserved more than going from one place to another without ever feeling safety of a family. And well, there weren’t many people interested, being a senior with behavioral issues…

So we adopted him! He still needs time to be more balanced, but at least he feels at home. Funny fact is, he was amongst the very first dogs I photographed in the city!

More adoptables!

Stephanie Graf-Vocat

Helping another wonderful organization, Pupstarz Rescue, who saves many dogs ans cats from shelters and often brings them from another state to NYC. I have met so many different four-legged, whether it was right after their transport, at an event or for a mini photo session with their fosters, when they haven’t received any interest for a while and help boost their profile, it is always such a rewarding adventure!

Please always consider adopting, it saves lives. To learn more about them, please visit www.pupstarzrescue.org


Stephanie Graf-Vocat

After a much deserved break from rescue - although I still have a handful with our little pack - I finally decided to offer my help to rescue organizations in the big apple. For now, I’ll mostly take pictures to help the dogs and cats get adopted.

True North Rescue Mission is an organization who saves dogs coming from puppy mills for the most part, a mission close to my heart as I always focused on abused and neglected dogs, many seniors and special needs, coming from similar situations. These pictures were taken right when several dogs from Missouri arrived, still quite pertubed by this whole new adventure, yet not aware that heir future was gonna be much brighter.

Please take a look at their website and support them if you can, either by a donation or by responsibly adopting: www.truenorthrescue.org

Tough year with the rescues

Stephanie Graf-Vocat

This year has been a rollercoaster with our organization. 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!