Ever since I was a little girl I have had a love for animals, especially dogs. I had a dream of becoming a vet when I was younger but as I grew older and my life took a different path this dream never became a reality. My Dad told me once that it would be hard to be a vet and have to see sick and injured pets and even put down the ones we couldn't save or the ones that had come to the end of their lives. This made sense to me and while, yes, I think that would have been hard to see and deal with, it is the ones you save that makes up for those that you cannot. I knew I always wanted a houseful of dogs and I always wanted to help those that I could not bring home with me.
I was so blessed to have found my other half so early in life and our lives took us into the Navy at a very young age, we married when he was 21 and I was 19 and only one month after he was off to boot camp. While in the Navy, we moved all over the country and never lived in one place more than 3 years. I knew I couldn't do much with my urge to help animals since we were always on the move, and most places we lived had us limited to 2 pups of our own. When we finally bought our own house, we broke the rule of 2 and adopted a 3rd pup, it was kinda unplanned but life with 3 was good. In May of 2009, we unexpectedly lost our first boxer and only a few short months later we lost our first rescue that Cliff and I saved together before we were married. On my birthday in 2009, we adopted another one in memory of the 2 we lost and, well, we couldn't just have one! We have always had rescue dogs, with the exception of our 2 boxers, and they were never from a breeder but from what I like to call an oops litters. Over the years, we have gone from 3 to 2 and even down to one and back to 2 and then 3 and now we are at 4...yes we have 4 of our own.
While in NY I felt the need to find something for me, I had done the stay at home Mom and the Navy wife thing for 13 years. I needed to find something I was passionate about, something for me, and so Amy O'Banion Photography came to life in 2011. I started the business and learned the trade and truly enjoyed capturing moments for my clients, who I like to call friends. I grew the business, moved it...twice, and when we got out of the Navy in 2014 and moved back home to TX, Cliff, my husband, came on board and now we shoot as a team. We have changed the name to O'Banion Portraiture to include him and we enjoy working the business together. I knew now that were settled back in TX I wanted to find a shelter or a rescue to volunteer with and donate the trade that I learned, photography!
In January of 2015, we were forced to make the tough decision to put down one of our babies, this was the 3rd time we had to deal with the loss of one of our fur-babies and not an easy decision to make, but he was in pain and couldn't get up anymore and we knew it was time. We were back to 2 and we didn't really have the intention of going back to 3, until we were at Tractor Supply in April of 2015 getting food for our ducks and there was a table set up with a crate full of puppies...I knew I was in trouble and, well, so did Cliff. He went on in to get the food while I hung back and visited with a friend of the Executive Director of a fairly new rescue called A Life to Live. I had been looking for a rescue to work with and donate our time and photography to and also donate some profits to from a pet mini session event we had set up and this just seemed perfect. We visited with Jay and offered our services and asked if he would like to be the rescue we donated the proceeds from the session to. We also fell in love with a puppy out of the 4 that were there, I just felt we needed to honor our Jasper and bring another pup into the home. We now had the land and a nice home and, well, lots of love to give to a new pup, we chose a beautiful pup named Mazey...now Lily. I cannot imagine life without this pup and I just feel like it was fate that we met Jay that day, this began my journey in animal rescue. I have been working with A Life to Live for a little over a year now and I just have to say it has filled that void, that urge to help those in need! I cannot say thank you enough to my husband and family and all the support they have given not only to me through this journey and the need and want to help but also all the support and time they have given to A Life to Live.
We volunteer at events, provide photos to help get the animals adopted and help promote A Life to Live, we have also fostered for A Life to Live. In 2015 we saved a Mom and litter of 6 pups from a high kill shelter and fostered them until they were all adopted and, yes this is where our 4th pup came from, we had a foster fail with our little Olaf. A lot of people say I cannot foster because I would keep them all...Yes, it is so hard to foster and not get attached but I am so happy to know that all the pups and momma dog found wonderful homes! It truly makes it worth it, even though it is hard to see them go! It was not always easy, and there were many days I wanted to pull my hair out but in the end to know we saved 7 lives felt truly amazing! We had some sick puppies in the beginning and the momma dog was not in too good of shape either, but we as a family nursed them all back to health, I weaned the pups and trained them and then we sent them off to their new homes. We also fostered a boxer that was found, as a stray, by a friend who is also involved in animal rescue. She needed help as she had a house full so being a boxer lover and knowing she needed help and does so much to help others out I offered to help and reached out to Jay and asked if we could foster him. We brought Chief into the program, got him up to date on shots, neutered and fattened him up and got him ready to go to his forever home. He was such a sweet boy and just wanted to be loved, we found him a perfect home with an experienced boxer owner and he now lives with 2 other boxer siblings.
Why do I do it? I know that is probably a question on a lot of peoples minds. I find that a lot of people will never understand why we do what we do. I guess my thinking is, why do more people not help? Why are there so many homeless pets, why are there so many turned into shelters every day, why are there so many dogs tied up or raised as backyard pets? It just seems to me to be an easy answer to as why do I do it, they are helpless and rely on us. They trust us with their lives, they love with all they have and all they ask is to be loved in return. For those that need help, we have to help! They cannot help themselves and rely on us to do so! Yes, it is hard to see so many cruelty cases, so many homeless, so many mistreated, unloved, injured, etc. but I just try to focus on the ones we can save, the ones we find homes for. I may not always be it the position to foster but I do volunteer when I can and I truly enjoy being a part of A Life to Live and being able to help the ones we can! There is no better feeling than saving a life and being a part of that! I have found my calling and I look forward to growing with A Life to Live for many years!
Are you intrigued? Think you might want to make a difference? You can do it too! A Life to Live is a foster based organization, without fosters, we cannot take in more animals. The more fosters we have, the more lives we can save! If you have ever thought about it, ever wondered if you could do it, if you have the love and you have the room in your home, please consider giving it a shot. If you want to help, even if it's just to volunteer at events every once in awhile or maybe help in other ways please reach out, we always need volunteers! Contact A Life to Live to see about joining this awesome organization!