We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.

– Winston Churchill

I believe these words with all of my heart. I don’t remember exactly when I knew something was missing from my life, but for many years I felt like I was searching for something to be a part of.

The first time I volunteered for Pawsitive Alliance was in 2017 at Bow Wow Meow Luau. I had reached out to Executive Director, Amy Ferguson, a couple of months before to ask about getting involved as a photographer with their #WhynotMEpets program. At that time they were not organizing photo sessions on a regular basis specifically for #WhynotMEpets, but they received photos of the pets from their partner shelters and sometimes from professional photographers that volunteered at the shelters. When I received an email last June asking about volunteers for Bow Wow Meow Luau, I jumped at the chance to get involved. I ended up photographing the event alongside another incredibly talented photographer, Lara Grauer, who had photographed Bow Wow Meow Luau in the past.  I had never been to a large adoption event before, so this was a day full of so much discovery for me. I loved it. After this day, I started meeting with Amy and Laura Finley (she does all the things for #WhynotMEpets) to talk about #WhynotMEpets, and how I could get involved. In November of 2017, I volunteered to photograph Pawsitive Futures, Pawsitive Alliance’s annual fundraising event, and this is where I learned about everything that Pawsitive Alliance does. I knew that day, that I was going to jump in, if they would have me, and do whatever I could to help #WhynotMEpets grow. The next week, I sat down with Amy and Laura to talk about what we could do together. This is when we came up with the idea to do weekly portrait sessions on Facebook Live with a #WhynotMEpets featured animal.

Between December of 2017 and August of 2018, I have photographed over 40 animals for #WhynotMEpets. Every Tuesday we have a portrait session with a dog or a cat that has been homeless for 60 days or longer. We travel to shelters and rescues all over NW Washington to help put a spotlight on the pets in our program. I feel really lucky to be a part of the #WhynotMEpets and Pawsitive Alliance team, and I am looking forward to continuing to capture the wonderful things being done by not only our program, but all the shelters and rescues we get to work with.

The animals that we feature in the #WhynotMEpets program have, for some reason or another, had a difficult time finding permanent homes. They come from all different types of situations, and are of varying ages and personalities. The one thing they all have in common is that there is hope for their future. They all deserve to be loved and cared for by someone, and they all have love to give. We focus on that part of their story. The possibilities for their future, and the hope of a life that rescues not only them, but the people who bring them home for good.

This work we are doing is important, but it’s also rewarding in ways I had no idea it would be. The relationships that we build with our partner shelters and the amazing people who work and volunteer for them are invaluable. Every session I have at one of these shelters leaves me with so much gratitude for the opportunity to learn from the people who work so hard to help these animals find homes.

If you’re looking for some way to get involved, reach out to your local shelter to see what kind of help they need. If you’d like to be a part of a team that helps a lot of shelters in Washington State, Pawsitive Alliance is always looking for great volunteers to help us with our programs. All of the animals we feature with #WhynotMEpets need your help sharing their stories, so even if all you can do is pass along the portraits we take and the stories we tell, that will make all the difference.


#WhynotMEpets photographed by Dirtie Dog Photography from December 2017 to August 2018.

#WhynotMEpets photographed by Dirtie Dog Photography from December 2017 to August 2018.


#WhynotMEpets session at Emerald City Pet Rescue.

#WhynotMEpets session at Humane Society of Skagit Valley.

#WhynotMEpets session at Homeward Pet Adoption Center.

#WhynotMEpets session at Seattle Area Feline Rescue. 

#WhynotMEpets session at Emerald City Pet Rescue.

#WhynotMEpets session at Everett Animal Shelter. 

#WhynotMEpets session at Kitsap Humane Society.

#WhynotMEpets session at Regional Animal Services of King County. 


To follow along with all the amazing #WhynotMEpets adventures, please follow here:

#WhynotMEpets on Instagram: @whynotmepets

Pawsitive Alliance on Facebook: @pawsitivealliance

Dirtie Dog Photography on Instagram: @dirtiedogphotography



Thanks for reading, and if you have your own “giving back” story to share, I would love to hear it! Leave a comment, or you can get in touch by emailing me marika@dirtiedogphotography.com .


All my love!



Pets nearing the end of their journey take priority in my schedule. If you're in need of a photo session ASAP, let's get you to the front of the line.