Cracker: Portrait of a Spokane rescue dog

March 22, 2019
dog with brown eye and blue eye

The rescue dog is a special breed.

He has a way of unlocking a little corner of your heart that you never knew existed.

He has a way of letting you know you did the right thing by bringing them home.

The rescue dog has a way of changing your life.

It’s almost like he’s showing an endless amount of gratitude.

But maybe we humans are the ones who should be grateful for all rescue dogs are teaching us.

A chance encounter on the internet

Nicole grew up around dogs.

Her parents always had boxers, purchased from registered breeders.

One day, when she and her fiancé, Chris, were surfing the internet together on a visit to Seattle, they landed on Petfinder, a website that aggregates pets for adoption around the country.

“I’ve never adopted a rescue dog, and this was going to be our first dog together,” Nicole recalls. “We just felt compelled to do it this way.”

And there he was.


A pug-Australian mix whose senior owner couldn’t care for him anymore.

Back home at the Spokane Humane Society.

They went straight there when they got back to the east side of the state.

“He was so crazy and cute at the same time,” Nicole says. “We knew right when they opened the door to his kennel that we were taking him home.”

family looks lovingly at spokane rescue dog

Settling a rescue dog into a new home

Cracker’s paperwork told Nicole and Chris that he was four years old, had lived outside his entire life and was never leash trained.

The couple figured they had their work cut out for them.

“He was so shy at first,” Nicole says. “We thought his tail was glued to his butt! He even hid under our nightstand for the first two or three weeks.”

They refused to give up on him.

Cracker started to come out of his shell.

First, he warmed up to Chris.

He’d play … tentatively.

Then he’d retreat.

Come back out again for more.

Fast forward a whole year and he’s a full-fledged member of the family, bonded with Chris, Nicole and Chris’s seven-year-old daughter, Kailei.

pug husky rescue dog with young girl

A perfect fit

The bonding process with a dog is a special one.

They hand over their love and their trust, risking it all, along with their safety, to show us just how special a connection we’ve made with them.

“It’s a permanent bond that is so pure and so strong,” Nicole says. “They can teach us a whole new lesson about love and trust if we let them.”

And how Nicole and Chris have let Cracker teach them.

About daily life.

About planning to include a four-legged member of the family.

And about the connections that can be made.

Not just with a rescue dog.

But also with each other.

“We are more compassionate toward each other because of him,” Nicole says. “We want to give him the best possible living environment.”

They were told Cracker was well cared for, which isn’t always the case for dogs that end up in rescue situations.

He was one of the lucky ones.

Luckier even for having found Nicole and Chris.

Of course, they’re the ones who consider themselves blessed.

“We appreciate being in the moment so much more than we did before Cracker,” Nicole says, beaming with a grin. “We know he won’t be around forever and so we make sure he has a best day every day.

“He gives us so much gratitude for our daily life.”

Check out a gallery of highlights from Cracker’s portrait session with his family:

Stories about Spokane, North Idaho rescue dogs

Do you want to tell your rescue dog’s story?

I started the year off by limiting this promo to 10 spots but, since I’ve been having so much fun meeting rescue dogs around Spokane and Coeur d’Alene, along with their furever families, I want to keep going.

For a small reservation fee of $99, you get a one-hour portrait session, two social media-sized files, and one mounted 8×10. Just the portrait session and 8×10 typically run $169 with me.

You also get featured in a blog post right here on

Message or call me at 208-618-1630 or click through this button to my contact page for a handy form to fill out.

All around the circle

Yes, you’ve met Cracker and his furever family before.

I’ve featured their images twice already for Smells like spring spirit and Home: Wherever the dog is.

Cracker was the perfect subject for this week’s Project 52 blog circle subject, Portraits.

Portraits can be expressed not only in images, but also in words.

Now let’s see how other dog photographers around the world are handling portraits.

Start with  Lynda Mowat of Heartstrings Photography, based in Hamilton, New Zealand. Read her portrait post then click the link at the bottom to get to the next one.

Travel through the circle and when you land back here, you’re home.

Right where you belong.


  • Tracy Allard
    August 9, 2019

    What a great story, I love happy endings.

  • Elaine
    March 29, 2019

    This is such a lovely story, as are the photos which showcase a portrait of his life now. He is one lucky pup!

  • Colleen
    March 23, 2019

    Cracker is so darn cute! Your photos of him with his family are beautiful… such a happy, happy story.

  • Lynda Mowat
    March 23, 2019

    Cracker is a very lucky dog! But as you say, so is his family to have him. They teach us so much. A beautiful story, beautifully told.

  • Darlene
    March 22, 2019

    Beautiful story! These are amazing – wonderful memories to be cherished.

  • Nicole Sallee
    March 22, 2019

    Oh I am just speechless – you did a great job capturing our story. We are so incredibly grateful to have found you!!! Thank you for everything you do. This blog post makes my whole dang month!

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