With my shot of today’s prompt ‘Warm your heart’ goes a story, the story of Tara. Tara is one of our six cats. She came last and is very special. She has given me so much (love, warmth, signs) and she is the reason that I am an animal photographer today.
Tara came to us in the summer of 2005 as a stray. Eric and I had just moved to our new house a few months before and were still in awe about all the new things around us.
She came accompanied by a male stray cat, which looked very unhealthy (but later on happened to have a home). Me being a true animal lover I couldn’t just let them be and started feeding them. Soon Tara opened up to us. She warmed my heart and I became infatuated with her.
I started trying to find Tara’s owner. Hanged flyers at the local shops, asked around, and phoned animal shelters. But no owner was found. Because we already had six cats around the house (Eric had three and I had three, that is how we met, but that is another special story), we couldn’t give Tara a home (so we thought).
So after six weeks Eric and I decided that the best thing to do was to bring Tara to the animal shelter. The day I brought her to the shelter I was heartbroken. She sat contently on my lap in the garden giving me her trust and love and I just couldn’t say goodbye to her. But I had to be brave. I picked myself up and brought Tara to the shelter.
At that time I recently had lost my job and as a return favor I signed up as a volunteer. I also just finished the first year at the Fotoacademie. Working at the shelter gave me the perfect opportunity to do what I loved most, caring for and loving animals and using my camera.
I started to photograph the animals, mostly cats, on a daily basis and got more and more inspired by them. I even succeeded to bond with the problem-cases and bad tempered ones. One evening, after another depressing talk at the kitchen table discussing about what I should do with my life, I was shaken awake. Eric pointed out to me to have a closer look at the thousands of cat photo’s I had made. I had created some pretty amazing shots. Could I do something with that? That hint opened my eyes and I had found my passion.
After three months of voluntary work at the shelter I found a job again and it was time to leave. Tara still lived at the shelter, waiting for someone to give her a home. In the meantime she had given birth to two lovely kittens. Unfortunately she had stayed in a very small cage for three months with her kittens. From a loving and trusting animal she turned into a vicious little witch. That broke my heart again; nobody at the shelter loved her but me. Knowing this how could I leave her behind?
So we decided we definitely could not leave her at the shelter and she became our seventh cat. The same day I took her home she turned into her loving self again, tried out all the favorite cat places and felt at home right away. Fortunately Tara fitted into our group of cats perfectly and she has become a loving tease.
Until much later I discovered the little heart shaped patch on Tara’s ear and all I could do was smile.
Some animals are chosen because there is a connection. Others touch your heart with a message. Either way is special. Luckily I chose to follow Tara and later on chose to give her a permanent home with us. What would I have missed if I had made different choices? Although I love all our cats dearly, up to this moment Tara is my very special friend and, strangely, I am her favorite person (sorry, Eric, but it is true).
I don’t believe in coincidence and think that a life lesson goes with this story. If you don’t know which direction to go with your life or what to decide just ask yourself questions and let go, look around you and be aware of signs you get, people you meet and be patient. The things you need sometimes come in unexpected ways. (It took me very long to figure it out and I needed Eric’s help to see what was clear ahead. And there is still lots to be learned for me).
The road to being successful as an animal photographer is not an easy one. But when I think of the story of Tara I know animal photography is meant to be for me. I need to persevere in what I love most. (My word for 2011 is perseverance).
That is why Tara fits the prompt ‘warm your heart’ perfectly. She truly warms mine.