The Rez Dog Biographies
Your support will allow me to create and market The Rez Dog Biographies Photo Book/Story Book - and donate 100% of the profit to rescues who generate significant and repeatable results. Whether these funds help them sponsor low cost/no cost spay and neuter clinics, provide food and vet services to Rez Dog foster homes, or pay to transport rescued Rez Dogs to their forever home, you can be assured that your contribution will make a huge difference in the lives of the dogs and the people who work daily to save them.
This is a deeply personal project. The Rez Dog Biographies began in 2006 when I pulled to the side of Arizona Highway 89 south of Page to make an “empty highway” picture. Against all odds, my car stopped directly across the road from what became my first Rez Dog Rescue Success Story. She (ultimately named Page) was a mix of many herding breeds and when I found her, she was tired, thirsty and starving. There is a magical quality to all things “Rez” that can be experienced but not explained. For me, this magic expressed itself in the fact that the process of saving my first Rez Dog saved me as well. This project builds on important life lessons I learned from an abandoned dog and is my best hope for repaying an incalculable debt. This one’s for you, Page.
I'll use photography to show how Rez Dogs live and survive in an austere environment. I'll use short paragraphs to describe the day-to-day of how Rez Dog Rescue 501(c)3s go about the business of rescue on the Rez. And I'll use both pictures and words to share adoption success stories that prove beyond a doubt that a rescued Rez Dog is the best pet/companion in the world. Count on lots of Success Stories - and don't be surprised when the focus occasionally shifts to the heroes that have opened their homes and their hearts to these desperate animals.
The easiest way to support The Rez Dog Biographies is to share this campaign with friends, relatives or groups you feel might be interested. The obvious way to support the cause is to make a donation right now. The most powerfull way to help make The Rez Dog Biographies a reality is to adopt one. In all fairness, I should warn you that third option will circle back to the first two because Rez Dogs truly are special animals. Whether nature or nurture created these dogs doesn't matter. What does matter is that they exist, that they are suffering and supporting The Rez Dog Biographies is one way you can help alleviate the suffering.
The Rez Dog Biographies
1) Get the word out that Rez Dogs exist and are amazingly adoptable. Please check out the main story in the May issue of Phoenix Dog Magazine - https://www.facebook.com/127330223954490/posts/2279898322030992/
2) Raise money for Rez rescue groups. As an example, I've donated Rez Dog Biographies photography to three separate fundraisers/auction since December, raising over $3,100 to support the missions of RezDawg Rescue and Under Dog Rescue - Moab.
3) Support the Rez Dog cause in any way I can. During the past twelve months, I've donated on average 80 hours per month of writing, photography, and fundraising activities to Rez Dog rescues. As project manager/grunt for RezDawg Rescue's May "Puppy and Kitten Season Silent Auction," we achieved 105% of a $10,000 goal supporting transport, medical, and fostering expenses during this, their busiest time of year.
The fact remains this GoFundMe was primarily intended to provide for expenses associated with creating a Rez Dog Biographies photo book - and the book hasn't happened.
Another fair question, "Why?" This initiative only raised 30% of what was a very pared down budget for the book. I've made the images, written the text, and done my best to make them both look pretty enough to publish. The latter point is where things ground to a screeching halt. I simply haven't been able to save enough money to pay a professional designer... and before you ask another fair question, my designer of choice offered a huge "great human" discount but I refuse be be "that guy" who expects artists to work for free when they have bills to pay too. After that comes publishing expenses so I can gift the first 200 copies to a Rez rescue so they can sell them and begin the "RDB Fundraising Process" as I envisioned when I began this project.
And my car died after 260,000 glorious miles (mostly) cruising the Rez and I haven't' yet been able to replace her. Actually, life happened on a number of fronts but those issues are only pertinent to communicate that one of the penalties I received for leaving corporate America to become a writer/photographer/dog rescuer is that I need to be a lot more creative solving the normal day-to-day issues that everyone faces.
The final fair question you might ask: What's the plan from here?
1) "Don't Quit" is priority one. I left my previous life to live this one for some very good reasons. Through rescue, I've met amazing people (and animals!) and been personally fulfilled beyond my greatest hopes and dreams. I have no doubt the RDB book/business plan/fundraiser will be successful. As delays in publishing occur, I continue to work on the message and content of the book and the finished product will be so much better than the original concept it's ridiculous. I'm taking the frustrations of the past year and turning them into "Kick-Ass Editor" fuel.
2) I was always careful to present this GoFundMe as an opportunity to help me get this project done rather than a straight transaction of "donate and you'll get a book." My intention has always been to send everyone who donated a finished copy of the book once the book was finished...
In order to breath some new life into my day-to-day and the project as a whole, and my "RDB book" bank account, I'm now prepared to put this in writing: Everyone who donated the Rez Dog Biographies Book Project up to June 9, 2019 will receive a free copy of the book and my eternal gratitude. If you donate twice/and or in excess of $150, you'll receive a copy of the book in addition to a matted signed image from the Rez Dog Biographies "Rez Dog Habitat" series. (matted 8x10s retail for $175, or $125 for documented dog people)
3) Anyone who donates $150 or more from June 11, 2019 going forward will absolutely receive a copy of the book.
4) Some of you might recognize a two day hole in there where you can get more for donating less. Good luck!
Thank you for reading this far, for donating in the first place, and for being amazing people in general. If it's not too much trouble, please share either this message or the Rez Dog Biographies Facebook page ( https://www.facebook.com/RezDogBiographies) with your network...
This project WILL get done and while the RDB has already made a difference to Rez Dogs and their rescuers, that's nothing compared to what we'll be able to accomplish if we can get this thing rolling.
Thanks again for your generosity, patience, and for being a Great Human. Have a great week!
1) I continue to believe the book version of the RDB can and will become a meaningful source of funding for Rez Dog rescue groups and am constantly working to bring the project to fruition. I'm grateful to and humbled by the support from those of you that have contributed and ask that you know this: I will never quit on the dogs and I will make this fundraiser a reality.
2) We've gotten some good press lately. Please reference this article from the Durango Herald published March 16, 2017 - I owe those folks a really nice lunch...
3) Four Corners Expos has offered to donate space at their Durango Pet Expo this June so I can share the good word about Rez Dogs and maybe sell a few prints to help fund the book. Chances are slim that that this is affordable for me but I'll be donating two prints for sale at the Silent Auction to benefit The Blackhat Humane Society and Soul Dog Rescue. (It was at one of their combined spay/neuter clinics that I adopted my current Rez Dog, Chinle. This is only one of the ways I hope to repay them for this amazing beast)
4) The interview with Chris will (maybe I should say "should..." It all depends on the editors) also include information about the role Chinle and I will play at Second Chance Center for Animals' Paws and Claws Circus fundraiser scheduled for April 22 in Flagstaff, AZ. At the event, I'll share pictures and stories about my experiences on the Rez, tell you about some of the dogs I've met and most importantly, discuss how we can eliminate the Rez Dog situation in the Four Corners Region of the US (Spoiler: it'll take communication, collaboration and education - both on the Rez and off) Tickets are currently available but act quickly because space is limited.
5) The interview with Channel 12 is scheduled to air sometime during the weekend of April 1 (and no, this isn't an April Fool's joke) If the world doesn't fall apart between now and then, I'm hopeful we'll get some great exposure for the Rez Dogs we all love.
UPDATE: The piece aired on April 1, 2017. Some great content was left on the cutting room floor but I'm hugely grateful to Chris, Nancy and 12 News Phoenix for the opportunity to get out the good word about the dogs.
For more info on any of the above, please check:
Facebook - The Rez Dog Biographies
Instagram - RezDogBiographies
http://www.stevensable.com (until the book's release, this site will continue to be a work in progress so, sorry for the Flash)
As always, please reach out if you have any questions or comments. Thank you for your continued support (and patience.)
Unfortunately, we've been stalled at this point for months - but it's not from lack of effort. I've pitched the project to dozens of potential sponsors and their responses have been very consistent: they love the photography and writing, they're touched by the Rez Dog situation but they're not willing to fund the completion of the book.
I've also discussed the book/fundraiser/pictures with countless individuals and their response has been similar to the larger organizations. They're touched by the pictures and stories but despite the fact that proceeds from image sales goes to Rez rescue groups, they simply don't want to hang these particular dog pictures on their wall. The implication is that were the book to be published tomorrow, it wouldn't be as successful as we envisioned at the beginning of the project.
So what to do? How could I build on the positive feelings people have about the RDB and remove the obstacles that prevented me from publishing the book?
Rather than focusing on the Rez dog situation as it is, I began to focus on the dog stories themselves. The message behind the RDB - that there is a problem, and groups working to solve it need our support - will still come through but will be delivered in a way that isn't quite so oppressive. The results have been positive and unanimous. Manny's story is by far the most popular blog I've written for RezDawg Rescue. Edgar's story is a close second.
The Rez rescue pictures and stories I've created to date will form the foundation of the improved version of the Rez Dog Biographies. The change I'm making to the project is simple but significant: I'll be telling the complete story of the Rez Dogs I meet rather than simply sharing their current (dire) situation. Other than that, the goals and style of the book remain unchanged.
Ultimately, I'm asking for your continued patience while I return to the Rez to create "soup to nuts" Rez rescue stories. My belief is that if people are touched by the Rez dog problem (they are) and like the pictures/stories as presented (they do), the likelihood that this book will create meaningful funding for Rez rescue groups will increase significantly... as will the likelihood that I can raise the funds needed to complete the project.
I'll continue to keep you posted. I'll continue to share stories on Facebook, Instagram and any publication that supports the project. I'll continue to be forever grateful for your support and trust.
Steven, One thing I learned from working at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary is that people respond to happy stories. Those of us in animal rescue think that telling people what an emergency it is will get most people engaged - after all, it works on us. But that is simply not true for most people. People support success and want to be associated with positive things. I think you are going in the right direction.