Dignified Pet Services presents 'People in the Neighborhood'
While age may frost our pets’ noses and stiffen their joints, Pauline Zonneveld's camera finds the beauty written by the years. Her minimalistic style lets her subjects shine through with grace and humor.
A world traveler of Dutch descent, Pauline enters a room like a breath of fresh air, with positive energy, a ready smile, and an artist’s soul. A longtime photographer, she is currently immersed in year five of "The Good Old Dog Project," a labor of love inspired by a missed opportunity.
"On a winter day in 2010 I noticed my neighbor's elderly Australian Shepherd, Kali, struggling to make her daily walk around the yard,” Pauline shares. “I was immediately drawn to her grey muzzle, uncertain steps, and gentle demeanor. As a photographer, I recognized the potential of a terrific portrait, and a way to pay tribute to her courage and perseverance. Before I had a chance to do so, Kali died. I realized I had missed an opportunity and decided to embark on a quest to find aging models and honor them with a beautiful portrait. The Good Old Dog Project was born!"
The project introduced her to Oregon and landed her in Oprah's O magazine. It also, she says with a smile, “has given definition to my life and my career. Spending time with people and their dogs, I can't imagine doing anything else.”
While she’s lived many places, including France, Switzerland, England and Israel, Pauline says Oregon immediately felt right. “It's the first time I've considered becoming an American citizen!"
Raised in the Netherlands in a row house with rabbits, chickens, a pig, “and cats, of course,” and a mom who “had thetouch — she could find a mouse with a broken leg, and take care of it,” it was only 7 years ago that Pauline got her first dog, Maggie, a vivacious Goldendoodle.
"Maggie is my life," she enthuses. "A 'Maggie greeting' is bursting with joy and happiness, tail going like a helicopter. It puts a great big smile on my face."
The shoes that are ‘so Pauline’? "A tossup between hiking boots for walking with Maggie, and my ballerina flats because I'm so tall," she smiles.
Those hiking boots could take her far — Pauline says she’d love “life as a nomad — six months in Rome, learn the neighborhood, see and feel how it is to live there, then move perhaps to Berlin, then India, then onward. I thrive on the road."
That road could make use of her double Master's degree, earned in Holland at age 41. Traveling the globe as a cultural anthropologist, WITH camera of course.
For now, her life and work are here. When presenting her photos to clients, "I see the emotion on their faces, and how much they appreciate what I have created for them,” she says. “I can tell then how important it's going to be to them for the rest of their lives. That's why I have such a beautiful, wonderful job — making people happy!"
Good Old Dog Project mini sessions are available now through Nov. 15.
"For mini-sessions, we will photograph your Good Old Dog in exchange for a $29 signup fee," Zonneveld explains. "One hundred percent of this fee will be donated to The Pixie Project...something you can feel good about!"
All "Good Old Dog Project" subjects for the season appear in a gallery showing, to be announced after the first of the year. Dogs of all ages are welcome for the mini sessions.
About our Sponsor
Dignified Pet Services has served the Portland-area community for 13 years. In addition to their core business of cremation and memorial services, Dignified co-sponsors the beloved annual Service of Remembrance at The Old Church in downtown Portland, as well as serving as wonderful supporters and friends of pets and those working in animal welfare. Proprietors Michael, Randy and Avani live in Sherwood.
Christy Caballero writes from her soul about animals and their humans. She and hubby Herb compete for space on the couch with three big RagaMuffin cats, two retired racing greyhounds and one slightly neurotic foster greyhound -- who never wants to leave. Ever.
UPDATE: Slightly neurotic foster greyhound / failed foster number three. Never has to leave. Ever.