'Zoey and Jasper' stunning photo series featuring Taiwanese former stray dog and baby becomes international sensation
Taiwan, April, 28, 2014
A Taiwanese homeless dog that was rescued seven years ago and placed in a new home in the United States leapt into international fame after being featured in a photo series along with a 10-month-old baby, whose mother and professional photographer recently posted the album online.
Animal Rescue Team Taiwan ( ) volunteers said that "Zoey" was rescued from the streets seven years ago. "It was summertime and she had been helplessly abandoned in front of a store located in Taipei's Yonghe District," recalled a volunteer. After volunteers looked after her to make sure that she fully recovered, she was flown to Los Angeles where she found a new home with Grace Chon, a commercial animal and lifestyle photographer.
Grace is a second-generation Korean American and an award-winning advertising agency art director. Due to a chance encounter, she adopted Zoey from Taiwan through the efforts of and a Los Angeles animal protection organization.
Grace in recent days posted a new series of portraits, "Zoey and Jasper – a Rescue Dog and her Little Boy" featuring her 10-month-old baby Jasper and Taiwanese former stray dog Zoey wearing an assortment of matching outfits, from fur, aviator, knitted and birthday hats to cool shades. The series of adorable shots became and instant sensation on the Web.
Zoey and Jasper's "twin" photos soon incited attention from international media as well. Other than the UK's Daily Mail newspaper publishing the story, U.S. television news network also ran a feature in which 's rescue and sendoff for Zoey to start a new life in the U.S. was mentioned twice. "We feel that Zoey is truly a symbol of Taiwanese pride," agreed the volunteers who rescued her seven years ago.
"My greatest hope is that I can capture the animals' most joyful and lively moments," says Grace. "I believe that is my greatest source of passion for life and sense of accomplishment."
A few years ago, she set up a pet photography studio. Later she gave birth to a mixed Chinese Korean baby, Jasper. As a new mother she was ecstatic, always trying out different outfits for the baby and the dog, but not expecting that they pair shot together would result in such stunning photos.
Grace says that Zoey likes to accompany her in long walks. "When she eats bread she leaves crumbs all over the floor!" she laughs. "I also often take Zoey on shootings of homeless dogs throughout the Greater Los Angeles area in the hopes that they too can get the chance of being adopted."
Creativity and attention to detail
After reviewing the series of photos of Zoey and Jasper that captured the Internet by storm, senior photographer Wong Zhihong said that at least in some of the shots, the boy and dog appear to have been shot separately and then superimposed into one photo. "It's not difficult to tell the subjects were shot separately from the lighting, orientation, sharpness of the objects' edges and the blue backdrop," he says.
But he adds that whether the two were actually shot at the same time or not is not what matters, what is even more noteworthy here is the photographer's degree of careful thought, creativity and attention to detail, particularly in light of the fact that pets and children are the most difficult subjects – and require double the patience – to shoot.
Compared with typical Taiwanese photography, Wong lamented that there was generally a "lack of originality" at the domestic level. Aside from photography skills, what is more important is that the photographer is willing to "put effort, spend time and have patience" in creating an original piece in order to be able to achieve works that are able to captivate people.
About cross-ocean adoptions
has rescued more than 5,000 homeless animals in more than a decade. But because it is extremely difficult to find homes for disabled animals in Taiwan, has partnered with animal protection groups in the United States and Canada for more than 10 years and has successfully placed more than 2,500 dogs and cats in new homes – something that even international animal protection groups have deemed an "impossible mission."
has tried tirelessly to find new homes in Taiwan for stray dogs and cats, but the adoption rates are extremely low. We have even had to endure some people's irrational discrimination, such as believing that white paws is not auspicious and bringing up two dogs at the same time is bad luck.
What is more, those that are adopted have a high return rate, and there are even unexplained disappearances, cases of abuse, and others that result in having to take the animal back by force, leaving Taiwanese adoptive parents sad and disappointed.
That's why for more than 10 years, has cooperated with animal rescue groups in Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York and Vancouver, among other cities, to carry our cross-ocean adoptions and help formerly abused or otherwise disable or injured dogs in Taiwan find a new home abroad.
According to , cross-adoption follow-ups show that most families that adopt from abroad take the initiative to send photos of the cat or dog and make sure to update on how the animal is doing in its new home. Because of such good results, has made it a priority to implement cross-ocean adoptions.
Many animals that would otherwise be of little interest among would-be adopters in Taiwan, such as those with white paws, missing a leg, blind, paralyzed, physically or mentally traumatized or severely abused dogs and cats, have found happy new homes in the United States and Canada thanks to cross-ocean adoptions, making volunteers feel that their efforts on this front are well-worth it.
But carrying out cross-ocean adoptions is not without its difficulty and challenges. Even though several students and businesspeople have answered ads and applied to become "animal escorts" to accompany dogs and cats on their long journeys abroad to their new homes, often times the number is not enough.
has in the past even spent significant amount of funds to place ads on in-flight magazines to search for passengers traveling to Seattle, Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York or Vancouver to volunteer to become "animal escorts" in order to carry on with the important mission of cross-ocean adoptions. To learn more about cross-ocean adoptions, click here