InBetween The Blinks » Pet photography by Tara Lynn

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Nava – Raleigh puppy photographer

I’ve been photographing Jheri and her doggy family since early 2013, but it seems like so much longer.  We instantly clicked and her first puppy Rosabelle quickly became like my own child!  She was a lot like my Lily.  Two adorable white puppies with their unique challenges and sky-high adorableness.  Our “soul pets.”  Since that first session, Jheri has welcomed Anubis to the family and this year, Nava.  She also had to make a difficult decision to say good-bye to Rosabelle.  You’ll hear more about that story on the blog next week.

Nava was just three months old during her first session this summer, about the same age as Rosabelle was for her first photo shoot.  She was cute as could be and very well behaved.

Here is Nava’s adoption story told by Jheri.

“Before I had to put Rosabelle down on June 11th, I went to Saving Grace in Wake Forest to look at a litter of eight-week old boxer mix puppies they had just rescued. I didn’t want Anubis and I to be lonely and sad after saying goodbye to Rosabelle so I decided I wanted to rescue a puppy. I had already decided which pup from the litter I wanted before I went to the rescue, but when I got there and saw Nava, whose name was Marigold at the time. I felt like she would be a better fit for whatever reason. I brought her home on June 9th and got to spend almost two days with the three most perfect dogs I could have ever asked for. Rosabelle was the best big sister to Nava for the short time they had together. And I believe that Rosabelle is with Nava all of the time because Nava is like her in so many ways.”

Kicking off 2017 volunteering at the SPCA of Wake County

As I popped my memory card into my computer last weekend, I realized it was time to start a brand new folder for my SPCA of Wake County photos.  2017!  It always excited to start a new year and look back at the same time.  2017 will mark my SEVENTH year volunteering at the SPCA in Raleigh, North Carolina.  It all started in 2009 when I lived in Charleston, adopted Baxter and started volunteering at a local shelter there.  I’ve now lived in Raleigh longer than any other city since high school.  I can’t believe six years have come and gone bringing us so many changes.

Here are some photos from my volunteer visit last week and a few favorites from 2016.

January 2017 Adoptable dogs and Cats at the SPCA of Wake County:



A few favorites from 2016:

The heartache of re-homing our dog – Lily

Today, I think my heart is ready.  Ready to tell the story about re-homing our dog Lily.  I’ve thought about what I would write for months over and over.  I’ve cried countless times attempting to put into words what this has been like. I’ve cried myself to sleep many a night missing my 55-pound lanky love bug.  But today, I feel peace.  I think I’m ready…so here goes.

web-0930-2Here is the shortest version I can probably give…

Rehoming Lily was not something we wanted to do, but felt we had to do in the best interest of all of our family members. I found her sleeping on a bench in downtown Raleigh June 18th, 2012. She was about three months old and had started following around some homeless people that morning. Ilily bench immediately called the no-kill shelter where I volunteer to ask if they would be able to make space for her. Really, before they could answer, I just told them I would foster her so I wouldn’t have to send her to the county shelter. (read her first blog post here) She and our first dog Baxter had to be separated in our home after about a year together.  Many of you may remember us looking for a new home for her at that time as the fights between Baxter and Lily escalated.  I am still appreciative of all of the support received during that emotional time.  I remember feeling extremely defensive and expecting a rash of social media insults and criticisms.  Thankfully I only had one negative response, but still cried and cried and cried.  Thankfully we were able to keep Baxter and Lily separated and safe with the help also of some medication for about a year and a half.

Baxter also had to be kept away from our daughter who was born in July of 2014.  He was abused by kids in his first home and never quite recovered.  We managed to keep Baxter separated from Lily and from Claire (2-legged child) for about a year and a half. The only concern with Lily around our daughter was Lily wanting to lick her for hours. Lily is quite the kisser. Late last fall, we had two incidents with Lily involving our daughter that forced us to realize we couldn’t keep all three separated and provide a loving, safe and fulfilling life for all. But how do you choose which child to keep and which to rehome? This has been the hardest situation I’ve ever dealt with, only second to depression which Lily pulled me through in so many ways.   I knew from Baxter’s age, anxiety and past history that he would not be a good candidate for rehoming. Lily has a vibrancy and resilience about her that captures people’s hearts and souls. While it would be devastating for me, I knew she would handle rehoming the best.

There were many other considerations and vet consultations and conversations with trainers etc.  We were even told that it might be best to euthanize Lily rather than chancing her possibly being abused by a new family that may not be as patient in terms of dealing with her mischievousness, propensity for eating anything she’s not supposed to eat and skin allergies.

Finding a Rescue

Volunteering at Pet Helpers for the last time in January 2011

Volunteering at Pet Helpers for the last time in January 2011

I contacted local foster groups all around the Triangle with no luck.  One of my emails was returned with quite a nasty response.  I reached out to some friends in Charleston, SC where I used to live and first started my volunteer work.  My friend Brian contacted the rescue where we both volunteered Pet Helpers to inquire about Lily.  They agreed to take our girl and find her a new home.  I was relieved and devastated at the same time.  We thankfully had a place to give our girl a second chance.  Not just any place, but the rescue that I first fell in love with, first fostered with and the one that inspired my pet photography career.

Saying goodbye

We were heading to the coast in February and drove half way to Charleston to meet Brian who would keep Lily for a week before she could officially go to Pet Helpers.  My friend and photography mentor Laura also came and took some farewell photos for us.  I cried the entire drive to the beach the night before, but didn’t cry when we actually said goodbye to Lily. It seemed surreal.  Like she was just going to stay with friends while we were out of town. But I spent the rest of the night sobbing.  When we returned home to Raleigh, I walked into our master bedroom and collapsed on the floor.  I didn’t think I would ever stop the tears or the pain.

I tried not to bug the shelter with updates, but it was hard.  One of my friends went to visit Lily while she was there and facetimed me so I could see her! It meant so much to have friends that went to check on her and let her and me know that she would be okay.


Lily finds her second home

It was the end of April when my husband and I were set to go to Europe.  I was taking part in a special pet photography workshop and then we would do some traveling on our own.  I checked in online whenever I had wifi to see if Lily was still on the website as being up for adoption.  Then it hit.  We landed back in the US and the post popped up on my facebook feed.  A photo of Lily with her new owner.  And of course this was just as we were about to take off on the second flight back to Raleigh.  I sent frantic messages to a few friends and thought I might have a panic attack waiting two hours to land and find out more.  Who was this person? Was he going to really love Lily?  Was he ready to take on some of her challenges?  My biggest fears in all of this was 1) Lily being adopted/returned/adopted/returned and not finding a good home and 2) us never hearing about her again.

I had planned to write a letter to the new owner(s) and send it with Lily when she first went to Pet Helpers, but could never gather the emotions to do so.  Now I had to.  I struggled with explaining our situation, not feeling like a villain and also not sounding like a crazy-dog lady that was going to drive to Charleston to stalk them.  It took a few weeks, but the letter eventually got to the new owner Chris (not his real name).

Part of my letter to Lily’s new owner:

It’s been two months since I last saw my sweet baby girl and I cry myself to sleep at least once a week. I feel shame and guilt. I’ve told myself it was best to give her a second chance than no chance at all, but it doesn’t erase the heartache. So many people adopt a pet and dump them on the side of the road, return them to the shelter without a second thought or abuse them. As a shelter volunteer, I hear so many sad stories and it can turn a heart hard toward people. But I just want you to know that Lily is a very well-loved dog. In no way was she ever un-wanted. She will never be un-wanted. She got me out of bed on days I didn’t want to. She made me smile and laugh and brought so much joy to our family. Our lives will always have a place for her.

To Lily…I remember the overcast day when I saw you for the first time. I can see you sleeping on my lap in the car as I drove to the SPCA to officially get you checked out and fill out foster paperwork. I remember before I even pulled onto the main road, I had chosen your name. Lily…my favorite flower. I love you and miss you more than you could possibly imagine. May you provide love and joy for your new family as you have for us.

To her new family…You have won yourself the world’s sweetest dog.   She has a magic about her that can hardly be described in words, but you know this already. Thank you for seeing all that is special about her and loving her.

New owner responds

I was over the moon when Chris emailed us with an update on Lily just a day after receiving ours.   Lily did indeed hit the jackpot.  Although I’ve never spoken with him or met him in person, I could tell through his words that he has such a kind heart and a sincere love for Lily.  He told us she had a bed downstairs and one upstairs and while he had planned to keep her off the couch (yea, we did too) she had already negotiated her way onto the cushions.  Living near the beach, they go on walks each weekend.

Lily in her new home

Lily in her new home

Our daughter Claire asks about Lily all the time as we have her photos up around the house.  I’ve explained that “Lily has a new daddy now.”  On Christmas Day, Claire was looking at a photo of Baxter and Lily and told the grandparents “Lily has a new family now.”  My parents immediately got teary-eyed and I ran upstairs to try to distract myself and keep from breaking down.

The tears come heavy and often, but for the first time since last seeing my girl, I finally feel a bit of peace.  I know she is in great hands, but it doesn’t stop me from missing her.  I will never stop loving her.  I will never stop hoping to see her again.  I will always be grateful for Pet Helpers for uniting Lily with her new dad.

There are a million different emotions I’ve gone through during this process: extreme sadness, guilt, shame, confusion, doubt, worry, emptiness, hope, denial.  I’m happy to say that I can now add “peace” to that list.


downtown lily

December 30, 2016 - 1:17 pm

tuckerman - Tara: so sorry you had to re-home Lily. I cannot even imagine, but I understand for the safety of others. Thinking of you!

January 5, 2017 - 8:28 am

Kevan Burnett - Thanks for sharing your story Tara. I volunteer and foster with NRGRR and have shed a few tears 😢 when I adopted out dogs to their forever home, but I realize that these dogs are going on to a great life. I’m sure that you found a great home for Lily and you’ll always be a very important page in her life 👌. Thanks for helping her and realizing that she needed a different space than you could offer. I was a little worried that you might give up your child in favor of the dog 😉. I might have, but I have no children with less than 4 legs 🐕.

WRAL Raleigh Christmas Parade 2016 – Shop Local Raleigh

Shop Local Raleigh asked me to photograph this year’s WRAL Raleigh Christmas Parade.  I am proud to be a member of the group that supports and promotes small, locally-owned businesses in Raleigh.  The parade was November 22nd, 2016 and the weather could not have been more beautiful.  Families packed the streets of downtown Raleigh to see dozens of high school bands, dance groups and exceptionally creative floats!  Some of the big balloons had to get creative to navigate under the stoplights.

It was a magical morning!  I couldn’t help but smile at all the children.  After such a hate-filled and divisive election season, I saw that America is not broken.  There were groups of children of different ages and races playing and dancing together on the side of the street.  Families of all colors, shapes and sizes gathered together and side by side for the joy of the season.  How uplifting.  May we all come together no matter what divides us and remember that love is the best magic and gift of all!

Find your photo from the Raleigh Christmas Parade:

Here is a small sample of the images I captured. To see more (about 800 total) and purchase prints and digital downloads, visit:

Here comes baby #2 – Pregnancy announcement

I am so excited to announce that we are expecting baby #2 in March 2017!  And it’s a girl!  Claire has been quite excited even though she is not totally sure what this will really be like.  When we see our friends and family, I’ll ask if she wants to tell them our surprise.  She yells out loudly “teeny tiny baby in mommy’s belly!”  Baxter as you can see by his expression is less than thrilled.

We had some fun on Halloween putting together a truly last-minute costume to play on the pregnancy as well.  Baxter is the rufferee and has already given us a penalty for not consulting him before deciding to add another tiny human to the mix.  But we think he’ll be okay.   He has learned that he gets to lick up Claire’s crumbs from the floor after dinner and that ain’t so bad!  Here’s to the next chapter and adventure!


My sweet girl is now TWO years old!12fall2016web-027332fall2016web-0342