Dog Portraits of Resilience and Love


Dog Portraits of Resilience and Love
Image: Alex Cearns
Perth-based animal photographer Alex Cearns' photographs rescue dogs around the world and shares the stories of their new lives.

Perth-based animal photographer Alex Cearns’ new book Perfect Imperfection: Dog Portraits of Resilience and Love examines rescue dogs around the world who have found new homes with kind and caring owners. Beautiful portraits are accompanied by each dog’s unique and moving story, designed to highlight the resilience and loyality of these animals. Part proceeds from every sale will be donated to the Australian Animal Cancer Foundation to help them work towards finding a cure for canine cancer.


Bali Pip (as told by photographer Alex Cearns)

Dog Portraits of Resilience and Love
Image: Alex Cearns

Bali Pip was rescued from the streets of Bali by the Bali Animal Welfare Association. She had mange at the time, so had lost most of her fur. When I flew to Bali to photograph Bali rescue animals, I selected Pip for a photo session from a pen with 20 other dogs. Bali Pip was a natural and loved being in the spotlight. She was a cute, inquisitive and playful pup. Her images later went viral and people from all over the world fell in love with her. After her mange cleared up she was adopted into a loving home.

Dotty (as told by her human Bernadette)

Dog Portraits of Resilience and Love
Image: Alex Cearns

In February 2016 it was discovered that Dotty had a melanoma in her left eye. She went into surgery immediately and had her eye removed. She has been left with bit of a dip where her eye socket is. Apparently the melanoma would have made her gradually blind as it grew, so having no eye now has not really made much of a difference to her sight, though she does bump into things occasionally and not noticing people on her blind side can also give her bit of a shock.

We consider Dotty as our irreplaceable companion. In typical Jack Russell style, everything is on her terms (especially cuddles). She is also very expressive and vocal when she is expecting something of us, such as needing a walk or demanding the remnants of our dinner. Even with one eye Dotty has not given up her favourite pastime of hunting for rats or chasing anything that moves, running, paddle boarding, eating bacon and going for weekend adventures.

The day she went into surgery I picked her up the afternoon of the surgery and she was looking very swollen, wobbly and sore. Back at home that day, I was in the garden moving some things around and I came across Dotty, who rather than being in her bed inside recovering from her major surgery, she was outside ‘hunting’ for rats. This is when I knew she would be totally fine. 

Raul (as told by his human Alice)

Dog Portraits of Resilience and Love
Image: Alex Cearns

In February 2016 one night Raul became sick. We didn’t know what was wrong – he didn’t want to eat or be around us and his legs weren’t working properly. We took him to an initial vet, then to a specialist vet who instantly recognised this could be a back problem. Raul had a scan which revealed a lower disc had ruptured into his spine. He went into surgery, but there was a high chance it wouldn’t improve his paralysis. Raul came out of his operation like a trooper. As soon as he could he was out of his cage dragging himself around like a seal, not realising his handicap, and above all happy to see us. We knew then that his quality of life would largely be unchanged.

We then spent some-time researching which wheelchair to purchase. Our wheelchair is from the United States and we still think it’s the best one for him available. Raul has aqua-therapy, acupuncture and chiropractic work. Even though he can’t properly walk now, over a year later, his legs do move and sometimes he is able to take a few steps at home. He still has no feeling in his lower half. At home he drags himself around quite happily – outside we use the wheelchair and he doesn’t know the difference.

Raul is part of our family and we are all very attached to hom – even more so since his paralysis. He makes us laugh all the time with his quirky personality. He certainly didn’t win the genetic lottery as– he is also allergic to everything and undergoes treatment for that, but he takes it all in his stride. The attention he now gets on our daily walks is quite remarkable. People always want to know his story and how he is going. What he’s lost in leg power, he’s received ten times over in pats and love!

Sometimes strangers question why we kept him alive, but as soon as they see how happy he is they understand. He’s an amazing, resilient little guy, and while we hope he continues to improve bit by bit, if he never regains full mobility we know he’s had the best life possible.


Alex’s pet and wildlife photography has won more than 200 awards including international professional pet photographer of the year 2016. Her passionate advocacy for animal rescue has earned her high regard among Australia’s animal lovers and a strong following on social media. She photographs for engaged pet lovers, corporate brands and for around 40 Australian and international animal charity organizations. A full time professional, Alex has been in business for 10 years and photographs over 1300 animals each year, 1000 of which are domestic pets.  She is also a crazy dog lady who loves to hug on all animals.

Perfect Imperfection: Dog Portraits of Resilience and Love is published by ABC Books and available from MArch 19th 2018.


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