Gold Old Dog Project fueled by love

Aging gives us fine wine, and mellow whiskey. It also gives us — and our companion animals — graying hair and an occasional hitch in our get-along. 

Inspired by her Golden-Doodle, Maggie, Portland-based portrait photographer Pauline Zonneveld started taking pet photos about five years ago. Then, thanks to an older dog in her neighborhood, she was inspired to create the Good Old Dog Project, which honors what might be overlooked in the golden years, capturing the beauty of those in later life.          

"On a winter day in 2010 I noticed my neighbor's elderly Australian Shepherd, Kali, struggling to make her daily walk around the yard,” says Zonneveld. “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. And The Good Old Dog Project was born!" 

Zonneveld's minimalistic style, inspired by her Dutch roots, holds to simple elegance.  She believes her beautiful subjects shine through even more clearly, with grace and humor. 

And as she is also a poet, some of her photography packages include a custom haiku written specifically for the pet. One fine example is from Duffy, a 13-yr-old greyhound: 

          When you aren't looking

          I nip your wine for dreams of

          winning by a nose

This year even more love was added to the The Good Old Dog Project, as mini portrait sessions now benefit The Pixie Project, a nonprofit pet rescue and adoption center. 

The Pixie Project seeks lifelong matches between adopters and pets, and behind the scenes work to help low-income families get the vet services and surgeries their pets need. In fact, a skilled team of veterinarians and vet techs perform up to 20 surgeries per week. These include emergency services like dental extractions, amputations, mass removals, and other life-saving surgeries, along with routine spays and neuters. 

The Good Old Dog Project operates in an event format as opposed to an ongoing service.  

"First, 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 and your Good Old Dog can feel good about!" 

Learn more at

Christy Caballero writes from her soul about animals and their humans. She and hubby Herb have to 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.