This past weekend, some of my very good friends from BARCS and I went down to Good Newz Kennels in Smithfield. Virginia.  For those that are unfamiliar with Good Newz Kennels, it is actually Michael Vick’s old property, where he kept his dogs and fought them.  When the opportunity was presented for me to go down on this trip, I knew I had to go.  I had just finished reading The Lost Dogs and was very interested in going down.  A rescue group called Dogs Deserve Better (DDB) bought his property and is hoping to turn that horrible place into something special.

The hardest thing for me to reconcile when we were there was just how stunning the property really is.  When we pulled up to the property at 7:30am, the morning sun cast a beautiful golden glow on everything.  The photos below were the first of many that I took on the trip, but as you can see, it was just such an amazing sight.  Beyond the three remaining black buildings (the whelping shed, infirmary, and the infamous two-story fighting shed) the forest that was once there has been cleared.  It is now a gorgeous open field with walking paths for the volunteers to walk the dogs.  The beautiful autumn sun literally made the tall grass sparkle all day long and there was something tragically beautiful about the place.  I couldn’t help but feel completely overwhelmed by sadness as I stood there, observing the property, knowing just what kinds of horrible things took place there.  I watched, listened, cried.  As a natural light photographer who sees light in a very different way, that was just the hardest thing for me to grasp.  Such a gorgeous setting where such horrific things took place four years ago.

Overall, the trip was wonderful.  We spent all day Saturday at the property.  In the morning, we helped out with chores around the house, like walking the dogs and cleaning.  After that, we spent the late morning and entire afternoon building a fence along the left side of the property.  It was super hard work but we all did what we could to help the group accomplish our goal.  My favorite part of the trip was spending time with the dogs.  There are several dogs that live on the property now and they are all just so great.  While we walked them around the property, I couldn’t help but wonder if the dogs that live there now have any idea of what happened here.  Can they sense it?  Can they smell it?  Or are they totally oblivious to what happened here?  I know I could feel the spirits of the dogs that were lost on that property as I sat and watched the DDB dogs playing.  I could feel them in the air and see them in sun beams that filtered through the trees.  They will not be forgotten.

I’m taking some time to process the other images from the trip, but I wanted to share a few photos and reflect on it while it was still fresh and raw in my mind.  Stay tuned for more on my trip to Good Newz Kennels.