"A breed of satin and steel. Pit bulls are a mixture of softness and strength, an uncanny canine combination of fun, foolishness, and serious business, all wrapped up in love."

-D. Caroline Coile

Thursday, May 2, 2013

To Hercules With Love

     In 2010 and 2011, I featured a story about the most amazing duo I've come across - a sweet little girl, Kylie and her beloved pit bull, Hercules. Those posts will forever be my favorite story that I will share on this blog. If you have not had the pleasure of reading them, they are here: first one, second one. Tonight, I read some news that I have been dreading ever since I first discovered this sweet pair. You see, Hercules has been battling cancer for five years. He has been holding on for so long, even after losing a leg, but he does not have much fight left in him. Hercules has touched hearts all over and he will never be forgotten. Here is the post from the photographer who introduced the world to a beautiful girl and her dog and the astounding bond between them.

My good friend Hercules, the pit bull, has about 2-10 weeks to live. Cancer is getting the best of him and his time with us running out. Many of you know him, have met him at events or know him through the portraits of him that I have taken in the last few years. He has marched in several Luv-a-Bully marches, first with 4 legs and then with 3 legs and served as an “ambassadog” at many rescue events around Orange County.

I met Hercules in 2009 at a Luv-a-Bully march in Brea. The march was a gathering of about 200+ pit bulls and their owners to dispel the public opinions that pit bulls were mean fighting dogs and protest BSL (Breed Specific Legislation). Dr. Paula Terifaj (now the owner of DogSpa) asked me to photograph the event and that is how I met Hercules and his family, Kylie (now 5) and mom Leslie. I snapped some photos of Herc and Kylie at the event and a few months later Leslie contacted me, in a panic, to do portraits of Kylie with Hercules because Hercules had cancer and she did not know how long he would live. Kylie was two then and Leslie was afraid that without photos Kylie would not be able to remember Hercules when she grew up. Since that time, the bond that Hercules shares with his girl Kylie has become a personal photographic project for me. The images of Kylie and Hercules together have touched many people and helped to change the negative perception some people have of the pit bull breed. The portrait work has served as a medium to communicate the true nature of pit bulls as protectors and kid-loving, furry balls of love.

I know a lot of pit bulls!!! Of all of them, Hercules is the most loving, the most patient, and the best ambassador for the breed I’ve ever met. His work here on earth is just about done. I’ve captured some memories with the photography we’ve done, but it’s still so difficult for Kylie and Leslie to deal with the loss they will grieve someday very soon. I have been trying to think of something to do to help them and then today it hit me . . . I know we are all busy people, but I would like to make a simple but heartfelt request . . . send Hercules and/or his girl Kylie (who is now 5) a card or a note before he goes. Wish Hercules the best, send hugs, send notes of gratitude for allowing us to see what dedication and love is all about. Tell Hercules how brave he is to have fought cancer for 5 years. Tell Kylie and Leslie how you admire that they have cared for him so well these five years while Hercules had numerous treatments to keep his cancer at bay.

I have tried to remember all of the people that Hercules has touched in his life, but I’m sure there are so many more. Feel free to share this message with anyone you know, that might know Hercules or be interested in his story. Tell everyone about him and spread his story far and wide. He’s a good dog and good pit bull and he’s leaving a big ‘ole pawprint on my heart and the hearts of many.

I have also posted this on my Facebook page at www.facebook.com/lspetportraits

Please send cards and love to:

Hercules c/o FOCHP
26423 Scott Rd.
Menifee CA 92584

Thank you so very much for caring about the breed we love.


P.S. If you haven’t already read it, Roni Raczkowski wrote a wonderful article about Hercules and it was published on the Best Friends site and went viral a couple of years ago. http://bestfriends.org/News-And-Features/News/Are-You-There,-God–It-s-Me,-Hercules/

P.S.S. For those of you who do not know, a portrait from 2012 of Kylie and Hercules are featured as the month of July in the Unexpected Pit Bull calendar http://theunexpectedpitbull.com/shop/index.php?route=product/product&product_id=50

One of the first portraits of Hercules and his girl Kylie (Summer of 2010). This image is up on display in several Orange County location, has traveled all over the internet, and has been seen by thousands of people.

Here are some shots from the session we did last summer. Some of these images are featured in the Unexpected Pit Bull Calendar 2013.


This portrait was shot on April 24th. Hercules still seemed to be feeling OK but he was a bit slower and got tired a bit quicker. He still enjoyed being with his girl and I got more than a few kisses from him.

When I was done shooting I handed Leslie the camera and asked her to take a photo of me and Herc. I am so glad I did. Thanks Leslie for everything.


  1. RIP, It is always too early to lose the ones we love so much! God Bless <3

  2. God blessed Hercules with a good loving careing home . Kylie and her mother have been blessed to have known and been a part of Hercules life . Pitbulls are very strong , loving , loyal dogs . They are very resilient and can overcome more than any of us could expect from them . The breed is very prone to cancer . I've lost four to it myself . Each and every one holds a special place in my heart . I have a female now that is about to undergo surgery for a tumor in her back breast . We will fight it with her and love and care for her enjoying every moment that God blesses us with . The pain and hurt will ease with time but the blessed memories will live on forever in your hearts . No amount of words will comfort you when the time comes . But I pray the memories sustain you and God will comfort you .
    To you Hercules thank you for being so strong and overcoming so much . For being a great ambassador for the breed . May God grant you peace and comfort you in your strugle . Thanks for being Kylie's best friend and protector . Thanks for being you Hercules . God bless you Hercules !

  3. Wow!! I'm totally crying! Thank you for sharing these precious moments with you beautiful babies. That little girl with her dog melts my heart!! He will transition knowing that you all loved him deeply and he will tell all the angels that as well. God Bless you and your family!

  4. so sad for the family ..it is hard to loos a pet ....sending lots of hugs to you all

  5. Beautiful story. I love pit bulls. They are the best dogs in the whole wide world.
    Xo, Xo, Xo,

  6. What a wonderful story! Please let them know there is a beautiful thing that they can do that I did with my pit bull of 15 years. It is called Pet Gems. They are absolutely amazing. They take 2 tbsp. of the ashes and have a machine that compresses the carbons like how a diamond is made. It turns the ashes into a stone. Each animal determines their own color. I have even seen a cat with turquoise eyes and the stone came back the same color!! I did that with my "Phoenix" and it is a beautiful, sky blue. You can have them cut any setting, type or size. They are very affordable. (You can get diamonds made from the ashes but they are an exorbitant cost of roughly $10 - 20 thousand) The pet gems are 200-500. Depending on what size and cut you want. They are truly a beautiful testament to the gift they give us. That would be such a beautiful keepsake for that little girl! http://pet-gems.com/

  7. beautiful...i love it

  8. RIP big guy. Mast cell cancer sucks so badly and the fact he fought for 5 YEARS just speaks to his character. We lost our American Bulldog mix Murphy to mast cell cancer 2 years ago. He had 3 skin tumors removed in Jan '11 and by September the cancer had spread to his chest causing severe anemia and fluid on his lungs. I know this family's pain. Run free at the Bridge, good boy!