Compawssion is a collection of indelible, moving, black and white portraits of rescued dogs that present a rousing call to action in a world that is largely unaware or insensitive to the woeful mistreatment of animals. The book blends stunning and poignant imagery with inspiring and amazing stories collected from celebrities who have rescued a dog. Katherine Heigl's story is one of learning.
A story that begins with her first dog as a child and continues to this day as the co-founder of the Jason Debus Heigl Foundation. The animals in her life have taught her by example. What they have given her is what she has learned to give in turn.
"You have to put in the effort and the time into giving the dog the opportunity to be the dog you need it to be. That was really hard for me at first, because I felt like he should just understand when I say 'no' in that voice that means 'no.' And so that responsibility for him and my love for him really forced me to be kind and compassionate and patient." Katherine Heigl, Compawssion: Portraits Of Rescued Dogs
In compiling the book, photographer Frank Bruynbroek personally interviewed twenty-five public figures about what it means to rescue, save and care for a dog and and how it has had a positive impact on their lives.
Katherine explains to Bruynbroek, that the thunderbolt to her conscience about the difference between bought and rescued came animals without warning and struck with decisiveness on L.A.'s Larchmont Street. "I walked by a woman trying to get people to adopt these puppies - beautiful, beautiful dogs - that were found in somebody's backyard tied up with no food or water and had been left there for days. That's when I first went, 'Oh my God. People would do that?' One of them had gotten adopted and I wanted both of them, but I could only have the one. So that's how I got Piper, who is just probably one of the most amazing and soulful animals I’ve ever had the privilege to own and she's just a really, really special and unique dog."
Since that moment, Katherine has always rescued dogs rather than purchase them from commercial breeders. "I do think that there's a tendency sometimes in the rescue world to make people feel horrible for having bought a dog that they truly love and adore and take care of. My feeling is that I just want to say that I understand. I was where you were at one time. I didn't know any better. I didn't know how severe and how intense the homeless dog situation was. I didn't know that I could get a breed of my choice through a shelter or through rescue. So it's important for me to communicate to people that I am not a perfect animal person. I have three dogs that I bought from breeders instead of rescued."
Her personal micro-kennel has been, and continues to be, occupied by finds from far and wide. Mojo, a Shepherd/Collie mix who passed away in 2011, was adopted from Rhode Island, and Oscar a relatively recent addition to the pack, was rescued from a dumpster on the streets of Ixtapa Mexico. Katherine talks passionately about their stories and the joy and unconditional love her dogs bring.
Other than with my family and my closest friends, I have found love in my life to be so conditional. I really admire dogs' unconditional love. Especially in Hollywood where it's disheartening and it's heartbreaking often. And never, never no matter whether my movies sell or don't sell. Whether I'm in a good mood or a bad mood. Whether I am wearing the coolest stuff or not, my dogs love me. They love me unconditionally. Even at my worst they love me. It's really kind of an amazing gift. And what it takes to care for and be responsible for another animal or another thing that's completely dependent upon you. I think that's also important for people to learn and understand. Katherine Heigl, Compawssion: Portraits Of Rescued Dogs
In total, the 160 page hard cover book contains over 100 photographs, three chapters of stories - including a full and extensive interview with Katherine, and a foreward written by Cesar Millan. Other celebrity contributors include Brigitte Bardot, Kim Basinger, Jackie Chan, Kaley Cuoco, Ellen DeGeneres, Josh Duhamel, Ariana Grande, Emmylou Harris, Marg Helgenberger, Diane Keaton and Gene Simmons.
Compawssion: Portraits Of Rescued Dogs is available to purchase from the official web site for the publication. A percentage of the proceeds from each book will benefit organizations that rescue, rehabilitate and rehome abused and abandoned dogs, including the Jason Debus Heigl Foundation. Frank Bruynbroek has also produced a 2013 calendar profiling photographs from the book which also benefits dogs in need.