When Dogs Heal is a photographic project that tells the stories of people who believe that the best medicine may not always be found at a pharmacy or in a doctor’s office; sometimes it comes in the form of a four-legged friend.
Photographed by award-winning dog photographer Jesse Freidin, When Dogs Heal (WDH) is a project of the non-profit charity Fred Says, whose mission it is to ensure that all young people living with HIV receive the services they need to lead healthy, productive lives. Fred Says was started Dr. Robert Garofalo and his dog, Fred, who he adopted shortly after surviving cancer and later being diagnosed with HIV. Dr. Garofalo credits Fred for getting him through some of his darkest moments and helping him rediscover peace and joy in his life — things he thought he may have lost forever. It is within the spirit of their relationship that WDH emerged.
In 2014 and 2015, we (Robert Garofalo, Jesse Freidin and Zach Stafford) traveled to five U.S. cities — Chicago, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Atlanta — looking for people to be photographed with their dogs, and to share with the world their stories about the healing power of their dog(s) after being diagnosed with HIV. Whether it was to combat loneliness or stigma, to discover the importance of unconditional love, to manage one’s medical care, to overcome addiction, or to simply have a best friend in a time of need — each person’s story is a unique and empowering account of the incredible bond between a person and his pet. The participants’ stories will accompany their photos in an upcoming exhibition.
Although we initially grounded When Dogs Heal in the stories of people living with HIV, we believe the project will move anyone who has experienced the loving and healing power of a furry friend.
The mission of Fred Says is to create a self-sustaining charity that ensures that all HIV+ teenagers receive the care and services they need to lead healthy and productive lives. Fred Says seeks to reduce the stigma associated with HIV that makes it difficult for young HIV+ people to access the care they deserve and to focus on their health and emotional well-being.
Fred Says achieves these goals through the creative use of social media and tax-deductible charitable donations.