For several years now I’ve had a project on the backburner … well, not a project so much as a book. Not some big glossy coffee-table photo book, per se — although I have a couple of those in the works as well — but instead, as throw back to my two decades as a novelist, I am writing a book about dogs. Alas, as any of my fellow professional pet photographers will tell you, this business doesn’t leave much time for side-ventures like writing books! So, in the meantime, in the same vein as my non-fiction project, spurred by a rash of recent losses of client dogs, I thought I would put together a series of tributes to these deeply-loved souls.
… the last image I captured of my sweet, old man Morley McScruffy, euthanized only a couple of hours later due to a brain tumor. Age: approx. 17 (adopted at 9+ yrs)
Almost a decade in this industry — shooting exclusively animals, and 95% of those dogs whose life expectancy is often barely 10-14 years these days — I suppose I should have anticipated the mounting number of losses of dogs. I didn’t, and as each year goes by, sadly, the losses mount.
And believe it not, many times those loses feel deeply personal to me. In so many cases, clients’ dogs feel like ‘family members’. Meeting and working with them during their sessions, talking to their loving guardians through emails and phone calls, is only the first step in getting to know these amazing creatures. But it is during the long hours of behind the computer … viewing their images at 100%, gazing into their sparkling eyes and their tongue-lolling smiles, one image after the next, one expression after the next, editing through my days and nights … I come to feel a profound and indescribable connectedness to each and every one of the souls I photograph.
So … in an effort to honour these souls who have touched not only their guardians’ hearts but mine as well, I am bringing to you a series — posted on Facebook and then shared more fully here. Initially I intended to title this series Lost Dogs or Gone Dogs … but let’s be honest: if you’ve ever lost a dog (or any animal), you know they are never truly ‘lost‘, never completely ‘gone‘. They are always with you in some way. And let me tell you, if you don’t see it now, you will — one day. I promise.
Even the title: Dogs We’ve Loved doesn’t quite suit since we never do stop loving them. But for now, it will do.
Besides honouring these dogs who have passed, what I hope to bring to light with this series — as I have done throughout my career as an animal photographer — is the absolute importance of photographing our beloved 4-leggers. I don’t care if you hire a professional and turn those images into one-of-a-kind artwork for your walls, or take the photos yourself … just make sure to have those photographic memories captured! Because whether they are taken by disease, accident, or actually live their full lives, dogs’ and cats’ aren’t with us long enough. …and they touch us far too deeply to be forgotten.
If you don’t already follow the scruffy dog Facebook page, consider doing so in order to get the latest. And, better yet, subscribe to the blog using the slide-out Subscribe tab over there on the left. This will send you out a short email alerting you whenever a new blog post has been made! That way you will always be tapped into the latest!
To see the first in the Dogs We’ve Loved series, check out Buddy’s entry.
** CLIENTS: I know most of you have shared your losses and grief with me already in emails and phone calls, but if you could send me a quick email to remind me, and add a few words, I would love to post a tribute to your scruffy here if you have lost them. I want to hear from you.