A gallery of photographs and a little story about my dogs
Although I have made many images of them, dogs have not always been high on my list of things to care much about. I never used to give them any real thought. They were mostly creatures that belonged to others, they were loud, and they were obnoxious. I believed they were just too much trouble.
Now, however, I am happy to say I have seen the light. I have been completely cured of my indifference towards what are probably the best friends any human being can have, including this one.
It wasn't until my family became dog raisers with Guiding Eyes for the Blind, a group dedicated to training and providing Seeing Eye Dogs to the visually impaired, that I had a complete change of heart.
Guide dogs are working dogs that are trained to be the eyes and ears as well as the constant companion to those without sight. They are trained to do many of the tasks that most of the visually capable take for granted everyday.
We became volunteers, providing a home and a family to facilitate the first year or so before a potential GEB puppy receives formal training. Our job was to allow young dogs to get used to a family environment and to show them lots of love, care and attention.
It was a great opportunity for everyone in my family and over a period of years, we raised three beautiful male Labrador retriever puppies named - Vargo, Anderson and TJ.
Both Vargo and TJ completed their GEB training, graduated, and were assigned to two very appreciative visually impaired recipients in Virginia and Manitoba.
Anderson (the middle dog), on the other hand, decided to be the stubborn class clown at the training facility and was released back to us due to his stubborn behavior. He just wasn't going to be guiding eyes material. In actuality he was just a bit too smart to succumb to the rigors of guide dog training.
We knew before we began, that at some point, we would have to give each one of them up to work as guide dogs. We knew it wouldn't be easy to let them go. Everyone said, “How can you give them up?” But in our minds, it would probably be better than giving them up to illness or accident. We did it because we wanted to teach our children about the responsibility of caring for and loving another being.
What we didn't know when we started, was that they would actually come back to us as a part of our own family. But due to Anderson's willfulness, late in his training, he was released back to us as a pet.
We were thrilled! Not only did we end up with a great and beautiful dog, we also received a well-schooled puppy in spite of his headstrong attitude. More than anything, we regained our loving friend.
Some time later, we were happy to hear that after serving approximately two years in Virginia with a young blind woman, TJ was also to be released back to us. We were excited to have him return and it meant that Anderson would have another dog to play with. Thus, TJ and Anderson ultimately became our loving companions and a wonderful part of our family.
Over time, we did experience the expected sadness of giving them up and then the unexpected joy of getting them back. But very recently, we also had to experience the heartbreak of watching TJ succumb to a horrible and debilitating blood disorder.
We took him to the vet for tests, x-rays and an ultrasound. They were all inconclusive except for the blood tests, which revealed the problem. They did what they could, gave him medication, an intravenous and he came home. For a week or so of constant care, it seemed he was getting better. He rallied, started eating food and drinking water. He became playful and looked as if he was gaining weight. We were happy to see what we thought was a recovery. It was not going to last.
Sadly, on January the 8th, just the other day, our TJ passed away in the loving arms and saddened hearts of his family. He was going to be nine years old this year. He was, in dog years, a slightly over the hill, middle-aged guy. But to us, he was still a beautiful pup. It was and will be one of our saddest days.
We hope we gave him his best years. We hope he wasn’t in pain. We pray he is in a good place. He gave us so much joy and comfort. He gave us love and companionship. He added greatly to our lives. He will be missed. He will be in our hearts for as long as we live.
TJ, like Anderson, Vargo, and all the good family dogs in this world, are amazing creatures. They give us 110% and ask for very little in return. It is a lopsided relationship. I think in almost every way, we get the better end of the stick. From what I can tell, they seem cool with their side of the bargain. For me, I couldn't ask for more.
I've learned that there is nothing quite like a good dog. I've learned that they can be my cherished friends. If people were as loving and good-natured as the canines I know, we would all be better off and the world would be a much finer place to live.
The images in the gallery above are a random sample from my portfolio. They are about all dogs. There are a few of TJ and some of Anderson. By rules of the GEB, I am not allowed to show pictures of Vargo because he is working and has his own loving companion.
I wish I had taken more photographs of our dogs. I don't take the kind of snaps of them that most people do. I make my images as I see them and as recordings of memorable moments and great days. Sometimes I play with the imagery because dogs inspire playfulness.
The photographs are images I have shot over the years when I learned to care. In some ways they are a testament to my evolution. Mostly, they are a small tribute to TJ who was one of our amazing best friends and to all the dogs of this world whom we've been lucky to know and thankful to love.
RIP TJ - We love you good buddy. We miss you old friend!
PLEASE NOTE: THe work shown in the gallery IS PART OF MY PERSONAL PHOTOGRAPHIC PORTFOLIO. IT IS HOPED THAT YOU WILL RESPECT WHAT I HAVE DONE AND HONOR MY COPYRIGHT. I HAVE BEEN WORKING ON THIS AND ALL OF MY PROJECTS FOR SOME TIME. THE IMAGES ARE A PART OF A MUCH LARGER BODY OF MY Personal WORK. I SHOW IT HERE AS A WAY TO INSPIRE YOU TO DO YOUR OWN PROJECTS, USING YOUR OWN IDEAS. PHOTOGRAPHY IS NOT ABOUT COPYING OR STEALING CONCEPTS OR TECHNIQUES. IT IS ABOUT UTILIZING YOUR TALENTS FOR CREATING YOUR OWN UNIQUE IMAGERY AND ABOUT YOUR OWN WAY OF SEEING THE WORLD. RESPECT THE WORKS OF ALL ARTISTS. DO NOT PLAGIARIZE ANYONE'S ART.
You can learn about macro photography and many other imaging techniques from my book.
Buy my book here: Rethinking Digital Photography.
Read more at http://www.pixiq.com/article/macro-stacking-face-to-face-with-a-wasp-0#7ixoAzuAuZZLKRLX.99