Random Musings on Dogs, Photography, and the Vagaries of Life

Saturday, March 19, 2016

A Good Boy with a Big Heart

Nipper (2000--March 18, 2016)

I had planned on posting a photo of one my favorite former foster dogs this week, but fate, sadly, intervened. My good friend Liz said goodbye to one of her beloved canine companions yesterday and I felt a need to celebrate this special boy and acknowledge his passing.

Nipper joined Liz's pack in December 2010 when his previous human companion could no longer care for him. With his quiet strength and dignified personality, he quickly became the elder statesman, keeping the rambunctious younger hounds in line.

I was fortunate enough to have interacted with Nipper many times over the years. There was something both compelling and endearing about his gentle demeanor. He didn't jump or slobber or push himself on me for attention, but quietly made sure I knew he was there and equally deserving of my attention and affection. Just being around him made me smile.

Godspeed Nipper. I will miss your handsome, happy face.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Y is for Yuki

Dog of the Week: Yuki

Yuki entered the foster program of the SPCA/Humane Society of Prince George's County in 2008...at the same time as I was working on my second book, A is for Angel: A Dog Lover's Guide to the Alphabet. I was having difficulty finding a canine model with a name beginning with the letter Y and, thankfully, her foster mother came to my aid by naming the puppy Yuki.

With her adorable wrinkled face and endearing personality, Yuki found her forever home in no time, and her new mom, Tracy Long, contributed the following copy to accompany my photo: 

Yuki is the antithesis of the description, “What you see is what you get.” She has taught us that there is so much more—to her and life in general—than meets the eye. Wonder is waiting around every corner. Each smell and sight and sound contains worlds within it. And if you stare into the pools of Yuki's eyes—those windows to treasure houses of mischievous love—I think you'd see, as we have, a small child laughing.

Yuki loves life! For her, its daily routines are events to be anticipated and celebrated. She has taught us the beauty of welcoming every moment as if it were a gift…even the moment in the car when, without warning, she looked right at us…and pooped in the back seat.

There are times we're convinced she’s hoarding stubborn wisdom in the folds of her skin, the kind of wisdom that—like Yuki—may not come easily or quickly, but if asked and sought for will eventually come…the kind of wisdom that says, “Don't be afraid to contain multitudes.” Yuki certainly isn't.

She is Shar-pei, she is shepherd, part terror, part teacher. Her lessons: forgive often, love well, and dig it all! Though she is undoubtedly one of the clumsiest dogs I have ever seen, sometimes when I see her running towards me—those ears floppin' and that skin flappin' as she barrels clumsily into me, licking my face—I think I am witnessing pure grace.

What a gift it is to be given the opportunity, every day, to love Yuki and have her love us back.

To order you copy of A is for Angel: A Dog Lover's Guide to the Alphabet for $14 (including shipping within the continental U.S.) please email DigitalDoggyPhotography@gmail.com.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Bringing People Together

Dogs can--and do--bring people together in many different ways.

My husband and I first met friends and neighbors Janet and Mark when he spied them walking their Welsh springer spaniel Stickley past our house and called to me to come see the puppy. I met my friend Sandy, along with many other wonderful women, when we both attended a volunteer orientation for the SPCA/Humane Society of Prince George's County and began fostering rescued shelter dogs. I connected with friend Jen, an author and active supporter of of several Maryland dog rescue organizations when she ordered ten copies of my first book, Black is Beautiful: A Celebration of Dark Dogs. I've made friends with people after attending obedience classes and canine behavior seminars and after photographing their dogs for my books. I've even become friends in cyberspace with people I've never met in person as a result of our mutual love of dogs.

Dog photo of the week: Pickle

This week's Dog of the Week--Pickle--is an example of how a dog can bring people together. I met Pickle when my friend Sandy and I were traveling in Wales. I saw him being walked by his "mom," Shari, in the castle town of Chepstow and couldn't believe how much he looked like one of my husband's and my dogs. It was all I could do not to dash across the street for a closer look.

 Instead, I did the appropriate thing and asked if I could greet him. Advised that he could be wary of unfamiliar people, I sat sideways to him a short distance away and let him approach me at his leisure. Soon, Sandy, Shari, and I were chatting about dogs, and Shari invited us to accompany her and Pickle on a walk through the countryside around Chepstow. That evening we met up for dinner at a local pub.

It's now been more than four years since Sandy and I met Shari but we still keep up via Facebook...and get to admire photos of the handsome Pickle. And who knows? Maybe we'll meet up again someday. But even if we don't, our lives are enriched by our chance encounter brought about by Pickle.