I’ve been around dogs my whole life. Growing up I was raised and bottle fed with an Old English Sheepdog, named Duffy. Somewhere supposedly there’s a picture of us, plopped down one on each of my mother’s knees, her arms around us; child and puppy sucking down bottles of formula. I have this vague sense that I may have seen this photo sometime, I can’t tell if’s just the memory I’ve been told about so many times, that it feels real. I want it to be true with it’s tinge of happiness and domestic serenity.
Duffy was born practically the same day as me. He became my guardian, playmate, best friend, confidante in a house of adults: complex, occasionally violent, always enmeshed, fits of rage and love, passed like squall fronts.
And the hours of silence. Gleaming silent floors, tables. Whispers behind doors. So despite all that, I knew, loved and deeply understood that dog. And he me.
Every dog has its own personality. Some way that they inhabit the world. The soul that shines through their eyes. The many years and past lives of their experiences, how they have been treated. Lessons learned.
Some of the dogs in these photos are rescues. Some not. I try to allow the spirit of the dog to shine through. Gently these beasts allow themselves to be revealed much as a person might allow. It seems to me though, these four legged friends open their hearts more easily. All they want is that most basic of things, as E.M. Forster had it, “Only connect.” Don’t we all?
Perhaps that’s it. The dogs are a mirror. A gift with their open hearted natures, which hold nothing back.