I stood on the top of a mountain with my dog by my side and felt powerful and free.
“Powerful” and “free” weren’t at the time words that came to mind when I thought about myself. I was lost … a small-town girl in a big city, desperate for friends and finding only heartache and loneliness.
The love of a dog eased the pain, and today I pay tribute to that special boy by publishing photography books about dogs and helping you create the kind of kickass memories I have of him.
You know who he is
Shep is the one-of-a-kind dog that comes into your life and changes it forever. I say “is” instead of “was,” because although he left my physical world in 2014, he will never leave my heart. Instead he made it grow bigger to make room for Bella and my husband.
Playing slopitch softball was my big hobby in the 2000s. I had been playing ball since I was a wee lass in Highland Heart of Nova Scotia. We had our own ballfield in the backyard of my childhood home and when the local minor baseball program opened registration to girls, I was the first to stand in line.
Sports were my source of friendship, my way of finding people with whom I shared an interest.
Until I met him.
Oh, Shep had to spend some pretty long nights and weekends at home alone while I was at the ballpark wasting my hours on people who didn’t deserve them.
Then in 2007, I needed help out of the murkiness. I went to therapy and that therapist kicked my ass so hard. She asked me why in a city of a million people I was giving so much credence to the opinions of a few dozen people.
She was right. And that was a story that played over and over in my lifetime, until that summer when I shed that terrible weight and turned to the one creature who was always there for me.
These days when I think about it, I wonder if I did well enough by him. In fact, we would be sitting together — anywhere and everywhere — and I would say to him “do you get enough love?”
His gaze would be focused on the everywhere, keeping watch on his surroundings, but somehow I would hear him.
Or “you do OK most days.”
Or “you might want to put that laptop down every once in a while.”
That’s a lesson I still haven’t learned, mind you.
Why photography books about dogs
Today, I sent the files for my second self-published book off to the printers. My first one in 2021, Paws of the Panhandle, raised $5,000 for the Better Together Animal Alliance in Sandpoint, Idaho.
This year’s edition, Paws of the Inland Northwest, has raised $5,000 for the Spokane Humane Society.
Helping the rescues and shelters in my area is a purpose that’s dear to my heart.
Even dearer, though, is the ability to share the stories of humans like me whose lives have been changed by the companionship of a dog.
We are more loved, more entertained and more active because of our dogs.
If we let them guide us …
If we let them show us their world …
If we learn to see through the eyes of a dog …
We can become more compassionate, more curious and more adventurous.
Because that is how they see the world.
They move with a grace, a curiosity and a sense of abandonment that we had as children, but left behind when the opinions of others started creeping into our mindset.
Dogs doing dog things
Dogs show us the way.
The opinions of the other dogs don’t matter. And on that track, our opinions of them don’t much factor into their way of being either.
They’re gonna dog whether we want them to or not. Sure, we can train them to sit and stay and heel but the brain of a dog works on instinct and is really quite independent of ours.
And the way to dog is to be in their natural environment doing dog things.
That’s why I won’t have a studio with four walls. (You can’t beat the studio Mother Nature built anyway.)
That’s why I’d rather have your dog being himself than forcing him into awkward sits during your session.
That’s why I jump into rivers and lakes with your dogs.
I want to dog. I want to dog with my dog, Bella, and I want to dog with your dog. I want to see the world through the eyes of your dog.
And more than that, I want you to see the world through the eyes of your dog.
Because through those eyes, we can learn to be more curious and more free and more powerful.
And that’s why in the pages of my photography books about dogs you see them doing dog things, standing powerful and free in the places Mother Nature meant them to be.
All around the circle
The presale for Paws of the Inland Northwest, my second in a series of photography books about dogs, launched last night.
You can get your copy for $65 until Friday, October 14, when the price goes up to $80.
These days, by the way, I ask Bella “do you get too much love?”
She is spoiled and snuggled and, well, worshiped in this house. She has not, however, been getting enough adventures. So now that Paws of the Inland Northwest is off to the printer, I’m taking a break.
My availability through the rest of the year is limited as I turn my focus back to her and toward my new project, One Last Network, a podcast that connects pet guardians to the support and services they may need as their pets age and ultimately leave our physical world.
I’ll still be here blogging and taking inquiries and, of course, I will be available for end-of-life pet photography sessions.
In the meantime, let’s go find out why my pet photographer friends love animals as much as they do. Jump into the worldwide blog circle and start with Boston, Maine and NH pet photographer, Darlene Woodward of Pant the Town Photography, shares how her recent experience fostering a dog validates her abundant love for all dogs.
At the end of Kylee’s post, click the next link in the circle and keep doing that until you get back here to why I publish photography books about dogs.
That’s when you know you’re home.
Right where you belong.Oh … and follow me on Mastodon
I always tell my clients: “I want to capture the essence of your dog’s personality.” I want to let the dog be a dog. That sounds very similar to your goal too. 🙂
This is why your work is so beautiful. Because you start with your heart. Congratulations on your books!
Loved reading this. I so agree with you about the outdoors being the best studio!
Congrats on the 2nd book! I love that Shep was the thing that got your life going in a different, awesome direction. And that has turned you to help people celebrate how their dogs have helped them grow in epic photography.
Congrats on the book! You are amazing! Yes, Shep will remain in your heart forever. I wish I could have met the two of you and witnessed the bond that you shared in person. I love how you light up when you speak of him. #sheploveforever
How great that your efforts have raised so much money for local animal rescue, congratulations.