LOVE: Pet Photography Project 52, Week 6

Love is the topic of the week 6 Pet Photography Project 52 challenge and since Valentine's Day is right around the corner, I thought I'd talk about all the dogs I love.

I started BARKography because of my love for my own dogs and specifically because of my love for Buddy, my black lab. Some of you may know this story but in case you don't, here is the long version of how BARKography started. 

I graduated from college in 1987. One of my goals after graduating was to buy a house with a fenced yard so I could get a dog. That goal took me awhile to achieve but in March 1996, I bought that house. Two months later on May 26, 1996 I looked at the classified ads in the Charlotte Observer and called about the one that read "PUPPIES Weimaraner & Labrador mix." I still have the ad. I knew exactly where it was so I could snap this iphone pic of it for this post. I circled these ads in red, the color of love. That was some major foreshadowing. :) 

Whenever I see this ad, I think about contacting Ginger at the number listed. It's been 20 years and I never spoke to her again. I don't know if I'd find her if I tried but part of me would love to let her know how much that weimaraner / labrador puppy I named Sloan meant to me. My biggest hesitation in reaching out to her is that I don't think I could get 2 words out of my mouth before I'd be crying like a baby.

Sloan was my first heart dog. Our mutual love for each other was something I'd never experienced before and haven't since. I probably have 1,000 pictures of her that I took and had printed at the drugstore and a lot of them are in the nightstand beside my bed. (That number btw, is not an exaggeration.) None of them are very good but I can't part with them. Not having any great photos of her is one of the biggest regrets of my life. 

 Sloan in 1996.

Sloan in 1996.

I said goodbye to Sloan on December 13, 2008. It was the hardest day of my life and also a source of the biggest regret of my life. I loved her. I still do. 

 My 2nd dog Sam. He LOVED the snow. Taken Jan 2009.

My 2nd dog Sam. He LOVED the snow. Taken Jan 2009.

I've always liked the idea of being a 2 dog household. When Sloan was 2.5, I adopted a young yellow lab named Sam from the Humane Society of Charlotte. He did not like having his picture taken. He'd bark every time I pointed my camera at him so I don't have many photos of him. He was one of the happiest, easy come / easy go, laid back dogs I've ever known and when we lost Sloan we thought he needed a buddy. What I didn't know was that I was the one who actually needed the buddy and God did not disappoint. I found him.

I filled out an application to adopt through Lab Rescue of NC and inquired about a senior lab named Doc. As it turned out, Doc's name was change to Buddy and he was being fostered in Charlotte. Don and I went and met him on December 31, 2008 and this little black dog forever changed my life.

 Buddy looking for comfort and reassurance from Don. He spent every day of the rest of his life being loved.

Buddy looking for comfort and reassurance from Don. He spent every day of the rest of his life being loved.

 Dec 31, 2008. Don and Buddy meeting for the first time. Even then I thought to take pictures of the moment.

Dec 31, 2008. Don and Buddy meeting for the first time. Even then I thought to take pictures of the moment.

Buddy was an amazing dog. We were lucky enough to have him for almost 6 years. When we first brought him home, it took him awhile to figure out he was safe. He'd been abused. If you raised your hand up around him, he'd cower. He eventually learned that he'd never be mistreated again and he rewarded us by being the best dog ever. I have loved all of my dogs but he really was the best dog ever. He was just... a good dog. He walked beautifully on leash, he wouldn't stray far away if he was off leash and he loved me.

He loved me like Sloan loved me and I loved him back. Sloan and I shared a special bond because I got her when she was 5 weeks old but she wasn't a well behaved dog. In retrospect, that was totally my fault. I didn't exercise her like I should have particularly knowing that she was a weim / lab mix. I loved her to the moon and back but she was a high maintenance, pay attention to me or I'll bark in your face kind of dog. :)

Fast forward to 2013. I didn't want to make the same mistake with Buddy that I made with Sloan. I knew he was special and I knew I wanted decent photos of him. I hired a photographer to take photos of him and Willow. This is one of my favorites:

 He is looking up at me. ©Rodney Scot Photography

He is looking up at me. ©Rodney Scot Photography

In  the summer of 2015 when Buddy's health was failing, I decided to buy my first digital camera. I wanted to take my own photos of Buddy that I could cherish forever. This is how naive I was: I thought if I bought a nice DSLR, I'd be a professional photographer. I had NO IDEA there was much to learn about photography.

By the grace of God, while shooting in aperture priority, I was able to get a few photos of Buddy that I love. They're not great photos but they're decent enough and I took them. Of Buddy. My 2nd heart dog. The definition of a heart dog is: That once in a lifetime dog, twice if you're lucky, soulmate dog. That is Buddy.

Buying that camera so I could take photos of Buddy changed my life. Because of Buddy, I have found my why. I am a 'later in life' discoverer of my why and it is all because of this little black dog. Buddy aka The Budster. He is the reason my tagline is Love Looks Like This. We said goodbye to him 5 weeks after I bought that camera.

The day after he died, I saw this quote: "Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened." That's exactly how I think about Buddy. I miss him every day but I am so glad he happened to me. 

 Willow is not a fan of my camera so I don't have as many photos of her. This was taken for our 2016 Christmas cards.

Willow is not a fan of my camera so I don't have as many photos of her. This was taken for our 2016 Christmas cards.

Willow entered our lives in 2010 when I received an email from a neighbor about a "white" lab looking for a new home. My hubby always wanted a "white" lab so we adopted her. We still had Sam but he was aging and we knew that Buddy wouldn't do well as an only dog if something happened to Sam so we were a 3 dog household and I loved it! I have to laugh though... our white lab is now very yellow. She'd been shaved by her previous family so she appeared white in her photos but when her hair grew in, she became yellow. 

And then there is The Moose. He entered our lives after we lost Buddy. Moose's favorite things in life are eating, sleeping and being loved on by any human. He is not loyal (I am kidding... he is but he really does LOVE anyone who will pay attention to him.) 

I rented a Nikon 105mm micro lens over the weekend to experiment with it. (That's a whole other blog post.) Here are a few snaps with that lens as I was trying to figure out how to use it.

Moose is that dog that craves your attention. He LOVES everyone and everything. He is a good dog but gets himself into trouble when he allows his nose to make decisions for him or when his zest for life takes over and he's like a bull in a china shop. We don't leave food out anywhere in the house. The pantry doors must be closed (there are scratch marks on it from him trying to open the door.) His bin of dry food is kept in our mud room coat closet otherwise he'll open the bin and help himself.

When he's not outside letting his nose lead him around, he is wherever you are and if he had his way, that would mean part of him is sitting in your lap. He is truly a 90lb lap dog. He is affectate and loving. If you ever come to my house, Moose would be your new best friend.

 I really want to capture Moose and he numerous sleeping positions. You can just tell when he is sleeping that he is a happy, carefree dog. And he is!

I really want to capture Moose and he numerous sleeping positions. You can just tell when he is sleeping that he is a happy, carefree dog. And he is!

 Moose and the nikon 105mm micro lens. Using a macro lens for the first time was challenging but fun! (I learned the Nikon calls their macro lenses micro.)

Moose and the nikon 105mm micro lens. Using a macro lens for the first time was challenging but fun! (I learned the Nikon calls their macro lenses micro.)

I have always loved dogs. Always. Over the past 12 months, I've developed a love of photography. Nothing makes me happier than creating images of the dogs we love. Thanks for reading about the dogs I love.

If you made it through this long post, congratulations and thank you! This is a blog circle and next up is Pawtrait Purrfection, serving Pets and People in Ipswich, Australia