Take That Photograph!

Our dogs are, in just a few words, beautiful creatures. We meditate on the pattern of their coat, the emotion in their eye, their size and shape reflected in their breed type.

If you have landed on this page, we likely share a common opinion.

Our dogs are, in just a few words, beautiful creatures.

We meditate on the pattern of their coat, the emotion in their eye, their size and shape reflected in their breed type. We marvel in the rapture of all that it is to be a dog when we watch them trail after a scent, flatten their backs in pursuit of some fanciful prey, or stretch out asleep on our couch. As author Milan Kundera wrote, “dogs are our link to paradise.” They are a bridge to something we may have lost. And their time with us moves far too quickly. To share our life with a dog is a gift never to be taken for granted.

To this end, doing a professional photoshoot with our dog – at least once in their lifetime – is a wonderful way to distill all the things we remember and love about them. For sure, my phone is full of photos of my dogs being silly, being brave, being cute, being clever and just being incredible. And they do this perfectly, for me and in spite of me, all of the days of their lives. But getting the opportunity to work with a professional photographer who truly captures their essence is a worthy step above. And one every dog lover should take.

Over the years I have been privileged to have many professional photographs taken of my dogs. The best of those pictures are among the things I treasure most because of the memories they bring, many years later when that dog has passed. I get to go back to that place we were together in time, to a younger self blessed to have such a dog at my side. Those photographs protect that memory so that I can remember everything so perfectly about them when years have come between us.

My latest photoshoot with my current dogs was taken with a good friend and her dog at Chilliwack Lake with the talented and award winning Andrea Wafler of The Good Mutt – https://www.thegoodmutt.com/

I discovered some of Andrea’s photos on social media when a fellow agility competitor posted some images of her two dogs. Those pictures made me want to work with Andrea and it took little convincing to get my friend in on the idea.

Our date with Andrea was set weeks before, but on the day of the session, it rained. Hard. Driving to the location I had my mind set on this being a miserable experience with soggy dogs covered in mud and dreary pictures that reflected my feeling of the day. It was a two and a half hour drive to the location, plus a good hike off the road where we parked our cars. For my portion of the shoot I waded into the lake with water coming in over the tops of my rubber boots, slipping on the rocks and cursing, part dog wrangler, part dog muse in an attempt to get a perfect pose with two border collies who had other ideas. I spelled off with my friend and her German Shepherd, while Andrea moved back and forth between us in patience and encouragement. Pretty much all of me was wet and covered in mud by the end, wondering how these photographs could possibly turn out.

Delightfully, the outcome of those pictures proved me a misguided pessimist and I would have done it all again – a thousand times over! – when Andrea sent me drafts of the pictures later that afternoon. What The Good Mutt captured that day was the very spirit of my dogs with our beloved west coast rainforest as the backdrop, seemingly unaffected by humans. It was a celebration of my dogs and the place I call home in its most natural element. For a moment in time my dogs got to be wild creatures, a link to that forgotten paradise.

Part of why we chose The Good Mutt was the emotion and imagery Andrea captures in all of her work, bringing out the best of each dog inspired by a primitive landscape. That is what my friend and I wanted for this shoot. Each dog photographer has a style that comes through in their work: studio shots, urban backdrops, action images. Our job is to choose a feel and a look that best portrays our dog at that stage in their life; for we know our own dogs best.

Take That Photograph! - Zen Dog Canine Training Vancouver - POST TakeThat Photo3b

In your dog’s lifetime I hope you will get at least one professional photoshoot of your dog. Ask for it as a gift, or save some of your pretty pennies. I want you to have a picture (or many!) worthy of framing for your wall, a picture that will make you both cry and smile many years after it was taken. With pride you will tell others who ask: that was my dog. He was perfect.

On that October day when we slid over the rocks together in the water, cursing and covered in silt, soaked through to the skin, I received a gift I did not realize at the time. When I am well into my old age (god willing) and no longer able to care for such dogs as these, that gift will be photographs of a memory, and a link to that paradise Milan Kundera wrote of: Dogs are our link to paradise. They don’t know evil or jealousy or discontent. To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring – it was peace.

These photographs are a worthy tribute to three extraordinary dogs we were blessed to share our lives with.

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