Life Through the Lens of Purpose
Posted on April 14th, 2020 by FetchMasters in Uncategorized
Some thoughts on dog training and dog photography — and some thoughts on life in general. This difficult time won’t last forever, but we all should be thinking about how we want to live our lives when Covid-19 is over.
Several years ago, I attended the funeral of my wife’s grandfather. The service took place in a small country church in New Mexico, but it really deserved a larger venue. People filled the pews and aisles of this little church to pay their final respects to this man who had made an impactful difference in his community. He was just a small-town school teacher, but nearly everyone at his funeral had stories of little things this humble man did to help them. They all spoke of how he forever changed their lives with his kind deeds.
Notice that in the above paragraph, I put the words “just” and “little” in italics.This is because I want you to know that just you, and just I, can make a difference by doing little things that matter to someone else. Because of my wife’s grandfather, I understand the importance and power of doing little things to help others. So, it is important to me that my work — even if I’m not remembered outside of my own small group of family members, friends and colleagues — accomplishes plenty of little things that enrich the lives of others.
It seems to me that my life was predestined to be intertwined with dogs. Literally my oldest and fondest memories are of playing with my dad’s hunting hounds and taking part in some of their training. And then, after following many of life’s winding paths, I grew up to be a dog trainer. It’s easy enough to see how being a dog trainer can impact the lives of dogs and people alike, so I won’t explain that here. But, my love of dogs eventually merged with my passion for photography. Go figure. So, as I wield my camera, it is important to me that I do some sort of good with it, both for dogs and for those who love them.
A Story about Shelly
About five years ago, I ran into a pack of stray dogs on a beach in southern Sicily. Hoping to collect dropped bits of food, they stayed close to my wife and I, but they remained just out of reach. Thanks to my 70-200 mm lens, I was able to pull one of the dogs close to the sensor of my camera.
My interest in photographing this little vagabond — now named Shelly — resulted in her finding the truest of friendships with a friend of mine named Massimiliano (who is a doctor in Norway). Had I not been on the beach with my camera, this union might never have been made. Somehow I made a difference in the lives of a dog and a man. This is one of my dearest memories. I sometimes wonder whether or not I’ll make it to heaven, but I feel sure God smiles down on this act of facilitation.
And Grayson …
And then there was the time when one of my company’s dog trainers, Jessie, fostered an English Pointer named Grayson from a local rescue. Below is the picture she was given by the rescue organization.
I showed a friend of mine this picture, and he said: “I feel sorry for that dog, but I’d never let it into my home; he looks like he’d destroy the place.”
So, I took the following picture in my studio in hopes that it would show people a more desirable side of Grayson.
Grayson found a good home, and he now is living the dream. I feel like there is so much good that can be done for dogs with a camera. But dog photography is only partly about helping dogs. It also is about giving something of inestimable value to those who love their dogs.
It Ain’t All About the Dogs
One of the things that bothers me about this world is that humans live for around seventy-ish years, while the dogs we love so much live only about a decade. So many holes in our hearts are created by the passing of these companions. While it is true that the holes are filled with good memories, those memories can fade into the back of our conscious, and frankly that saddens me.
It is in this realization that I find the most fulfillment with my camera. A nice wall portrait of a beloved dog can always keep its face, and the memories it left behind, fresh in our minds.
I know when my dog passes, there are so many things I never want to forget about her. So I document her life with photos. She is the little spark that ignited into the flame that is my company, FetchMasters. But more importantly, the memories of every day since I found her eleven years ago contain her. That’s important to me. That’s why I never delete a picture of her. And I know many others feel the exact same way about their dog.
Hugo, For Instance …
Consider the picture below of Hugo the bulldog. He has the funniest personality I’ve ever seen, and the craziest face. And he is absolutely loved by his owner, Penne.
I love the way the shot below captured the essence of this hilarious and fun little dog, and I feel blessed that I could be the one to capture it. The owner will always have this to remind her of her best friend. I know how important that is, and I count it a blessing that I was apart of cementing her memories so that they do not easily drift towards the back of her mind in the years to come.
I’ll be smiling down upon my owner funeral if some of my clients are there because I either guided them to, helped them with, or preserved the memory of their best friend. That will be a good enough legacy for me.
I know that you are just you. There are very few things in this world that you — or any of us — can control. But the one power that has been given to you is to do some little things that make a difference, no matter how small. In the end, that probably will be your legacy, so run hard with it.