of Society’s Hidden People
A book of the homeless
and the animals they love.
The bonds between people and their dogs have always fascinated me. I love to watch the interactions between the two, the stories that are told, the subtle communication and the mutual affection.
After years of watching people and their dogs, just by chance I picked up a copy of Jesse Freidin's book, Finding Shelter (jessefreidin.com) and discovered his photographs of the people-dog bond. His book contains many superbly done images of free-form, spontaneous people and their dogs.
I began my collection of Dog People images just after reading Jesse's book. These are on display here, with more being added to the collection as more people and dogs pose for me.
Just as in Jesse's book, I love the spontaneous nature of these images and their ability to capture the emotional connection.
The casual visitor to a shelter will only see the publicly visible portion: kennels, cages, dogs and cats healthy and calm enough for adoption, organized areas, and fresh food and water.
But just behind the 'Staff Only' door is a different world. This is where the sick, terrified, injured, and recently taken in animals are kept. Strays that are a danger to all except the most experienced guard their food, toys and space. Cries of anger or fear are loud and a look of hopelessness can be seen in many eyes. Kennel workers and volunteers can be found camped out in a new dog’s kennel – hand feeding a dog that finds himself alone and abandoned. Beautiful scenes of compassion and caring are seen in this place.
I like to wander a shelter, looking for pictures that tell touching stories and saving them as memories of what makes a shelter a special place for me and the many animals who need a second chance.
As I wander the streets of the cities that my wife, Sally, and I visit, I sometimes find myself in the company of homeless men and woman and their canine companions. Like people throughout our society, they love to talk about their dogs, their journeys together, and the relationship they share.
When they invite me to sit and talk, their pups will often wander into my lap, the dingy part of the city street will be transformed into a living area, and I am reminded of the unpretentious offering of unconditional love that every dog brings to the person that befriends them.
I am struck by the fact that the most important possession of these homeless people, living day-by-day on handouts from strangers, is the dog resting at our feet. The bond and mutual love between my homeless host and his dog is obvious and wonderful to behold.
Miracles of love are all around us if only we take the time to look.
DANCERS AND DOGS
I often have the chance to photograph groups or organizations that have a central focus - like events or, in this case, dance groups and shelter dogs.
This was a promo shoot for the Indiana Ballet Conservatory fall production, Pulse: Dance to the Beat of Your Own Drummer at the Basile Theater at the Historic Athenaeum. Since a portion of the proceeds from this performance would go to benefit IndyHumane, a local shelter, we brought in three of their dogs, including Heidi, the Treeing Walker Coonhound you will see in several these photos.
Each of the dancers had a wonderful stage presence - effortlessly posing, smiling, and going on pointe. The dogs were well behaved and loved being part of the action.