Realizing it’s been sometime since my last entry, wanted to drop in today with an update and how I see Bundle of Paws m0ving forward in the time of COVID.
First, our sweet girl Mattie. Many of you who follow me know Mattie became the focal point of our lives when we rescued her in 2003. I will never forget, at our official meet and greet with our friends from Animal Alliance how she sprinted across the terrazzo floor, executed a slide into my wife’s feet that would have brought a smile to the face of the most grizzled baseball coach, and promptly proceeded to pee all over her. Some might have said it was her anxiety and fear from surviving life with previous humans who physically harmed her, others would simply know she claimed us. Simple as that. We were a family right in that moment. To further cement the bond, on the ride to her forever home an hour later, Mattie, just to be sure we were her people, promptly vomited all over my wife’s lap in the backseat of the car. That was it, the deal was sealed. She would know nothing but love for the remainder of her life.
In the blink of an eye, 17 years later on April 13, 2020 our Mattie crossed the rainbow bridge after courageously battling brain cancer for nearly 2 years. Our vet told us to expect just 6 months after she was diagnosed with that most damnable disease, but she was a fighter, and would never let on she was hurting. That’s what happens when 80 lbs of personality is stuffed in a 40 lb body you know. We savored every bonus day, as I called them, for almost a year and a half. Mattie was our rock, she was the reason I began the company. Her favorite sleeping position was fashioned into our logo, and the name of that position – Mattie’s ‘bundle of paws’ – became the company name. She spent hours with me in the Bundle of Paws World HQ as I culled, edited and prepared images. Ever watchful of me, and my work, she never left my side. It is foreign to me to sit here today, her bed empty, and wonder why at precisely 5pm each day, she is not nosing my leg, letting me know it’s time to go downstairs to fix her dinner and wait for my wife to come home.
It’s slightly more than 3 months since the best girl crossed the bridge, and I find myself still ‘finding firsts’ – those things we would ALWAYS do together, and I find myself doing now without her. Something as simple as sitting on the steps of the front porch, where in her final years I’d hold her on my lap to rest those legs that were betraying her, or sing softly in her ear, or just enjoy each other’s company as we watched the world go by. It’s like a fresh punch in the gut every time it happens, and I try – not always successfully – to frame the memory in that I should be happy to have had it, rather than not at all. I am not always successful. A good friend told me to expect those ‘firsts’ to happen for a full year. I am not looking forward to the next 9 months.
For those who commissioned me to step outside the pet photography world in the past – for headshots or to photograph items you sell for your own websites, for example, I guess now I should come clean and apologize. Those tasks NEVER got done as quickly as they should have – since when setting up the stands, the lights and softboxes, invariably Mattie – also known as the most photographed dog in the world – would nonchalantly waltz into the setup and look at me with those eyes – “where should I sit?” So before I photographed any products – greeting cards, hand carved wooden products – you name it – I photographed Mattie first. She knew what it meant when the lights came out, and expected to be in the middle of the action. The images below always made me smile, they really are just test shots for lighting, but what was supposed to be a quick shoot for small wooden products for a local wood working artisan, turned into a shoot of Mattie, while I tested various gelled lighting behind her. As you can tell from her body position and attentive posture – she was all about the experience and was the most patient model with whom I’ve ever had the pleasure to photograph. This was a frequent diversion from the paid work. She loved to be lavished with praise, and I loved our sessions together, every single one.
Goodnight sweet princess. You are, and will always be, the best dog in the world to me. You showed me how to overcome extraordinarily awful circumstances and how to thrive afterward through resilience. You showed me how to ask for what you want, and to graciously thank the one who gave it to you. You were a gentle spirit, with kindness and unconditional love that is something your momma and I will remember for the duration of our lives. And you showed us that sometimes, when we are sad and shed a tear, the best thing in the world is to have a loving dog by your side to lick it off your cheek with a single stroke of the tongue.
Perhaps the greatest element of your legacy sweet girl…you showed me the beauty of animal rescue and inspired me to photograph hundreds of dogs in need, to support their search for their forever homes. I will work hard to honor your legacy, and help other dogs in need find their forever homes through photography and how your momma and I live our lives.
In Mattie’s honor, please….adopt, don’t shop.
Since Mattie’s passing and taking some time to recalibrate, we have put our paws back to work making many behind the scenes upgrades while preparing for resumption of shooting when safe here in the times of COVID. Check back here for our next entry when I’ll talk about how I see Bundle of Paws moving forward with that, helping you MAKE.LIFETIME.IMAGES. of your pets and family, while keeping all of us as safe as possible.