It’s not only that I never go anywhere with my (service) dog. It’s not merely that we are joined at the hip
It’s more that all my life, my view of the world has been through dog-colored glasses. When I was trying to learn how to walk, it was the family dog who walked at my side, bracing me when I tried to haul myself back up after a fall, running to get my mother if the fall made me cry. When I wanted comfort, he was there. My mother had been told that too much attention would spoil me. But no one told that to Snowflake. And so comfort became dog. And so it stayed.
After school, I’d rush home to be with my dog, usually taking him to the beach with me when it was off season. I grew up at the tip of Brooklyn, in a community called Sea Gate, and we lived two blocks from the sand and the ocean, and it was there that I spend hours and hours following my dog and watching him follow his nose. When I was a teen-ager, I tried to get a volunteer job at The Seeing Eye and was told they didn’t hire women, not even for free! I didn’t know how I’d continue to wrap myself around dogs if I couldn’t find work that included them. So I bought a puppy for $5 and sneaked him onto the train I took when I left home for college.
I became a dog trainer by accident on purpose. It’s what I always wanted to do – to train dogs and to write about them – and both happened in my early thirties and so finally, I had what I had dreamed of – a life where there were always dogs glued to my side.
When I wanted to understand the world, Snowflake was there. Here’s what you do for a friend, he seemed to be saying, you walk close to their side and so you are there if they should fall, if they should need you. And then later, another dog said, here’s what you do on the beach, you love the silence broken only by the sound of the waves and the call of the gulls and you find exciting things to wonder about – crabs! footprints in the sand! driftwood to retrieve! Life is best when it is simple, the dog told me.
And so when I want to record a moment in time, why would I turn the camera on myself? It is the dog who has my attention, my focus. It is the dog who is myself, my selfie, my teacher. Then, now, forever, it is the dog.