I started this chalkboard series with my dog, T, about 2 months ago. It’s been a lot of fun drawing, but also shooting with T. We work closely, and he’s gotten so so good at knowing where his mark is at and how to stay there. He’ll also stay put on his mark while I move around him and, using a treat or my voice, get him to turn his head and look left or right, up or down. Chalk days are good days around here.
One sad thing about Chalk days is Jack. I’ve talked about his modeling/light testing skills before, and how he can’t really sit up for a long time, like I need him to do for the Chalkboard series. I made a special board for him, Old Dog, and that was just for him. It made him super happy to be the center of attention that day (one other thing about Chalk day is the dog who is posing really is the star). I noticed that Jack would be a little down on those days he couldn’t pose. Even though everyone got treats, I was reminded that posing was originally Jack’s job.
So I started shooting with Jack again, at least letting him sit, or usually lay, in front of the board while I took a few photos. They were, for the most part, unusable because he wasn’t on mark, but he loved doing it, and beside the reward of the treat, he just loves working with me and pleasing me. I don’t know how in the world I could have forgotten, even for just a shoot or two, how much that meant to him.
So. Yesterday’s Chalk Day was “When you adopt a shelter dog, you take him from Zero to Hero in 60 seconds.” Clearly, this was a board that needed everyone. T first, so I could positing and get my focus. Jack and Mouse waiting by the front door while T did his job, and they were super happy to get their treats. But when I said, “Jack’s turn!” he flipped! He jumped up and got near the door and pushed it up and he RAN to the apple boxes. Awww, my baby boy. He missed doing his job for me.
He didn’t have to lay down yesterday; not only did he sit, but he stood! For a long time! He stood there until I said, “Good job!” (his signal for “we’re done”) and he *jumped* off the apple boxes and ran to me. It was the best. In fact, it was so great I brought Mouse out.
Mouse isn’t a fan of the camera. This is huge progress, as she started from “hating the camera.” She’s connected posting with treats, and also, she’s a people pleaser as well. But aren’t all dogs people pleasers? I think so, maybe some just haven’t found the right people yet.
Mouse was great. A little skittish, but a good little poser. And she gave me a great smile.
All three of these dogs, my dogs, felt like zeros when I adopted them. Now, they all feel like Heroes. Over time, they’ve built confidence, and they’ve learned that I love them and they’ve eagerly accepted that love, and they’ve returned it! T has a VIJ (Very important job) in the house; Jack has a job, and even Mouse does. They all feel needed, wanted, and loved. They all have warm beds, snuggles, treats, 2 squares a day, and as many toys as we can fit into the every growing toy box.
Most importantly, they have me to please, which they do every day. They truly are Heroes. All the unwanted dogs you see out there, the ones who are labeled “biters” or “aggressive” or “lost causes.” They all need a job, a person to please. That’s what adopting does for them. It gives them a purpose, a job, and love, and that’s what makes them Heroes.
It’s true. When you adopt a shelter dog, he (or she) goes from Zero to Hero in 60 seconds. And you’ve got a spare minute, don’t you?
Here are my heroes.