Dogs - Crufts
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I definitely fell into the 'scared of dogs' category of small boys; apparently something to do with a Labrador snatching a biscuit from my hand when I was sitting in my pram. Losing a biscuit in such a way and at such an early age is bound to have consequences and to this day I have no great affinity with Labradors, although my love of biscuits remains undiminished.
Nevertheless when Melody had puppies I desperately wanted one, much to my parent's dismay; how would a terrified boy cope with an Alsatian (that's what they were called then). My mother was adamant that a big dog was not suitable for a small boy living in a terraced house in the city; Melody and her puppies remained on my auntie's farm. My next tactic was to downsize and a Jack Russell seemed the perfect fit for small boys and small houses, but it wasn't to be and after that I more or less forgot about dogs.
My wife fell into the 'scared of dogs' category of small girls although she had a quite different experience, with her parents buying Titus, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel puppy, to help her overcome her fears. Mr Todd, a Cocker Spaniel, followed and my wife was cured and a confirmed dog lover.
Although my wife often talked about having a dog it wasn't until she met a friend's Bolognese that we found a breed and gained an introduction to the breeder. When the time came, the trip to the breeder was a revelation, as my previous experience lead me to believe that buying a puppy was as simple as popping into Cardiff Market and just choosing. I had done that many times as a boy; sadly the choosing was never followed by buying. However we went to a house devoted to the breed, with walls dripping in certificates and photographs, where we were interviewed to establish our suitability. We passed (because my wife answered all the questions) and Dino came home with us. This whole experience made me curious about the reality of the relationship between dogs and their owners and I began to think how I might explore this through photography.
Crufts provided the ideal location; the biggest dog show in the world and a peculiarly British event. Today more than 20,000 dogs from all over the world are judged to establish one winner, named Best in Show.
Crufts offers overwhelming opportunities to follow diverse photographic themes, many of which have absorbed me over recent years. I have photographed people with their dogs and endeavoured to reveal their special relationship, the quirky detail and gentle humour that the close relationship between owner and dog inevitably gives rise to.
It was a great privilege to have Peter Purves write the foreword to my book Dog Show, published in 2009.