Project 52: Wide Open

The theme for this week is “Wide Open”.

For this theme I went back to my first lens I ever bought. The nifty 50 – Canon 50mm 1.8. This lens was my introduction to shooting wide open and the beautiful shallow depth of field it produces. It seemed fitting to revisit this lens for this week. Here’s my newest girl, Brooke, at f/1.8.

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Brooke and her brother Muck are one year old Beardie X Huntaways. So far during this project you have seen the happy side of farm dogs – the well looked after dogs who love their jobs and are pets in their time off, but I think this blog is a good place to bring the other side into the open. Unfortunately a lot of working dogs aren’t as lucky, and around half the dogs that we have bought as trained working dogs* have had some kind of behavioural issues as a result of ignorant, abusive owners; treating them only as tools, without any care for their well being and disposing of them the second they are no longer useful. I’ve had one dog arrive so scared of people that it took me three days to even touch her without her trying to bite out of fear, another used to go and hide under the trailer and refuse to come out every time there was a loud noise. Then there are the skinny dogs, dogs who have had collars embedded in their necks and a whole lot of dogs so petrified of people that they would hide in their kennels, scared to come outside for fear of what might happen to them. Dogs that have been piled two or three to a kennel, let out only once or twice a week for a run then tossed straight back into their kennels. While there are plenty of farmers who do look after their dogs extremely well, there are many out there (farmers and pet owners alike throughout the world) who just don’t care and ruin their dogs as a result. Nothing makes me more angry.

Brooke and Muck were bred from a long line of working dogs. Unfortunately for them, they were originally “trained” through sheer idiocy. Being let out to chase stock, then without any effort being put into their training they would be chased down on motorbikes, beaten up to “teach them a lesson” and then put in the kennel until the next day when they’d do it all over again. This doesn’t teach a dog anything but fear, and by the time they were picked up by a proper dog trainer for rehoming, they were terrified of people and wouldn’t come near a person for fear of what they might do. The dog trainer did a great job with them in the short time he had them, teaching them that not every person is going to harm them and educating them on basic stock work. By the time I went and picked them up at the end of November they were running nicely on training mobs of stock and ready to join our team.

Even with the trainers great work teaching them to trust, Brooke and Muck’s pasts are painfully obvious to see. A raised hand to open a gate, a motorbike coming down the race or anything new results in the dogs shying away and wanting to hide. Their coats are dull from being underfed with poor quality food for a long time, and this also shows in their feet and joints which will take time to build up to be ready for full-time work. Thankfully these two have grown up to be fantastic natured dogs despite their upbringing, and with a whole lot of TLC they are looking better and gaining confidence every day.

*Note: I encourage adoption whenever possible and have adopted and rescued many dogs as working dogs or to rehome. However this is not always practical when a dog is needed for a specific job immediately (such as when I have to retire a dog suddenly) and I do buy some dogs from other farmers.

Project 52 is a global blog circle of professional pet photographers from the Beautiful Beasties network. Each week we create an image or series of images to suit a set theme, and see what everyone else got up to that week. Next up, check out Poughkeepsie NY Pet Photography, Khanya Photography to see what they have come up with for this week. Keep clicking the links at the bottom of each blog post to follow your way around the circle until you end up back here.