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Photojournalistic Stories by John Moriarty
Published by the Asheville Citizen-Times


ABOUT THE SERIES

Each month, a local photographer hosts the Living Portrait Series, choosing a theme and different subjects to photograph and interview each week.

The goal is two-fold: to share and champion work by local photographers, and to foster a greater understanding of the people and perspectives in the community.

For the month of December, local photographer John Moriarty is capturing the bond between people and their companion animals, a subject he is passionate about.

ALL BELOW TEXT AND PHOTOGRAPHY BY JOHN MORIARTY


Living Portrait Series: Deanne Eversmeyer and Roxie
http://blogs2.citizen-times.com/photography/2016/12/01/living-portrait-series-deanne-eversmeyer-and-roxie/

Except for public figures who see images of themselves frequently, most of us are awkward in front of a camera and critical of the resulting image. This got me thinking about how we view ourselves, and then our relationship with ourselves.

Taking this consideration of self and the resulting interior dialogue a step further, I began to explore our relationship with our pets as a route toward understanding how we view ourselves. We have a different, unguarded relationship with our animals. Not everyone, to be sure, but most of us. As a photographer, capturing this uniquely unvarnished connection presents an opportunity to see the self. And it makes for a very powerful image.

Briefly, this interspecies connection and the resulting revelation of self are what I seek to capture in my work for this series.

Deanne Eversmeyer is a horticulturist who moved to the Asheville area about three years ago. Her dog, Roxie, a Lab-Rottweiler mix, helped to get her through a string of personal crises before having to be put down at the age of 6 due to cancer.

Deanne: Ya know, dogs are amazing animals.

John: How so?
Deanne: Well, my dog, Roxie, the one you photographed, was just amazing. A year and a half after her passing and I’m still stunned by the impact she had on me over a very difficult time in my life. She was a gift.

John: Can we start at the beginning and could you give me some background on Roxie and how she came into your life?
Deanne: Well, in the space of a month my sister died of breast cancer, my husband moved out, leaving me to handle the entire divorce proceedings by myself — the house had to be sold, of course, and then packing and moving. It was a time of enormous personal turmoil, leaving my friends and my home.

I had two Rottweilers then, one having passed of cancer at the same time everything else was going on, and my husband took the other one with him. Shortly after all that bad news, I got Roxie from a local rescue group. She had been given up by a woman who had also died of cancer. Roxie kept me sane through a very difficult time; she was my rock.

John: How was it when you got here to Asheville?
Deanne: Initially it was difficult, of course — new places always are. I was renting about an hour from Asheville and I knew pretty soon that I wanted to find a place closer. After three moves in less than a year and a half, I finally moved into a new house in November. It was a sea of mud from the construction. But Roxie’s upbeat temperament was something I found myself looking forward to at the end of the day.

I would go off to work and when I got home she was there and very happy to see me. The mud and trials of new construction became secondary. She was also very outgoing. People in this area are so dog-friendly that Roxie helped me to meet people because she just had to meet everyone. People in downtown Weaverville got to know her on our walks and would be excited to see her. That outgoing personality was wonderful to experience.

John: So how would you describe your relationship with her at that time?
Deanne: The best way to describe it is that I began to realize how terrific she was as a companion and, more importantly, how she helped me to find myself again. I had been a strong independent woman before getting married and she not only helped me over the rough spots but she also helped me to meet people in a place that was new to me and to find some personal balance again. She also filled a void that I didn’t know was there — until she wasn’t there.

John: What do you think created that bond?
Deanne: She was the right dog at the right place and at the right time. If you show affection towards them, they return it many times over. There is no pause, no reflection, no hesitation; it is constant and unconditional. They seem to be able to look you in the eye and understand, in some way, what is going on. And they make everything right again. She was a constant in my life that allowed me to gain some traction and start over.

John: Tell me about the diagnosis and when you received it.
Deanne: She had a prior knee surgery. I knew something wasn’t right. She had started limping. I went back to the surgeon who had done the original surgery and got the diagnosis of cancer. It was very aggressive and I knew that I had to make a decision soon. It is the most difficult decision they ask us to make. And three weeks later she was gone.

John: What made you think of having a professional photograph taken at this difficult time?
Deanne: Like everyone else I suppose I had a bunch of lousy cellphone images of her. She meant so much to me and I realized that I wanted more than just something I had taken of her. I wanted a photo that showed the two of us and our connection. And a friend mentioned your name.

John: And the image?
Deanne: It really captures who she was and our great relationship. It’s a lasting memory that I will always cherish.

John: Are there more dogs in your future?
Deanne: Always.


Living Portrait Series: Christine Posner & Rosie
http://blogs2.citizen-times.com/photography/2016/12/12/living-portrait-series-christine-posner-rosie/

Christine Posner is a family physician in Asheville. She lives with her husband Andy, their 2-year-old son Jonah, stepson Oliver and Andy’s dog Flannery. About two months ago, Christy’s beloved 15-year-old hound mix, Rosie, passed away. They were photographed in August 2015.

Moriarty: How did you meet Rosie?
Posner: Basically, Rosie found me, which set a pattern for our relationship. I had just moved to Asheville to start my family medicine residency and I had been in my house less than a week when I was outside in the garden and this goofy puppy came bounding across the street and plopped down in the flowers. A neighbor that I hadn’t met followed behind. She explained that she was just fostering the dog and wasn’t ready to adopt yet. So I offered to help her out and Rosie spent the night. And never left.

Of course, this was the worst possible time for me to get a dog because I was single and about to start my internship. But it was a timing thing and I felt that Rosie and I were meant to be. She got me over a lot of ups and downs over those 15 years, from June 2001 when we found each other, until she passed away on Oct. 2. Rosie was my first child and that is how I will always think of her.

Moriarty: How old was she and how would you describe your first impressions?
Posner: She was about 6 months old, a stray, a little skittish at first, no training, but that is where our story began. She was wonderfully goofy but didn’t destroy much. There was a pillow one time, and feathers all over the place, but overall [she was] pretty good. After my internship, work took me to California for about 4 years. In California I found a dog walker who took a pack of dogs to a beach and let them run off leash. He also helped train her on some basic commands, then helped train me as well. She was with him for four days a week, a good three hours a day.

The freedom was life-changing for her. When the time came, I reluctantly told him I was moving back to Asheville. I felt so bad about ending their special relationship that I left it to the very end. He and his wife had been thinking about moving, visited Asheville and are here today. Rosie continued with him and his pack until she was about 12 — absent the beach, of course.

Moriarty: Where do you suppose this ability to perfectly share your life with Rosie came from?
Posner: I suppose it came from my maternal grandmother. We were very close and she had a great fondness for animals. Somehow she imparted that understanding, that connectedness, on to me and, more particularly, the ability to experience them as so much more than just a pet. And my grandmother understood it and passed it along.

Moriarty: Have you been trying to pass that same appreciation for animals along to Jonah?
Posner: He’s had animal stuffed toys since he was an infant. I think seeing how much Rosie meant to me, witnessing my emotional attachment, he learned patience and became aware of what she needed as she got older. I think, as young as he is, that he gets it.

Moriarty: There is a story about the day you were to be induced and Rosie became sick. Would you tell that story?
Posner: Early morning on that day, Andy calls up from downstairs, something is wrong with Rosie. She apparently had a neurological event and was experiencing something awful. But I’m thinking, no, I can’t have my baby today, I have to take care of Rosie, and then my water broke, so there was no postponing where I was headed. But what do I do about Rosie?

As I went off to the hospital, friends came over and took Rosie to REACH (Regional Emergency Animal Care Hospital). The vet at REACH said that she likely had a stroke and that we should consider putting her down. I contacted my vet, Dr. Amber — this was on a Sunday, of course — and she immediately headed to REACH. Her diagnosis was more optimistic. Rosie eventually went home and started a long rehabilitation process.
 

Moriarty: Do you feel that there is a connection between Jonah and Rosie because of how this unfolded, particularly with respect to the timing?
Posner: If my water hadn’t broken when it did, I would have postponed the hospital appointment by a day and taken care of Rosie myself. Looking back, the whole day might have turned out differently. I would have been the one that took her to REACH. And why wouldn’t I have trusted the vet and had her put her down? And why would I have thought to contact my vet? In the moment, I might have thought that this was a sign that Rosie was passing the torch. But that wasn’t meant to be. Rosie stuck it out for 2½ more years. They were difficult years, but she taught me patience and what is involved in the aging process.

Moriarty: Was that when you began to think about life after Rosie?
Posner: When she was around 11 or 12, I started preparing myself, but she just hung in, like she wanted to make sure everything was going to be OK.

Moriarty: As you mentioned this wasn’t an easy time as she got older, so what made you think of having photographs taken?
Posner: When I met you and learned what you did and saw your relationship with your dogs and what they meant to you, it just clicked and I wanted you to be part of our world and to capture that image. It added a much deeper layer of meaning to our story to have someone who has that bond and relationship with their own animals — someone that understands the connection.

Moriarty: And how was Rosie holding up at that time?
Posner: Honestly, I was scared she wouldn’t even make it to the photo shoot. At that point everyday was a gift. I was aware of that, I kept waiting for her to give me a sign like it was the end. Then I realized I don’t want to see that sign. My gift to her was that she would go out peacefully and without pain.

Moriarty: I know it has only been two months since she passed but what do the images mean to you now
Posner: Well, as they were being taken I knew that the connection was appreciated and valued, and what brought us together is in those photographs. We’ve just moved so nothing is hung up yet, but I do have two images out and they bring her back to life because of all the good in that connection; powerful images that capture me, Jonah and Rosie together, my children.

Moriarty: Will there eventually be another goofy puppy in your future?
Posner: Well, since Rosie found me, I don’t know how to get a dog. I guess I’m waiting for another dog to find me.


Living Portrait Series: Laura Harrison and Monsieur Tripod
http://blogs2.citizen-times.com/photography/2016/12/15/living-portrait-series-laura-harrison-and-monsieur-tripod/

If cats could talk: “Je m’appelle Monsieur Tripod, aka Tripee.”

Moriarty: Why a French first name?
Harrison: He had a difficult life and we thought his confidence needed a boost so we named him Monsieur Tripod. Tripee to his close circle of family, friends and fans.

Moriarty: Tell me about Monsieur Tripod’s background. When did you first see him?
Harrison: We would see him on occasion as he went through the backyard and just assumed he was feral. We eventually learned that he was sleeping under a neighbor’s shed. My other cats would catch chipmunks and I think it was that food source which attracted him to the yard.

Moriarty: Was he skittish or did he come to you immediately?
Harrison: He was beyond shy. He was terrified. It took a year of coaxing, leaving food out before he would let me even touch him.

Moriarty: What would you guess his age was when you first noticed him?
Harrison: We thought he might be about one or two years at the most. You can guess a cat’s age when their head shape changes to that of an adult cat — which happens at about age three. So, he was still a kitten.

Moriarty: You mentioned that your husband, Marty, noticed that he wasn’t walking normally. Would you describe what was happening?
Harrison: It was hard to see initially because he was so terrified of us. Then Marty mentioned that he thought there was something wrong with the way he walked. Turns out he only had three legs. A vet thought it might be the result of an umbilical cord that became wrapped around the limb cutting off circulation.

Moriarty: So you started to feed him?
Harrison: We started leaving food out and he eventually came up to it and when he finally ate he just wouldn’t stop. It was heart-breaking to watch. And it was a year before he would allow me to stay and just watch him eat.

Moriarty: What did you do next?
Harrison: Next we built a shelter with a heating pad in it, but he continued to sleep under the neighbor’s shed. Then I called a local shelter about a “trap, neuter, release” program they had. And, against all odds, we succeeded and he saw the vet probably for the first time in his life and was neutered and ear-tipped. And then released back in our yard because we were still assuming he was feral.

Moriarty: When winter came did he go into the shelter you built?
Harrison: Never liked the shelter, he must have felt trapped and continued to stay under the shed. We even cut off the opposite end so that he could see it wasn’t closed. But, little by little, as I fed him he would tolerate my being there while he ate. Then one day he became curious and he actually came over to me and I put my hand down and [he] let me pet him. Well, that was it, he responded to my touch so much — remember at this point he’s dirty, he’s muddy, his hair is a thick mat- – but as soon as he got a taste of some affection he responded immediately; it would break your heart, he’d run back and forth between the food bowl and me, unable to figure out which he wanted more, the food or my touch. I spent a lot of time letting him get used to my touching him. I wanted to be able to clean him, with only three legs he couldn’t reach certain areas to clean himself.

Moriarty: How did he manage to get around when it snowed?
Harrison: We would shovel paths around the yard so that he could get from the shed to his food.

Moriarty: This was when you were still living in New Jersey?
Harrison: Yes, and we had some heavy snows and it was very difficult for him to get around on three legs. During this time we became best friends as he slowly let me feed and brush him, so he was getting affection and nourishment. I still couldn’t pick him up however. One time he actually came into the house but he was really, really scared and went right under a bed and as soon as he had a chance he bolted out again.

Moriarty: So despite this extraordinary patience on your part he still won’t come in the house. How did you succeed in finally getting him to come in?
Harrison: We went on a trip, a relative fed him while we were away. When we got home a week later and pulled in the driveway, there he was. But something apparently had bitten his face and it had become abscessed. The side of his face was swollen and there was blood everywhere. And you know what day of the week it was — it’s Sunday, of course. So we were immediately on our way to the emergency vet. Amazingly he allowed me to pick him up and put him into a carrier. Somehow he knew he needed me and could trust me. The vet said it looked worse than it was, so he got treated and cleaned up but we had to keep him inside, and coned. You know how much he liked that. He wasn’t having any of it and did a pretty good imitation of a Tasmanian Devil in full display. So shortly the cone came off. And then we had to deal with our other two cats who were none too happy with this new guy. It was December so he wasn’t going back outside. We slowly managed to make everyone happy.

Moriarty: So from the time you first noticed him in the yard to when he actually came into the house was how long?
Harrison: It was two years. Two years of patiently feeding him twice a day, then touching him and gradually brushing him and then whatever happened when we went away and we brought him in. If he hadn’t been injured he might never have made the transition.

Moriarty: Do you think he was abused?
Harrison: It’s only a guess but I think that it’s likely. He is startled by two things: when I take out a new garbage bag and give it a shake, and when I get the broom. But now he purrs for hours, sleeps on the bed with us and the other two cats and all is good. And at Christmas time you will find him curled up on the skirt under the tree. For some reason he loves being under the Christmas tree.


Living Portrait Series: Trish Loehr and Horse #75
http://blogs2.citizen-times.com/photography/2016/12/22/living-portrait-series-trish-loehr-and-horse-75/

Trish McMillan Loehr is a certified professional dog trainer and certified dog behavior consultant who holds a master’s degree in animal behavior from the University of Exeter in England. She specializes in training and behavior modification work with dogs, cats and horses. She has also begun training the most recent additions to their farm – two goats. Trish and her husband, Barry, live in Madison County.

Moriarty: Before we get to specific species what interested you about animal training in general?
Loehr: I trained my first horse as a teen. Near the end of college, I was looking to adopt a Dalmatian for the horse I hoped I would eventually get. The person who took my call was very dismissive. College student? No — we don’t adopt to college students. Away from home for more than four hours on occasion? No — we don’t adopt to people who aren’t at home. This was the early ’90s and after getting a Dalmatian from a breeder I learned from a vet that the shelters had plenty of them. This was just after the Disney movie came out. I felt so awful that I had bought a dog when there were plenty of the same breed available for adoption.

Moriarty: How did you respond?
Loehr: Eventually, I started volunteering at local shelters while I was working at an uninspiring office job. Since I was putting in as many hours volunteering in shelters, I decided that maybe I should be doing something in animal training instead.

Moriarty: So even though you considered yourself a horse person you started by working with dogs?
Loehr: Yes, I started apprenticing as a dog trainer, then moved to SF (San Francisco) where I worked as a trainer for a number of years. From there I got interested in the science behind animal behavior so I upgraded my bachelor of fine arts degree with some animal behavior courses, eventually getting a master’s degree in animal behavior in England.

Moriarty: It sounds like you don’t do things by half measures.
Loehr: I believe that it’s important to put your work to peer review. So I strongly believe in getting certifications from the appropriate professional organizations. It is also instructive to your overall knowledge base to learn how to train different species of animals.

Moriarty: How did your horse, Joey, come into the picture?
Loehr: I was working with the ASPCA out of New York when a case involving 117 horses in Arkansas came up and a call went out to everyone that help was needed. This was in 2010 and the horses were owned by a “trader.” He was selling the horses to Mexico for meat.  A couple of them had escaped onto a highway, which is how the operation was discovered. They had been starved, abused, had untreated diseases. Many had an untreated bacterial disease known as “strangles.”

Moriarty: So you are down in Arkansas with your husband and helping out with the rescue of 117 horses and how did you manage to find this one horse out of so many?
Loehr: Actually it was Barry that found him. He quickly became attached. This type of horse is known as an “in-your-pocket” horse — one that follows you around, puts his head on your shoulder, takes your hat off, takes things out of your pocket — just a big puppy, really. Loves to be with people.

Moriarty: So despite the abuse he still loves people?
Loehr: Yes, absolutely.

Moriarty: This brings up a “nature vs. nurture” question doesn’t it?
Loehr: It does. Anyone with a knowledge of animal behavior will say that both are important. Sometimes a difficult background, upbringing, or history of abuse can be overcome by an animal’s natural resistance. Joey is one example of this, as is my super sweet pit bull, Theodore. He was rescued from a dogfighter’s chain after his sensitive developmental period.

I have also met animals who had an excellent upbringing but were dangerously aggressive or incredibly fearful despite this. One of the first dogs I had after I became a trainer was a puppy I had raised from birth. By six months he was seriously biting. His parents were fearful, aggressive and had been starved, and the genetic and epigenetic hand he had been dealt couldn’t be overcome with socialization, training, or behavioral medication (though the latter is what helped him the most.)

Moriarty: What age was Joey and how was he physically at this point?
Loehr: He was about 4 years old judging from his teeth and physically he was one of the skinniest horses there. He’s 9 now.

Moriarty: And his name?
Loehr: He was horse Number 75. We thought he was going to need a cute name so that someone would adopt him, so we named him Joey. And it worked. After a long delay as the case dragged on, at Barry’s prodding, I made a call to see if he was still available. And eventually Joey came home, untrained and mischievous.

Moriarty: How did behavior modification and specifically clicker training enter the picture?
Loehr: Although deeply skeptical at first, I became interested in clicker training while I was in San Francisco where it was extremely popular. The more I watched trainers use it, the more it was obvious that the animals were responding in a positive way. I saw the animals’ eyes light up and saw them thinking through a behavior and trying to figure things out. I sought out the best trainers I could find and studied under them.

Moriarty: Is there one person who is highly regarded in the field?
Loehr: Alexandra Kurland is a leading advocate of positive reinforcement and clicker training and how it can be transferred to a larger animal such as a horse. Generally you need to move much more slowly and not spook the animal with quick hand gestures.

Moriarty: How far along is Joey at this point?
Loehr: I started with the basics: trained him to walk, trot, whoa. Now I’m working on cantering. He’s really a great riding horse because we have such a bond that he has no reason to throw me. I’ve also been working on a touch technique where he goes up to say, a garbage can, and the noisy flapping bag and have him touch it. Gradually he’s becoming desensitized to things that may spook him on the trail.

Moriarty: Is this different from traditional horse training?
Loehr: In traditional horse training you use a pressure and release technique. And while I use some of that, I’m also adding in positive reinforcement as well. The trust first, and then the bond that results is just wonderful to experience.


Living Portrait Series: Cargo the three-legged dog
http://blogs2.citizen-times.com/photography/2016/12/29/living-portrait-cargo-the-three-legged-dog/

Keeping with the theme of this series, I felt it was time to broaden my inquiry into the symbiotic human-animal bond. This week’s article takes a somewhat different approach than the past four pieces I have written for this feature. I thought it might be interesting to examine this wonderful and mysterious bond from a different point of view.

To that end I interviewed Cargo, a 10-month-old, 42-pound, Australian Cattle Dog/Pointer mix, who is currently in residence at the Asheville Humane Society. I would like to thank Meredith Riddick, the society’s communications and digital fundraising manager, for taking time from her busy schedule to arrange the interview with Cargo. The Humane Society is off Brevard Road at 14 Forever Friend Lane in Asheville.

The original purpose of my inquiry was to probe the human-animal bond and what it means to people who have sought to bring animals into their lives beyond a casual relationship. With a bit of curiosity and patience, one will reach the conclusion that companion animals can be so much more than just pets. If we pause and choose to bring them along on our journey, they will naturally reach into the innermost parts of our being. When we travel down this path, we are richly rewarded as the true nature and stunning capabilities of these creatures are slowly revealed to us. They will complete us.

Moriarty: Cargo, my first question — Cargo over here buddy. Thanks. OK. Cargo, I usually start by asking — Cargo, stay with me big guy, I know it’s a bit distracting in here. Right, and your holiday schedule, yes, there’s that, also. OK. [Gives Cargo a treat.] Good boy. Now, Cargo, how did you get your name? [Treat.]
Cargo: Well, it started when I got loose from the family I was living with. Yum, did you bring those treats?

Moriarty: I did. Thought you might like them. Tell me, why did you leave?
Cargo: It wasn’t that they were abusing me, but they just didn’t spend time with me, ya’ know? And they didn’t have a fenced yard. So one evening, when the door wasn’t shut, I just bolted.

Moriarty: I’m guessing that you ran out into the street next. Is that what happened?
Cargo: [Eats treat.] Yum. I don’t remember much, but I think I overheard someone say that I was hit by a car. A really wonderful person found me and brought me to the emergency vet and from there to Appalachian Animal Hospital, where they did the surgery. They couldn’t repair the broken bones, so they had to amputate my front left leg.

Moriarty: How is it getting around on three legs? You look like you are adjusting pretty well.
Cargo: It was just about three weeks ago, so yeah, I’m still getting used to it. But it’s cool. I can get around fine. If I find the right family maybe they’ll even take me on hikes.

Moriarty: Good boy. [Gives Cargo a treat.] So the last month has been full of adventure?
Cargo: Not the word I would use, mon frère, but yeah, it’s all part of a journey.

Moriarty: Cargo, you sound like an old soul?
Cargo: Yeah, I was another dog in a prior life and lived with a great family. The kids loved me and mom and dad made sure I stayed healthy and we went on long walks. And I had four legs instead of three. That was better. And they were French so I ate really well.

Moriarty: I understand that you were with a foster family shortly after the surgery and before coming here. They wrote some very nice things about you. Have you seen this? Should I read it? [Stops interview to pet Cargo.]

Well, they said that you were a “gem.” Hmm, how’s that? A “gem”! Nice. Cargo, are you listening? That doesn’t look like multi-tasking to me. They said that you walked well on a leash, that you didn’t pull, and you paid attention to the person walking you. You were good with other leashed dogs. That’s very good for a puppy, Cargo. I’m impressed. Oh, and not so good with chickens. Hmmm, so chickens and small animals are definitely out. They also said you were crate-trained and would go into your crate at night. Wait, that doesn’t sound like you were ignored. Roger that, I’ll keep going.

Do you have any heroes?

Cargo: [Cocks head.] As you know there have been many canine heroes through the years. War heroes, police heroes, stars of stage and screen, service and therapy dogs. But my secret hero is Mr. Peabody from “The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show.” Every dog…

Moriarty: Yes, I know. “Every dog should have a boy.” Very clever, Cargo. Your foster family did mention that you had a sense of humor, too. Just between us, how is it here?
Cargo: Are you pulling my leg? It’s fine. Ya know, noisy, but the people treat me well. Brian, the guy who brought me in? He’s is a good guy. But I’d rather be with a nice family, like my foster family.

Moriarty: Is it hard being here over the holidays? Hey, Cargo. CARGO! Cargo, come! Good boy. [Gives Cargo a treat.] Good. Come.
Cargo: What was the question? There was a good smell over there. Oh, yeah, huh, holidays. Well, when I think of my old family and how well they treated me, yeah, I guess it’s hard. But I’m pretty confident that a good family will find me.

Moriarty: I know you’ve only been here a short time, but has anyone stopped by?

Cargo: A couple of people have, but I think the leg thing turned them off. And I peed on this one guy’s shoe.
Moriarty: I’m assuming you didn’t like him.

Cargo: Yeah, nasty cologne, fancy shoes. You know the type. Best part was that he didn’t even notice. Ha!
Moriarty: Sure, we can take a break while I pet you. […] OK, ready to get back to work here? Great.

By the way, you won’t mind if I take a few photographs before we finish, do you? What do you mean, see your agent? Cargo, we need to get serious. I’m on deadline here.

Cargo: Just kidding. [Pauses, gets into a really satisfying scratch, then continues.] What was your question?

Moriarty: Cargo, I thought you’d like to say something important before we have to finish up. I thought you would like to add to the discussion from your unique point of view. Perhaps something about people and their pets and how best to treat them so that they become part of the family. You know, happy and healthy dogs who become good friends and how much fun training can be and how that can lead to a deeper relationship. Or comment on the importance of both nature and nurture. Or even touch on how deeply satisfying the inter-species relationship is and how it has existed throughout the history of man.

Oh-h-h, wait a minute. OK, now I get it. I should have been listening and not talking, is what you’ve been saying all along. What you’re telling me is not to take life so seriously, slow down, come to the shelter, talk to the nice people here and perhaps get a pet, then spend some quality time together, a bit of training, more if you want — competition events are a blast — and just sniff around, go on long slow walks, chase wind-blown leaves and just enjoy life with your new companion.

Cargo: That’s it, my friend.

Moriarty: Thank you, Cargo. Wait, wait — you never did tell me how you got your name. Cargo, Cargo!


All images © John Moriarty · Asheville NC Advertising Photographer · All Rights Reserved