Once upon a time there was a girl who quite liked taking photographs of her dogs on her iPhone.
This ‘quite liked’ soon turned into ‘love’.
The natural progression was to get a DSLR camera.
After speaking to several photographer friends and getting recommendations , she decided to get her first, the Nikon D3100.
Time went by and this was upgraded to the Nikon 7200 (The D3100 decided it wanted to leave home and take up residence with a new family, which it did).
Before long, she also picked up a Fuji X20. This was a quirky little fellow and a firm favourite.
The last and most recent to join the household was the Fuji XT20, and here is where the story really begins.
A couple of features on the XT20 were proving challenging to fathom, so a text to a photographer friend who had the same camera was sent …
”Help me ObiWanKateNobi, you’re my only hope!”… Her reply was swift … “Free to talk Luke?” …
A conversation ensued where they compared camera settings; lots of geeky talk …
They then went on to chat more about photography in general and their deep love for this medium.
Kate, being a Jedi master and teacher of said medium, then suggested the idea of a photography project.
“You’ve heard of 100 strangers of New York?”
… ”Erm, I think so”
“Why don’t you try something like that? 100 Strangers of Walsall for example?”
“How about 100 strange dogs? Or dogs and their owners!”, replied the girl.
Now the girl was quite shy and not the type to stop people in the street and ask them if she could take their photographs. Hmm… This would be the first hurdle!
You see, the joy of the camera is being in the moment. Nothing else exists; no past, no present, just the now. No worries or fears. Being safe behind the lens, a window to the world, her world.
Interacting with animals is just observing and watching, and if you get a good shot then that is an added bonus.
But approaching someone, a stranger, and asking them if you can take their photograph, well thats a whole other level.
So one day (22nd June 2018) on her bicycle ride to work, along the canal between the Sutton Road Walsall and Brickyard Road Aldridge, she plucked up the courage to ask her first stranger if she could take their picture: #1 Jack The Man and George and Staffordshire Bull Terrier.
And so the story began…. Thank you for joining me on this journey…
#1 Jack and George, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, just fishing and sniffing.
It was Friday 22nd June 2018.
I remember cycling down the canal tow path, silently talking to myself and desperately trying to summon up the courage to stop and ask someone with a dog if I could take their picture. I practised what I was going to say over and over in my head. Would it sound like I was a weirdo, or a creepy person trying to steal the souls of whomever I took the photo of?! Would they say no? Would they run off screaming? Or would they just push me into the canal after stealing my camera?!
I approached the Longwood boat club and I saw a guy in the distance with a Golden Retriever. Right here goes …
Nope! I ended up riding straight past him. I couldn’t do it! Damn it! I was really disappointed with myself. Why couldn’t I just ask?!
I rounded the corner and carried on with my journey to work. In the distance I saw another guy and his dog. Before I knew it, I stopped my bike and blurted out,
“I’m doing a photography project called ‘100 Strangers and their dogs’ and I wondered if I could take your photograph? It’s okay if not, but erm…”
He smiled and said “Yes”.
Jack and George, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, were my #1.
I was so nervous. I took three shots, showed him, and thanked him then jumped back on my bike, trembling so much I couldn’t pedal; my hands were really shaking but I’d done it! I had taken a tiny ‘massive’ step.
Further along I saw two more people, with two dogs this time. I approached them and they were lovely. They responded with, “Of course you can!”. They even gave me their contact number so I could send them copies of the photos.
#2 Mike, Katie, Madge and Mabel
I felt so proud of myself that I’d got over the awkward hurdle of speaking to a stranger. Simple for some, very tough for me.
Off I went on my way and a little way along the canal, I approached a lady but this time my request was declined. She said that she didn’t want her photo taking as she wasn’t ‘photo ready’, but she was very nice and encouraging about the project.
A little later in the day, on my way home, I successfully photographed a family having a drink at a canal side pub, with their 7-week old French Bulldog.
#3 Mom, Dad and The Kids
Next up was a lovely lady called Liz, walking her neighbour’s dog Bronson. He was a French Bulldog cross Staffordshire Bull Terrier. Once I had taken the shot, she thanked me for doing this project and keeping history alive.
#4 Liz and Bronson the French Bulldog cross Staffordshire Bull Terrier
Finally, near home, I got a photo of a chap and his male Greyhound. We walked and talked about the beauty and history of this historic breed. However, once again I forgot to get their names … I must get better at this! (Monday I saw these guys again whilst on my run, the man was called Ian and the Greyhound was called Ed)
#5 One Man (Ian) And His Dog (Ed) the Greyhound
A visit to Kelham Hall and Country Park today to try our hand at archery. Whilst waiting I met these four lovelies.
#6 Sophie, David, Amanda and Misty the Kerry Blue
David and Julie were just packing up their camping chairs and we had a little chat. They told me that Alfie, a Jack Russel, was a rescue dog headed for Battersea Dog’s Home. He was a very vocal fellow and was definitely leader of their pack.
#7 Dave, Julie and Alfie the Jack Russel
Monday 25th June, at the start of what promises to be a super sunny hot week ahead,on cycling to work, I met Sarah, Libby and their beautiful little Cocker Spaniel, Lexi.
#8 Sarah, Libby and Lexi the Cocker Spaniel
I continued on my journey to join the canal when I spied two snails on the pavement. I passed them by but had to turn around and go and save them as they would’ve been destined to cook where they were. That was a first – cycling along with two snails in my hand! Two snails in the hand were soon in the safety of a cool and shady bush…
Next, I met Stella, Katy and their 10 month old German Shepherd, Buddy. Buddy currently weighed in at 30kg but would grow to around 45kg! He was a beautiful bouncy boy!
#9 Stella, Katy and Buddy the German Shepherd, walking in the sunshine and shade
This chatting to strangers and their dogs is getting easier. Not stumbling over my words or slipping off my pedals … result!
I continued on my way, passing my old friends, the ducks and ducklings, herons, geese and goslings – one family has 12 babies, all still safe and sound! However, something suddenly felt odd with my bike. I stopped and checked the tyres. Another puncture! That’s now two in three days; a very thorny trail indeed! So, I walked the rest of the way, pushing my bike and cooking nicely in the afternoon sun.
Work done, puncture repaired and heading home, I met Jolie, Andy, Ted, Maisie and Louie the Weimaraner. Ted and Maisie were their parent’s dogs who they were looking after.
#10 Jolie, Andy, Louie the Weimaraner, Tiny Ted and Maisie
Last up for today and nearly home, I met Julie, Dexter the Boxer and camera shy Phil. Dexter is a YouTube star – he howls to Space Oddity by Bowie – I must go and find him. He loved his ball very much indeed but sat nicely for his photo.
#11 Julie and Dexter the Boxer
Another scorcher today. New tyres and inner tubes on the trusty steed, and away we go. As soon as I hit the canal I met Paul and his son’s Golden Doodle, Murphy. Those eyes!
#12 Paul and Murphy the Golden Doodle
I continued on past the Longwood locks … Mr Heron was out fishing as per usual. I paused to feed the ducks some peas and seed; then I came upon Ross and his two lovely little Jack Russel dogs, Jacob and Rusty. They were very inquisitive.
#13 Ross with Rusty and Jacob the Jack Russel boys
Heading home, I met Perry with Ted and Lola the Cockapoos. These pups were brother and sister, their coats were so soft and they’d been for a swim. Perry and I chatted with an old friend, Chris, about all the birds that were around locally. Owls and Parakeets in abundance at the Lime Pits. Chris had some impressive photos!
#14 Perry with Ted and Lola the Cockapoos
I continued on my journey home. This used to take around 30 minutes, however it now takes over an hour! I don’t think I’ve ever spoken to as many strangers as I have these past few days. Confidence Status: Improving. Ahead in the distance I could see what appeared to be a Wolf … well, not a Wolf exactly, but close! Chloe was a German Shepherd cross Belgian Shepherd. She was with her human family Lucy and Hayden. She was only a pup so had a fair bit of growing to do. Absolutely stunning!
#15 Hayden, Lucy and Chloe the German/Belgian shepherd cross
A trip to the vets today with my Dad’s dog, Sprocket, a little rough-haired rescue. Just a check up for his ears so nothing too serious. En route to the vets we met Steve and his beautiful little 18 month old Pomsky, Lady. A Pomsky is a Pomeranian crossed with a Husky … Yes, I was wondering how that could’ve happened too! Artificial insemination. Moving on, she had such a gorgeous soft coat and darted around like a darting around thing. Steve said that there were not many Pomskies in the UK, but they were very popular in the USA. He added that she was very gentle and hardly ever barks.
#16 Steve and Lady the Pomsky
Whilst running a couple more errands for my Dad I met Bill and Arthur. They were waiting for ‘the wife’. Bill said that Arthur was 15 months old, and he had three other dogs at home – two Pugs and a Bassett Hound. It was too hot for them to come out for a trip in the car though so it was just a ride out for Arthur today – best underbite of the project so far!
# 17 Bill and Arthur the British Bull Dog
28th June and a almost a week since I started 100 strangers and their dogs. My cycle to work was filled with many different species of birds today, but was somewhat lacking in four legged friends; this was probably down the the intense heat. As I was nearing the last stretch of my journey I met Vivian and her English Springer Spaniel, Finlay. He didn’t seem at all bothered by the heat and was very happy sniffing the day away.
#18 Vivian and Finlay the English Springer Spaniel
An early morning stroll around the Aldridge airfield is not only good for the soul, it’s a great place to meet a couple of strangers with dogs. Chris was walking with Archie the Lancashire Heeler. Archie was a beautiful little chap of four and a half years old, and was the runt of his litter. Chris rescued him. Although only a little fellow, Archie was ‘quite taken’ with my Beagle Dexter.
#19 Chris and Archie the Lancashire Heeler
As we were leaving the airfield, we crossed paths with Claire, Nahla and Dooley the freshly groomed Cockapoo sisters. Claire and the girls lived in Newcastle but were visiting Claire’s parents in Aldridge.
#20 Claire, Nahla and Dooley the Cockapoos
My next meeting with a stranger and their dog was on the cycle ride home from work, Terry and his dog Ben. Terry told me that Ben was a pedigree mongrel.
#21 Terry and his Pedigree Mongrel, Ben
Saturday 30th June 7.30am, surprisingly cool this morning. Cycling up the Sutton Road I had the pleasure to meet Del and Sheroo, a Siberian Husky/Malamute cross. Del said that Sheroo was a very strong dog, but very friendly and playful, he was stunning. I got off my bike and had to give him a cuddle.
#22 Del and Sheroo the Siberian Husky/Malamute cross
I continued on my journey and joined the canal. A little way along I met up with Tim and Bella, the Italian Spinone. Bella was 5 years old and had the most soulful eyes, she was very gentle and calm.
#23 Tim and Bella the Italian Spinone
By the time work was over, the midday sun was burning bright and the temperatures were soaring! The ducks, geese, moor hens and coots had eaten all my bird seed supplies on my way to work, so all I had to offer them on my return journey was chopped up cucumber. They were not impressed! The next stranger I met was Vern and his girls Siggy and Jet. Siggy was a Siberian Husky, and Jet was a Belgian/ German shepherd cross. They were both rescue dogs. Jet’s tail had been broken in several places, and she’d obviously been through some trauma in her previous life, however they were beautiful calm, gentle dogs who were very much adored by Vern.
#24 Vern, Siggy the Siberian Husky, and Jet the Belgian/German Shepherd cross
Sunday 1st July, a trip out to Stratford Upon Avon to attend RiverFest. There were dogs-a-plenty today, and first up was Janine with her five month old Chihuahua, Mousse. Janine runs Paws and Claws Care for small dogs in Kenilworth. Mousse loves to run about.
#25 Janine and Mousse the Chihuahua
I wandered around, explored the stalls, and outside the beer tent I met Richard, the two Hannahs and Norman, the Pug. Norman was two and a half years old. All four of them were laid back and friendly, maybe it was the weather… or the location!
#26 Richard, the two Hannahs and Norman the Pug
Next up I crossed paths with Lucy and her nine year old black Labrador Archie. They too were enjoying the stalls and sunshine.
#27 Lucy and Archie the Labrador
More pottering around and my attention was directed to the stunning dog I spied. Her name was Misty, and she was a Border Collie cross Whippet from Romania. She was once a street dog. She had one blue eye, and one brown, she was so gorgeous. Her family were April, Jayden, and Wayne.
#28 April, Wayne, Jayden and Misty the Border Collie
Down by the riverside we met Nathan and Madison with their three year old Border Terrier, Bronson. A cooling breeze from the water was much needed as it was roasting hot!
#29 Nathan, Madison and Bronson the Border Terrier
Time for a sit down and to listen to some music. I thought I spotted a Great Dane puppy, but I was mistaken, it was Tucker, the Cane Corso, a mastiff type pup, and his human Mom, Sarah. Tucker was three and a half months old and had quite possibly the biggest paws of this project so far!
#30 Sarah and Tucker, the Cane Corso
Whilst chatting to some dear friends I had not seen in a while, I spotted a pup that instantly melted my heart. His name was Parker and he was a Cocker Spaniel crossed with a Labrador, so a Cockador. Six months old and beautiful. His human was called Cassie, and both their hair colours matched perfectly.
#31 Cassie and Parker, the Cockador
Dog on a boat! My friend called me over to where the narrow boats were moored. Meet Captain Paddy, with his humans, Jo and Keith. Paddy was a 14 year old Border Collie who was deaf; he didn’t look anywhere near 14, he was beautiful and gave many kisses. Jo said that they had had him from the Border Collie rescue when he was 11 months old. His previous owner had died of emphysema and Paddy was taken to the rescue on a Saturday morning, Jo and Keith took him home on the Saturday afternoon, a lucky boy. Jo went on to say that they would never have another dog after Paddy because he was so perfect, and no pup could ever fill his paws. Paddy has a facebook page called Boatdog Paddy. Jo was a keen photographer.
#32 Jo, Keith and Paddy the Border Collie
RiverFest done, heading towards home I stopped off at a lovely pub for some food. There I met Guy, and his dogs Mishka, a Lurcher cross Akita, and Ella a Black Labrador. They were eager to go for a walk so I stopped them only briefly to grab a quick photo.
#33 Guy, Ella the Labrador and Mishka the Lurcher cross Akita
Sitting having a quiet drink in the beer garden was Sharyn and Ruskin, the eight month old Golden Retriever. Ruskin was born in Swansea, much like my Beagle Dexter, and was huge for only eight months old! Sharyn was a lovely lady, and we had a good chat.
#34 Sharyn and Ruskin the Golden Retriever
Monday 2nd July, back to cycling the canal. Today was a physiotherapy session for me with Jedi Nat. No dogs were seen en route to work as it was so hot, but I met a couple on the way home. First up was Alison, Tony and their Bearded Collie, Roxy. Roxy was sporting a new hair cut and was very friendly, super soft, and well… just lovely! She was 10 years old, but looked like a puppy. Tony and Alison said that they rescued her many years ago from Rosedene.
#35 Tony, Alison and Roxy, the Bearded Collie
My final encounter of the day was with Galit, Jason, Roselyn, Elizabeth, and their 12 week old Springer Spaniel, Ruby. Cuteness overload! Ruby was off leash and very well behaved. She showed a particular interest in the canal water, and before you could say Taumatawhakatangihangakoayauo-Tamateaturipukakapikimaungahoro-Nukypokaiwhenuakitanatahu, she’d jumped in for a swim. Galit fished her out and she proceeded to roll in the undergrowth to dry off.
#36 Galit, Jason, Roselyn, Elizabeth, and Ruby, the puppy Springer Spaniel
Tuesday 3rd July, the cycle ride home was very quiet … ‘this town… ahh ahh.. is coming like a ghost town’, it must be due to the England word cup game on TV tonight. At the start of my journey I met a lovely lady called Lesley, and her Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Archie. He was a great big bundle of joy and greeted me with the biggest Staffie smile. Nine years young! We chatted for a little while and I mentioned that I was a guitar teacher. What a small world; it turns out that Lesley’s other half, Ian, is coming for a his first lesson with me on Saturday!
#37 Lesley and Archie the Staffordshire Bull Terrier
Wednesday 4th July, whilst walking my Dad’s dog Sprocket in Short Heath Park, a place where I spent many a happy time as a kid, I met Margaret and Teddy, the 12 month old Pomeranian. Teddy was off to the vets today for his first booster injection. Margaret was waiting to have a cataract operation on her eye.
#38 Margaret and Teddy, the Pomeranian
Friday 6th July, it has been very quiet these last couple of days, not many dogs about on the canal, plenty of birdlife though. It wasn’t until I was nearly home that I had the pleasure of meeting Marzena and her seven month old Rottweiler, Chelsea. Chelsea was big, beautiful, and full of beans!
#39 Marzena and Chelsea, the Rottweiler
Saturday 7th July, yet another super sunny day and the best summer I can remember since when I was a kid. The early morning cycle ride is truly a wonderful one at this time of year. Ducklings and their mothers still snoozing on the canal side, the 12 goslings and their parents, coots and moor hens with their babies, just blissful. I always take a bag of bird seed and distribute it to the best of my abilities between them all.
My first encounter of the day was with Gez and his six year old Wire Haired Vizsla, Murray, at the Longwood bridge. They were both out for an early morning run, and Murray was very vocal about having his photo taken.
#40 Gez and Murray, the Wire Haired Vizsla
Onwards… and before long I had the pleasure of meeting Corinne, Neil and their gorgeous little rescue dog, Cy. Cy was six years old, and rescued from Cyprus. He was shy of strangers, but could pose for a portrait pawfectly!
#41 Corinne, Neil and Cy, a Heniz 57
Back on my bike and peddling like a demon, I noticed my hand and leg felt wet! I glanced down to see what I didn’t really want to see … maybe it’s mud … nope. .. It was poo, thankfully not mine! A gift from the geese had been thrown up from my wheel and distributed about my person! Thankfully I had bottle of water to wash it off with and continue on, damp, but clean.
My final encounter of the day was quite a special one. Dave the human, Amy the 20 year old pup, and her sister Alex, who was a mere 18 years old!!! Amy’s birthday is 10th August, when she’ll be 21, and although she has cancer, she still loves going for a walk each day. An old lady she may have been, but she looked very happy. Dave told me that they were both rescue dogs that he had adopted at just six weeks old. He told me that he had another dog, but sadly it crossed to Rainbow Bridge just before Christmas, it was also 18. I certainly don’t think i’ll meet any older dogs than this on my ‘100 strangers and their dogs’ mission.
#42 Dave, Amy sitting, and Alex off sniffing in the distance
Tuesday 10th July, and today was a visit to the vets with my dog Dex. Found a lump on his back and so went to get it checked out. Fine needle aspirates were taken, and am awaiting the results. Today I travelled to work armed with a box of bran flakes, a big bag of bird seed and a bag of frozen peas, all for the various species of birds and their babies en route.
I hadn’t been on the canal for more than a minute when I met my first stranger, Stuart and his 14 month old Golden Retriever, Murphy.
#43 Stuart and Murphy, the Golden Retriever
The bran flakes and seed went down well amongst the canal birds, but the peas, not so much. Near the Park Lime Pits I had the pleasure of meeting Margaret and Allan out walking their daughter’s dogs, Alfie the little black Shitzu, and Molly the Maltese. Alfie was six years old, and Molly was five.
#44 Margaret, Allan, Molly the Maltese and Alfie the Shitzu
Whilst heading home I met Fiona and Marley, the five year old Staffie cross. From behind I could’ve sworn that Marley was a brindle English Bull Terrier. Marley was Fiona’s first dog, he was a rescue and came with his name. He was a solid happy bundle of joy. Fiona and I chatted for a while, then I mounted my bike and headed off, leaving Marley wrestling with a stick, or should I say more of a tree!
#45 Fiona and Marley, the Staffie Cross
Almost home, and I met Amanda and her seven year old black Labrador, Dora. They were on their way to meet friends for a walk, but not before helping me out with my photography project.
#46 Amanda and Dora, the Labrador
Thursday 12th July, my journey along the canal, there and back again was dog free but bird filled. Three boxes of cereal later, and nearly home, I spotted two beautiful Basset Hounds and their dog sitter, Alison. Lily was the tri-coloured girl and Daisy, the lemon and white. They were so cute and very laid back. Alison boards and walks her friend’s dogs, she said it helped fill the gap after she lost her beloved pup a while ago. Also as I flicked through my camera photos, Alison recognised my previous stranger, Amanda and her pup Dora, who she also walks.
#47 Alison, Lily and Daisy, the Basset Hounds
Friday 13th July, and the sun is still shining. The grass is a lovely shade of dried up yellow but it is excellent weather for cycling.
The first stranger of the day was John, he was walking his friend’s Belgian Malinois, Jem. A striking dog she was. John said that the breed were were used as service dogs in Belgium by the police force.
#48 John and Jem, the Belgian Malinois
Back on the bike and onto the canal feeding the water birds and their chicks as I made my way towards work. If distance could be measured by how many boxes of bran flakes you would get through by doing this, then I was nearly two boxes in when I met Isabelle, Michelle, Archie ,the sprocker spaniel, and Freddie, the springerdor. Both of the pups were full of beans, Archie had been for a dip. Standing still for a photograph was not on their agenda for the day, but it was lovely to meet them.
#49 Isabell, Michelle, Archie, the Sprocker, and Freddie, the Springerdor
Saturday 14th July, and heavy hearted as I had lab results last night from aspirates that were taken from lumps found on my Beagle, Dex. Two mast cell tumours that need to be removed this week, but on the positive side, they’re not attached to any muscle and only on the surface of the skin. Still worrying though, but he’s a tough boy.
My journey home led me to an encounter with Karen, Aaron, and Sam, the 3/4 labrador 1/4 cocker spaniel. Samewas eight years old but he looked like he was still a pup. He’d been for a dip in the water to cool down, and was somewhat camera shy. I still managed to get a photo of his face, and plenty of his butt!
Half way to the 100!
#50 Karen, Aaron and Sam the Labrador/Cocker cross
Wednesday 19th July, and still reeling from the news about my dog having mast cell tumours. His operation is booked for Friday this week.
As it’s Wednesday its the day of the week I run errands and do chores for my Dad. Whilst walking his dog I met Angela and her Yorkiepoo, Betsie. Betsie was adorable, friendly, and so puppy like, even though she was eight years old.
#51 Angela and Betsie, the Yorkiepoo
Dexter, my Beagle, had a vet appointment later in the day, so I decided to walk there and along the canal. Dex hates water, but mistook the lily pads for solid ground and plopped straight in. It was the shock of his life! He got out again very quickly. Just after Dexter had his mishap, we met our first Beagle of the project, Benji and his human, Mitchell. Benji was eight years old, and was off leash, unlike Dex.
#52 Mitchell and Benji, the Beagle
Thursday 19th July, and I heard this fellow before seeing him. Most definitely the loudest and deepest bark so far, as well as the biggest dog, Quinn, the Great Dane and his human, Lee. Quinn had one blue eye and one brown eye, he was beautiful. Lee had recently lost his other pup to a tumour on his spleen, he didn’t want to leave Quinn home alone, so brought him to work.
#53 Lee and Quinn, the Great Dane
Monday 23rd July, and yet again another hot one in this endless summer we’re having. The landscape has turned from green to brown, and the canal waters, on my route anyway, are the greenest of green.
A little way along the canal, after the Longwood boat club, I met Helena and Pippa the King Charles Cavalier Spaniel. Pippa was seven years old, and very affectionate and friendly. I chatted with Helena who relayed that Pippa loved people, this was quite apparent with the kisses that she shared.
#54 Helena and Pippa, the King Charles Cavalier Spaniel
My workday was done, and on a cool evening cycle ride home I spied a trio of Weimaraners up ahead. Their humans were, Terry and Lorraine. The canines were Llew, three years old, Hans, a spritely thirteen years young, and Nimüe, who was the baby at two years. Llew and Nimüe were long haired Weimaraners, I didn’t even know these existed! I was told that they’re quite rare, in fact Llew, a silver long haired, is the only one of his kind in the midlands. His father was a Crufts champion, but Lorranine and Terry said that he’d much rather play than be a show dog. Nimüe was a long haired blue and was rescue. Hans was very vocal. The family were soon to be moving to the Shropshire countryside, as it would be nicer for the dogs.
#55 Terry, Lorraine, Llew, Hans and Nimüe (the lady of the lake), the Weimaraners
I continued on my journey towards home but was stopped in my tracks by the very gorgeous Myrtle, the little black cockapoo. Her human was Lydia. Myrtle was just a year old and had the softest coat.
#56 Lydia and Myrtle, the Cockapoo
Tuesday 24th July, and today I received some great news from the vet about my dog Dex. The lab results came back and two of his lumps were just fatty masses, the two mast cell tumours came back as low grade and fortunately the vet was able to take clear margins. This was a massive relief, now to nurse him back to full health.
My 57th stranger and his dog was Alex and his Frug, French Bulldog cross Pug, Pablo. Pablo was a three year old brindle boy who was very laid back.
#57 Alex and Pablo, the Frug
Friday 27th July, and the weather is still roasting hot. On my return journey from work I crossed paths with Anne and Digby. Digby was a four year old Labrador cross, who was rescued by Anne from Birmingham Dog’s Home when he was just eight months old. Anne said that she was a little fearful of dogs at the time, and when they went to look around most of the pups were barking at their cages as they passed. That was until they approached Digby’s pen, he put his paw up towards her like he was reaching out, she knew then that he was the ‘one’, she had been chosen by him. Anne said that Digby was so intuitive of her mood, if she was relaxed, then he was too, if she was fearful, then he was the protector. A beautiful boy he with amazing amber coloured eyes and the whitest teeth I had ever seen!
#58 Anne and Digby, the Labrador cross
Saturday 28th July, an early morning cycle ride to work, and it was looking like it was going to rain. A little way along the cycle route I met Karen the human, Diesel the four year old German Shepherd, Sacha the two year old liver nosed Rhodesian Ridgeback, Daisy the four year old Rhodesian Ridgeback and Muffin, the Heinz 57 variety RSPCA rescue pup who was also four. A stunning and very happy pack of dogs they were, and Karen said that Diesel was totally head over paws in love with Sacha. The photo tells all.
#59 Karen, Daisy (just her head) the Rhodesian Ridgeback, Diesel the German Shepherd, Sacha the Rhodesian Ridgeback and Muffin, the Heinz 57
Tuesday 31st July, our little ‘uns birthday, and little over a month since I started this blog and photography project.
A trip into Sutton Coldfield today resulted in me meeting my 60th stranger and their dog. Dave and his American Bulldog/Staffy cross, Jax. Jax was rescued by Dave, when he was just seven months old. Now aged 18 months, and, although kept in a crate for long periods of time by his previous owners, and receiving no training at all, he was now a model citizen. Dave’s hard work and training had paid off, Jax was a very strong, happy, gorgeous fellow, and you could really see their bond in the photograph.
#60 Dave and Jax, the American Bulldog, Staffordshire Bull Terrier cross
Monday 6th August, cycling home, and even though it was after eight in the evening, the weather was still sunny and hot. My first strangers of the day were Andra and David with their girls Minnie, the three year old Scottish terrier and Storm, the one year old American Bulldog. Minnie seemed quiet and inquisitive, Storm was very happy and bouncy. Both beautiful dogs.
#61 Andra, David, Minnie the Scottish Terrier, and Storm the American Bulldog
I left the canal and crossed paths with Ben, Alexandria and Dillie the one year old Dalmatian, she was gorgeous and very friendly indeed.
#62 Ben, Alexandria, and Dillie the Dalmatian
Thursday 9th August, and I’ve just had a message fro Dave, the 42nd stranger and his dogs, that Amy has passed away. She would have been 21 tomorrow. What a long lovely life and a beautiful smile she had. RIP Amy
Monday 13th August, Brixham, an adventure on the SouthWest Coast. This morning on my way into Brixham harbour on a coastal walk, I met John, Shaun and Lenny the English Bull Terrier. Lenny was five years old. Lenny had a sister but she was resting up as she had hurt her leg.
#63 John, Shaun and Lenny the English Bull Terrier
A short and lovely walk into Brixham, and as I approached the harbour, sitting and soaking in the sights, I met Terry and Bear. Bear was a rescue dog from Many Tears Animal Rescue in Wales. Terry had recently adopted Bear after losing his old dog before Christmas. Bear was originally from Southern Ireland and was settling in well. He was so gentle and relaxed. You could see these boys had a deep connection. Bear can be seen on you tube if you look for ‘Telsweb’.
#64 Terry and Bear
Wandering around the streets I spied a little cutie with her humans. It was Joe and Wendy with Layla, their seven year old Chihuahua cross, or Itsy Bitsy as Wendy fondly called her. These guys were from London and down here helping out a relative who had recently moved to Brixham. Layla was a rescue dog from Romania and very sweet.
#65 Joe, Wendy and Layla the Itsy Bitsy
Whilst wondering around some more I passed two little beauties waiting patiently outside the bank, I had to steal a shot of them.
Onward for more pottering and I spied them both again, this time with their Mamma Sue. Twelve year old Polly was a Patterdale/Jack Russel Terrier, and her seven year old younger brother Ben, was a Jack Russel. Polly looked amazing for her age, with a lovely smile, but both were gorgeous pups.
#66 Sue, Ben the Jack Russel, and Polly the Patterdale cross Jack Russel
My final stranger and their pup today was Rosie and her beautiful little five month old pup, Crunchie. Crunchie was a Patterdale/Pomeranian cross and although he looked like an angel, was a little devil. Rosie said she had three other rescue pups at home.
#67 Rosie and Crunchie the Patterdale cross Pomeranian
Tuesday 14th August, and my dog Obi’s 10th birthday. The day began with a lovely early morning birthday ramble with the dogs up to Berry Head. We did meet a couple of pups en route but I didn’t take my camera. I dropped the dogs off for a well earned rest at the caravan and then headed off on foot to Brixham harbour. Today though, I took the coastal path.
My first stranger of the day was a lovely lady called Kay and her beautiful little Dachshund pups, 15 year old Spike and six year old Wilma. Spike had recently won first place in a golden oldie contest. Kay explained that he was in a buggy today because he was slow on his legs and at 15 gets tired out. As he’d been on a big walk the previous day, today he was resting up. Wilma came along six years ago to keep Spike company after losing his beloved friend, a chocolate Labrador. Kay explained that every time he spied a chocolate labrador he got excited until he realised it was not his long lost friend.
#68 Kay, Spike and Wilma the Dachshunds
Walking around the harbour I was stopped in my tracks by a beautiful and unusual dog, it was Fergus the three year old Irish terrier and his human Jenny.
#69 Jenny and Fergus the Irish Terrier
I said goodbye to Jenny and Fergus, and waiting behind me was Nicky, Steve and their pups Hollie the six year old Greyhound/Saluki cross, and Lacey the Saluki/Whippet cross. Lacey was 16 months old and recently won the ‘best in show’ at a local fete.
#70 Nicky, Steve, Hollie and Lacey the Saluki crosses
Lunch done and in the queue for ice cream, I had the pleasure of meeting the lovely Sally Cheah, and her extremely cute and friendly little four year old Chihuahua, Ralphie.
#71 Sally and Ralphie the Chihuahua
Wednesday 15th August and a visit to Torquay resulted in a meeting with Jeff and his nine week old Husky puppy, Hiro. The bluest eyes and the cutest little face. I spotted him earlier in the day as I was tucking into a nice chocolate soya milkshake, but didn’t get to meet him until a little later on. Whilst I was in TK Max I saw him again, and this time I just couldn’t miss the opportunity to ask his owner for a photograph of them both.
#72 Jeff and Hiro, the Siberian Husky pup
More shop hopping and an encounter with a lovely family and their ten and a half year old Lurcher/Staffordshire bull terrier cross, Bernie. The family consisted of, from left to right, Summer, Mom Maria, Bobby, Dad Dave and Lily.
#73 Summer, Mom Maria, Bobby, Dad Dave, Lily, and Bernie the Lurcher/Staffie Cross
Friday 17th August, final day of the holiday in Brixham.
Another walk into the harbour via Berry Head and en route I met my first strangers of the day, Alan, Kate and Reilly. Reilly was a two and a half year old Shitzu/Bichon Frise cross and she seemed extremely laid back.
#74 Alan, Kate and Reilly the Shitzu/Bichon Frise cross
The second and final stranger and their dog of this holiday, was Andy and Benji, the 11 month old French Bulldog. Andy and Benji were fellow Midlanders, and Wolves fans.
#75 Andy and Benji, the French Bulldog
Monday 20th August, and the first day back to work after a lovely holiday in Devon.
On my return journey along the canal I spied a beautiful little black dog. Her name was Poppy, she was a Sprollie, a spaniel cross collie, and her human was Dané. Poppy was a rescue pup from a puppy farm in Ireland. She was about two and a half years old, but had already had a couple of litters. Dané had had her for about five months and said she was settling in really well. She loved chasing Squirrels and Ducks, but not catching them. Also she liked the occasional dip in the canal. She was a little beauty and so gentle. Dané told me that he taught photography (what are the chances eh!).
#76 Dane and Poppy, the Sprollie
Tuesday 21st August, and a frantic cycle along the canal as I was running late. The reason for this lateness was because every single duck that I passed today demanded some food and who was I to argue with their hungry tums? I’ve been feeding them for some time now and they must know the sound of my bike as they waddle up the path squeaking towards me, or usually on my route home when I’m all out of bird seed, they fly along side me, occasionally landing to quack for their dinner. Note to self, must take more food for them and not use it all on the outward journey.
Even though I was late for work I still had time to stop my first strangers and their dog of the day, Pam, Malcolm, and their son’s English Bull Terrier, Rosie. Rosie was nearly two years old, and quite lovely. I do have a soft spot for this breed, I blame ‘The Incredible Journey’ film.
#77 Pam Malcolm and Rosie, the English Bull Terrier
Homeward bound and I spied what I first thought might be a Husky; nope, it was Loki, the Norwegian Elk Hound with his humans Andy and his son Frankie. At just a year old Loki was the fourth Norwegian Elk Hound that Andy had owned, and was strikingly beautiful.
#78 Andy, Frankie and Loki, the Norwegian Elk Hound
Wednesday 22nd August, and a day of running errands for my dad.
Whilst walking Dad’s dog Sprocket, I had the pleasure of meeting Jason and Rosie in Short Heath park. Rosie was a Lurcher crossed with a Spaniel and was six years old. Jason was man and was 48. Rosie’s previous owner, who was a friend of Jason’s, had sadly passed away three months ago. He had known Rosie since she was a puppy and decided to adopt her. The thing that drew me to Rosie, besides her being gorgeous, was that she really reminded me of my dog Obi – not how she looked, but her energy and enthusiasm whilst chasing her ball.
#79 Jason and Rosie, the Lurcher cross Spaniel
I had to make a trip to the vets to pick up some Omega+ to help with Sprocket’s skin allergy and I crossed paths with Pam and her delightful little grunting rescue pup, Blue. Blue was a French bulldog cross and was nearly two years old. So cute!
#80 Pam and Blue, the French Bulldog cross
Wednesday 29th August, and a trip into Walsall town centre.
Today I had the absolute pleasure of meeting Russ and Marley, the five year old Staffordshire Bull Terrier. I have seen Russ and Marley locally on the streets for sometime, and the incredible connection and friendship between the two of them is really something quite magical. Marley is a beautiful well behaved fellow and Russ is a true gentleman.
#81 Russ and Marley, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier
Monday 3rd September and there’s a wee chill in the air. However, I may feel it a little more as I’m still sporting shorts, refusing to let the summer go.
The cycle ride to work today resulted in me meeting Sue and her beautiful little Plummer Terrier, Cassie. Cassie was a rescue dog that was somewhere between five and ten years old. She was the last dog to be rescued from a local shelter that was due to be closed down. Sue explained that she used to volunteer there and took Cassie home with her as she couldn’t bear to leave her all alone. Sue was originally going to foster Cassie, but after one night she just couldn’t let her go. She used to be aggressive towards other dogs, but with tender loving care from Sue this issue soon disappeared. Cassie was extremely fond of tummy tickles and even responds to a whistle ‘when she feels like it’. The Plummer Terrier breed was bred by David Brian Plummer, a local teacher and dog breeder. Jack Russel, Beagle, Fell Terrier, and Bull Terrier make up the Plummer Terrier.
#82 Sue and Cassie, the Plummer Terrier
Wednesday 5th September.
Whilst walking my Dad’s dog Sprocket I spotted my first and only stranger of the day; Chris the old codger (his words), and Casey the Ardennes sheepdog mix. Casey was a rescue dog of around eight years old. He had been found neglected and cooped up with female German Shepherds, only fed on scraps and bones once a week! Chris explained that Casey was a gentle pup, but because of the neglect he’d suffered was now very wary of German Shepherds. He also added that he always had rescue dogs.
#83 Chris and Casey the Ardennes Sheepdog mix
Friday 7th September, and it’s my Beagle Dexter’s birthday.
A chilly and damp cycle ride to work, and feeding the ducks en route, I had the pleasure of meeting Steve a fellow duck feeder, and his five year old female Staffie cross Marley. Marley was rescued by Steve when she was only six months old. He said that he wasn’t sure what she was crossed with, maybe a Rottweiler, Doberman or even an Alsatian. She was adorable, so well behaved and loved her ball.
#84 Steve and Marley, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier cross
Homeward bound and on the approach to Park Lime Pits I crossed paths with Antony, Sarah, Jayden and their beautiful little rescue Beagle, Tiley. Tiley will be four years old in October, and was rescued from the Dog’s Trust just three weeks ago. She was super well behaved and was settling in perfectly as the newest member of the family.
#85 Jayden, Antony, Sarah and Tiley the Beagle
Two minutes from home and a little out of breath from the cycle ride up the hill, I approached a man and his dog. It was Stacey and his dog Boris, the Weimaraner. Boris was nine years old and had been diagnosed with epilepsy earlier in the year. He was a beautiful boy with gorgeous big paws. I took a couple of shots of the boys and popped my camera away in my bag. Just as I was about to carry on with my journey, Stacey’s partner Natalie arrived – the perfect opportunity to get a shot of the whole family together.
#86 Natalie, Stacey and Boris, the Weimaraner
Saturday 8th September.
The day may have been cold and wet, but meeting this beautiful fellow and his human Mom on the canal brightened my day immensely – Mulder, the three-ish year old Spanish Griffon, and Max, his Veterinary Nurse Mom. Max said that Mulder was a rescue dog and a scent hound (spot the bell around his neck).
#87 Max and Mulder, the Spanish Griffon
Tuesday 11th September.
The evenings are most definitely drawing in as on the cycle ride home now I need my lights on – still in shorts though! It is chilly, but losing the shorts signifies the end of summer for me and I’m not quite ready to let it go yet. I did pass Stacey and Boris, the Weimaraner tonight and last night – not strangers anymore – we had a little chat. Two minutes from home I met these two lovelies, Jo – just back from the gym – and her nearly nine month old Boston Terrier, Maddie. Maddie is so bouncy and adorable, she even had a little chomp on my fingers.
#88 Jo and Maddie the Boston Terrier
Thursday 13th September.
Still sporting shorts, and a lovely chilly bright “S’Autumn” day. Almost as soon as I join the canal I run into Lisa and Jane with their trio of gorgeous pups. From left to right there’s Storm the seven year old female greyhound, her brother Shadow, wearing the muzzle, and Tom the 11 year old Collie cross. Jane was holding a nearly empty bag of seed for the ducks, a woman after my own heart. She told me that she’d started a photography project herself earlier in the year in the USA called ‘A Billion Happy Smiles’; needless to say she hadn’t’ quite got her billion yet, quite a tall order, ‘100 Strangers and their Dogs’ was a much easier number to fulfil.
#89 Lisa, Jane, Storm and Shadow the Greyhound siblings, and Tom the Collie cross
During my return journey home from work I met another trio of beautiful dogs with their human out on their evening walk. They were Matt, Suka the ten year old male, Mya the female of the pack at only eight years old, and Koda who was twelve. All Siberian Huskies. The two youngsters were Matt’s and Koda was just staying with them as a guest. They were keen to carry on with their walk so I tried not to delay them for too long.
#90 Matt, Suka, Mya and Koda, the Siberian Huskies
Friday 14th September.
It’s been 12 weeks since I began this project and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed every second of it. With just 10 strangers and their dogs to go I’m finding myself a little sad that it’s nearly over.
A cycle to work this afternoon and I met these handsome fellows, Craig and his big hairy buddy, the Irish Wolfhound Dougal. Dougal stands at 32 inches at the shoulder, is nearly two years old, and was born in Wales. Such a striking boy and very playful he was. I did say to Craig that I’ve noticed that owners resemble their dogs and that in his case that was true – he said that I wasn’t the first to make this observation!
#91 Craig and Dougal, the Irish Wolfhound
Saturday 15th September.
A trip into Birmingham City Centre to pick up a tripod and I took my camera just in case I happened upon a stranger and their dog. Whilst walking down New Street I met Dave and Jax. Jax was a Staffordshire Bull Terrier, and was about two and a half years old. Dave had rescued him after he had found him abandoned. Jax was so quiet, gentle, and noble. I shook Dave’s hand, gave Jax a love, made a donation, and thanked them both for helping me, and went on my way.
#92 Dave and Jax, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier
Tuesday 18th September.
It has been so windy today I was sure I’d end up on a Yellow Brick Road in the city of Oz. No Dorothy or Toto to be found, but I did meet little Mia, the nearly two year old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and her humans, Lynne and Mark. Our chance meeting was right next to Park Lime Pits, Mark said that they had never walked this way before. Lynne’s Mother had very sadly, recently passed away. Mark said that Mia had been an amazing comfort to Lynne, never leaving her side, and sitting on her lap. Dogs have the best sixth sense. Mia loved people, this was evident by how adorable and friendly she was.
#93 Lynne, Mark and Mia, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
Wednesday 19th September, and another windy one.
Around midday I took Dad’s dog Sprocket for a windy walk in the park where I met Julie and Parker, the Miniature Schnauzer. Parker was named after Lady Penelope’s personal manservant, chauffeur and bodyguard from the Thunderbirds television series. They both shared the same big bushy eyebrows, although today the wind was so strong it was hard to tell. Parker was Julie’s daughter’s dog, but Julie looked after him during the week, and her daughter had him at the weekends. Parker was 12 years old but didn’t look it. He was born on Christmas eve with a heart murmur. Julie had five cats at home and said they liked to snuggle up with Parker and play with his whiskers. He would only tolerate it for a little while and then tire of their attention.
#94 Julie and Parker, the Miniature Schnauzer
Blustery walk completed and back towards my Dad’s house I went, but not before meeting my next stranger and her dogs, both of us with poo bags in hand I may add. Melissa, Rolo the six month old Dachshund, and Larry the nine year old Harrier. Melissa was a dog walker from “Treks & Tails” dog walking. Larry was a rescue dog from The Dog’s Trust, he was a very beautiful sensitive boy, and loved his routine, anything different from his usual would throw him out completely. Melissa said he was even scared of the wind. However he was a wonderful ambassador and was used by the dogs trust as a ‘stooge’ dog – traditionally a well trained, very well rounded, non reactive live dog is used to assess the ‘threshold’ of the reactive dog that they are working with – he was Melissa’s ‘right hand man’ when meeting new dogs. Such a calm boy with a great howl. Rolo was very cute, happy and friendly.
#95 Melissa, Rolo the Dachshund, and Larry the Harrier
My journey home was in the car today, but I had to make a stop off at the pet shop to pick up food for my boys Obi and Dexter. Whilst inside the Kennelgate store in Walsall Wood, I met Sadie the Border Collie and her human, June. June had adopted Sadie from the Border Collie rescue at Rugeley a few weeks ago. She was a stray that had been found wandering the streets of Welshpool. Sadie, or Cadi in Welsh, was nearly three years old. She had beautiful eyes and a gorgeous soft coat. At the checkout desk she had various toys and treats that she collected for herself in the shop, and she was most definitely taking them all home with her.
#96 June and Sadie, the Border Collie
Saturday 22nd September, time to build an ark, rain aplenty.
Cold and wet today – still in shorts – cycling home from this morning’s teaching, I had the pleasure of meeting Sue and her beautiful five year old Labradoodle, Tessa, out for their blustery lunchtime walk. Sue said that Tessa had a wonderful temperament and was particularly wonderful with her Grandson who would cuddle her and say she was “My Tessa”.
#97 Sue and Tessa, the Labradoodle
Tuesday 25th September.
Bright blue skies, cool and dry, a perfect day for a cycle ride to work.
I set out on my freshly serviced de-thorned bike with plenty of time to spare. Cycling along the canal I passed the geese, my geese, now fully grown. I gave them some seed and bid them a fond farewell for a final time this year before they fly off south for the winter. There must have been 45 of them today, a treat indeed. I got back on my bike and straight away met Jane and Henry, the eight year old Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier. A soft coat he most certainly had, beautiful! Henry had won best in his class in Crufts four times. Jane used to be a teacher and was Walsall born and bred. She had on a lovely dress which she had made herself out of Liberty fabric. We had a good chat and I bid them adieu.
#98 Jane and Henry, the Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier
Monday 1st October.
Heading up towards Longwood Locks on my bike today I spied a man and his dog sitting together on the lock gate. They looked so lovely together, I just had to ask if I could take their picture so that they would be my 99th stranger and pup of the project. John and George, the 10 month old Sprocker, or ‘my best mate’ as John described him. John said that he had lost his previous dog, a Collie cross Labrador, four years ago at the ripe old age of 18. After losing his beloved friend he swore he wouldn’t ever have another dog – however this was about to change. John’s daughter’s Sprocker went to stay with them for a while and John was so taken with the dog that he informed his wife that they would be getting a dog of their own the following week, and it would be a Sprocker. John is self employed and takes advantage of this by often going out for four hour walks with George, the best medicine you can get. He said that they get home all tuckered out and within five minutes George is ready to go out again!
#99 John and George, the Sprocker Spaniel
Wednesday 3rd October.
In the car today. I did the school drop off first and because I missed a parcel delivery yesterday, my next journey was to the local DPD depot. I had my camera with me, as I always do, just in case I see a stranger and their pup on my travels. However, I wasn’t quite expecting to find them in the DPD parcel collection office! “Rrrrrruffff, rrrruffff, rrrrrruuuuffff”, that was the greeting that I got from little Luna, the eight month old Shitzu pup. Her human Mom, Jenny, was much quieter. Jenny told me that she had other dogs at home but had asked permission to bring Luna to work, as she was just a pup. Permission was granted and she was now a fully fledged member of the team or ‘The Guard Dog’, as a guy in the office described her.
#100 Jenny and Luna, the Shitzu
So, fourteen weeks and five days after this 100 Strangers and their Dogs project began, with a total of 142 strangers and 126 dogs, it comes to a close. To be honest, I feel quite emotional. It has been a truly amazing experience and an absolute pleasure to meet so many wonderful humans and their canines – each and every one etched in my memory forever – some of which I have seen again on my daily travels and who are now no longer strangers. To quote William Butler Yeats, “There are no strangers here, just friends that you haven’t met yet”. He was indeed correct Sir!
If you would have asked me three months ago if I thought I could’ve done this project then my answer would have been a most definite “NO WAY!’. But I’m so glad it has happened. I’ve experienced so much positivity and support from friends, family, strangers and their dogs. It has been incredible. A massive ‘Thank You’ to each and every one.
A few quotes have rung true these last few weeks and I’ve been noting them down as I hear them. A quote I heard in the film Christopher Robin, was;
” Life is like a bicycle, you have to keep moving forward to keep stability”.
I do have my sad or down times, as I guess everyone does, but taking these photos and mostly being on my bike in the great outdoors has given me so much joy. Dogs are the most perfect creatures and meeting so many of them and having an excuse to give them a stroke or a cuddle has been just perfect.
Some other Winnie The Poohquotes which are quite apt to my journey are;
“You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you think”
“You can stay in your corner of the forest waiting for others to come to you, but you have to go to them sometimes.”
Another few words that really rang true are from a Rudyard Kipling poem , ‘Law of the Jungle’;
“Now this is the Law of the Jungle — as old and as true as the sky;
And the Wolf that shall keep it may prosper, but the Wolf that shall break it must die.
As the creeper that girdles the tree-trunk the Law runneth forward and back —
For the strength of the Pack is the Wolf, and the strength of the Wolf is the Pack.”.
There is one final quote that sums up how I feel about my ‘100 Strangers and their Dogs’ project;
“How lucky am I to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard” WTP
#Where it all began, Mandy, Dexter the Beagle, and Obi the Blue Merle cross Dalmatian
Au revoir, Mandy xxxx