What makes some dog photos better than others?
There are several reasons that this is my favorite photo of Oliver Karpas, the darling little Havanese who lived up the hall from me and who died about a week after I made this picture. He was 14 years old and had been deaf and blind for several of those years. But he remained his spunky, adorable self until the very last day.
His human, Patricia Karpas, is a woman I find unusually remarkable for many reasons,
not least of which is how great a dog mom she was. Oliver was a sweet, funny, quirky
fellow, and Patricia called him her “little monkey.” What I can see in this photo is how
much she loved him – enough so that she could choose for him a quick, easy, painless
death very soon after he became ill. I know a lot of us (and put myself in this category) tend to hang onto our pets too long, choosing euthanasia only when the need is grossly obvious.
Patricia didn’t do that despite how hard it was for her to let him go.
Twelve-pound Oli happily traveled in his carry case back and forth from their home in New York City, to their home in Boulder, Colorado regularly. As recently as a few weeks before this photo session they had flown back to Colorado after a few months in New York.
In every picture from that afternoon, I can see how much they loved each other. PK, as some call Patricia, doted on Oli, and he loved her devotedly right back. Because he couldn’t see or hear, he relied on her even more than most dogs need their humans. But in this photo, what I see now is how much PK needed Oliver. She leans into him and he seems to prop her up. She holds him as if by the strength in her hands, she might extend his life because he adds so much to hers.
Patricia’s strength – of character, of purpose and intention, is something I think everyone who knows her admires. Some know her as a successful media industry executive. Others know her as the co-founder of Meditation Studio, (home of the meditationStudio app) and host of the Untangle Podcast, which I heartily recommend. I am lucky enough to know Patricia as a friend--a warm, funny, insightful, super-great listener who shares my love of dogs and is the favorite auntie of my own beloved little guy, Picco.
This other photo is my second favorite. It is the last one we made that afternoon. When I look at this picture I see connection and communication. For me, those are the two big reasons many of us have pets. When a photo can show a viewer what a moment felt like, well, that's a best photo to me.