Saturday, September 12, 2009

a dog year

There have been two events in my life that have left me feeling lost…left me feeling unsure of the next step to take…left me feeling a hollow sadness deep in my bones. The first event was a marriage that ended several years ago. And the second was losing my job last August. And in both cases, it was an animal that brought me back….that helped me find myself again….it was animal that saved me. Cosmo, a little stray cat, brought love back into my life again. And Sophie, well, she helped me find sirius…my dog star, my true north.


I started writing because of Sophie. She is my muse…the topic of a former monthly newspaper column, of articles in magazines, the inspiration for this blog. She touched something in me that made me want to express myself with pen and paper. I truly believe that I would not be writing today if Sophie had not come into my life. I picked up a camera a year ago, pointed it at Sophie, clicked the shutter button down once…and haven’t stopped shooting since. I started taking photos to capture memories of Sophie, which led to photographing more dogs, which led to the Charlie Project…which led to finding.sirius photography (a small weekend business). I can’t imagine a world without my camera now….a world that I found because of Sophie.


The way that Sophie has inspired both my writing and my love of photography over the last year is wonderful….but she has done something far more important than that for me. She opened my eyes. She helped me use the time I was given after losing my job to just breathe. To figure out what I really wanted to do next. To realize that I needed my work to matter to me….and that the paycheck, the title, the benefits were not part of what mattered. She led me to a job where I use my passion for pets and their bond with their owners every day. And it’s a job that leaves me with the energy, inspiration and time to pursue my other interests.


The days and weeks after I was let go from my job were hard…some of the hardest days I have known so far in life. And while the people in my life were wonderful and supportive…I was suffering a crisis of self…of knowing who I was supposed to be anymore. I was lost and embarrassed…and that made it difficult to be around those very people that were offering so much support. It made it difficult to even get up in the morning. But, being with Sophie brought me comfort. She made me smile…I would go for long walks with her and I would start to feel hopeful…feel inspired and confident again. And I began to look at my life from a different perspective and I found what was really important to me. I found photography. I found writing. I found a job that I love for the first time in my life. I found real joy. And when I looked for the reason for finding all those things….I found Sophie.


Jon Katz has said it best: “If there's magic in the relationships between humans and dogs, it might be that mysterious interdependence, the way in which we sometimes need our dogs greatly, and some of them can read that and become the dogs we need. In this way, they steady us, buoy us, especially in dark times.” To the critics of my story, the ones that say Sophie is just a dog, to them I say….thank goodness she is. It is the very essence of a dog…the traits that set them apart from humans…..their wildness, their spirit, their unconditional love of life…..that helped me. Oh, the places a dog can take you….if you open your heart to the magic.

24 comments:

Mildred said...

Such a well-written, heart-warming post Andrea. Oddly enough, our newest stray to adopt us a few weeks ago came at a time I was feeling low due to the one year anniversary of my mama's death. "Magic" appeared at a time when I needed to feel loved and needed like only a pet can do. Thanks for sharing such beautiful images of Sophie today.

JC said...

I am a dog lover. My girls are my world. Thank you for telling us about your dog.

Your photos are very good. I like them & so do my girls.

JC & The Girls

gigi said...

You've come a long way baby! Good for you and kudo's to Sophie!!
Keep on keeping on!!

Maria said...

all animals for that matter, I've learned my best lessons from the animals in my life, they teach me daily how to live, what's important and how to just be.

Maria said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sharon said...

Amen! You have hit the nail on the head with this post! You have touched me so that I even have tears in my eyes. I know that you are doing what you are suppose to be doing...at least for now, who knows what lies ahead...just enjoy your journey.
your friend,
Sharon:)

Erin P said...

Beautifully said. Your self awareness is inspiring. I would love to hear more about what you do as work now, when you get a chance.

Raising Addie said...

Brilliantly stated!

You have accomplished what so many, including myself are still searching for and it gives me hope. :)

Thank you!

Staci

Far Side of Fifty said...

Beautifully written Andrea, I love the photos of a younger Sophie..she was so cute! :)

Muddy Boot Dreams said...

You have found your bliss.

A beautiful post.

Jen

Annie said...

It is so amazing how wonderful pets can touch our heart and make difficult situations better. They provide such comfort. When our family adopted our animals, I believe we did not choose them, they choose us.

Jan said...

Love the pictures of Sophie as always. I feel like I know her. I've missed you while I took a little break from blogging. I'm back. And I have lots of reading to catch up on.

Hilary said...

So inspiring.. we should all find our Sophie. I'm sure glad that you did.

Robynn's Ravings said...

Andrea, the poses and faces of Sophie that you captured so perfectly make me want to hug my own two dogs. Truly, I wish you could see Minky. I'll try to get a face on shot. She and Sophie have the same deep, knowing eyes and look like they could be litter mates. Same fur. I don't want to be without by companions who see me so transparently and love me anyway. Thank you for a lovely and well written post.

Katherine Aucoin said...

I have learned so much from you and Sophie. Thank you for sharing your writings, your life and Sopie with us.

Oz Girl said...

Such an endearing and heart-warming post, Andrea. I am so connected to my Trixie - I got her 9 months before my dalmatian buddy passed away. She truly helped me through that awful and heart-wrenching time. I love my Tori-girl too, but there is more of a spiritual connection between Trixie and I. Hugs to you and Sophie... I've been rather absent from blogland lately.

P.S. I absolutely love Jon Katz's books. :)

Carolynn said...

The animals in our lives are angels wrapped in fur. Every one.

Natashya KitchenPuppies said...

We have had a hard year this year too. The love and connection with a pup can mean all the world.
I have had children and dogs, both so dear to my heart. It is painful when people think a dog is "just a pet" but they are the ones truly missing out on such a loving and spiritual connection. Nothing gets lost in language and words, the bond is purely feeling, the communication telepathic.

Lose That Girl said...

Beautiful.

Sherri said...

Beautiful post, Andrea. The love and laughter that our Beau has brought into this empty nest in the last four and a half years cannot be measured. If it is true that laughter adds years to your life, Beau has seen to it that we'll be around for a long, long time. Silly puppy even at age 7.

Scout 'n Freyja said...

Domi, the therapy dog, has passed to the Bridge this weekend. Our blog contains her last letter to her friends. Please come to visit. It would mean so much to our momma and then go to Domi's blog to offer condolences. Momma is crying a lot today.

giantspeckledchihuahua said...

I can't count the number of times I have been saved by one of my dogs...

Claire said...

andrea, this is such a touching entry. i can totally identify with your connection to sophie and how important she has been to you during difficult times. i don't even want to think about where i'd be without roux. and i love that jon katz quote--i will jot that down and put it up where i can see it on a daily basis. thank you for sharing your + sophie's story!

Misty Dawn said...

I have three Border Collies.
The title of my main blog is "My Dogs Keep Me Sane".
My main passion is photography, with creative writing following not far behind.
I dream of doing freelance animal, nature, and farm photography.

Needless to say - I could REALLY relate to this post!!!
P.S. Sophie is absolutely gorgeous!