TWO AUSTRALIAN SHEPHERD PUPPIES both of whom I got to photograph Wednesday morning.
However, the story really begins with Mitso (on the left) and Tansy (on the right).
I’ve been hesitant to tell their story for fear I wouldn’t do them justice and also because as I recollect their story, the stories of my friends that have moved on to the next life come vividly back and I relive the grief as if it were only yesterday. But now I understand, that it’s a gross injustice to the memory of Tansy and the life of Mitso. So today, thanks to Hedy Mae and Dunn, the story of Mitso and Tansy can be told.
I had the honor of photographing this lovely pair of friends back in July. It was a beautiful day and they ran around the yard as if they were in their adolescents. Tansy, clearly the boss, yipping at Mitso’s heels. Mitso, always so accomodating, showed no signs of putting her in her place. It was like watching an old married couple, familiar with each other and lovingly teasing.
Not long after the photo shoot, I was shocked to hear that Mitso was in declining health with neurological symptoms and in the hospital having a barrage of tests to try to determine what the cause.
Even more shocking was the call I got a week after hearing about Mitso. Tansy, Mitso’s sidekick and best friend of almost 13 years had, quite unexpectedly, passed away. One day, Tansy was in perfect health, the next she was just a tad bit off her game. Unfortunately, like it is with many pets, self preservation is a genetic trait and by the time any signs of internal distress is prominent enough to come to the surface, in a lot of cases, it’s often too late. She was diagnosed with inoperable cancer. The loss of this beautiful girl was a devasting shock to the entire family and all of their friends and as I write this while looking over the images from our past session, the pain feels brand new.
In his weakened physical and mental state, it’s hard to say whether or not Mitso understood or grasped the notion that Tansy wasn’t coming back. I believe animals grieve. I’m certain of this because I’ve seen the process first hand. While Mitso’s physical and mental condition may have masked what his heart was feeling, I’m sure that he was aware of his loss.
Always a two dog household, it didn’t take long before little Heddy Mae, just shy of four months old, entered into the family.
She immediately took matters into her own paws and brings a lot of pizzazz to the occupants of the Hefner household. Like Tansy, she’s a pistol with a tenacious and take charge personality. It didn’t take her long to start keeping Mitso on his toes. Hedy Mae, has no time to stand around pouting and has no tolerance for those who do. She insists Mitso play with her on her terms, whenever she feels the need. And Mitso, being the steadfast, trustworthy, never capable of harming anyone Aussie that he is, obliges her as best as he can. But like any 90 year old Grandpa with their way too intelligent for her own good, three year old granddaughter, it doesn’t take long to tire…it’s just life…it gets hard to keep up.
The solution…chubba wubba Dunn to Mitso’s rescue…….
Dunn is only one month shy in age to Hedy Mae and has a temperment much like Mitso. Together, the two of them knitted the frayed fabric of this family back together.
While they are both Red Merles with distinctive patterns, it’s uncanny how similar they also look. From separate litters, they both even have the same eye coloring which is really odd when you consider one eye is blue and one eye is green. And if that’s not bizarre enough, the same eyes are the same colors…their left eyes are blue while their right eyes are green.
Fate? Perhaps. Destiny? Could be. But whatever you want to call it, these two bring out the puppy in our old friend Mitso. He was romping and dancing about the yard with them and as I watched, I saw the years melt from his frame. He looked stronger, jumped higher and whirled about as if he were just a pup.
When he’d had enough (which wasn’t very often) he would go to stand on the porch and the pups would turn to each other for entertainment leaving him the rest period he wanted.
As I look over the images from that day, I see the boundless energy and cuteness of those two little fluff balls juxtaposed by the elegance and grace of our white muzzled friend and can’t help but think how perfect things are for everyone. If there ever comes a time where I may doubt the ability of animals to communicate effectively or to have emotion, I’ll only have to look at this image of Mitso’s deliriously happy expression. It’s a reminder to me that if the communication is ever off, it’s me that is at fault.
And to my little friend Tansy, may you be in peace.