31 January 2008

Dogs & Their People

From an application I just completed...

WOOFERS: Dogs & Their People
by Paul Treacy

I've always been a dog person. They seem to respond well to me. Back in the eighties I had a dog named Tom, or rather my family had. He was a big, strong and utterly beautiful ginger labrador. He was a very important part of my life as a teenager. Growing up in the south east of Ireland I used to bring him to beaches and rivers to swim and play ball.

As I prepared to finish school and go to art college, I knew he would not be coming with me so I began to photograph him. My becoming a professional is probably down to him, I'd say.

I left art school in my third year and moved to England to study photography and so the images I'd made of him became even more precious. I've been photographing dogs and their people ever since. What fascinates me about dogs is their sense of humor, their playfulness and their mischievousness, qualities Tom had in abundance.

Dogs have been our close companions for much of human history. It is suggested that our close relationship with them facilitated our developing speech. Since dogs became our nose and ears, affording us security from human competition and an early alert to dangerous prey, we no longer needed the heavy skull structure for the large ears and noses we had. This, it is theorized, allowed the evolution of more complex vocal mechanisms that eventually provided for spoken language. This symbiotic relationship may have allowed homo sapiens to survive and neanderthals to perish as we became more sophisticated and dominant.

However, these days our relationship with dogs is very different. Though pet dogs still provide for a sense of security in family homes and many dogs provide crucial assisted living services, we are no longer so dependent on them as we once were. Certainly our survival does not depend on them in a way it once may have. Rather our relationship with them is one of companionship. Increasingly their role is one of surrogacy in which needy adults indulge them as children. The role of dogs in society these days is still complex but in no way is it as essential as it once was.

I hope you enjoy the photographs.

Thank you.
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