Who is Shutter the Wonder Mutt?

It was the Spring of my fiftieth year on this spinning blue ball, third rock from the sun. A milestone to be sure and one denied many. It’s a funny thing when you get caught up in that sudden realization that there are fewer days ahead than there were behind. Add to this, and as anyone who works in the arts will tell you, we have a tendency to go through phases of self doubt. Second guessing every photo we’ve ever taken, convinced it’s all crap, awash in the overwhelming temptation to just hang it all up and go get a “real job”.

So, there I was in this last week of April 2013 foundering in my own mental sea of self flagellation when a friend broke the still silence by chiming out that a local rescue had “puppies!”. With the attention span of a two year old my mind wandered off to a state of, “wait, what? Puppies? I like puppies! Who doesn’t like puppies?”

I immediately stopped what I was doing and logged onto the rescue’s website. There on the screen was a fuzzy, blurry image of a little black and white terrier mix about eight weeks old with no name. He was beautiful! And then it hit me. I had never had a dog of my own. Oh we had family pets to be sure. There had always been a critter of one kind or another around. But “I” had never had a dog.

So I grabbed up the phone, noted the number on the screen, and made one of those calls you have no idea at the time was going to change my life forever. When the lady at the rescue answered I inquired if the puppy was still available? She replied that “yes he was, he was with a foster family and that they had had many calls about him“.

Many!? How many was “many“? Four? Twenty six? Three hundred and nine? Good grief! “ She said that I needed to call the foster family to setup a meet and greet”.

Okay, jumped through hoop one now for hoop two. I called the foster mom. She was very sweet and very friendly. She asked when I would like to see him? With my brain screaming ”FIVE MINUTES AGO!” I said calmly as soon as was convenient. “Well”, she said “she didn’t live in town and that it would be Monday before we could meet”. This was Friday. So we setup a time at a local veterinarian clinic for Monday at 2:45pm and thus began one of the longest three days of my life.

After a torturous weekend the day of the meet and greet finally arrived. I got to the clinic forty five minutes early just in case there were others whom we also coming. As it turned out there were in fact four puppies, three males and one female, and others did show up as the time grew closer. I positioned myself at the front of the line with the skill of a seasoned “Black Friday” shopper and waited.

When at last they arrived the foster moms daughter came walking toward me carrying the little black and white pup clutched close to her chest paws and tummy facing outward. He seemed almost lifeless in her hands and my heart sank a bit. As she handed him off to me he suddenly sprang to life and began immediately licking my whole face. I confess, I wept like a little girl whom had just skinned her knee.

“Shutter” I managed to choke out as the tears ran down my face. “Your name is Shutter”. It wasn’t something I had consciously thought about. It just kind of came to me all of a sudden almost as if he was telling me and not the other way around. He had a bushy eyebrows, a speckled nose and these long hair that hung off his ears like tensile on a Christmas tree. In other words, he was perfect.

I filled out the paper work and paid the adoption fee never putting him down. Like he would almost disappear if I let go of him for even a second. After a brief stop at my mothers house for our first photo together Shutter and I headed home.

Two days later I began taking pet photos for the very same rescue as well as several local shelters. Now five years and tens of thousands of photos later we are still going strong. Shutters Pack has since grown to four as Reese, Zoe, and Izzy have joined our little herd. And I couldn’t be happier.

Shutter and I attend about one hundred photo events every year now helping to raise money for rescues and shelters and we intend to continue as long as we can. And it all started with a blurry cell phone photo.

-David and Shutter (and the Pack)




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