The working dogs of the world tend not to get as much time in the spotlight as their house-pet brothers and sisters. Photographer Andrew Fladeboe, however, is working to remedy this injustice by treating these dogs with the respect and artistry they deserve.
Though his photo series is called “The Shepherd’s Realm,” the dogs aren’t limited to shepherds or cowherds – search and rescue dogs, mobility dogs, guide dogs, companionship dogs and K-9 police dogs also receive recognition. Their fur may be wet or dirty, but their intelligent expressions and stoic nature show that, as companions and workers, they are an indispensable aid for their owners. His project has taken him primarily to New Zealand, Scotland and Norway.
In an interview with National Geographic, Fladeboe explained that most people don’t realize how much these dogs love to work; “Yes, often they live hard and short lives, but for a dog like a border collie, they are happiest when they have a job to do. I feel much worse for a border collie that lives in a big city than one that is worked to the bone on a farm.“
Read on for Fladeboe’s answers to Bored Panda’s questions about his work. He will be having a solo photo show in NYC this October through Peter Hay Halpert Fine Art, so make sure to pay him a visit if you can! He also has prints for sale through this gallery.
“Its always interesting getting a dog to pose for you,” Andrew Fladeboe told Bored Panda. “Its not a natural act for the dog and not something that the owners train their dogs to do”
“Fortunately I’ve been photographing working dogs lately, so they are already well trained and used to direction”
“Its really a matter of patience, and being able to adjust the shoot on the fly and getting the owner to direct the dog the way you want. I think they find it as a challenge of sorts for their dog’s ability to follow commands”
Fladeboe said he was fascinated by “how much they love to work and the story that is 30,000 years in the making. They have evolved with us as a species to fill a number of jobs we’ve asked of them”
“We are so connected to dogs, and not just in terms of getting jobs done or as the pets we know them today. Dogs show up in the myths and folklore of almost every culture. They are part of our collective subconscious. The working dog is the perfect archetype of our sagacious friend”
“These owners are determined and loving. It takes years to develop a successful working dog, and for most people that do it, it is the most important thing in their lives. I really look up to them. I want to raise and train a dog, but I travel too much to have a dog of my own”
Epilepsy Assistance Dog
“I try to take a posthumanistic approach to the dogs I photograph. I try to represent them as individuals, in the most noble way possible to give justice to their existence. It is art for animals’ sake”