Love is Blind

It’s funny how our expectations and biases colour how we see the world. Sam and I spend much of our time teaching photographers to shed their visual biases and see the world as it is instead of how they think it should be. By being open you’ll get inspiration anywhere and not be shut down by the tunnel vision of expectation.

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As much as I know the lesson of being open in photography, I recently discovered that I am much less keen to shed biases in life. In August of 2014 we lost our beloved dog Brando to cancer. It took us a long time to heal from the loss and even consider the idea of a new furry friend.

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For the last 14 months I have been working part-time at the Cochrane and Area Humane Society and literally hundreds of adoptable dogs have crossed my path. We get dogs of all sizes and breeds and personality types but I found the ones that I were attracted to all had similar qualities. First of all, the dogs that caught my attention were almost always working or sporting dog breeds or mixes. This is not a surprise because the last five dogs that I have owned or co-owned have been a Shepard/Rottie cross (Brando), a Malamute, a Chesapeake Bay Retriever, a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever and an Australian Shepard cross. I like responsive, active dogs that are happy to please.

Imacon Color Scanner

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And so, possible candidates for adoption were categorized as acceptable or not acceptable by me simply based on looks and general disposition. In short, I was not open to seeing the dogs for who they were but instead for what I wanted them to be. I think I’m not alone…many people I know and work with have a ‘soft spot’ for a certain type or breed of dog. Of course, I thought I was being ‘open’ because I never picked the same breed twice but of course I was biased… unless it was a working/sporting dog it was simply not a candidate. For example, I was really interested in adopting the cattle dog cross below.

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And then… something happens you don’t expect. On November 7, a 2-month old puppy came into the shelter with sarcoptic mange. The poor little fellow was under high quarantine procedures for most of the time until the mange could be cured and he was not contagious. Caring for the little fart allowed me to get to know him, in spite of the severe restrictions placed on him for minimal contact. I never imagined him as a candidate for adoption (he was not my ‘type’). He was just a fun guy that I helped take care of while he got better. And he was cute….

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The shelter’s intake photo of the mange puppy.

It was not until he was out of quarantine and Sam met the little dude that the wheels started to turn. I suggested we take him for an overnight visit and, except for a bit of bossy pants barking, I began to realize that he was a pretty awesome little man. I began to see him for who he was as he wormed his way into my heart. Of course, Sam saw him for himself right away and did not foist expectations on who he should be (she is good that way). Sam was open to adopting the littler bugger. And so, the latest member of the oopoomoo team is a pug/beagle cross (a Puggle) that we have dubbed Charles Affables Puggles the Third or “Affie” to his friends (which is everyone).

Thanks Affie (and Sam) for reminding me that our biases can get in the way of us truly seeing, whether that be in photography or in judging others.

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About the Author

I am a Canadian landscape and outdoor photographer who loves long hikes in the woods, yummy food, hairy dogs, good company and a good guitar jam.

21 Comments

  1. Lyn Murray
    December 14, 2016

    Congratulations on the addition!!

    Reply
  2. Guy Kerr
    December 14, 2016

    It is interesting where life’s experiences take us. Exposure can only be there and it is up to us to recognize what we are being shown/told. Not always so obvious but good when it works out! Good job.

    Reply
  3. Dave Benson
    December 14, 2016

    how could you not fall love with those adorable eyes… after all the eyes are the window to the soul…

    Reply
  4. Dan Topham
    December 14, 2016

    Of course you adopted him, with a look like that you can’t possibly go wrong.
    Hoping to lsee many more photos of him as he grows with you both in the future.

    Reply
  5. Jane Chesebrough
    December 14, 2016

    Oh my goodness…those eyes grabbed me.Happy for you that you opened your hearts to a new member of the family.Here’s to joy and adventure and puppy smooches.

    Reply
  6. Priya
    December 14, 2016

    Congratulations on the new addition!! He is adorable.
    Great article and very true. We all have biases whether we agree or not.
    Loved the book by Malcolm Gladwell, Blink.

    Reply
  7. Pat
    December 14, 2016

    I know it’s hard to loose a loved pet, but life is too short not to love again. Congrats

    Reply
  8. Pam Jenks
    December 14, 2016

    Oh my. That has to be one of the most adorable puppies I’ve ever seen. And such an intelligent glint in those eyes. It always amazes me that a puppy like that can end up in a shelter. Thank you for adopting himl and congratulations on your new family member!

    Reply
  9. Chris Greenwood
    December 14, 2016

    I am so happy for you guys! He looks adorable! Watson and ourselves would love to meet him 🙂

    Reply
  10. Keltie
    December 14, 2016

    What a beautiful comparison. Congrats on your new edition 🙂

    Reply
  11. Diane
    December 14, 2016

    LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this story. Way to go Sam & Affie! And you too, Darwin. Affie saw it in your eyes even before you saw it in his. But then again…you did know. Happy for all of you.

    Reply
  12. Anne Jutras
    December 15, 2016

    Great story Darwin! Thank you for sharing, and make us realize that sometime our own eyesight can trick us. 😉

    Reply
  13. Karla
    December 15, 2016

    Well said Darwin. As someone that has a specific type (goldens) I have also fallen in love with dogs that are outside those boundaries and I am better for it. An open heart and eyes can take you a long way!

    Reply
  14. Lyne nagele
    December 15, 2016

    He looks like a Carlin Terrier. We have one too! Enjoy!

    Reply
  15. Dayna Kent
    December 15, 2016

    Congrats on the new addition!
    And super cute and oh soo photogenic !!

    Wishing you nothing but love, adventures and a lifetime of companionship <3

    Reply
  16. Fidel Villa
    December 15, 2016

    Dogs know how to get to your core with just a whimper, tilt of the head, a raised ear, a smile, and the gaze that makes you feel you matter. They are the best adapted/evolved beast sometimes dominating our lives for which I will quickly give in even for just a wet kiss.

    Congrats. Awesome story. Welcome Affie!

    Reply
  17. Darwin Wiggett
    December 15, 2016

    Thanks so much everyone for the well wishes… we’ll try our best to be guiding humans to make Affie’s world a place where his best qualities are nurtured.

    Reply
  18. Blanche Chymycz
    December 16, 2016

    Having met Affie at CAHS, I can appreciate how lovable he is. How could anyone turn down those cute eyes and his good natured temperament. Good on both of you for adopting him and as I already mentioned, I know he will have a wonderful life with you. One thing (of many) I appreciate about dogs and particularly the dogs at CAHS is how much they can teach us.

    Reply
  19. Momschrysanthou
    December 16, 2016

    He is absolutely adorable. I’m So glad you welcomed him into your hearts and into your home. Let me know how the training goes and who is training who! His eyes pull one into his soul and vise versa. What wonderful experiences await you!

    Reply
  20. Tracey Adams
    December 16, 2016

    Congrads on the new addition! Puggles is small but his personality isn’t-he’s a determined strongwilled guy. And will be an awesome family addition. We hung out and read together the other day-after a few woofs…. when I was in his personal space in front of his kennel. He’s a smart dog and will have you trained in no time! And they say Puggles are hard to train-or is it their people?
    We lost our girl Tia to a hemangiopericytoma on her leg in July. I’m not sure how long it will be for us. But Puggles made me think…

    Reply
  21. Gone Wild Kennels
    January 21, 2017

    Look forward to meeting the little shit on Sunday morning with all my other clients dogs. Don’t worry little guy, their is only 14 big dogs and 6 small dogs to play with.

    Reply

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