Hard working dogs put their lives on the line to save people from great danger every single day. Dogs help cops track down the bad guys, and bomb squads uncover explosive materials. Dogs serve as life saving companions, and they also know how to work hard on the farm. While pampered household pets are paraded online for all to admire, we should all take the time to give working dogs the credit they deserve.
Photographer Andrew Fladeboe decided to honor working dogs in his photo series, “The Shepherd’s Realm.” The series isn’t solely focused on shepherds, Fladeboe takes portraits of K-9 dogs, guide dogs, mobility dogs, search and rescue dogs, companionship dogs and many other working dogs. Fladeboe has traveled through New Zealand, Scotland and Norway on his ongoing quest for the world’s hardest working dogs.
In an interview with National Geographic, Fladeboe explained how much he has learned about working dogs throughout the process. He admits that he originally didn’t expect the dogs to enjoy working very much, but now he sees that, “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.”
In an interview with Bored Panda, Andrew Fladeboe revealed, “Its always interesting getting a dog to pose for you. Its not a natural act for the dog and not something that the owners train their dogs to do.”
Photographing work dogs is easier than pet dogs because, “they are already well trained and used to direction.” He goes on to say, “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.”
Fladeboe is always amazed by how much dogs love what they do. He says it is a “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.”
Dogs are a huge part of our present and past, and this is true in almost every culture around the globe. We work with dogs, befriend dogs and connect with them on so many levels. A world without dogs just wouldn’t be the same place.
Fladeboe says, “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.”
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.”
Fladeboe admires all of the owners who are determined and caring enough to bring along a successful working dog. He admits wishing he could raise and train a dog of his own, but his current work schedule involves too much traveling.
Comfort Therapy Dog
Urban Search-And-Rescue Dog
Explosive Detector Dog
Urban Search-And-Rescue Dog
You can catch Fladeboe’s work live and in person in NYC this October. He is scheduled for a solo photo show through Peter Hay Halpert Fine Art. You can also purchase the prints he has available for sale through his gallery.