A Boy and His Dog


Toby, a brown standard poodle, came into the Anderson household when Lee was about three years old.  After Toby died, there were no more family dogs. Lee never forgot Toby and often said that someday he wanted another dog just like Toby. Someday arrived in 2005.

Years went by and Lee got married. He and his wife Donna had very busy lives with children, careers and cats, but no dog. In 2005, when the kids were older and life calmed down a bit, Lee started talking about getting a dog. It had to be a brown standard poodle and was going to be named Dakota.  As things sometimes happen the way they are supposed to happen, an Internet search located a four-month-old brown standard poodle in Roanoke whose name was Dakota. That clinched the deal.  Little did Donna and Lee know what changes Dakota would bring to their lives.

Lee, a professional photographer, started taking Dakota with him on assignments and then began taking photographs of Dakota, who turned out to be very photogenic. As proud parents will, Lee and Donna always had pictures of Dakota to show off at every opportunity. Soon friends were asking Lee to take pictures of their beloved pet companions. In no time, Anderson Photography was almost exclusively doing pet photography. Lee told me that he feels the way about Dakota that he did with Toby. Im a boy with his dog again. This is the most fun Ive ever had as a photographer and Im dedicating the rest of my life to making beautiful images of animals for the people who love them. To see some of Lees photos visit www.photolee.com.

Dakota loves his part in the pet photography business. He is the official greeter for the dogs who come into the studio to be photographed. He brings a special gentle calm to any room and he always puts the subjects at ease.  He does make sure that any leftover cookie crumbs from the shoot are quickly disposed of.

The Andersons are purists when they are working with a client. No props or collars or distractions. Their simple square shots, in black and white, float on a white background, revealing the essence of the subject.

Dakota has changed more than the direction of the Andersons photography business – he has become a member of the family. Being out and about with Dakota is so interesting, Donna told me. He is a people magnet and complete strangers come up to us and start talking about their pets.  She said that, your circle widens for sure when you have a dog, and people who have accepted that lifestyle just seem to be more friendly and relaxed.

Lee said that it is humbling to have a dog like Dakota in our lives. He told me that Dakota brought him out of his shell. Lee explained that, it doesnt matter what the weather is like, you are going for a long walk and there is nothing that gets your spirits up better than fresh air and sunshine.

The Andersons told me that the best part of what they do is the interaction with all the wonderful pets and people they meet on a daily basis. Dog people are extroverts, said Lee. For example, I was invited as a guest to go on a cruise with a number of Portuguese Water dogs and their owners and I was taking pictures with 15 Porties aboard, cruising down the river this is my idea of fun.

Do you have a pet companion who changed your life or your work? Send me an e-mail and Ill write your story too.  daisymae@alextimes.com. Until next week! Keep your feet dry and your tail high.