For nearly thirty-thousand years, dogs have been sitting at our feet, eating our scraps, and stealing from our table when our backs are turned. They are our helpers, co-workers, friends, and guardians, and we, theirs. It is a relationship built upon generations of trust. Trust that the hand that feeds will not strike, and that the tooth that takes will not bite.
Allowing the wolves to have a place at the fire was likely one of the first times that we saw another species as something other than a threat, a nuisance, or a meal. Over the thousands of generations since that first tentative step, people and dogs have grown together. Dogs are one of the few species who will follow their human companion’s eye to see what we are looking at, and many a dog owner can tell from the slightest yip or whimper exactly what their canine companion needs.
This project is about dogs, people, and the shared physical and spiritual geography of our lives. We will explore the helpers and hunters, the privileged and the abused, the ridiculous and the serious. Our dogs show us the value of naps, walks, and tennis balls; they teach us empathy, courage, and the importance of play. They help the blind to see, and the traumatized to feel again. They rescue the desperate, and when the chance of rescue has passed, they bring closure and comfort to those left behind. Ultimately, through their too short lives, they even teach us how to let go of those closest to us.
“Boon Companions” is a story of friendship in words and pictures. To tell this story I am visiting all fifty of the United States, meeting dogs and their people, making pictures and hearing all the ways we make one another’s lives better. I hope it makes you laugh, helps you remember the dogs in your life, and maybe imbues you with the loyal, playful spirit of our oldest friends in the history of the world.