Through the lens of an abused dog.
I have often wondered as the months have disappeared into almost a year and a half since Tristan cowered with his sad haunted eyes into my life, what does he see when he looks at the world around him. I watch as my other dogs assume no one would hurt them, Tristan assumes the exact opposite. Like sinking into your favorite worn our chair at the end of a long day, Tristan has let himself find comfort in the routine and structure of our world. In so many ways he is such a different dog than the one I carried into my house lifeless, terrified of any human contact, tortured, abused and hopeless. That dog does not exists except on the darkest of nights as a shadow on the wall when night terrors seep into his mind and whisper to him of his past. Tully is the only comfort I have found for him during those moments, the only thing to calm him is for the schnauzer to press his small body into the twitching, shaking body of the big terrified dog. I can watch as his muscles relax and as he leans into Tully opening his eyes to find this place. A place of love, his favorite toys from his Aunt Shannon and the routines that fill his days. Tristan does not like change and he struggles when he is forced to figure it out and make the painful choice to trust in whatever difference the day may bring. I do challenge him, I gently push him with kindness and compassion to find the courage to look his fears head on, knowing many times what you find looking back at you, is love.
It is this love that he would find looking back at him through the lens of my dear friend Carolyn Evans. It would be her amazing pictures of Tristan taken at the shelter he was to die at, that I would find myself unable to forget, unable to let go of, and ultimately unable to ignore. She has stayed in his life and I am very blessed to call her a dear friend. It seems like fate that she would be the one person I felt safe enough to let take my pictures when I started this project weighing almost 400lbs. She sees the world with hope, and beauty everywhere…it is contagiously glorious to be around her.
Carolyn came to the house last week for dinner, and Tristan is very much at ease with her, well as much as he can be at ease, it is very hard for him when the routine is broken. We had dinner, we played with the dogs and she was able to take some amazing pictures of Tristan. There is something about her energy, her calm, and the love for all creatures that I know makes a difference to Tristan. He is different around Carolyn, if he was to take a chance it could in fact be with her. The pointing of the camera is hard for him, the click of the camera taking the shot seems to trigger something within him and I become horrified to think what happens for him as we do know that Tristan and Journey were shot at in their old hellish environment. Journey had several surgeries to remove buckshot and mend his broken hips. Carolyn goes slow, showers Tristan with love and soft kind words and gives him the time and space he needs to feel safe. The treats, they help too.
As we settled down for the evening, that is when it happened. Carolyn stretched out on the floor and Tristan lying on his bed just feet from her. He looked straight at her, an invitation of sorts, his sad eyes dancing on the edge of hope but ready to take it back in a split second. She did not look at him, just the out stretched hand tempting him to just try, just this once, just with her. He does not move his head, he does not turn away and he does not run, he finds the courage to try, just this once, just with her. Tully is right there close by, while it may seem like he is just a distraction Tristan takes most of his cues from Tully, he is braver when he knows Tully feels it is safe.
Below is the video I took while I watched Tristan come face to face with his fear of letting someone in, trusting someone else, and how the walls are broken down little by little. It was very emotional for me, I have seen him struggle so so much as he slowly chips away at his fears, something I totally understand oh too well….so please forgive the sobs you will hear at the end of the video, also you will see Tully’s little bottom in and out of the frame as he is relentless in his quest to have someone throw his toy! For those of you who follow Tristan’s recovery you will understand that this was a very big step for him and one that will help lead to our ultimate goals of helping Tristan walk through the world one day trusting and accepting that love and kindness are all around him.
It happens when it is supposed to happen, no sooner, and when you are outside looking in at the wrecking ball coming full speed ahead sometimes the only thing capable of stopping it is love. Carolyn has given me permission to share some of the amazing pictures she took of Tristan last week. If you are interested in more of her work please visit her at www.phodographer.com animal advocate, rescuer, and one dang good friend. I am simply a better person because of knowing Carolyn.
Thank you never, ever seems enough. We love you, Carolyn.