By Brian J. Lowney
Fur, fins and feathers
April 05, 2008 6:00 AM
Jean Fogle knows that the simplest pleasures often bring the most joy in life.
She also understands how important it is to forget the stress of daily routines and to allow time for fun.
The popular photojournalist and writer has created a charming new book titled "Salty Dogs" (Wiley Publishing Inc., 2007) that captures all kinds of delightful canines frolicking in the waves, running in the sand, tossing a stick in the air or lounging on a beach blanket with a beloved two-footed friend. These dogs know how to let their fur down and have a good time.
While a dog lover might expect a book about beach-loving canines to be limited to a few sporting breeds, the award-winning photographer has included a variety of pooches enjoying a day at the shore.
Ms. Fogle says that the photographs were shot at the picturesque Outer Banks of North Carolina, where the author frequently vacations with her family.
"My first trip to the beach with my Jack Russell terrier, Molly, opened my eyes," said the Virginia-based author in a recent e-mail interview. "Seeing her spontaneity and joy liberated me. As she dashed headlong into the waves, I felt the stress of the day melt away and laughter tumble from my throat."
The author says that dogs teach their human counterparts many valuable lessons including not being afraid to take a few risks and to always follow one's heart.
"Instead of pictures showing dogs obeying their owner's wishes, my slides from that day showed dogs obeying their natural instincts," Ms. Fogle says. "Dogs aren't afraid to try new experiences. They make friends easily and they know how to relax."
Each photograph in the book is accompanied by a salient quote from a famous author, philosopher, pop-culture icon or spiritual leader.
"The quotes came from all over," Ms. Fogle says, adding that it took five years to find a publisher once she had the concept for the book. "I first began collecting them when I first thought about doing 'Salty Dogs.' I think my favorite part of the book was finding quotes that matched the action in the pictures."
The book begins with a photo of Molly, now 11 years old and still enjoying life, set against a backdrop of beach grass and sparkling waves.
The snapshot is captioned:
"In order to really enjoy a dog, one doesn't merely try to train him to be semi human. The point of it is to open oneself to the possibility of becoming partly a dog."
"Walking your dog on the beach gives both of you a chance to throw off the yoke of daily living and live in the moment, something us humans have a difficult time doing," Ms. Fogle writes in her e-mail. "With your dog on the beach, it is hard to worry. The chatter in your mind is quieted and you can truly relax. With a dog by your side, you are a stranger to no one."
Another photo shows a poodle dashing through the surf, clutching a big yellow ball.
"It is not living, but living well, which we out to consider most important."
One of the most beautiful images in the book shows a happy young lady sloshing through the waves with a St. Bernard.
The picture is captioned:
"Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads."
Henry David Thoreau
"To me, the beach is an incredibly spiritual place," Ms. Fogle writes. "I don't see it as a place to sit in the sun, but as a place that is essential as breathing. Taking Molly to the beach is also a spiritual experience. Witnessing her as the being she was meant to be, a dog without the constraints of humans, is a rewarding experience."
Most dogs like to smile, a characteristic that Ms. Fogle illustrates with four lovely portraits of a Labrador retriever, basset hound, Rhodesian ridgeback and borzoi.
"Every time you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing. "
Blessed Teresa of Calcutta
Like a smile, "Salty Dogs" is a welcome gift for anyone who loves dogs or who is in need of gentle inspiration. To view more of Ms. Fogle's work online, visit www.jeanmfogle.com.
Swansea resident Brian J. Lowney has been writing about pets for more than a decade. He is a past president of the Wampanoag Kennel Club, an active dog show judge and shares his home with two shelter-adopted cats. All of Brian's columns are available online in our new pet section. Visit http://pets.SouthCoastToday.com.