“It’s your Uncle Phil,” Mum said when the buzzer rang yesterday. I looked at her. I have an Uncle Phil who is a neighbour, and who I grouch at loudly every time I see him. (Don’t get me wrong, I like this guy, but Uncle Phil and Mum can stand outside the flat, in the street, chatting for half an hour while I shiver my paws off, so he gets grouched at.) “It’s a different Uncle Phil,” Mum explained as she swung the front door open, having swooped me up and tucked me under her arm. “This Uncle Phil is one of my oldest friends – we’ve worked together for years – and he’s just dropping by to say hello.”
And then, in walks a complete stranger, who I grouched at gruffly, only he didn’t seem at all phased. He reached out his hand, and he smelt of dog. Dog-s, to be precise, as it turned out that Phil (“Uncle” is a code word Mum uses to let me know when someone is a friend and is welcome in our home) has two, Jasper and Bud. “Hello little guy,” he said, and with that we wandered through to the kitchen and Mum put the kettle on, which is the official signal that everything is fine and I really don’t need to grouch any more. (Ed: not that this stops him.)
As some of you may know Mum is a journalist, and it turned out that Phil is a photographer based in the Scottish Borders. Mum and Phil used to head off on shoots most weeks, at times to far flung parts of Scotland, and sometimes Jasper would accompany them – this was back in the days before I came along, and also before Bud arrived. Naturally enough, I was quite interested in this stranger who smelt so good. “Let me up on the kitchen table,” I said to Mum. “I want a closer sniff.”
And then this happened. Phil had just been taking photos for The Scotsman at Lyon & Turnbull’s auction house so he had turned up with his camera kit. Before I knew it, I was on the kitchen table being photographed. My first professional photo shoot.
Now, you know me, I’m not great around new experiences, and while I’m used to Mum’s iPhone, I’ve never encountered a flashgun before. But Phil just chatted away to me. He made it easy. He talks Dog, which helps. And when I’d had enough of the flashgun, I tucked my tail between my legs (canine code for: time out please) and that was that. Until next time, Mum says, as if Phil could get a few photos out of me when I was completely unprepared for the experience, think how good a photo shoot could be with a bit of preparation. Here’s a photo Phil took of Bud.
Beautiful, right? Bud is one handsome guy. On which, I’d like to point out that Mum had brushed me, albeit briefly, prior to this photo shoot. She whisked the brush down my back and around my head and whiskers, and I still managed to look completely scruffy. Result, I say, yet Phil had barely left before Mum was emailing my groomer and trying to get me booked in for a “light strip and tidy” before Christmas. Hmm…. I wear my scruff with pride.
If you live in central Scotland, the Scottish Borders, or the north of England, and are interested in having your own canine family member photographed by Phil, you can find all the contact details you need here.