I want to tell you story about a boy and his dog, but I can’t tell the story of a boy and his dog without first telling you about a girl and her dog, Harley.
As a child Beth loved animals, as many children do, but in the journey to adulthood, she decided to set about becoming a veterinarian. As with all pursuits worthy of anyone’s time; there was difficulty, worry and doubt. She wondered if she could succeed.
Then she met an obstinate mutt without a home. She snuck him into her dorm, named him Harley and promptly fell in love with him. He became the first dog she every owned, the first dog that ever owned her, the first animal to ask all of the world she could possibly give. She fell in love with saving the helpless, homeless and unloved in the animal community. She fell in love with becoming a doctor that mends and protects the ones that unconditionally love us. She embraced it all – the pain of limitations to how many can be helped and saved, the victory of the ones that can be saved, healed, nurtured, given a home and the journey to becoming the best she could be at helping as many in need as possible.
Harley was the catalyst – the alpha. He affirmed the desires Beth held deep inside and propelled her to persevere. He inspired the rescue she founded that bears his name, Harley’s Haven. Over 500 rescues later, 100 of which Beth, her husband Tom and, eventually, son Connor fostered. After thirteen years, he’s still the same inspiring curmudgeon and, undoubtedly, still the alpha, keeping everyone in line. As Beth shared with me, “ Harley is my man. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a pain in the ass. I’m his person. He’s my dog. He gives me confidence.“
Harley has marked the era of time (as all of our beloved pets do) – the time when Beth and Tom met, fell in love, united in marriage and when their son Connor entered the world. He marks the years Connor has grown amongst the 100 foster puppies and their other dogs; Sawyer and Fiona. Here in lies the great importance of bestowing the honor of immortalizing the Harley’s of the world in photographic beauty and celebrating them with space amongst the other precious memories of our lifetime that we so readily display.
It is no wonder that Connor has made his proclamation that he too wants to become a veterinarian. Recently he asked for his own puppy. With resounding support Beth and Tom agreed and vigilantly kept a close eye out for a foster pup that would match well with Connor. Croy entered as one of the 100 fosters and never left. Beth describes the bond that developed between the two as unparalleled amongst the many dogs that have graced their home. Connor learns the ropes young. He walks Croy, feeds him, dotes over him, and molds him into his best friend, in the way that only a dog can be.
The next chapter has begun. A boy and his dog, begun by a girl and her dog. Before there was Connor and Croy, there was Beth and Harley. *
*I’d like to take a second to acknowledge Tom’s often (literally) unseen hand in all of this. He manages to evade my lens often (Though I might be wearing him down. We’ll see next time.). It is my experience that behind those taking on great endeavors such as founding a dog rescue and establishing a veterinary practice, is someone who, like a pillar of strength, has, undoubtedly, got your back. Tom strikes me as that guy. So, while this was a story about a girl and her dog and a boy and his dog; these things find their place because of the beautiful family unit that is Tom, Beth and Connor.