For the altruistic creative thinker Robert Altermoser, photographing Bulgaria’s street dogs is both a way to change the narrative around these wandering pups and help reduce their numbers. Altermoser became an activist for canine care while on assignment in Serbia, where he was documenting a refugee camp and living in a truck parked on an NGO lot with plenty of four-legged friends around.
“I felt sad for them and started to pet and feed them,” he says. “After weeks of looking after these dogs, they didn’t leave my side anymore. They slept under my truck and the moment I opened my door around 10 dogs were sitting in front of me, tail wagging ready to follow me wherever I would go. Every day I struggled to get on the bus to Belgrade without dogs following me inside.”
This experience stayed with him as he packed up for his native Austria, which is when he decided he would return and create his own NGO, Everydaystray: “I knew that I had to help these animals to find them the places that they deserve—our beds.” Altermoser and a tiny team focus mostly on catching, neutering and releasing Bulgaria’s homeless dogs, but they also offer a programme to help locals who can’t afford the surgery for their pups. And when they find hounds in dire conditions, they rescue them and find a loving human to take it from there.
The upshot of Altermoser’s work can be found in the new Everydaystray photobook, produced in collaboration with Berlin-based brand Cloud7. Captured on a fast-shooting Fujifilmx100f, the images “try to show a neutral picture of the street dog problem” instead of pulling on potential donors’ heartstrings with pictures of suffering and pain. “Not all street dogs have a bad life,” he says. For example, the portrait on the cover depicts a dog on a mattress in a rundown room—yet, there’s an air of optimism. He says, “I like this picture for its rawness. For humans this bed is dirty and more than ready for the garbage (the room is a kennel in a shelter I volunteered at in Bulgaria), but for this dog this bed is so much more. It’s his everything.”
A heartfelt thank you to all the photographers, artists, illustrators, and writers who trusted us, dived in, and brought us delight, grace, excitement, courage, wilderness, and wonder over the last five years. Their work not only reflects the bonds we share with our animal companions, it also celebrates their spirit.
None of this would be possible without our four-legged counterparts who sprinkle magic dust time and time again, and our readers, who embraced this kooky idea, rallied around us, and made this world theirs too. With friends like these, who needs nine lives?
February 5, 2019