During the casual encounters with my neighbours in La Guindalera, Madrid, I became both active participant and bearing witness to the bond dog owners establish with their pets. As I got deeper into other people’s stories, I realised how, at present, many humans are turning to dogs instead of having children. We have decided to share our solitude with pets, and as our lives get closer to an end, dogs become the engine that extends our existence.
The neighbour who spends time on his dog’s every routine, like me, what is he about? Why a pit bull and not a Chihuahua? Did he choose the dog—or did the dog choose him? Hiding inside these superficial conversations to help break the ice, I imagine the presence of a deep bond. Sometimes, owners and dogs are naturally alike, they even imitate each other. Other times, however, humans project their fears, fantasies, and ideals onto animals. Many argue that in cities, animal owners are adults who don’t have, or cannot have, or don’t want to have, another person to love, when others, like American philosopher Ronald B. Levinson, counteracts the controversy stating “a dog is easier to love than most people I know.”
In Vida de Perros (A Dog’s Life), images and words balance each other. The portraits talk about the bond, while the still life images that support them are loaded with personal stories and symbols; they are objects that could be kept in a box, resisting the passing of time. I have always liked to collect the footprints that human beings leave behind. The proof of each step. Of the way we travel. In this project, I have captured many stories, being aware there are many more to photograph and write about. During my private search, I keep the written words entrusted by my neighbours, recorded in conversations at the park, and in their homes, as they show me part of their intimacy.
Marcela Lopecito is a psychotherapist living and working in Madrid.
All images courtesy of Marcela Lopecito
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