What’s In a Name: Ares & Emzy Photography
United States Air Force Military Working Dog Emzy, tattoo number F631, lived at Kunsan Air Base South Korea since 2005. She arrived to Kunsan after she finished her “Basic K9 Training” at The Dog Training School at Lackland Air Force Base. I met her briefly during my first assignment to Kunsan Air Base. But it was not until my second assignment in July 2009 where I was formally introduced to magnificent Emzy. Her story is now my story. It defines me. It is the reason I am a pet photographer. And it is the reason her name is in the title of my business.
Fast-forward to 2009 and I find myself reassigned to Kunsan. Like many who have served multiple tours away from family, I’m not happy, but I know it is my duty. But my second tour to Kunsan Air Base would be different…it would end with me adopting Emzy when my assignment ended in 2010. You might say she “followed me home” but that is a stretch because she had to endure 30 hours of travel by bus, taxi, planes and cars. Thirty hours…all with a very bad heart and her multiple pills! You see Emzy was being retired as a young working dog (age 7) because of her severe cardiac condition.
At Emzy’s “out-processing” medical appointment at the Osan Air Base Vet clinic, the military vet told me she may not make the flight…but that sweet girl not only made the flight, but she lived to be 13.5 years old before her gentle heart became weary with wear, but not of love. She was loved. God, that dog was loved. Emzy was loved not only by us but also by everyone who met her. But the one thing Emzy could not manage was having her photograph taken. We do not know why. Was it the camera or mobile phone flash that made her think it was lightening? Was it having a person taking a picture in her personal space? We do not know. But it was very obvious that any type of camera or device held up like a camera caused her great distress. As I said…Emzy’s heart was bad…really bad! Vet after vet wondered how she was still alive, and not only alive, but thriving! Even though Emzy was doing well, we knew each day was a gift and she was living on borrowed time. However, getting any “good pictures” of her was truly impossible. Enter a professional photographer in Bossier City, Louisiana named Michelle Levesque. Michelle came to our home, with what looked like a telescope for a lens, to get some worthy photographs of our sweet girl.
That’s when I was hooked! I knew then, while watching Michelle work, that I wanted to provide treasured images for pet owners who had the same thought as I, “our beloved pet’s time is so very limited with us”.
When I retired from the Air Force in 2013, I returned to school to work towards my Bachelors of Fine Arts in Photography. Emzy was struggling a fair bit the summer of 2014…we thought it was the heat. By January 2015 Emzy told us she was done taking her 20+ pills each day and wanted to enjoy her last day without a fuss. We called our vet and he agreed to come to our home for Emzy’s transition. Difficult? God it was so difficult. And all the while I thought, “Well, at least I have her retirement photographs and those photographs that Michelle took”.
Emzy passed on a Tuesday, and by Saturday my friends from the Lackland Military Working Dog Adoption program texted me a photograph of Ares X281. Ares, you see…needed a home…he had a laryngeal injury followed by the corrective surgery to repair it and now needed a family experienced with military working dogs and their transition to civilian life. It was April 15, 2015, and just like Emzy in the year 2010, you might say that “Ares followed me home”, but that was a stretch because Ares needed training to unlearn his military working dog mind-set....
“Every now and then a dog comes into your life and changes everything”. Author Unknown
“It came to me that every time I lose a dog they take a piece of my heart with them. And every new dog who comes into my life gifts me with a piece of their heart. If I live long enough, all the components of my heart will be dog, and I will become as generous and loving as they are.” Author Unknown
I graduated (with honors) and Ares & Emzy Photography was born! I proudly declare that I am a “pet photographer” who ALWAYS gets the shot.
For all the Emzy personalities out there whether you are K9, feline or any other species revered by your family…I understand YOU. I will “get the shot” and you and your family will have not only a wonderful memory of your photo session…but also a fur-ever keepsake of YOU!