I have long admired the work of Martin Usborne, a soulful English photographer who has concentrated a great deal on photographing dogs. I had the opportunity to connect with Martin and featured his work,The Silence of Dogs in Cars, on my site a year ago. He now is publishing an important book entitled, Where Hunting Dogs Rest.
"Every winter, throughout rural Spain, up to 150,000 Spanish hunting dogs are abandoned or killed at the end of the hare-coursing season. Spanish hunting dogs are typically either a breed called Galgos, a form of greyhound that are prized for their speed and ability to chase hares across the plains, or Podencos, a smaller and stockier breed used to hunt in more hilly territory. Those dogs that are too slow or are too old or simply too expensive to feed out of season are disposed of by unscrupulous hunters looking for a faster replacement.
This book documents those hunting dogs that have been picked up by charities before they die and who have found a place to rest in the rescue centers. Alongside these dogs the book documents the landscapes in which other less fortunate hunting dogs find a different kind of rest: by the sides of roads, deep ravines, wide rivers, edges of towns, empty car parks and harsh plains.
The images are shot in a style that references the tone and mood of Velazquez who painted during the early 17th century when hunting dogs were treated with great respect. To kill one was a crime met with serious punishment. Now the dogs seem to have fallen from grace. The photographs aim to show both the classical beauty of these animals but also the ugliness of their modern situation– their bodies are weakened, the expressions are fearful, their postures uncomfortable and yet they have somehow have an echo of elegance and grace. The landscapes appear romantic and beautiful yet, burdened by the abandonment of so many dogs, have an eerie emptiness." Thank you Martin, for opening our eyes.