I’ve been cutting and pasting and searching my entire photo archive again. Resulting in this work. Tadááá here I present: ‘Sweet Pirate’.

The large turtle in this work was photographed in Wildlands Zoo in Emmen, where these friendly giants swim in their aquarium. In the crow’s nest of this ship there’s a hare looking out which in real life lives in the fields nearby my home. The fish reside in the Delfzijl sea aquarium and the toucan lives in Walsrode Zoo in Germany.

We are very glad that he has learned to trust life.

The fun-loving, frivolous dog, who in the picture seems quite obedient, started life as a stray dog in Greece. He’s now our dog, Valentino. He came to us as a puppy after he was found on the streets, very sick and weak. Employees of the Mirtos animal project took care of him and nursed him back to health. After that, he came to live with us. He brings us so much joy every day! We are very proud that he’s learned to trust life, it took him quite a while. He’s cheerful and very curious, incredibly charming and sweet, even though he experienced very little security in his early life. When he first came to live with us, he barked at everyone and everything, but us. When under stress, and very little was needed for that, he would get very angry with other dogs.

His first lesson lasted 15 minutes.

We are fortunate enough to be able to spend a lot of time with Valentino, and we have a quiet household. Our other dog is kind and very stable, so Valentino had a role model. We found a dog school nearby with modern and gentle training methods. It was there that we trained the basics such as ‘down’ and ‘stay’. But most importantly, he learned to relax in environments that were very exciting for him. And we learned how to take advantage of his enormous temperament at that time. His first lesson lasted 15 minutes, after that he could only bark. He acted like a three-year-old, who desperately needed sleep. We took him home so he could rest and sleep.
In the months and years that followed, we saw him progress, settle down, become himself and learn to trust life. Valentino is three-and-a-half years old now. He still goes to dog school. Nowadays, he takes agility classes. He loves it, he is very fast and agile. He’s a real showman too, he loves showing off his tricks and speed.
But even now, he has some trouble with the bustle at the dog school. People coming and going, cars parking. He keeps a close eye on it all. But despite the distractions, he is learning more and more, and he is also learning to listen well while being distracted. And no dog can run so proud and happy as Valentino does.

Valentino has become a happy dog with nicknames like ‘Doctor Love’ and ‘Prince Charming’. His previously long instruction manual has become a lot shorter and easier. He’s such a great character to have in our family. He can take care of himself more and more. These days he’s got lots of human and canine friends . We’ve got a real Sweet Pirate, with an enormous zest for life.

Love alone is not enough.

The organization that has enabled Valentino to come and live with us is dedicated to making sure that dogs find the right home. Before they place a dog, someone first comes to meet the possible future owners. During that visit, we could show that we have enough space in and around the house. And that we have enough time to spend with our dogs. We live in a calm part of the country, which is good for stress-free walks. Our other dog Szuka, is not only very calm and friendly but also very clear to other dogs. All circumstances increased the chance that things would go well with an adopted dog. We knew quite well that we would not get an ‘instantly easy’ dog. After a dog has been adopted, Mirtos animal project stays in touch for a long time.

If you’re thinking about adopting a dog, please realize before you start it is great to give a dog a good future, but you have to have time, space, stability, money, commitment and sometimes help from others. Love alone is not enough.

The story of Valentino is reflected in this work. I portrayed him as the Sweet Pirate he is. His younger self is in his arms because he can take care of himself now.

As is always the case, people, animals, and stories that have made an impression on me or are important in my life, come back to me as a visual story. That’s how Wondrous Goose storypics grow.