Beauty comes in all sorts of (furry) packages.

After seeing images of the winners of this year’s Westminster Dog Show, I wondered whether my own dog back home could ever enter or even win a competition like that. First thought; definitely not. Besides never being able to stay still for more than four or five seconds, my dog has a tendency to shy away from open spaces, other dogs, new people, and generally anything that could possibly be involved in a formal dog show. Don’t forget as well that the dogs on display at these shows have a more intense beauty regimen than the average human. After seeing the perfect fluff and silky coats of some of the competitors, I knew my own dog just didn’t have a chance.

That’s not to say however, that my dog isn’t beautiful in his own right. In fact, I believe that my dog has a rare kind of beauty that isn’t often seen around your average kennel. This may just be because I think my dog is the most amazing creature in the world, or maybe because he is a mixture of breeds so complex and undecipherable that he can only be called a mutt. Sure he often brings small children to tears with one glimpse of his face, and has sent once fear-free pedestrians to the other side of the road while out on walks, but who’s to say what is and isn’t beautiful when it comes to fur, paws, and tail?

"Ritah" by Veronica Verplancken

My cousin would agree. After being abandoned in Tennessee, her dog Ritah was rescued and brought to a shelter in Illinois. She is a rather interesting mix of Chihuahua and Brussels-Griffon, or so they think. Some would rather say monkey and common sewer rat. Nevertheless, Ritah has a way of lighting up the room with her exited running and jumping (and falling). She can also soften anyone’s mood by curling up in someone’s lap as if it were the nicest bed on offer.

Pets have a way of showing their beauty even if they aren’t the most aesthetically pleasing creatures. I hoped to capture this with my picture of Ritah wrapped up in a blanket on a snowy Illinois winter day. Even if she isn’t a beauty queen, she has a way of being strikingly eye-catching that I hoped to capture on camera.

My favourite subjects to shoot are my own pets and the pets of my family and close friends. I also like to go out and try to get snapshots of wild life, especially while on vacation in places with animals I don’t get to see at home. Although I am in no way professionally trained, I hope that I will be able to continue with my photography in the future. Being in St Andrews has definitely inspired me to photograph some of the amazing wildlife found not too far from my front doorstep (or halls of residence), and this has somewhat assuaged the sadness of being so far away from my own dog back home.


Veronica Verplancken