This gorgeous, seven year old, Flat-Coated Retriever is Eva. I was lucky enough to be booked to photograph Eva back in April by her owners, Rob and Anita.
Eva was originally trained as a Guide Dog and first came to stay with Rob and Anita when they were acting as Trainee Guide Dog Boarders. This is where people volunteer to act as temporary “parents” to trainee guide dogs whilst they go through their formal training – they take the dog to school in the morning, pick the dog up in the afternoon and then spend the evenings and weekends helping the young dog get acquainted to home life, continuing basic training and having fun after the rigours of school. It’s a fantastic idea that allows the trainee dog to get used to different people and scenarios before they head off to work with their selected blind or partially sighted partner.
Eva passed her training with flying colours and went off to live with her partner. Unfortunately her elderly partner suffered from ill-health for quite some time and subsequently passed away. As Eva had not worked for an extended period of time, the decision was made to retire her early and Rob and Anita were asked if they wanted to take her on as they new her well. Luckily, Rob and Anita were only too happy to have Eva back in their lives and it appears to me that the feeling is mutual – Eva is one of the happiest dogs I’ve ever met!
One of Eva’s regular venues for walkies is Sheepleas in Surrey. It’s not an area I’d been to before, but I shall certainly be going back to – a great mixture of woodlands and meadows and perfect for photoshoots, wildlife spotting, or indeed, just walking. In our discussions before the shoot, Rob and Anita had suggested they would like a mixture of portrait and action shots, so as we walked around the area I was keeping a lookout for good backdrops for portraits and different areas for action shots. We were provided with plenty of variation and had Eva sitting on benches, climbing fallen trees, charging across meadows, sitting in bluebells as well as photos with Rob and Anita sitting with her too.
Eva was very calm when we first met at Sheepleas and I therefore assumed that with all her assistance dog training she would be quite a reserved lady – how wrong I was! At the first opportunity Eva found a load of fallen leaves left over from Autumn and had a jolly good dig and roll around:
Not quite the sleek, coiffured look an owner might want to have captured in a photograph, but I love it! Luckily with a quick shake and some more charging around the leaves and twigs fell out.
Eva loves her tennis ball, as you might expect from a Retriever so we had some good chase scenes to capture – always a challenge, but great when they work as planned:
As I mentioned above, there are some great patches of bluebells at this location and they are all quite far away from the most popular spots, so we had them to ourselves. Eva looked fabulous with her glossy black coat offset agains the bluebells and green foliage. I think this is one my favourite shots of the day:
One of the many things I love about my jobs is meeting lovely dogs and their owners. I pride myself of getting to know animals quickly and getting on well with them after just a short time (although oddly enough, this doesn’t always apply to our own cat as he occasionally tries to rip my leg off for an impromptu snack!). Another one of my favourite shots of the day is this one, although I doubt Rob and Anita want to keep a photo with my hand in it. To me it sums up what a loving dog Eva is – very contented with a chin tickle:
Ever since I started Callum Aitken Photography, I’ve wanted to be able to use my photography to support animal charities, predominantly animal welfare charities, and I have therefore made the decision to donate a percentage of the income from each and every photoshoot I do to a charity related to the type of animal I’ve photographed (more details to follow on my website). However, in Eva’s case, I’ve agreed with Rob and Anita that the donation should go to Guide Dogs UK to continue Rob, Anita and Eva’s support for their invaluable work.
If you too would like to support Guide Dogs UK, please visit their website for more information: http://www.guidedogs.org.uk
A huge thank you to Rob and Anita for booking me and allowing me to have such a great time with Eva – she is such a character and a lovely, lovely dog.