George & Gracie- Meant To Be

by Kris Phillips

I met Deb, George & Gracie through her wonderful friend Janice, who’s sweet Sadie I’d recently photographed. When Deb told me she’d prefer to have the photo session at home in her back yard I couldn’t argue with her reasoning.

Young George, you see, was still struggling to adjust to life as a pampered pooch. As a recent rescue not much is known about Georges past. But Deb told me he was really shy around new people and would probably do best in a familiar, calm setting. So, of course, with George’s best experience in mind I met him on his terms.


I was absolutely elated that Summer morning as I entered Deb’s backyard oasis! Flowers bloomed everywhere, a carpet of lush green grass, and huge shade trees made for a better backdrop than I could’ve hoped for. As expected beautiful Gracie shined in her role as seasoned dog-model. It wasn’t until right before I headed out that I learned beautiful Miss Gracie had prior modeling experience, having donned her best doggy swimwear for non-other than Underwater Dog photographer Seth Casteel!

Sweet George, on the other hand, definitely seemed suspicious of this odd person with her weird little clicky box crawling around in his back yard. While this handsome Lab is certainly not the first leery rescue I’ve photographed, I think he may be the most street-smart and people suspicious. I’ll admit, when Deb told me he was very shy, it didn’t concern me too much. I’ve worked with lots of shy dogs over the years, and generally a calm attitude and a few handfuls of tasty treats is enough to win them over, at least enough for a few photos. But George was having none of me or my best smelly treats.

The only thing I truly had on my side was Gracie’s ever calm and reassuring presence. And Georges bond with Deb. While he may not care much for strangers he clearly knows who is allies are. For our session Deb preferred the dogs to be the center of attention, but I couldn’t resist catching this beautiful moment while she tried to reassure George. 

After losing her lifelong buddy, Elvis, Gracie was so sad, she needed a friend but wasn’t about to settle for just anyone. She met with a few potential housemates but didn’t particularly like any of them. Until the day shy George came to visit. We’ll never know what they first said to each other, but somehow Gracie knew that George needed someone to show him around this big scary world. And she was just the Black Lab for the job! 

With a lot of patience, and some reassurance from his favorite people, Gracie & Deb, George did eventually warm up a little. Perhaps warm up is too strong of word. He eventually got a little curious about me.

And in the end we produced one of the most stunning pieces of my career a gorgeous black & white, 40×60, acrylic print. When we first installed the piece Deb’s new bedframe was still on order so we measured it out and held our breath that everything would come together in the end. And boy did it!

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