Our book today is exactly as advertised: Treat!, a collection of incredible photos by Christian Vieler of dozens of dogs, each caught in the act moment of lunging for a thrown treat. It’s an inspired idea along the lines of Seth Casteel’s best-selling Underwater Dogs, and its inspiration rests on the same elements: not only spontaneity but vulnerability. Vieler’s Introduction does what introductions do by hysterically overselling the goods on display, but his heart’s in the right place:
After developing more than 500 snapshots, I now know these photos that some people think are ugly actually bring these dogs closer to our hearts. In that momentary shot we are able to experience our best friends as we seldom do in real life. We recognize their panic, joy, fear of loss, sheer desire, and the very pinnacle of enjoyment – something we only experience from other human beings. The dog reveals a human side while nevertheless remaining a dog.
This is mysterious, to say the least – anyone who’s ever spent any time around almost any kind of animal from a parakeet to a pig to a dog to a horse has experienced panic or joy or fear or loss or sheer desire or enjoyment in them at some point; it’s hardly a thing that’s only experienced in other people. And likewise to say the least, dog owners have encountered their dogs in these exact moments many, many times – who hasn’t tossed their dog a treat solely to watch their ecstatic attempt to snatch it out of the air?
But that doesn’t diminish the sheer, infectious wonder of these beautiful photos, which are made all the more glorious by the fact that they aren’t by any means all success stories – we get clean catches, near misses, and catastrophic failures, and all in such unguarded earnestness that Treat accidentally serves as antidote the squeaky-clean too-perfect dog books that fill the bookstores at this time of year. On page after page, these are the dogs we all know and love: dorky, needy, and of course constantly hungry.
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