Hazel was a beautiful hound with an extraordinary gift; she could sniff out a lost or discarded tennis ball lurking just about anywhere. Down a cliff, up a tree, no matter how remote the location she would stubbornly bark until I acknowledged her hunting prowess. Every day I dutifully retrieved her beleaguered treasure and carried it home, where I began to photograph the remnants, not only to document her oddly endearing persistence but to indulge my predilection for scientific observation. The whole routine fulfilled in me a growing impulse to capture and catalog every detail of whatever comes into my world as life speeds by.

Only later, as the images emerged, did I realize the subtext of this daily chronicle; I was anthropomorphizing these ratty bits of felt and rubber, imbuing them with nuanced human emotions: vaguely forlorn, at times triumphant, and almost always alluding to a harrowing narrative that will forever remain undisclosed. 

As it turns out, I was documenting the power of the human mind to fabricate empathy for even the most seemingly benign object. I’ve been thinking a lot about how seldom we give each other the same benefit of the doubt.

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©Julie Fowells