Love letter to Chopper
It is one of the few moments that I did not have my camera with me… Two days before the quarantine began, my dog Chops got sick, we did everything, everything, everything, to heal him. The quarantine gave us the opportunity to be with the family, take care of him 24 hours, feed him, caress him, take naps on the floor, giving him encouragement and thanks for always making us happy.
During the process, I was taking photographs of all the moments, in the kitchen, in the table. With my children I spent time looking through the viewfinder, thinking only about him and how I could help him. Unfortunately, it was all progressive until at one point he didn’t want to eat more, he avoided the medication and one day he didn’t walk anymore.
He loved going out, so since he didn’t walk, I took him carrying to the sidewalk to pee on his tree, I supported him on the sidewalk, he sat down, looked at me and turned his head towards some yellow leaves that flew in the wind, only the leaves were heard, he gave me that moment… he didn’t pee, I picked him up, and we entered the house, after a while, he left in peace, caressing with his trunk the face of Ale (my partner) leaving me the last breath to hug him.
I will never forget Chopper and the teaching of acceptance and peace that he gave me. That instant, Chopper, his leaves, the wind, silence and peace. But I needed to leave him in a photograph, to always have him with me, to reinforce the memory, that’s why I drew him, but I do not know how to draw, I needed to have the leaves that flew but they weren’t coming right. That’s why I went to look for them in the places where I used to walk and I placed them on the drawing. The light settled on its own, I enjoyed looking through the eyepiece at that moment, with nothing else, Chopper and his leaves in the corner of my house…
How many times did I think he was eternal, I said he is a stray dog, he never gets sick… my son asked me one day how old is Chopper? I said to him: eight, I answered him and the comforted one said: “ah, he is young”. And the truth is that nothing is young or old, sometimes thinking that everything is eternal is a trap for not enjoying the day-to-day. Do not plan, enjoy the now.
When I turned 40 I remember thinking that I was in the middle of life (if I am lucky enough to reach 80), or when I was on vacation and I was thinking “I’m in the middle of a 15-day vacation, I have 7 days left until they are over, I need to enjoy what I have one hundred percent, before my holidays are over”. Now I am ten years older and I try to apply the same concept to my life, but often only painful losses remind us of how we should live.
Why can’t we apply it every day? Why didn’t I enjoy the moment, the now? Everything is so fragile. A hug to my children, to my wife and to my dog, are actions that stop time, why is it so difficult to live like this always and apply being present in daily life and at all times? That’s why I am passionate about photography and riding a motorcycle, they allow me to be present at that precise moment.
On the bike, not being present can mean having an accident. In photography, especially when we compose through the viewfinder, we are present. In a tunnel, we see only a fraction of the 360 degrees around us, there is no back or side. Until you press the shutter you are there and now, we can’t escape from the moment.
It is the reason why I always carry a camera, and I take a moment to be present, directly connected to the subject, model, object or place, seeing the details through that tunnel. That’s why I use long lenses of 50mm and up, I don’t get distracted by the whole or the broad view of a wide-angle lens. I focus on that narrow and compressed view that helps me to be there and now.
Fue uno de los pocos momentos en los que que no tenía mi cámara… Dos días antes que comience la cuarentena, mi perro Chops se enfermó, hicimos todo, todo, todo, para que se cure. La cuarentena nos dio la posibilidad de estar en familia, cuidarlo 24hs, darle de comer, acariciarlo, tomar siestas en el piso dándole ánimo y gracias por hacernos felices siempre.
Durante el proceso fui tomando fotografías de todos los momentos, en la cocina, en la mesa, con mis hijos pasaba tiempo mirando a través del ocular pensando solo en él y en cómo podía ayudarlo. Lamentablemente fue todo progresivo hasta que en un momento no quiso comer más, evitaba la medicación y un dia no caminó más.
Él amaba salir, así que como no caminaba lo lleve cargando a la vereda para que hiciera pis en su árbol, lo apoyé en la vereda, se sentó, me miró y giró la cabeza hacia unas hojas amarillentas que volaban en viento, solo se escuchaban las hojas, me regaló ese momento… no hizo pis, lo levante, y entramos a la casa, al rato se fue en paz acariciando con su trompa la cara de Ale (mi esposa) dejándome el último suspiro para que lo abrace.
No me voy a olvidar nunca de Chopper, la enseñanza de aceptación y paz que me regaló. Ese instante, Chopper, sus hojas, el viento el silencio y la paz. Pero necesitaba dejarlo en una fotografía, para tenerlo siempre conmigo y reforzar el recuerdo, por eso lo dibujé, pero no se dibujar y necesitaba tener las hojas que volaron, pero no me salían, por eso las fui a buscar por los lugares donde solía pasear y las coloqué en el dibujo, la luz se acomodó sola, disfruté mirando por el ocular ese momento, sin nada más, Chopper y sus hojas en la esquina de mi casa…
Cuantas veces pensé que era eterno, siempre decía que era un perro callejero, que nunca se enfermaba… mi hijo me preguntó un día cuántos años tiene Chopper? “Ocho” le contesté y el reconfortado dijo: “Ah, es joven”. Y la verdad es que nada es joven ni viejo, a veces pensar que todo es eterno es una trampa para no disfrutar el día a día. No proyectar, disfrutar ahora.
Cuando cumplí 40 años recuerdo pensar que estaba a la mitad de la vida (si tengo la suerte de llegar a los 80) o cuando estaba de vacaciones y pensaba “Estoy a la mitad de unas vacaciones de 15 días, me faltan 7 días solamente para que se terminen, necesito disfrutar lo que me queda al cien por ciento, se me terminan las vacaciones.” Ahora tengo diez años más y trato de aplicar el mismo concepto a mi vida, pero muchas veces solo las pérdidas dolorosas nos lo suelen recordar como debemos vivir.
¿Por qué no lo podemos aplicar todos los días? ¿Por qué no disfruté más el momento, el ahora? Todo es tan frágil. Un abrazo a mis hijos, a esposa y a mi perro, son acciones que detienen el tiempo, porque es tan difícil vivir así siempre y aplicar estar presente en la vida diaria y en todo momento?. Por eso me apasiona la fotografía y andar en moto ya que, me permiten estar presente en ese momento preciso.
En la moto, no estar presente puede significar tener un accidente. En la fotografía, sobretodo cuando componemos a través del ocular, estamos presentes, en un túnel, vemos sólo unos pocos grados de los 360 grados alrededor nuestro, no hay un atrás ni un costado, hasta que no presionas el obturador estás ahí y ahora, no nos podemos escapar del momento.
Es la razón por la cual llevo siempre una cámara, y me tomo un momento para estar presente, conectado directo con el tema, modelo, objeto o lugar, viendo los detalles a través de ese túnel. Por eso uso lentes largos de 50mm en adelante, no me distraen del todo como lo hace la visión amplia de un angular, me concentro en esa vista estrecha, sesgada y comprimida que me ayuda a estar ahí y ahora.
“Marcelo Esperon (aka Marcelo de Coghlan on social networks) Family man, dentist, motorcyclist, amateur documentary and portrait photographer.
I was born in Buenos Aires City – Argentina, in 1970 and living in Coghlan, a small neighborhood. I am married to Ale, a very patient wife, and I am a very proud father of two sons. I’m a dentist, my hobby is photography, and my way of relaxing is riding motorcycles. I love the three activities, but the combination of the last two is amazing. I also love street photography, love walking with a camera in hand. I began with photography 30 years ago.”
Khürt Louis Williams
May 26, 2020 @ 1:56 am
Goodbye Chopper. I’m sorry for your loss, Marcelo.
May 27, 2020 @ 2:04 am
Thanks Khurt for take the time to write, is heartwarming
May 26, 2020 @ 8:58 pm
The narrative at the beginning of your post had me at the edge of tearing up, but the many photos at the end of your written words took me past that edge. You have documented what can be no less than a family member with terrific photos, and for that you can be thankful.
My condolences and thanks for sharing.
May 27, 2020 @ 2:07 am
Albert, thank you! Is very good for my soul read your words!
May 27, 2020 @ 6:36 pm
thanks for sharing your emotions and photographs. Keep the memory of him, he’ll always be with you.
I also share you’re thoughts about life … I’ve got the same year of birth – 1970 – two children, I like riding my bicycle and taking photos … I feel near you – beeing on the other side of the world – germany.
Let us look at the gifts we have … in heart, memory and family.
May 29, 2020 @ 8:43 pm
Hello Alex ! thanks for oyur words! Yes, we are a mirror from the other side! please tell me your Instagram to follow you. Mine personal is @marcelo.esperon
June 1, 2020 @ 10:47 pm
A beautiful, poignant, moving piece. Clearly he was a very special soul. Your words and pictures transported me back to My childhood and that feeling of loss and love and tearful, joyful mourning when our family dog passed. They never really leave you. Thank you for sharing this.
Marcelo de Coghlan
June 6, 2020 @ 5:00 pm
Thanks !! Thanks !!! Thanks Sam! for take your time to write those beautifull words !
June 10, 2020 @ 3:34 pm
touching text and great photos.
I also have a dog (and a cat), so I’d like to tell you this: after reading your article, I’m pretty sure that you were lucky to have Chopper, and Chopper was lucky to be part of your family.
Stay strong, Fabrizio.
Marcelo de Coghlan
June 13, 2020 @ 5:04 pm
Thanks Fabrizio! Yes! We are lucky! And Chopper will with us forever. Enjoy your dog (and cat) all that you can! The time flys!
The best to you and your family!
June 17, 2020 @ 1:51 pm
Such a heartwarming post. So sorry for your loss!
Marcelo de Coghlan
July 2, 2020 @ 2:37 pm
August 10, 2020 @ 7:24 pm
Marcelo, I sympathize with the loss of Chopper. I had a beloved dog, Cedar. He was always so sweet and gentle with the children. After 10 years a sudden cancer took hold and there was little the veterinarian could do for him. I lost my best friend shortly afterwards. I still look through the many photos I took of him over his 10 years with fondness. I feel you never quite understand the impact they have on your life until it is almost too late.
Thank you for sharing your wondering story.
August 12, 2020 @ 12:19 am
Hello Kevin, the same happened to Chopper! It is true what you write, it is the reason why now I enjoy every moment. The best for you!
October 6, 2022 @ 10:32 pm
I’m sorry Marcelo, but I read the first paragraph and couldn’t read anymore….I admired the first image of Chopper but that was it. The sadness that I had being trying to bury came rushing back to water my eyes. To some a dog is a dog but to those that embrace a dog into the family and share each days trials and tribulations a dog is far more. I thought I was over, as far as one can ever be, from losing a family member, but I guess not.
I am sorry for your loss.
October 6, 2022 @ 10:48 pm
Hello Harry, with Chopper I learned to be a better dog father, now I ve rescued and adopted 3 dogs honoring the Chopper spirit. I remember Chopper with joy and happiness! Chopper made me a better person!