Right About Then I Felt Like Mr. Bojangles

My journey into digital photography started when I bought a 2 megapixel Hewlett Packard digital camera about 1997. I had a lot of fun because I could see the image right after I shot it. I knew right then & there I had been bitten by the photography bug. I had film cameras but nothing about them ever stirred up the fun of digital. Before I go any further I have to add the disclaimer that “I have the utmost respect for any old school film photographers.” Before I get lynched by the old school guys… I can hear them now, “dad-burn-it young whipper snapper doesn’t know squat about photography.” Any who… like any person who gets into photography the first thing you want to do is… well take pictures? Sure… Hundreds of them, ah what the hell thousands of them. Fill up the computer, save them to a disc… ah make that fifty discs. Now we have external hard drives, memory cards & sticks, cloud storage and the list goes on. But what I’m getting at is you have to take lots of images because you have to practice. Right? I posted just recently about that very subject. Getting that lucky shot, being in the right place at the right time, but all that does not mean a dam thing if you do not know how to shoot. So with all that said this post is about my photography muse.

All photographers have a muse, maybe more than one. Most often it will be a girlfriend/boyfriend if you are younger photographer or your first child and or children in general. Or as in my case it was my pet dog Snuggles. Actually it was Coco and Snuggs came into the picture (no pun intended) in October 1999, Coco departed in September 2004. So yes I would take a lot of photos of Snuggs. She was cute (gross understatement), fun, active and she traveled. She was my go to model when I needed to work out a new lesson I was learning. Whether it was f stops, ISO, a new lens, a new camera, whatever the case, she was the subject. Most times the photos them self were nothing special other than for reference and learning purposes. I could walk the dog, get my exercise and learn my photography all at the same time. I never really thought about it that way, but rather it just worked out that way.
So as time passed by my photography increased and got better (I think… I hope…) and the photos of Snuggs started piling up. Good photos always got posted or added to the screen saver file, really great ones may have been printed and I was a happy photographer.
Aside from my photography I am a professional BBQ chef and I cater jobs that require me to cook on site at locations covering New Jersey, Eastern PA & NYC area. When doing a public job I almost always had Snuggs by my side. She was my photography muse, she was my companion, she was an extension of my personality, my shadow and yes, I guess you could call her my pet dog too. For if you are a really close friend of mine on a personal level you really knew this little creature that was infused in my daily life. She had permanent living quarters in my vehicle, right behind my seat. Talk about an ice breaker… there was not one place I can think of that I ever took her that she did not invoke a good response or at the very least a smile. She was chick magnet to the tenth power. Want to break the ice with a hot girl? Just let Snuggs do it. Seriously, it was amazing the power a cute dog holds. Well-mannered beyond belief, I am not a dog trainer by any means and I never even realized where all her goodness came from. She was just with us all the time, like the shoes on your feet, she was just there and you never thought otherwise. I lived with a girlfriend for many years and it was her who brought Snuggs into our lives. She was just given to Sue and me for free. Yes… for free. As Sue and I went separate ways Snuggs was shared, after all “who in their right mind” is going to let something like this slip from your life. We never fought over her, but rather shared her. That in itself is amazing. As I married, my wife came to know & become enthralled with Snuggs and the feeling was mutual, Snuggs accepted Munn and all was wonderful.
If you read the title to this post and know the Jerry Jeff Walker song from 1968 you know this blog post is not going to have a story book ending. At 6:35pm Sunday May 5, 2013 I lost my muse. And so it was right about then I felt like Mr. Bojangles… man did feel like Mr. Bojangles.
She was 13 years, 5 months old. She had an unnoticed cancer and it took her quickly in the end. In a mere 72 hours my little angel slipped from our lives, painlessly and yet fighting all the way. Her last day was spent here in my room with my wife, with Sue and with me.
My photography will continue and I will find another muse in due time. There will never be another Snuggs, nor should there be. She was one of a kind and she was mine, so I find it almost a necessity to write this post and let those who read my blog know Snuggs was not just a little dog that looked cute so I took thousands of pictures of her. But rather she was so much more. She traveled many a mile and seen many a place and most of all met many a person and gave them a smile. I’ll miss you my little fur-kid.

If love could have
saved you, you would
have lived forever little girl.

Snugg Rocket Recovery April 11, 2010 from Richard Smith Jr on Vimeo.

Facebook Posting:

This past weekend we had the most beautiful springtime weather here in Hunterdon County New Jersey. Everything is coming back to life in a symphony of rejuvenation and vigor. But even with all the fun & happiness of springtime around us, here at our home we experienced the most misfortunate of events. As beautiful cherry blossoms were flittering to the ground on the warm spring breeze, we watched as our little cherry blossom “Snuggles” slipped quickly from our lives.
Snuggles fell ill late last week and was diagnosed with Lyme, but also had something much more that remained to be known. With two of the best Veterinarians in the county Dr. Chad Tindall & Dr. Casey Wiess working to uncover what was attacking her, so it was discovered she had a fast moving cancer. She declined rapidly in 72 hours, not in any pain, just very tired. She spent her last day with Sue, Munn & I as we comforted her and spent the day reminiscing of all the fun and joy she had given in her nearly fourteen years.
Countless miles hiked at nearly every state park in New Jersey and Eastern Pennsylvania, thousands of miles traveled by vehicle and most of all an enormous amount of people she met either in our personal lives as well as when she was at an event or on a catering job with me. There are stories upon stories that could be told about the adventures of Snuggs in all her travels. She certainly was not your normal house dog but rather a shadow of Sue and I’s personalities. For if you really knew me personally you knew sitting right behind me was my best little friend. She had a permanent place in my vehicle that was her home away from home. Many called it crazy and many would never know the joy of that craziness. As Munn came into my life, Snuggs gained another mother and won over another heart. Spending her time between Sue’s home and with Munn and me she lived a life any dog would dream of.
Our beloved Apricot Bichon Snuggles passed away at 6:35pm Sunday May 5th at the home of Dr. Chad Tindall in Delaware Township. She was 13 years 9 months old.

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