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Gone to the Dogs

Gone to the Dogs
October 2019

A Nat Geo photographer trades lions for canines





(Left) The soulful eyes of Miller, the miniature Australian Shepherd, are what caught the attention of National Geographic photographer and Sullivan’s Island resident Vincent J. Musi, who captured the unleashed personalities of more than 100 canines, pups, and pooches in his new book The Year of the Dogs. In his newly published book, The Year of the Dogs, Vincent J. Musi offers “dogographies” that are as entertaining as his photos. He notes the comedic timing of Luna (middle), the three-year-old Doberman Pinscher, and that Scout (right), the 13-year-old Boykin spaniel, always seems to have food on his mind.

Cesar Millan has met his match. With his recently published The Year of the Dogs (Chronicle Books, September 2019), Sullivan’s Island resident Vincent J. Musi proves himself not only a dog whisperer but the Annie Leibovitz of Labs and labradoodles, the Helmut Newton of huskies and hounds. As a veteran National Geographic photographer, you’d expect Musi to be a master behind the lens, but the book—an expansion of his wildly popular Instagram feed @vincentjmusi—proves his ability to capture more than canine personality. The portraits reflect deep doggie soul, and here’s the real tail-wagger: Musi’s prose in his “dogographies” is just as good, perhaps even better, than his images.

The yearlong project grew out of Musi’s desire to curtail travel during his son’s last high school years. Unfortunately, “going to the places you are photographing is pretty much part of the job description,” he says. While National Geographic colleagues sent condolences after hearing he was trading lions and tigers and bears for Rover and Bruiser, Musi got busy in a warehouse on Huger Street, only to find the days rewarding in surprising ways. He’s had the opportunity to work alongside his wife, fellow photographer Callie Shell (now an expert American cheese-wielding pup briber), and has presented his photos directly to his audience (via Instagram) and received instant feedback. “I’ve been amazed how this has struck a chord,” Musi says. “I didn’t go into it with the intention of a book—that came from people requesting it, over and over.”

Musi’s collection includes dogs from all over the country. “I never turn one away,” says Musi. “You can’t make an animal do anything. So we spoil them—a lot. The dogs have a good time. Sometimes I’m curled up in a ball on the floor trying to get one’s attention, asking myself, ‘Wait, I’m a National Geographic photographer, how did I get here?’ Callie [who shoots for Time magazine and CNN] says, ‘I don’t want to hear it.’ It is kind of a comedy routine.”

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Photographs (3) Courtesy of Vincent J.Musi