Pets at Work: Remy the Lurcher at Wildflower
I walk into Wildflower in the heart of Newcastle's creative Ouseburn district and I'm hit with that signature smell of a flower shop, a natural workshop must of wet freshly cut flowers. Before my senses have time to adjust I'm pounced on by Remy the five year old Lurcher. His raised wispy eyebrows and wagging tail tell me he's so happy to say hello. After our introductions and a peppermint tea, I follow Remy as he almost tiptoes through the display of plants. Hannah later tells me that he often creeps, as if he knows that the flowers are precious. When he was younger his tail would wag, bashing at stock, but now he's learnt to tread carefully when he's around his leafy colleagues. Hannah jokes about Remy's likeness to a character in one of her favourite Edward Gorey picture books, The Undoubtful Guest. It's about a strange visitor who drifts around a house silently, stealing things and acting strangely.
During the shoot, Remy presents a string of squeaky sausages to me, we have a play. He runs upstairs as if to say, "Hey look what I can do - I like to go up here sometimes," and later he indulges in the odd treat and chin scratch. He's having a great time and we quickly become friends. I start snapping and experience for myself his calm, subdued nature. He takes regular pauses, remaining incredibly still. He's possibly the stillest subject I've ever photographed and I get some great shots.
In the midst of wedding season, the busiest time of year, Remy's owner Hannah is having a catch up day. Her shop is usually by appointment only so Remy wanders around freely while she brings in new wildflowers from her van. Remy is calm and slow and with each bunch of blooms that Hannah lays out on the table, he delicately sniffs up at the table as he is reintroduced to familiar smells. It makes me think about Remy's relationship with flowers. When Hannah started her business 11 years ago, she was based in the countryside so even as a pup, Remy has been surrounded by flowers. I wonder if he has an appreciation for them just like his owner? Maybe he can differentiate between them by smell? Remy respects the flowers and he somehow senses that they are precious and important. Even in the garden at home, Hannah tells me how careful he is - sounds to me like he's a true Florist's assistant.
And as a loyal assistant, Remy often pitches in at Wildflower. Sometimes he goes with Hannah to events and weddings and often, brides tell Hannah how they loved seeing Remy's face pop out of the van. He's undoubtedly become the face of Wildflower. I ask Hannah what she likes the most about having Remy with her at work and she tells me how Remy provides structure to her day. One of the main reasons why Hannah wanted a dog in the first place was due to the unusual working hours. Now Remy is more than a companion. He knows his routine and his role at work and even reminds Hannah when to leave.
So I like to think that Hannah and Remy keep each other in check. Hannah makes sure that Remy doesn't spoil her stock and Remy makes sure that his owner doesn't work too hard. Remy is a really sophisticated, handsome and chilled out hound and It's almost as if his creative surroundings have rubbed off on him. I like that. Remy has naturally become the face of Wildflower and so he should, after all, he's developed a connection and a pattern with the plants and flowers that he sees everyday. Really, he's a silent partner with an expert nose.
To see more pictures from my shoot at Wildflower, view the full album here and stay tuned for more posts in this new 'Pets at Work' series.