A Photoshoot with Steampunk Coffee Shop Mascots Oscar & Ernie
There’s something really lovely about photographing two dogs from the same ‘pack’. They may occasionally wind each other up, or get jealous when one seems to be getting more attention than the other, but there’s the odd moment where you see a glimmer of a really special bond. A look, a nuzzle, a playful bite of the ear - affectionate mannerisms that can only be shared between the best of friends. They play off one another and they have most definitely got each other’s back.
I witnessed this special kind of relationship between Oscar and Ernie, the mascots of North Berwick based coffee shop and roasters Steampunk Coffee. They were rescued by SPDC, a Cyprus based non-profit organisation that rescues dogs from the streets and unethical pounds, and then re-homed by The Wild at Heart Foundation, (a charity close to my heart as we also went through these guys to find Alan). I caught up with them both and their mama Cath, for some photos in their local park and at their Steampunk stomping ground.
Upon meeting the trio, I know straight away they’re all part of the same pack as they all unintentionally match in tartan (which I absolutely love as we’re in Scotland). As with all my shoots, I hold back from taking photos right away and instead, take the time to get to know Oscar and Ernie by walking with them around their local park. It’s not long before Ernie sees another dog, and he gets a bit vocal and defensive, just warning the other dog not to come over. My dog Alan does this too, and has been known to lunge if something doesn’t ‘smell right’. It’s not great, but it’s something I’m working hard to help him with. Cath and I have both learned over time exactly how to handle this kind of situation. We remain calm, redirecting Ernie’s attention and not making a big deal out of his behaviour. It's no biggie! We eventually reach a secluded area, full and fragrant with beautiful flowers - perfect for some photos! Cath tells me more about her boys’ personalities.
It starts spitting so we head to Steampunk to continue our shoot. Like most places in North Berwick It’s super dog friendly, in-fact I’m sure I read somewhere that North Berwick Beach is the most dog friendly in the UK. Being in this coastal town really is amazing if you’re a dog lover. Dogs everywhere! Oscar and Ernie don’t actually go to work with Cath at her coffee shop. Their usual routine consists of a beach walk, bright and early every morning followed by a lazy day at home.
The more I photograph these three, the more I smile. Oscar and Ernie love to run rings round Cath (literally) getting their leads tangled and knotted up. As Cath plays pawrent in the middle, she also tells me a bit more about Oscar and Ernie’s relationship.
Any other pet photographer may be frustrated with this playfulness, discouraging it so that the dogs sit perfectly next to their owner for a photo. I did no such thing. It was a joy to see these guys so happy, just doing their thing and loving every minute of all the fuss they were receiving from Cath. Ernie was enjoying the attention so much that now and again he’d just stop and sit on his ma’s lap signalling for back scratches. You’ve got to hand it to him, his technique got results! I hear all about Oscar and Ernie’s cheeky personalities.
Our shoot soon comes to a close, and as I say goodbye to Cath, Oscar and Ernie I feel a great sense of admiration. Usually Pet Stories focuses on the relationship between human and four legged companion, but I’ve had the pleasure of witnessing the dynamics between sibling dogs too. It’s so clear to see how Cath represents safety to these handsome lads. They dote on her and feel loved and protected. I’m reminded that having a dog can be hard work, but at the same time it’s a friendship like no other.