Kirsten and Mingus have a story that is ten years long. She got him in May of 2009, knowing that she specifically wanted a white golden retriever.

My aunt who lived in the outer banks, she had a white golden retriever named Turner, and I loved Turner. Turner was the best dog on the planet: He was beautiful, he was kind and loving, he was cuddly. So I decided, when I was getting ready to get a dog, that I wanted to get a white golden.

At the time she decided to get a dog, she was living in North Carolina. She found a breeder of white goldens in West Virginia and just 6 short weeks after the puppies was born, everyone who had reserved a puppy was asked to come pick up their dogs.

It was a very rough go. I almost got rid of him because he was super aggressive and he’d nip me aggressively and drew blood four times. He attacked my aunt, attacked my mom, I found a trainer right away and he told me he was taken way to early from his pack.

They learn from their mothers especially between 8 and 12 weeks to not do that but because he wasn’t taught that by his mom or his pack leader, he was super aggressive until he was 5-6 months old.

We had a thanksgiving dinner. It was the first time I’d ever hosted a dinner and everything was so beautiful, and we made the most magnificent turkey, and as everyone was sitting down, Mingus jumped up and grabbed the turkey off the counter. I grabbed him and threw him to the ground, laid on him and growled as loud as I could into his face. I did it in front of all of our guests, everyone at this thanksgiving dinner saw, and it was so embarrassing; but I had to do it; He was never aggressive with me again.

Kirsten worked with a trainer for a year and a half after that Thanksgiving Turkey incident because, although Mingus wasn’t aggressive with her anymore, he was still aggressive with the vet or when he was protecting the kleenex he stole from the trash bin.

She taught me how to discipline him, she taught me how to be consistent with him. He had to learn how to walk to my left off leash, listen to all the commands with hand signals, and then I taught him all these tricks as a way of getting him to work, because goldens like to work.

When Kirsten lived in Richmond, Virginia she lived in a bit of a rough building. One night in March of 2012:

I hear all this commotion outside and these guys are fighting with my neighbours on my floor on the other side that I shared a porch with and it gets really heated and all of a sudden people pull out guns and they’re pointing them at each other; and I’m like, I’m outta here! So I go into my kitchen and it’s pointed right into my kitchen window so I’m like, holy fuck I have to duck and cover! I never thought in a million years I’d have to duck and cover in my own house.

She crawls out of the kitchen to get to the phone to call the police and she can’t find Mingus. She looks all over the apartment.

I cannot find him anywhere. You know how dogs are thought of as though they can save you or protect you, yeah… that’s bullshit.

Mingus was hiding under a chair in the dining room

It was one of the very first posts I ever made on instagram. So I’m looking for him everywhere, literally, he was there for like 2 hours, not coming out because he was scared. Never again, he’s just isn’t a guard dog at all. He’s a big baby.

After 10 years and living in 5 different states, Mingus has been with Kirsten through so many important moments of her life.

He’s been a really integral part of my life, especially because my long term boyfriend and I broke up when he was about a year old and I had nobody, so he helped me through that incredibly emotional time and then with all the miscarriages, he was always by my side.

Over the last decade together, Kirsten and Mingus’ relationship has evolved and changed just as any relationship does.

He’s been my dude, he’s been my buddy, you know. Before Byrd was born I was like, there’s no way I can love anything more than I love Mingus and then you have a kid and then the poor dog kind of gets put to the wayside. It’s taken about three years where she doesn’t need me all the time, that now he and I have stepped up the relationship again.

Every time I do an Eva Effect session and get to see and hear about the relationship between women and their dogs my heart swells with happiness. Thank you Kirsten for asking me to come and photograph you and Mingus together. It was truly a privilege to be invited into your home and to be given the opportunity to tell the story of you and Mingy.

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