In Dogs We Trust: An Interview With Will Robson-Scott & Ollie Grove

The truth of the internet is that it skews terribly towards cats. Today it does not. Here, Alix McAlpine interviews Will Robson-Scott and Ollie Grove about their new book In Dogs We Trust, which spans both sides of the Atlantic to look at the relationships between dogs and their owners.

Alix: I’ve been following you on instagram for a while so dogs as a subject matter doesn’t really surprise me since you post a fair amount of dog pics – did you always have dogs growing up, do you have one now or are you just a dog appreciator?

WRS: Me and Ollie both grew up with dogs, Rusty was my first family dog, a cairn terrier, he was highly excitable and now my parents have Milo, a miniature schnauzer , I’m not responsible enough to own one myself and living in nyc and travelling a lot isn’t a perfect marriage.I prefer dogs to humans.

How did you go about selecting your potential subjects?

WRS: With this sort of project theres a snow ball effect , one person leads to another. The interesting thing about shooting dogs is that people open there door to you and let their guard down. People are proud of their dog similarly to having a family photograph taken. People in the lime light are always a bit more weary of having there photograph taken in intimate situations, but having a canine involved breaks down that barrier

Was there a particular breed of dogs you saw most? Is there a breed-to-occupation or breed-to-region correlation?

WRS: There are definitely dogs that are more “in trend” , you come across a lot of french bulldog and pits/staffies . There is defiantly a trend of west coast bullie(pit bull) breeders, that is comparable to west coast car culture.

Ollie: Staffordshires are the dogs of the uk, loved by as many people as they are feared. Everyone knows of them and everyone has an opinion.
If we didn’t have the dangerous dogs act in the UK then i think we would have a much larger collection of pitbulls which are seen as a loving family dog in the US but as a loaded gun in the UK.

What’s the most extravagant owner behavior you saw? Any ridiculous dog treatment?

WRS: We shot an artist in London called David Harrison, his dogs name is ‘Mr Harrison,” Davids bedroom is like a boudoir from 100 years ago. Attack pit bull training is something to be seen, the dog is triggered by a word, any word and then basically won’t stoop attacking until its called off or gives itself a heart attack

Ollie: There was one dog which i’m convinced got involved in the bedroom of the owners but i’ll refrain from putting a name or breed to them

Some people might see this project as a departure from your previous published work but, it seems you’ve been working on it the whole while. What were some of the challenges or particularities of shifting between projects and making sure this didn’t fall through the cracks?

WRS: Me and Ollie are still actually shooting this project, the book being published was going to be the end of it, but its a project you can stop and start and its something we both enjoy, it makes sense to keep building on it. As far from it being a departure from other work i don’t think it is. It might seem a bit more subdued, but all my work is about people and how they interact with the world and this is very much about that.

Any tips for photographing dogs you could share?

WRS: Get the human in the shot to stay engaged with the camera and then get the dogs attention ,if the human is trying to help get its attention it never works out.

How many dog shits were you subjected to while shooting?

WRS: I don’t think we had many issues with dog shits to be honest.

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The Mummy Down The Street

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The townhouse at 9 rue Saint-Jacques in the town of Lille, in Northern France, stands out, even if you don’t know its story. Oddly narrow—about a third the width of the street’s other buildings—and built of striking red brick with a garish turquoise rolldown gate, the house sticks out like a gawky teenager in a family portrait.

The house belongs to a Spanish man named Alberto Rodríguez Martinez—well, maybe. That’s whose mail was found when French authorities discovered the dead body in the second floor bedroom. The mail—a letter from the social security office, a notice from the power company and other official communications—dated back to 1997. With no correspondence from relatives and no leads from neighbors, French authorities had no choice but to assume the body belonged to Alberto. From there, they tried to piece together what kind of life a person would have lived to have their death go undetected for more than 15 years.

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The Ghost Yacht

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When maritime authorities boarded the 10-meter sailing boat, 88 nautical miles from Townsville that day, they didn’t expect to find such a serene scene. The yacht’s engine was running, a table was set for dinner in the living quarters, and a laptop was open and turned on. On deck, fresh laundry was hung to dry, lifejackets stored, and fishing lines bopped instinctively in the drifting ocean. But the boat was eerily empty, without a sign of the three men who had set out to sea just a few days earlier.

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The Nazi Speedball

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Imagine a pill designed to redefine human motivation and endurance, ridding its taker from both fear and the need of sleep. Such a pill has been the subject of science fiction movies (don’t think I forgot about you, “Limitless”), but what if modern man actually created it? At one point in time, such a pill was believed to be invented, and the group it behind was so strongly convinced in its efficacity that mass production came within inches of happening.

Who else would be behind the creation of a substance that rendered its user both mindless and tireless all at once than the 20th century’s most reviled organization, the Nazis? The year was 1944 and the war, unbeknownst to the depraved experimenters, was nearing its end. It was common knowledge that troops all over the Western front had been using and abusing a synthetic amphetamine called Pervitine to keep them going through long days of combat – some say it not only stimulated the soldiers but transformed them into fearless heroes in the face of gunfire and chaos. But as the drug grew in popularity, so did the young soldier’s resistance to it. Supplies could barely keep up with demand and the Nazis knew they needed to come up with something stronger to give them that extra push against the advancing enemy.

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The Quietness

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Being a child in Victorian England was no walk in the park—extreme poverty and filth lead to widespread disease, and often, death. If you made it out of infanthood, chances were pretty high that a nasty bout of Cholera or a case of good ol’ Typhus would swoop in and take you down, sometimes in a matter of hours.

For British children in the late 1800s, disease wasn’t the only thing getting in the way of growing old and gray—a set of laws that were put in place to deter adultery and relations out of wedlock made it near impossible for a woman to raise a child on her own. It was commonplace for women to either commit infanticide or turn to so-called baby farms as a last resort.

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The Other Marfa Lights

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Growing up in Alpine, Texas—a tiny town in the part of Texas where the sky is wide and the wild antelopes roam free—Chad’s parents always told him about “his” light. Late one night, his parents were driving home down Route 67, passing field after field, when suddenly, they spotted a light brighter than any star above them. This light seemed to hover at the top of a hill, immobile, but grew in intensity as they drove closer. The next thing they knew, it vanished just as quickly as it had appeared. The following day, the couple found out they were expecting a child, and took the bright light as an omen of the good news to come.

Twenty-seven years later, Chad found himself driving down the same stretch of road on his way to Marfa from California, where he had just picked up his best friend Dean. Dean was about to return to South America where he had been living all year, and this road trip to Marfa was an opportunity for them to catch up and hang like old times. The two friends were listening to the radio, when they noticed a strange light to their right, just next to Dean’s passenger window.

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The Man From Nowhere

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Early on the morning of December 1, 1948, police were called to Somerton Beach in Adelaide, Australia. There, they found a sharply dressed middle-aged man, his head resting against the short sea wall, a half-smoked cigarette resting on his collar. He had been dead for several hours.

Once it was made public, the case immediately drew the public’s attention because of the man’s strange physical characteristics and inexplicable belongings. For one, the man was dressed in heavy clothing on a fairly warm day, and oddly, all of the tags on his garments had been removed. He was wearing new, freshly polished shoes and inside a false pocket sewn into the man’s pants, they found a tiny rolled up piece of paper with two words printed on it, “Tamam Shud”.

Aside from the weird shit the unknown man had ON him, and in a suitcase later linked to him, the autopsy revealed the body of the unknown man itself had a few bizarre characteristics: his feet were pointed, like that of a person who wore pointed and heeled shoes. His feet were of normal size, but the autopsy report points to the fact that his hands were abnormally huge. His calf muscles, too, were high and pronounced, like that of a dancer. He was also missing 18 teeth – 9 on the bottom, and 9 on top.

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The Deadliest Dive

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Igo Shalo had made 400 dives before he visited the Red Sea’s famous Blue Hole. His 401th dive would be his last. Shalo was one of the dozens of unfortunate souls—over a hundred in the last 15 years—who answered the call of the Blue Hole, determined to beat the odds deep below the glittering ocean’s surface.

No one knows exactly what went through his head when he headed past another diver at 90 meters, shaky, but showing no sign of distress. No one knows why he hit the ground at 120 meters, but kept diving deeper, much deeper, until he hit 150 meters. This far down, his hundreds of hours of diving experience would be of no assistance. Exhausted from the effort and effects on his body of the dive down, Shalo ran into trouble pretty quickly. Instead of ascending slowly and steadily, pausing every 10 meters or so to allow his body to adjust to the pressure around him, he shot up like a rocket from 130 meters on—sending hundreds of nitrogen bubbles into his bloodstream. Even if he had been rushed to the closest compression chamber, an agonizingly long 30 minute drive down a tiny gravel road, he didn’t stand a chance.

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