When Canadian photographer Pete Thorne photographed his grandmother's 100th birthday he found himself wanting to explore the subject of ageing in his work. He was drawn to the characterful faces of older dogs and, having never photographed animals before, set himself a new challenge to find and photograph senior dogs.
The project has now been beautifully captured in Old Faithful: Dogs of a Certain Age, a collection of 75 much-loved senior pet portraits in all their grey-muzzled and shaggy but distinguished glory, plus their heartwarming stories of rescue, survival and doggy adventures.
"I was initially interested photographing old dogs as caricatures of old guys and gals," he writes. "My perception of the project quickly evolved as the owners' emotional responses made me aware of the deep connection that owners have with their pets, especially ones they have had for a good portion of their lives."
A Facebook page collecting the images together followed, and Thorne quickly found that the subject resonated with readers around the world.
Fans were keen to post pictures of their own pets and the stories behind them, many of which included tales of being rescued from puppy mills and euthanasia. Readers were touched and thankful that Old Faithful was helping to increase the awareness of the plight of abandoned dogs in a world that tends to favour the cute innocence of puppies.
"In Old Faithful, the dog's lives are written all over their faces. Lifetimes of digging, barking, licking, loving, and being loved. These dogs have comforted you, frustrated you, peed on you, and been your friend through it all."
His next step, he says, is to take Old Faithful out on the road and increase the project's audience, share more old dogs' stories and perhaps, in some way, help society to value ageing dogs. "If there's one message that has resonated with everyone involved with this project," he says, "it's that despite everything we're told, faces, like companionship, just get better with age."
Old Faithful: Dogs of a Certain Age is out now, £14.99, Harper Collins.