Touching photo project reveals love between Stockholmers and their pets

When Michelle Job, a photographer and blogger from India, relocated to Stockholm one of the first things that caught her eye was people's close relationship with their pets in Sweden.

Touching photo project reveals love between Stockholmers and their pets
Max the dog, his owner Ashok and Ronia. Photo: Michelle Job

The difference between the role of pets in India and Sweden struck her immediately.

Even in capital city Stockholm, she found that many brought their pets with them to work, on public transport, to restaurants – even to special pet play parks and day cares. They were treated as family members.

“Many aspects in Sweden were and are new to me. One such thing that caught my attention are the numerous pets I come across each day and how much they are valued and respected. I was suddenly urged to document the stories of these pets and their relationship with their owners,” Job tells The Local.

The sudden inspiration made her launch the “Pet Love Photo Project” to try to capture the special bond shared between pets and their owners in Stockholm. And what started as a tentative Facebook post asking people to share their stories has now turned into an ambitious online photo journalism collection.

It includes a range of different people and pets – so far only dogs – sharing their own stories. 

For example Alfie, a rescue dog who was picked up in Switzerland and has now spent six years travelling the world together with his owner Flavie.

IN PICTURES: Check out more pictures of Stockholmers and their pets here

High five! Flavie and Alfie. Photo: Michelle Job

Or Max, an affectionate Dachshund who belongs to Ashok, the owner of the Chaikhana Tea House in Stockholm's Old Town, and has what you would almost call a sixth sense. Ever-the-charmer, he has also befriended Ashok's friend Ronia, and always stands by the phone and wags his tail whenever she calls.

“I felt these are love stories that often go unspoken and unheard. These could also be potential stories of hope, courage, strength and survival. I wanted to bring out these love stories through my photographs and words – these little stories that showcase the spirit of Stockholm,” says Job.

READ ALSO: More Swedes prefer dogs to cats, study shows

Ronia and Max. Photo: Michelle Job

She says the project has also changed the way she views the animals herself.

“As a mum of two little girls, I have always been pre-occupied with them. I had never given pets a serious thought until I started this project,” she says.

“When I began to interview pet owners about their pets and photograph them, my perspective changed completely. I could no longer see them as 'mere animals'. In fact, the more I heard about their bond, the canines began to appear more and more human and humane to me.”

“They were an integral part of these families and individuals I spoke to. The mutual love and support the owners and pets share are like any human relationship – deep and intense. I realized these creatures contain so much emotion, affection and integrity – so much that this world would be a better place if all humans shared the same.”

Check out more pictures of Stockholmers and their pets here.

To share your own story with Michelle Job, or read the Pet Love stories, click here.

READ ALSO: 'Sweden has given me so much freedom to be a photographer'

Michelle Job is a photographer and blogger. Photo: Private


Outrage after Malmö council officers shoot aggressive swan dad

A swan living on a canal in central Malmö was shot dead by professional hunters on Sunday night, just weeks before the birth of his eight cygnets.

Outrage after Malmö council officers shoot aggressive swan dad
A swan studies its reflection in Malmö's Pildammsparken. Photo: Jakob Nilsson-Ehle/Flickr
The male swan or 'cob' signed his own death sentence earlier this year, when he attacked a group of children near his nest close to Malmö's police station, causing several of the youngsters to fall into the water. 
“I understand that people are upset about this. I'm upset myself. I conserve nature. I don't usually kill things,” Ola Enqvist, a nature conservationist employed by Malmö's local government, told The Local. 
“All male swans defend their nests of course. But this swan was particularly angry. He attacked everybody who passed by, and people were afraid.” 
One local resident, Martina Andersson, told the Sydsvenskan newspaper that she found the decision “extremely upsetting”. 
“They were a real feature of the area,” she said of the swans. “He is only protecting his mate from the canoeists who paddle by, but it doesn't do anyone any harm.” 
Enqvist said two hunters had been granted special police permission to use a firearm and had then both shot the swan simultaneously to ensure he was killed instantly. They carried out the shooting late on Sunday night to minimize the risk of passers-by being alarmed. 
Enqvist said that to his knowledge the city authorities had never before had to put a swan down. 
“This was the first time it's happened, and I hope the last,” he commented.
As for the swan's mate, he said he hoped she would be capable of hatching and nurturing the eight eggs in her nest alone.  
“We think and hope that she will be able to bring up the children. She is the one in the nest, not the male, so we hope she will manage to do it herself,” he said.