The other night I was discussing the 100 Strangers Project with my friend, Simone, who had just returned from a trip to Berlin. She said that she had seen gangs of homeless street kids and their dogs every time she took the subway there and what colourful subjects they would have made for my photo project. I instantly imagined all the unique and eccentric characters walking the streets of the city and fought a strong desire (fuelled by a couple of glasses of wine) to hop on the next Berlin bound plane.
A few days later, however, I spotted a group that looked like the Canadian version of the vagabond gypsies Simone and I had been discussing and I really, really wanted one of them to be my sixth stranger. I approached one guy, my card held out to him, quickly explained the project, then asked if I could take his photo. He looked at me, abruptly said “No”, and turned and walked away. During this exchange, out of the corner of my eye, I had noticed a man watching us, so I thought “What the heck. I’ve got nothing to lose” and approached him instead. He agreed to let me take his photo. Then chuckled and told me that the other man said no because he wasn’t very photogenic. I asked him his name and then his dog’s name. He said he was called Joker and his dog, Harley Quinn, like the comic book characters.
After chatting with him for a while, I found out that Joker is originally from Ottawa and Harley Quinn, whom he described as Quebecois, is from Montreal. He became her guardian when she was a puppy and they’ve been travelling together for years, crisscrossing Canada a few times.
Sometimes when I see people and their pets on the street, I feel sort of hopeless, both sad and scared for them. There was something about Joker though, that made me not too worried for him and Harley. A toughness or inner strength maybe? He definitely had the vibe of a survivor.
Part way through our conversation, Harley Quinn lifted her paw and put it in Joker’s hand, staring at him and I could see the powerful bond between the two. Joker and Harley Quinn make such a great team and I really think they’re going to be okay. I wish them all of the luck in the world and I hope they have years of endless adventures together.
Thank you Joker and Harley Quinn for being my sixth strangers. Safe travels.