My ﬁrst introduction to the work of Danny Lyon was with a portfolio ﬁlled with images of outlaw bikers, prison inmates and illegal aliens, so when I sat down to read The Seventh Dog, his new book for Phaidon, I really had no idea what to expect. More than just another monograph or retrospective photobook, what I found was a remarkably raw and compelling journey back through some 50 odd years in the life of a photographer who, now at 70, is surrounded by more than his share of ghosts.
The book begins with Lyon recounting the death of his sixth dog, Sam. Death and loss are common themes in this book and while this passage provides the reader with the source of the title of the book, it also foreshadows what’s to come over the next couple hundred pages. While I won’t spoil the entire story for you, I would like to share a bit of it in order to provide context:
“With Sam gone, I sobbed for three days. Then we got another Australian shepherd puppy. Trip is my seventh dog. If we and our dogs are healthy and we and they do not get run over or destroyed in the recklessness of our youth, seven is the number of companions we are allowed in our lifetime.”