For the last eight months, Idaho photographer Theron Humphrey has been traveling the country documenting awesome strangers as part of a project he calls This Wild Idea. But his companion on the trip, an English Coonhound named Maddie, has become something of a project of her own. Maddie is strangely fond – and meticulously obedient – when it comes to the “stay” command. Maddie will stay on a tree trunk, on top of a drip coffee maker, inside a giant tractor tire, inside a BBQ pit, balanced across a ledge – it’s like planking, but with Maddie, and many more positions. And so, five months into his trip, Humphrey started documenting Maddie herself under the aptly titled Maddie on Things. We asked Humphrey how he gets Maddie to stay so damn still.
What do you do when you’re not posing Maddie?
I’m a photographer most days, it’s what I went to school for and have fed myself with, but I’ve never really called myself one.
How would you describe Maddie’s temperament?
Maddie is a patient dog. I’d be at a friend’s house, and she would just stand in the middle of the living room. I figure most dogs would have laid down. It’s in her nature to stand still. But these days, she’s been trained on a “stay” command with food.
So, posing Maddie on, you know, a telephone pole. How do you pull this off?
None of them are very intense, or even high up really, except for one where she is up a half-cut-down tree. But the flat part on the tree was so big, she could have stood there all day. Most aren’t up very high … if you take an image from a slightly lower angle, it makes the world seem higher. She normally only stands still for 30 seconds, but I shot a video of my buddy playing a song, and she stood still for 2 minutes.
Is Maddie a genius? What’s she like when she’s not balancing on things?
Ha! This question made me laugh because I thought of Maddie sitting at a computer, with a tiny hat on, taking an online IQ test. But I’d say Maddie’s “nose” intelligence is high. She could track most anything.