November 11 is a special day to me. Besides being the due date of both my children, 19 and 16 years ago, and the birthdays of Dostoyevsy and Demi Moore, it was also the date of Fay's birth.
I first met Fay after giving a talk at Memphis State, April 26 , 1985. A professor in the psych department, Jeanette Ward, also bred weimaraners and thought I needed one. She knew that I had lost Man Ray and for the previous five years had been dogless.
I said no, but that I would love to see her pups. Fatal mistake. I saw lots of pups that drizzly day but I couldn't take my eyes off one: Cinnamon Girl, who at the time was 6 months old. Jeannette could not believe that I didn't know the song she was named after. I said thanks, but no thanks. I would not mess with the sacred memory of Man Ray, then gone five years. When I got back to New York I couldn't get my made up version of the song out of my head. How did it go? I don't recall.
I asked Jeanette her offer was still open. On May 11, Cinnamon Girl arrived at LaGauardia airport. I decided to name her Fay Ray after Fay Wray, and as a complement to Man Ray. Soon after I realized I had made a big mistake. She hated new York City. Walking her was like walking a dysfunctional helicopter. We fled upstate to my weekend house in the country. She liked it. In the summer we went to Maine. She loved it. We went back to the city. She hated it.
William Wegman, Wonder Woman, 1986
I was not going to photograph her. That was Man Ray's legacy. So we played fetch, and I taught her to roll over. We went upstate . She loved it. We came back to the city. She hated it. (then what changed?) I took her to the 20 x 24 polaroid studio atthe invitation of John Reuter who had worked with me on the Man Ray 20 x 24 polaroid photos. She loved it. "What were you waiting for?" she said.
William Wegman, Fay Ray, 1990
William Wegman, Dog Walker, 1990
She never did adjust to NYC, and we spent a lot of time in Maine and upstate. In 1987 she had puppies, eight in all, and three would became stars of my children's books and films and videos.
William Wegman, Mother's Day, 1989
I didn't stop photographing Fay until she stopped: June 7, 1995. It was an amazing collaboration.
Bobbin, her great grandson, is the last of my dogs with a Fay connection. Bobbin was 14 in September and just keeps going. My young dog Flo is very similar to Fay. In my mind she lives on.
William Wegman, Untitled, 1988
Happy Birthday Fay, Atlas, Lola , Demi, and Fyodor.