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Life & Work with Aki Yamaguchi

Today we’d like to introduce you to Aki Yamaguchi.

Hi Aki, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstory.
My photography journey started when I found out my ex-husband wanted to leave me for a younger model. We didn’t have human kids, but we had two amazing dogs–Jazzy and Cooper–search and rescue dogs & therapy dogs that I trained and handled for years prior to the divorce. They pushed me to get out of the period of depression, and do something positive with my life instead. I started taking photos of Jazzy and Cooper, and I ended up writing my first book based on my story and photos. I funded the money to publish the book through Kickstarter and donated all the proceeds to a Border Collie Rescue I worked with at that time. It wasn’t about the money. It was about distracting my loneliness, then shifting it to something positive and creative, and sharing it all with others. Even for a private and introverted person, it was surprisingly cathartic to be able to share my personal story. The book is titled Heart Dog–healing through dogs and photography.

Here’s one of the articles about the book.

I published my second book after my heart dog Jazzy passed away. The book is called Heart Dog–Angel in disguise. It is a continuation of the first book. The second book is available on

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
I had my share of obstacles–I know they weren’t as arduous as others might be experiencing, but they were still difficult to me. Divorce was just the beginning, cancer diagnose right after, and the passing of Jazzy. I shared how I got through them in my book and on my posts on Instagram. I know there are thousands of women who are going through something similar, or worse. I was hoping they would find some type of encouragement and comfort in my story.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
I used to focus on dog photography, mainly my own and sometimes others’. These days, I spend more time on creating videos of my dogs. Social media platforms are changing and videos are being appreciated more in some contexts. One of the main reasons I focus more on creating videos is because of Phoebe, my newest addition. She has such a unique and crazy personality, and it’s quite impossible to show that via photos. I like to share the contrasting characters of Phoebe and BB–my other Border Collie, who is sassy, elegant, and a bit grumpy.

I’m also a dog trainer. I promote reward based training method without using force and intimidation. I use my short videos to show how I train Phoebe and my deaf dog, BB.

What’s next?
I plan to write my third book about BB and Phoebe in the future.

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