They say that a dog is man's best friend and I wholeheartedly agree. Not only are they loyal, forgiving, compassionate, and much more, but in my case, my dog shares my passion with me. For the past 16 years, I've traveled countless miles across Tornado Alley documenting severe weather and tornadoes. There are no words to truly describe what it's like to witness the power of nature right in front of your eyes. From beautiful supercell thunderstorms and blinding lightning to tornadoes spinning like tops across the horizon, it's simply amazing out there. I usually chase by myself, but two years ago I decided to take my dog Joplin along for the ride, and we never looked back. Joplin was named after Joplin, Missouri. The town that was hit by an EF-5 tornado back in 2011. My girlfriend at the time, Maegan, and I both volunteered in Joplin after the tornado and felt the name was a sign of hope, so it was fitting for our pup. We got Joplin four years ago from the SPCA and she's been through a lot in her young life. The day after we got her, we noticed she wasn't feeling well and rushed her to the vet. Turns out she had Parvo, a pretty nasty illness that has a 50% survival rate amongst puppies (I had actually lost my dog Stormy to Parvo a few years prior, so I knew the outlook wasn't good). After two weeks of treatment, Joplin pulled through. Weighing only around 5lbs as an eight week old pup, she was still struggling. After Parvo, she got kennel cough, a nasty infection from getting spayed, and then went through some not so friendly times during a break up. As time went by, situations didn't allow for Maegan to keep Joplin, so she ended up back with me and our friendship grew stronger than ever before. Joplin has been all over the plains with me over the past two years and has seen 13 tornadoes, hail up to the size of softballs, 90mph winds and has loved every moment of it. If I look at her now and ask her, "Do you want to go chase?" She quickly turns her head, jumps off the bed, and runs to the front door. She's my co-pilot and chase partner. I hope you enjoy this series as it tells the story of storm chasing with Joplin by my side.
It's been an amazing two years of chasing with Joplin and a ton of fun trying to put this series together to do something a bit different than the normal storm photos. If you enjoy this story, please feel free to share it! I hope it not only brightens your day, but also can help bring light to how having a pet can really improve the joy of your life. If you are looking for a pet, I highly suggest contacting your local SPCA and rescuing one from there. Many animals have to be euthanized daily because of space, so please rescue an animal instead of buying from a breeder.
**Note: Joplin was always on a leash and had her doggy seat belt on. The leash was Photoshopped out in post :) **