Jock McDonald went to Cuba for the first time in 1990 with Bernardo Gonzalez, the son of Mexican Minister of Culture Juan Francisco Gonzalez. The elder Gonzalez had had become somewhat of a mentor to Jock on Latin American culture after giving him his first retrospective show in Mexico. “Juan Francisco said to me, ‘You’ll never understand Latin America if you don’t understand Cuba,’” Jock recalls.
“But he said, ‘I’m not going, I’m married. I’m going to have my son take you.’ I will never forget the look in his son’s eyes, the look that said, ‘I’m not taking a gringo to Cuba!’” Jock laughs.
Since 1990, photographer he has made some 50 trips to Cuba. What keeps him coming back, are the friendships he has found.
Photographer Vicki Topaz launched HEAL to tell the stories of these veterans and their canine companions. She began her portrait series, HEAL! Veterans & Their Service Dogs in 2012, in which veterans discuss the challenges they face after returning home, the perils of post-traumatic stress disorder, and the healing power of the human-canine bond.