The unfortunate and inevitable part of having a pet is that their last days come far too soon. I had this experience a few years ago. My dog, Bear, was 16 years old and I knew it was time to let him go. He had been with me through my whole adult life; through marriage, divorce, new homes, and all the highs and lows along the way. I have many photographs of him, but nothing that really spoke to the GIANT, ROYAL, NAUGHTY, dog that he was. I have the images in my head, of feathers sticking out of his mouth as I walked in on him eating my new down comforter (a really expensive thing when I made $6 an hour at 20 years old), of the paper and tape stuck to his foot when he ate the sparkly smiley face wrapping paper and the gift inside, of the grin on his face when I found all 90 pounds of him standing ON the kitchen counter eating my Christmas spread. I say this laughing because all of that poor behavior created the patient person I am today.
While I couldn’t go back and photograph him as a puppy, I could take photos of our last time together and document his happy moments when he was so old. I felt that a photographic session of his last day, just he and I eating cheeseburgers and ice cream, taking naps, and going for a car ride to say goodbye to Grandma, was wonderfully therapeutic. Yes, if you choose to allow me into your family’s grief for just that last day, I will cry with you; and I will follow you and your pet, document the day, and give you the same lasting wonderful memories to hold on to.