Today, our pets are more like our children than ever before. The unfortunate reality is that most of us will outlive our pets. The worst phone calls I get as a professional pet photographer are those when a pet has to be put to sleep. Another reality is that we just never know when tragedy might strike. I lost my beloved Maui, an English Springer Spaniel, just two months after I captured the image below. She was a terrible hunter, despite being the daughter of a national field trial champion. But, she LOVED birds. We didn’t know during this trip to South Dakota that she had a fast-growing form of cancer. She went downhill very, very quickly. At the very last minute, we tried to take her to a local dog park to make some portraits, but she felt so terrible at that point that I never edited the images. We took her home and Greg put her to sleep. She was seven years-old. This image is how I will remember my Maui.
In writing this post, I went back to my images of the last few years and found the images of Hawk, the boy we lost less than six months before Maui, also at the age of seven. I realized that I hadn’t printed any images of him. Hawk had an adrenal tumor that had infiltrated the vena cava. We knew there was a 50% chance that he would bleed out when they tried to remove the tumor at Texas A&M. Hawk was Greg’s constant companion while he was doing his internship in Phoenix, and he took Hawk’s loss very hard.
You Just Never Know
Back in the fall of 2012, I borrowed a new camera from Canon to test out on our annual pilgrimage to South Dakota with the “Spaniel Nation.” Our dear friend, Dr. Mike Goodnough was there with his four springers, and I really put that new camera through it’s paces. Mike stayed behind for a couple more days of hunting while we headed home. Two days later, we got the horrendous phone call that all four of Mike’s dogs were dead. Somehow, they had gotten into some rat poison that the owner of the B&B where we stayed had left out. I cried and cried when I heard the news. Thankfully, I had captured images of all four dogs with that new camera, and I put together a memorial hard-cover book for Mike’s family. They cried and cried when they received it, and I was so grateful that I was able to make that happen. You. Just. Never. Know.
Please Don’t Wait
I recently got a phone call from a lady who said that her vet only gave her dog a week to live, could she please schedule a photo session within the next week? I offered to to do a session the very next day, a Sunday, because I wanted to get the images while the dog still felt good. The poor dog did not make it through the night. The moral of these stories? Do not wait! Find a good local pet photographer, preferably a Certified Professional Photographer with PPA. There are lots of us out there. Get images of your pets doing the things they love to do. Get images of your pets with you and in the places you like to hang out. And, put those images on paper or canvas. If you don’t, you will most likely lose those memories. Mike Yost wrote an awesome post in January 2015 titled, “The Most Photographed Generation Will Have No Pictures in 10 Years!“ Don’t let that be you. Please don’t wait.
The PawPrints Collection
So, how will you remember your beloved fur babies? We remember ours through my images and through the pawprint that we always have made in clay posthumously. Along with the rebranding of my pet photography, I’m offering some new services and products. My “PawPrints” collection features “moving portraits” (i.e. action shots), “Big Sky” portraits and video at dog beaches in the San Diego area. This collection will include photographs of your dog’s PawPrints in the sand and an actual PawPrint on archival paper. Gallery canvases, custom framed artwork and photographic albums are available. Stay tuned for the details…