Every one knows eventually the day will come when you are saying good bye to your fur child. That has always been the hardest day for me followed by days, weeks, months, maybe even years of quiet times, sulking, remembering, crying. Times when you will be brought to tears for one reason or another because ...you feel that empty space..you feel that lost.
Like many, I have experienced this lost. I've had many cats over my life time - my Mom loved cats. But somehow I usually don't develop that same close bond with my cats that I have my dogs. If you have known me (and Jim) for a long time - you remember Dolly. Dolly came home with my step son so many years ago - wow, seems like an eternity now - Dolly was my soul mate - the perfect dog - everyone thought there was just something special about her - myself included. She was my inspiration for getting started in pet photography.
First, Grieve. Cry. Remember. Sulk. Everyone is different, but you have lost a member of your family.
Cope with the loss of your pet by sharing your pet - photos, stories, memories on social media. Let the world know about your beloved pet!
1) Share special moments
2) Share great memories
3) But first, you have to capture those special moments that will be great memories!
4) Make sure you print them (don't leave them in the digital world)
Here's a (much) younger version of me with my Dolly in her senior years. Dolly always hung out close with me all those times that I would stop to take photographs of just about anything. Yep, I'm sharing!
Share special memories Dolly was there for many of my early learning experiences of photographing a dog. One of Jim's favorite memories is when I was having a tough time trying to get Dolly to do what I wanted in a posing session. How did Dolly handle this? I think the photo tells you all that you need to know.
My favorite portrait of Dolly in her later years is when she was laying in our backyard enjoying the sunshine. The soft glow around her face gives me wonderful memories of this ole girl.
I have learned a lot during the last decade and that's other people understand.
Another way to cope with pet loss - Find a support group - or friends/people that have pets or lost pets.
They will understand your grief.
They will understand your loss.
They will understand what it's all about.
Remember the good times
This is the first photograph we ever had taken with Jimbo - it was taken in the parking lot of the place where Jimbo was staying until we came and picked him up - so trusting, having made that long journey from the Bahamas via private plane. Then traveling up to Tampa - saying good bye to Jim as he left with Jim's sister, then seeing us come back to get him just a couple of days later.
Jimbo had the biggest heart. We learned from him. He learned from us. A beautiful story.
As a photographer, you would probably guess that I have photographs of my pets - current and past gracing walls within my home. It's a wonderful feeling to look at those photographs and remember a special moment. Whether you ask a professional photographer to take photographs or take them yourself - don't forget to PRINT some of those photographs. That will allow you to look at them anytime - and it's harder to lose than a broken phone or a failed hard drive (and you don't have a backup).
While you may not agree, I firmly believe that when our dogs leave us in the physical sense, they do indeed stay with us. While they cross the rainbow bridge, there energy continues to surround us.
When I lost Dolly, I was so, so happy that Jimbo had joined our lives - now I had time and love that I could dedicate to him. But you know what? Jimbo was not Dolly - but very similar in many ways. A few months after losing Dolly I reached out to my first ever animal communicator. My goal was to try and learn why Jimbo had some issues and how best to work with him.
My first animal communication session
This was my first and only in person session (the other sessions have been via phone). As Laura communicated with Jimbo, she shared a lot of things we knew about Jimbo but I hadn't shared with Laura.
We learned a lot about Jimbo.
Laura looked at us and said, "One of you is thinking about getting a second dog. Jimbo wants to be the only dog." I was caught guilty but so relieved that Jimbo was happy being the only dog in our household.
Our session continued, Laura told me there was another dog present but not in a physical form. This other dog was extremely happy to see Laura and wanted Laura to ask "Did I do good?"
I didn't understand.
Laura continued to tell us that Dolly had a big role in bringing Jimbo into our lives. She reached out to find a dog that would fit into our lives. A dog that had many of the same attributes that she had.
I began to cry (and I have tears now too). Dolly - you helped bring Jimbo to us? She did. Her time was limited with us and she wanted to make sure that I would be ok so she found another dog that would be perfect. Dolly was so right - Jimbo was perfect.
Recent animal communication
I've worked with another animal communicator recently to help with some of the issues that Abby faces.
Anxiety, particularly separation anxiety.
When we finished our session, she reached out to find some of our previous pets. Jimbo was waiting.
Shay asked if Jimbo was a large tan dog, similar to a golden retriever. Yes, that's him.
Shay told us that Jimbo is still here with us (it's been over 2 years now since he left us - at least in the physical form).
Jimbo is showing Shay an image of a red bird with a black face - she asked if we have a lot of them around in our yard or nearby.
Jimbo sends a little energy to you with each of those red birds - he wants you to remember, remember the good times, remember him.
We do. We love you Jimbo. We will never forget you.
What about kitties?
Most times (apparently) cats are pretty independent and will head on off to whatever might be next in their lives after leaving us.
However, one sweet kitty was hanging out with Dolly. Our little black and white tuxedo kitty, Angel.
Angel had a special relationship with Dolly because Dolly found her at our local park. Alone, sick and just a baby. Without Dolly, little Angel might not have survived. I guess that makes for a pretty special relationship.
Interested in Pet Photography Session? Special memory sessions for pets leaving soon
If you would like to discuss or book a custom pet portrait session, send an email to [email protected] or give us a call/text Linda at 813-610-2671 in the Tampa Bay area (Hillsborough/Pinellas/Pasco/Polk counties in Florida). We have flexible rates and packages to fit most everyone’s budget as we believe that having wonderful photographs of your pet is important to so many people.
This is a personal project that I try to participate in each week (as much as possible). This post is part of a 'blog circle' which is with several other Professional Pet Photographers around the world. Each week a different theme is provided to the group and we, as pet photographers, interpret the theme in our own way. Follow the link provided at the end of each of my blogs to the next pet photographer's blog - and when you arrive back at my blog - you've completed the entire circle of blogs for this theme. For more pet photographers sharing their take on this theme, head over to Dallas dog photographer Tracy Allard of Penny Whistle Photography writes about the origin of the term Rainbow Bridge and how it has helped people deal with the grief of losing a beloved pet.