An unexpected turn...
A few weeks ago, I was on my way to an outdoor location in the Rochester area to photograph 2 pups when my phone rang. It was their owner and she was an absolute wreck. I knew the instant I answered, that what she was about to tell me was not going to be good. Tennille, her 12 year old black lab/basset hound mix, had been dealing with health issues. In fact, we had to move their session up by two weeks because sadly, things had taken a turn for the worst and we feared she would not make it that long.
The moment I heard her voice, I knew in my heart that they weren't going to make it to the session that was scheduled to happen in just 30 minutes. It would require Tennille to go from their home, in and out the car, to the location....no way. I waited for her owner to finish explaining what was going on but I was already dead set on driving the additional 45 minutes to their home instead. Having photos of her was not only important to her family but to me as well. There was no way I was turning around and going home.
I told her to take a moment and consider me coming to their home instead. We could sit on the floor with Tennille and they can tell me all the wonderful things they love about her. I told her to call me back with her decision. But I kept driving. I had no idea where I was going or what her decision would be, but I kept driving.
She called back after a short while, agreeing to have me come to their home. I walked in to be greeted by one of their not so shy kitties, and their second black lab/basset mix, Bentley. A low riding, easy going fella. Right away, Bentley led me right to Tennille in the living room. He either knew I was there for her or he just wanted to be by her side. Probably the latter.
Tennille was in the living room, laying on her bed. Her back half was tucked in all comfy-cozy and the front half of her was off of the bed. Her sweet little head was resting on her paws and her droopy ears blanketed the floor. I sat next to her, gave her a scratch behind her ear and felt a feeling I often feel during these sessions. It's a bit of sadness mixed with what I can only describe as "an honor" I guess? An honor to been seen by them. To be with them and share these final days/hours with them and their family. It's a very intimate and unforgettable moment. Although it is fleeting, it sticks with for some time.
My job now is to guide the session into a more uplifting spirit. As we sat on the floor with Tennille, her family told me stories and reminisced about the day they brought her home. I was sure to document everything in the moment. From Mom's snuggles and gentle pats to her head, to the the way Bentley would watch her from the other side of the sofa. Even the cats made an appearance.
It wasn't a long session but it was a long enough for Tennille. When Bentley rested his head on top of her head, I knew that was the moment I drove all the way to them for and the perfect ending to a heartfelt session. The most pure & beautiful moment between the two of them that instantly made me tear up.
Tennille crossed the rainbow bridge the following day.
Saying good-bye is one of the hardest things we will ever go through as pet owners. But knowing that it's coming prompts such an emotional celebration of their life filled with stories, memories and the deepest, soul touching contact.
Hug your pups, snuggle your cats and soak in the time that you do have.