Life Cycles As Dog Owners Know Them

This past weekend I met and photographed three different women and their dogs.  In all their lives there was a thread of emotion – the loss or eventual loss of their beloved dog.  They’d all raised dogs from puppies and enjoyed the life shared with 4 paws, a wet nose, and dog hair strewn about.

There’s a real kinship I feel when photographing dogs and their people, so when the time of sharing your life with your dog becomes shorter and the reality of their eventual passing becomes more imminent, the daily walks, feedings, and rides in the car become highlighted, more careful, more watchful.  Every moment becomes more special and pronounced because we’re aware of the fragility of time.

After the grieving comes the decision whether or not to extend yourself and open up your heart to another life that needs a loving home.  So do, some don’t or can’t.  I recall the 82 year old woman that I met in a dog training class a number of years ago, with my now 13 year old coonhound/lab mix.  Yes, at 82, after living with schnauzers her whole life, she invited another schnoodle puppy into her life.  She loved that dog and when it came time to move into a nursing home, trying to find a suitable home and then turning the dog over to a schnauzer rescue was the hardest thing I had to do.  I knew the void it would bring to her heart.

Puppies have a way of crawling into our hearts and opening them up again.  We laugh, talk baby-talk and enjoy all the antics that a puppy can deliver.  We also loose some sleep and who doesn’t remember the sharpness of puppy teeth and breath?

So in this spirit of cycles of the lives we share with our dogs, I offer you a glimpse of life as dog owners know it.  A new puppy, a older lab and a 6 month old that knows it’s African heritage.

Maya the Golden Retriever at 12 weeks.

I'll be with you through it all - Booker (Yellow Lab)

Laila Ali - 6 month old Besenji mix - Congo dog

If you lost a dog, how long do you think you’d wait to open your heart up to another?  Or would you not adopt again?  What would it depend upon?  Would you become a ‘foster mom/dad’?  Let’s see what you have to say.

3 thoughts on “Life Cycles As Dog Owners Know Them

  1. I lost two dogs 8 months apart, Sarah 13 years old and then Abby not quite 13. I didn’t think I would get another dog, I loved those two girls so much, I didn’t think another dog could fill the void I felt.

    Abby had died in January 2011, I grieved for her and for the love we had for each other, I’m crying now just thinking of her, and how she loved to cuddle. But I missed coming home from work and being greeted by my two lovely golden retrievers, I missed their smell, I missed them sleeping in our room with us. For awhile I even left their collars and leashes on their beds, hopeing somehow it would feel like they were still there.

    Well as time went by, I knew that I needed another dog to love, I started looking at rescues, I was in contact with GRRoW (Golden Retriever Rescue of Wisconsin). I filled out the application and sent it in, someone from GRRoW came out to our house to interview us, to make sure we were a good family. We past, and I was so excited, I thought in no time we would have another golden retriever gracing our home. Then the lady from GRRoW told us that it could be up to a year’s wait for us to get a dog. I was disappointed, I thought we would never get a rescue golden retriever.

    Then I decided on getting a puppy, it did not take long, I found a breeder immediately, in Sullivan, WI, her dog had just given birthday the day before, there was one female left and one male left, we had always gotten female dogs, and so we asked to be considered to adopt the female. When Maya was 8 weeks old we took her home, she is now 4 months old and I love her so much, I hope Sarah and Abby approve.

    Well it gets even more interesting, I have decided to apply for our home to become a foster home for GRRoW. I am just now reading through all the material that was given to me. I am excited and scared at the same time. It will be a real adventure for our family.

  2. Love these photos and this subject- I particularly love the middle photo of the lab and his/her woman. Such a special moment! I’ve only gone through the loss of one dog that belonged to me. Rusty was my family dog, and was incredibly special to my dad since he was the first dog my dad ever bonded with. Its been so hard for my family since he died and my dad especially. They tried getting another puppy, which they were told was part Jack Russell (which is what Rusty was), but it turned out he’s a greyhound/lab mix! They loved him, but he was a handful and a little more than they could handle. When my grandmother moved in they had to get rid of him, though, since she was having breathing problems 😦 But, they gave him to my brother and I (we live in the city now) and things have worked out great!
    I’ve since talked to my dad, and he seems to think that he will not be able to get another dog- he loved their new puppy, but not the same way, and he does not think they will try again.
    My other friend, on the other hand, recently had to euthanize her 5 year old pitt/grayhound mix, which absolutely devestated her. But she has since gotten an adorable new puppy who is now the love of her life and who she says has helped her a lot to get over her previous dog.
    I’ve also been working on building my pet photography portfolio and am soo glad that I got to photograph both her with her old dog, Sophie, and now her new puppy, Gustave! She was also glad as well to have the photos and videos I took of her and Sophie as memories.
    I’d love for you to check out my photos!

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