The emotionally difficult topic of "End of Life" portrait sessions (I needed tissues while writing this one)

Author: Lil Monster Photography |

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As an animal lover and dog owner myself, I understand the pain of losing a pet all too well.  On August 13th, 2021 I lost a piece of my soul, my once in a lifetime heart dog, Akudra, very suddenly and without warning.  I was broken, shattered and for a while inconsolable, but I forced myself to never shy away from the myriad of images I have of her.  To this day Akudra’s images are still hanging in my home, in my office, on my desktop and on my phone.  Akudra (Lil Monster) is also the namesake of my business, is on the logo, my business cards and her paw print is literally tattooed right next to my heart.  I see her every day and often sit in quiet remembrance of the amazing bond we shared, the laughs, the amazing adventures, the lessons we both learned and the extraordinary companionship that she unconditionally gave to me.  I am so grateful for the time I had with my Akudra even if it still hurts sometimes to think about.  In the wake of losing Akudra I was reminded of a quote that a friend once shared with me: 

"Don't cry because it's over.  Smile because it happened."  - Dr. Suess 

Thinking about how crazy the world is and how one simple decision can lead you down a completely different path, it's so easy to think that had we made one different decision before getting this animal then they may never have been put in our path... but that didn't happen and we all have been blessed with so many amazing, loving animals.  As such we need to cherish each moment with them and try and preserve their memory so that we can look back and smile fondly when we think of them even if that smile is sometimes accompanied by tears.  

For this reason end of life sessions for dogs can be difficult to think about, but they can also be a beautiful and heartfelt way to memorialize your furry friend. As the owner of Lil Monster Photography, I understand the sadness and anticipation that comes with the loss of a pet, and I approach these sessions with the utmost respect and care.

When scheduling end of life sessions, I try to be as flexible as possible for clients, as sometimes these sessions can't wait for weeks to be scheduled. I also prioritize the safety and comfort of the dog, ensuring that the session is tailored to their needs and limitations.

It's important to me to have these sessions in a place that holds significance for the owner and their dog. This can be anywhere from the client's home to a favorite walking location or dog park. I also encourage owners to bring sentimental objects like toys, blankets, and beds, and to include important people in the session.

I take the time to listen to clients' stories about their relationship with their dog, from the moment they picked them up to the silly antics and mischief over the years. Understanding the special bond between a dog and their owner helps me to create images that capture the essence of their relationship.

End of life sessions can be somber, but they can also provide an opportunity for owners to look back on their time with their furry friend and smile. While it may be difficult to look at images of a recently passed dog, over time, these images can remind owners of the happy memories they shared with their pet.

Elderly and sick dogs may require extra care and caution during sessions, which is why I suggest locations that are easy to access and don't require much hiking. I take a patient and cautious approach to these sessions to ensure that the dog's true personality shines through, even if they tire easily.  

In conclusion, end of life portrait sessions for dogs can be a beautiful way to remember the special bond between a dog and their owner. As a photographer, I take pride in memorializing dogs in a positive, heartfelt way, and I am honored to be a part of capturing these memories for my clients.

Now pardon me as I go hug my dog Crash and take him for a walk.  I encourage you to do the same with your furry family!