We see a piece of our own dogs in every dog we photograph. Different features or personality traits our dogs share with yours.
The stick obsessed or
the crow obsessed or
the rock obsessed or
the food obsessed or
maybe they are shy or sassy or slithery.
Or your dog is naughty in the same way one of ours is.
Our celebration of life shoots are our hardest work. And sometimes, we photograph a dog who’s similarity to ours hurts extra. A dog with a similar temperament, or breed or just the same energy. Almost as though they were sent from the universe to give us a sliver of what the grief will feel like when the inevitable day comes for us.
Maggie was this for me. She reminded me of Nelle in how driven she was, how she loved rocks, how she jumped so high for her toys, and also how big she smiled in her photos. But mostly it was how she looked at Ally, and how big Ally smiled looking at her.
I know you all feel it too.
Every time we share that we've lost a dog from the Tails of Voyage family, you DM us, comment, tell us in person how you snuggled your dogs closer, got emotional, how it broke a piece of your heart. Collectively, we get it. We see our dogs in the paw prints of those dogs.
We see ourselves in you all too. A dog obsessed human who loves their dog so big they do a professional photoshoot with them. Grooms them for the occasion. Brings a special collar or bandana. An instagram dedicated to their best friend. We see ourselves in you during that celebration of life shoot.
You tell us ahead of time, as though it’s a burden, “sorry if I cry.” You show up to the shoot a little quiet, eyes a little puffy. And when we tell you to snuggle your dog, you do, but then somewhere in that moment, your fingers grab their fur, your face disappears in their neck, and your eyes squeeze shut. We know exactly what is happening in that half a second moment when you pull your dog extra close. When you look at them a little too long that your mind starts to wander to a place of sadness.
So you put your feelings in a box for the rest of your session, so you have all the happy moments forever. For every dog year for the rest of your time.
I don't know when my last photoshoot will be. If I'm lucky, it'll be 51 dog years from now. I'll be holding a grey muzzle, who's still trying to give me kisses and lick my tears away as Julie takes our final photos together. Me and Nelle. I see us in Ally and Maggie.
I want to say it's a god damn honor to take these photos.
To share these moments with you.
To cry on the way home.
I hope it doesn't get easier.
I hope I feel it this hard every time.
To give you moments with your dog that will last you 700 dog years, when you've greyed too. I hope you look back on the photos with your dog and feel the big love.
As I write this. With my dog cuddled next to me, wagging her tail, and leaning up to kiss my tears away. Something about writing it all down helps me process the love of dog.