This is a story that I shared a few months back on the Dog Breath Photography Facebook Page. It was such a special moment in my life – one that I hold so close to my heart – that I thought it was important that I have it up here on my blog as well. I hope the sweet, canine subject in this story brings you as much joy, happiness and overwhelming love as she did to me…
The other day, the most wonderful thing happened.
It was Halloween, so I brought costumes up to the MSPCA and spent the day dressing up the adoptables and photographing them for their PetFinder profiles. On the way home from the shelter, I had to stop at PetSmart to get Joshua a bag of food. As I was walking in the door, I noticed a woman making her way towards the checkout with her arms full and fumbling with the dog on the other end of the leash she was holding. On the other end of that leash was the world’s sweetest looking, old and grey Pointer mix. My heart just about melted when I saw her.
Just as they were passing by me, that sweet old pup must have decided she couldn’t hold it any longer and stopped short to have an accident. The woman who was holding the dog looked so frazzled and upset that I offered to help. I told her not to worry about the pee, that I noticed she had her arms full and that I would take care of the cleanup for her, as I knew right where the paper towels were kept. I smiled and said ‘when you gotta go, you gotta go!’. The woman thanked me profusely and stayed with the puddle until I arrived with some paper towels. As I was cleaning up the pee, the woman began to apologize and explain ‘She has been having trouble holding her bladder, and lately there has been blood in it.’ I could hear the profound and solemn sadness in her voice when she said ‘She is my best friend and she is 18 years old.’
At that moment, I looked up at the woman and saw the tears begin to form in her eyes. She continued, ‘I live with my son, and today we decided together that it’s finally time to let her go.’ She went on ‘I am picking her up from being groomed right now because we wanted her last week with us to be special and for her to feel comfortable.’
It was at this point that I began to cry too. Right in the middle of PetSmart. With a stranger that I had only met 60 seconds before. We talked about the way that dog’s touch our lives, and how some come into our world and when they leave – we’re never ever the same. We talked about the purity of the love of a canine, their endless selflessness, their unwavering loyalty and joy. And that’s when I had a thought. I said ‘This is sort of a strange question – but do you have any beautiful photos of Coco? I mean really nice ones that you will remember her by?’ Her eyes closed for a moment, and she said ‘No, I suppose not.’ And that’s when I told her who I am – what I do. I said ‘I am a professional pet photographer, and I just happen to have all of my camera gear loaded up in the back of my car right now because I’m on my way home from a shoot at the shelter. Do you and Coco have 10 minutes to spend with me outside?’
So we went outside together, and just within the confines of the modest little median in the PetSmart parking lot, we made some memories of Coco. When I showed her one of the images on the back of my camera’s LCD, she lost herself to tears. And then, so did I. She hugged me with an intense gratitude that I have never felt before. I gave her my card and told her to expect an email with Coco’s images very soon. I looked down at Coco with a meaningful gaze and ended our interaction with a kiss to her graying snout.
It’s moments like those that make me grateful to have the privilege of doing what I do. If I am able to take the joy in one tiny moment, and freeze it in time so that somebody can keep it by their heart forever – then I consider myself the luckiest girl in the world. I think serendipity played a thoughtful hand in my meeting Coco and her Mom that day, and I am so grateful that I could give her a part of her sweet girl to hold on to forever.
Here is the beautiful Miss Coco, enjoying the breeze on a very special autumn evening, surrounded by all the love in the world…
*Since posting up this story back in October – sweet Coco has left this world behind. But not without first leaving her powerful & unmistakable mark of limitless love, joy and brilliance. I sent her Mom some big, beautiful prints of these images a few weeks later and I can only hope that she will cherish them forever. The world is an infinitely better place for having had you in it, beautiful girl. May Angels Lead You In.
16 thoughts on “What it’s like to meet an angel…”
bawling. Thank you. I still miss our 13 year old lab/shep who we lost 18 months ago to stroke. Beautiful pics!
Aw, Kelly! I am so sorry to hear about the loss of your sweet baby! They take such a huge part of our hearts with them when they go, don’t they? We are so lucky to have them come in and touch our lives the way that they do. Now if only more people were like dogs.. haha. 🙂 Thank you so much for taking the time to read this!
Thanks for sharing. I have an old pointer also, so it hit home.
I had read this beautiful story when you first posted it and ofcourse had to read it again. I, too, believe in serendipity and I hold you in the highest regard for what you do. I definitely believe that there are angels on earth and you are definitely one of them. Thank you for sharing your stories and comments and beautiful pictures. Both of my beagle-sons passed away in 2011 within 3 weeks of each other. It was heartbreaking. We still have our little Moses who just showed up on our driveway one day in May of 2009. Dogs enrich our lives so very much and I am so glad that I found your fb page and can enjoy seeing what you obviously so love to do. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Aww, Leslie! Reading your beautiful, kind words just made me tear up. Thank you so much for taking the time to read this again. It means the world to me. I am so sorry to hear about your Beagles. It’s hard to describe the pain we feel when they leave us. Especially the very special ones. I got goosebumps when I read about Moses showing up in your driveway – it’s like he chose you. 🙂 And it seems like he made a very good choice!
Thank you again so much for following me and I hope I can bring you more smiles as time goes on! 🙂
What a Beautiful gift you gave this woman!! Like everyone else that has read this, I’m in tears. I too lost my beloved lab mix 6 months ago and I knew she was dying since she was in chronic renal failure. I too wanted memories of our short life together and had a photography session set up before she became really sick. I was so glad I did this and now having the Beautiful pics the photographer captioned are priceless!!
Rocked my world as always lady. Encounters like these are why we do what we do. ❤
I adore this story, and I cried reading this time just like I did the first time around. Thank you for giving Coco and her family a wonderful gift.
Well, you got me crying, AGAIN, LOL………I look at our Mr Max of 15 1/2 years and know that his time is coming too! And thanks to a wonderful person like yourself, I have a beautiful picture of him that I will cherish forever (you know him too, my cousin Dave)……..keep up your great work!!!!!! YOU are a very special person and I am so happy you are part of my family. Love you.
This post made me cry. Your lovely giving nature shines through so many of your blog posts. I know that Coco’s family will always treasure these photos.
I am bawling!!! What an absolutely wonderful thing you did for this woman. I am quite certain that she will cherish those photos and Coco’s memory forever.
Tears! What a beautiful gift you gave to her.
Beautiful! Thank you.
I chose this post as one of my top 13 for 2013. It still moves me to read it and see the pictures you took that day. Just beautiful.
Bless your heart, Kaylee. I hate to tell you this but with a heart like yours you are going to experience many many fractures, cracks and all out breaks. It’s all part of loving animals.
Thank you SO much for taking those photos of that precious, beloved old furkid.
I am sure her “mom” will treasure them forever
Hugs and prayers,