This is Zoe. She was my best girl (in our house of all men) for 16 years. Next month will be a year since Zoe passed away.
Zoe was 16 and I knew her time was growing shorter. Although she never let on, I knew she couldn't see as well as she once could and couldn't hear as well either. She was so smart that neither of these things really mattered though. Zoe had us spoiled as pet owners, (Hermes didn't stand a chance). From the day we brought her home, she was eager to learn and eager to please. She learned things on the second try (if she didn't learn it on the first) and she knew on the second "no" that it was something that she shouldn't do or somewhere that she shouldn't go.
Zoe kept the boys wrangled when they needed to be and she taught them how to care for an animal. When Hermes came along, Zoe had been the family pet for 9 years and she wasn't so sure about this new addition to the family. After a few days of tolerating him, she decided that he could stay, but that he was going to have to learn the ropes. The first thing she taught him was how to know when it was time for the kids to come home. The two of them would wait at the front door every school day just a couple of minutes before the boys showed up.
Zoe was a big help in training Hermes. She taught him to sing (who knew he'd be a soprano) and she taught him to walk on his side of the path when we went for walks. (Apparently, dogs talk to each other with their eyes, too. I never heard a thing, but boy, when she said "get on your side," Hermes listened!) Zoe could see that Hermes was a little on the hyper side when it came to tricks for treats, so she offered a "paw" with this, too. Literally. When I said, "sit," Zoe would sit. After the 3rd time of hearing the word with no treat delivered, Zoe would look over at Hermes (obviously the reason they weren't getting the treat) and smack his back end down to the floor with her paw. She would then look at me silently saying, "How's that?"
I worried for months that I wouldn't know when it was time to say goodbye to Zoe. I use to come downstairs in the morning and just watch to see if she was still breathing. I told my vet that I was concerned about Zoe's old age and worried that she would be in pain at some point and never let me know it. He simply told me that when the time came, I would know. Last December, a week before Christmas, Zoe told me that it was time. She made it very clear to me so that I would have no doubt. It was the best gift she could have given me.
In honor of Zoe, I am now offering a session for pets who are terminally ill or have only a little time left with their owner. I'm calling it, the Zoe Session. If you would like to know more about this session please don't hesitate to contact me.
2/20/2015 01:26:53 pm
Yesterday I was speaking with a friend about doing exactly this, inspired by my Molly who was also a border collie and who also died at the good ole age of 16. Actually,she is the big reason that I started as a volunteer photographer at our local Humane Society a year ago March, and the pieces seem to fall into place. Last night I got a photo shoot request from an acquaintance who had seen some of my dog shots and whose old dog was getting put to sleep today. Her husband changed his mind about doing the shoot, but the string of coincidences just affirms to me that it's time to put my 25 year old 'hobby' to work. Your story resonates with me. I'm glad you posted in the 'Hair of the Dog' FB community today. PS: I'm a Canadian Navy Wife currently posted Internationally in the US.
2/20/2015 01:40:53 pm
Kirsten, I'm so glad you shared this with me. I have acted on a "string of coincidences" before I have not regretted it. I find these types of shoots so rewarding. The bond between the pet and owner is always so beautiful and the images seem to hold stories that only they know about. Your clients will be so grateful. I wish you all the best.
9/21/2016 01:44:10 am
Just came across this while looking into getting my seven year old shihpoo photos because he is special to me, and I just have to tell you that this is such a good idea
9/21/2016 08:05:08 am
Thank you, Liz. Like you said, our pets are special to us. Once they are no longer with us, their pictures are something that will make us smile.
8/13/2018 11:01:31 am
Kelly, this just touched my heart. I wish I could have done this with all of our pets. It brought tears to my eyes thinking about all of our special animal friends that we’ve had over the years. Right now we have a healthy 5 year old, part Jack Russell, sweet pup. I would love for you to photograph her when you come to visit, if there is time and if you’re bringing your camera. We’re looking forward to seeing you. Aunt Linda
8/13/2018 11:31:02 am
Linda, I've always enjoyed seeing pictures of your dogs on Facebook in the past and know how much they meant to you. I can't wait to meet your new pup!
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I can't really get them to say "cheese," but I can almost always make them smile. -Kelly