Honoring her place in their family and their hearts.
I've known Jen and Dina for a few years. They first reached out to me for an extended family session; a gift for their grandmother's 80th birthday. I got to meet the whole family, 16 adults and several littles. We had a ball together, got to know each other and enjoy each other. That session lead to sessions with one of those family members, Aimee, her husband and son, on an annual basis. All this to say, we've stayed in touch and connected.
Bella is their entire world. This will be her last summer.
One of the things that connected us was our mutual love of dogs. We shared our experiences of how dogs become our family, our hearts. So it made sense when Aimee reached out to ask me for a special photo session for Dina and Jen and their 13 year old boxer named Bella.
"Bella is their entire world. This will be her last summer. She's having a very hard time walking and has a ton of health issues. I would like to gift them a photo session. Something that can be done right in their own backyard, since Bella is not in any condition to go anywhere anymore. They have no recent photos of the three of them, and I think they'd truly cherish a nice memory."
This was during pandemic times. Aimee knew that I was offering Porch Portraits as a way for families to have fun family portraits, safely, outside their home. Which was the perfect fit for this situation. Bella needed to stay home, so I would come to her.
Dina and Jen were overwhelmed by Aimee's kind gesture. This is a super close family. They actually live around the corner from each other. They all take care of each other. But this was extra special. They already knew and trusted me. I felt like one of the family. And I get how dog's become part of our heart. As sad as the reason for the session was, it was equally wonderful. We were giving Bella her earned place of honor.
Final Resting Place
Dina and Jen showed me Bella's favorite spot to lie down in their back yard. It is a shady, cool place, where she can see the whole yard and not miss any of the action. They carried her to the spot and helped nestle her in so she could be comfortable. The next time I visited Dina and Jen, a few months later, after Bella had passed, they showed me they'd printed one of these images on a garden flag which is planted in this exact spot.
The day of our session was a very hot and humid day, and sweet Bella struggled with the heat. I didn't want her to suffer, so I suggested we get Bella back inside in the air conditioning. Jen showed me the harness she used to carry Bella up the stairs.
They were kind enough to invite me inside (masked of course), and showed me one of Bella's favorite spots inside.....on their bed right next to the air conditioner. Smart pup!
Your choice of art says it all.
I couldn't help but notice their choice of art. Please, I asked, may I take a pic of you three. Your choice of art says it all.
I felt their pain as I remembered the loss of my own pups.
It was a short time after this session that Dina let me know Bella passed. I literally bawled. Anyone who has had a pet find their way into your heart, and had to say goodbye, knows the depth of loss. Being so welcomed into this sweet family of three, I felt their pain as I remembered the loss of my own pups. It is truly devastating. And, I also felt gratitude. Gratitude that I could support this family through their grief by providing them with lasting memories. A brief 20 minute Porch Portrait session gave Dina and Jen images they can hold dear and remember their sweet Bella.
You might not be surprised to hear that shortly after Bella's passing, Dina messaged me that they'd adopted a young boxer named Phoebe. They were head over heals and wanted to share their joy with me. Thank you Dina and Jen for sharing your furry loved ones with me. And thank you Aimee for bringing me in and giving me the opportunity to join you all through this powerful journey.