The average life span of a large dog is 10-13 years. It seems like quite a commitment when that new puppy is in your lap, wiggling all over and bursting with energy and puppy breath. In a blink of an eye ten years passes and the puppy is now a senior citizen. Maybe they need to have a help up getting on the bed. Maybe they need some arthritis medication. Maybe they just need extra long naps to recover from their walk. Our old friends need us now more than ever. We wish they lasted OUR lifetime.
It seems unfair that something that gives so much love unconditionally, wends their way into our hearts and is just as much a part of the family as a child or sibling, is only with us for such a short time.
Photos are a beautiful way to remember and honor our old friends. Snapshots/phone shots are great, especially for those everyday, fun moments. Portraits on the other hand, can mean so much more. Portraits take a bit of planning and effort, but a beautiful image of a beloved friend framed will have much more meaning and engender more care than a blurry snapshot grabbed on the fly.
I've met many people who think it absurd to pay to have a portrait of their pets. Heck, many people (including yours truly) barely get portraits of the humans in our lives. In both cases, it's totally worth it. I have yet to meet anyone who has had a pet portrait created that regretted it, especially if the time is short. I sincerely believe it helps us to grieve, then heal.
I have had many calls to schedule a pet portrait session when the pet is old or ill. I'm sincerely happy to do the session and do my best to make sure to capture the personality of my subject even if they are struggling to participate. I've actually rushed to a vets office to photograph a very ill dog just an hour before they were to be put to sleep. Though this is not a ideal situation to be creating a lasting memory of a pet, sometimes it's the only option.
Though pets don't really have "milestones" like humans, ie: birthday's, graduations, weddings,etc., they do change over time. They are puppies/kittens for a very brief time, then it seems like they don't change for years. Then one day, they have a grey muzzle, cloudy eyes and are moving slower than they used to. I encourage everyone who has a beloved pet to create portraits of them as a baby, then as an adult and then as a senior. That's just three portraits in roughly 10 years. Three opportunities to capture a wonderful moment with your best friend, three tangible and cherished memories to hold and keep. Even a thousand digital snapshots sitting somewhere on a hard drive will not have the same impact as holding a print or memory book.
Love and cherish your old friends. Have their portraits made. You won't regret it.