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saying goodbye

most shoots are fun. some are wild. others are downright zany (stay tuned for the crazy bulldogs and pugs photos coming soon!).

but there are other shoots that i know will stay with me forever … the dog i will never forget, no matter how many wild, zany, fun or scruffy faces i meet every week as a dog photographer.  Beowulf — a.k.a. Woofie — from his Honor Session™  is, indeed, one of those incredible and utterly unforgettable souls.

Woofie’s owner called me after her boy was diagnosed with heart disease … anxious to get photos of the big guy, as well as some shots of the two of them together.  in the three hours i spent with Alma and Woofie in their back yard and on a short but splendid afternoon walk through the neighborhood, the bond these two shared was amply evident as they moved around each other with a fluidity only a married couple of many years eventually finds.

shooting Woofie was an incredible honor, but at the same time not an easy task.  i admit i cried a little on the drive down, knowing what i was getting myself into, but i managed to contain myself during the shoot.  i learned through the loss of my own boy murph that tears weren’t an option until he was gone.  besides, Beowulf was all about nobility and i was determined to capture that, to not let any sadness creep into my approach as i was working.

most of all, Woofie was a dog who reminded me of why i do what i do … the very reason i started scruffy dog photography — to capture for owners those visual memories that i don’t have of my murph.  i hope i have done justice to Woofie … that i have captured his noble spirit and his magnificence..

i received word this morning that Woofie passed peacefully in Alma’s arms at 1 a.m. this morning.  this magnificent, gentle boy was taken far too soon.  my heart goes out to Alma today … the bond between her and Woofie was extraordinarily evident and they shared a deep and tender history.

although he is gone, i still can’t speak of him in past tense.  like my murph and so many dogs before him, i can’t think of Beowulf as gone.  surely their spirits are still with us.  for me, i see murph’s spirit every day in matea and morley.  i hope one day Alma will see Woofie’s in another …

i had full intentions of seeing Woofie again — his vets originally giving him another couple of months– i’d imagined scratching that scruffy chin again, and putting my arms around that deep chest one more time.   this world is certainly far less without this wonderful creature in it, and i know that Alma’s world is definitely much emptier.  Alma, my thoughts are with you on this day, and many more days to come.

Beowulf, i know you are greatly and forever missed on this earth.

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  • Jess KampYou defienetly captured his spirit in these shots, he looks like a real gentlman. I must say it was your words that made it real, I almost cried at work.ReplyCancel

  • Susan StanfordBeautiful photos – a wonderful keepsake for his mom too. ReplyCancel

  • illonathank you, everyone, for your visits and warm comments. i hope they are of some solance to Alma.ReplyCancel

  • clairei looked at woofie’s photos with tears in my eyes and was truly moved by the compassionate way you treated his owner and how completely wonderful the pictures are.

    i lost my lurcher on valentines day this year, and he had a very similar look to woofie. i was lucky enough to be with my boy for 12 and a half years and wouldn’t change any of it.

    my thoughts go to his owner.ReplyCancel

  • SuzieThis big, sweet boy (and you illona) have inspired me to get some pictures taken of me with my cat who is dying. The last picture I have of him and I and together was over 10 years ago. I don’t know how much time I have left with him, but I want some more tangible memories while I can make/take them.

    Thank you for sharing him with us here.

    My thoughts are with Alma.ReplyCancel

  • KKARB – too sad for words; he was such a gentle, beautiful soul. Gorgeous photos that do him justice and will live forever.ReplyCancel

  • IdilThis entry made me cry. I send my deepest sympathies to this sweet dog’s owner. The photos are just wonderful to remember Beowulf by – I know she must be grieving now, but I hope one day she can smile when she looks at them.ReplyCancel

  • LizThe photos are just wonderful. His story has brought tears to my eyes, it is so hard to say goodbye, and especially when taken too soon.ReplyCancel

  • Susan StrongmanMy heart goes out to Alma at the news of Woofie’s death.
    He was a wonderful dog, so kind, soulful, and he was certainly a gentle giant.
    He always wagged his tail fiercly when he saw my children and I, and greeted us with loving eyes over our fence whenever he heard us playing outside.
    Even though he is gone, we will always remember our friend Woofie with fondness.
    Writing this note brings tears to my eyes at the thought of Alma’s pain at this time…
    Your photos are certainly beautiful, and you can be proud that you did capture the essence of Woofie’s loving spririt.
    Thomas, Audrey, Sean and myself (Susan) will miss our friend dearly.ReplyCancel

  • arturWhat a wonderful dog and sad news 🙁
    You have captured them amazingly!ReplyCancel

  • Holly Garner-JacksonAlma,
    I am so sorry to hear that you have lost your magnificent companion, Beowulf. It is never easy to lose such a friend. Though we haven’t met I can see through the photos that illona has taken, what a wonderful being he is. His essence and soul have been captured so well. I know you will cherish these last photos of him. So sorry for your loss.

  • Sarahtouching photos. you’ve captured every emotion. wonderful.

    i have done the same thing for a couple friends, i took their dogs last photos, it was hard and i teared up, but at the same time it brought me peace, and i too was honoured i was able to capture their friends in the way they wanted them remembered. i know i would want the same for any of my dogs.

    to this day they are some of my favourite photos. bitter sweet. but treasured photos.
    on my flickr, they are of Bo, Lukas and recently Sam.

    thanks for sharing these, they are truly, truly amazing.ReplyCancel

  • allison f.Gorgeous images of the gentle giant. I know that hurt of losing a lovely bearded friend too, and my heart goes out to those owners. I’m so glad you were able to get a shoot in considering how the time wasn’t as much as expected or hoped for. Beautiful dog.ReplyCancel

  • Marciyou done good. I’m sure she will cherish these gorgeous photos as much as her beautiful Woofie.ReplyCancel

  • Mariwoof.ReplyCancel

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