This super handsome beast is Angus … our next entry in the special Dogs We’ve Loved series — a series that pays tribute to those dogs whom we’ve loved in life and continue to love today, who live on in our memories, in our hearts, our souls, and through the very important photos we create of them. You can see other entries in the Dogs We’ve Loved series here.
Angus’ session was an Honor Session™, squeezed into the busy fall schedule, because that’s what we do for these sweet older gents! I could write about the urgency of getting his session done, and the deep love that guardians Erin and Tyler have for their “first born”, but I think it best to let Erin tell it in her own words.
“Angus was 10 when we had our honour session. I had always wanted professional shots of Angus (and us with him) and being 7 months pregnant I knew we’d treasure the images of our pre-baby family. Angus was, after all, our first born. It was an honour session as we had found out only a few weeks prior that our dear sweet boy had prostate cancer. With no symptoms it was routine blood work and an ultrasound before a dental cleaning that revealed the growth. Although heartbroken and shocked, finding out allowed us to enjoy every last moment we got to spend with our Angy. He was given a prognosis of six months, and 11 days after his 11th birthday (8 months after being diagnosed) Angus passed at home in our arms. He got to meet his new sister and was an amazing big brother for the first three months of her life. He gave me the courage to become a mom; because of him his beautiful sister, Ophelia, joined our family. I know that he waited for her to be here before he moved on – that was his final gift to us.
Our session truly meant the world to us. Because we were able to schedule it before any symptoms started he was Angus as we knew and loved him. The images captured him and his silly, handsome and proud personality perfectly. The session itself was relaxed and gentle – just like Angy.
I can’t wait to get to tell Ophelia all about her big brother. The pictures we have of him tell a beautiful story of the unconditional love he shared with us. With pictures all over the house she is already used to seeing him everywhere. It is a bittersweet reminder of how lucky we were to be graced by him and just how much his presence is missed. It’s not easy to accept the fact that he is no longer here – physically. Time goes on and the pain and sadness ebbs and flows. Sweet memories of him captured and displayed with pride help to remind us to enjoy every moment that we are given. I am and will forever be grateful that Angus chose us and that we got to share in his life for those beautiful 11 years.”
And perhaps even more poignant than these words are the words which Erin wrote to Angus in a letter after his passing which has been gracious enough to share here. She suggested that I might edit it down for brevity, but I couldn’t dare.
How can it be that my heart feels absolutely overflowing with love and broken and hollow all at the same time?
Scared to know what life will be like without your physical presence.
Scared that soon you’ll be somewhere else and I won’t get the honour of seeing those sweet eyes, infectious smile, crazy grinch toes, big fluffy white-tipped tail and majestic prance greeting me each day.
You won’t be there at the top of the stairs for me to rub and nuzzle before breakfast time.
Well, you’ll be there, but not in a way that I can touch you…or feel you wrapping your front paw around my arm.
You are pure love, my big sweet friend. Whether in your physical state or beyond this will never change.
You showed and constantly reminded me that I am pure love too.
You gave me so much in these 11 years we’ve spent together.
You gave me love without condition – the sweetest gift I could ever ask for.
Without you in my life I don’t know where I’d be today. What I do know is that you helped me to save myself. You came into my life stream to show me that I am worthy of being loved. You prepared me to be a mom. You gave me the courage to be a mom.
I’m sad to let you go and I know that it is time. You have completed your mission and for that I am bursting with pride and gratitude. It would be easy to let my own pain overshadow that fact. That pain is overwhelmingly strong and suffocatingly present right now. But what is stronger is the love and respect I have for your beautiful soul. Part of me wants to be selfish and keep you here forever, but the rest of me knows that’s not how it works. After everything you’ve taught me I know I can face this fear I have of learning to live without you. It hurts like hell, but if this is the cost of sharing these 11 magical years I’d pay over and over and over again.
I’ll miss feeling your soft fur under my hand and hearing your breath at night but I know you live on. I can’t wait to tell Ophelia all about you – how because of you she is here with us. Thank you for hanging around for her arrival and being her protector. What a lucky girl she is. How lucky we all are to have the honour of your sweet, funny, silly, serious, loyal and wise soul in our lives.
Thank you Angy. Your soul is now free!
Thank you, Erin, for contacting me and trusting me to capture these memories of Angus for you. It was truly an honour to have met you three (four) and an absolute pleasure to work with you. I will always remember our afternoon, and Angus unforgettable presence and joy.