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Losing our dogs: We’ll never hike alone again

    It’s the hardest decision many of us have to make.

    Losing our dogs is a painful time, often made worse by making the decision to end those lives.

    I know I could live the rest of my life without ever having to do it again.

    I had no choice. The vet in Kelowna, B.C., called with Shep’s blood tests to tell me his organs were shutting down.

    His heart could explode and he was likely going to start having seizures soon.

    He already had. I awoke to my bed shaking violently at 2 a.m.

    I hung up the phone, got him into the car and started making our way to Spokane. I called my fiancé to tell him to make an appointment.

    I called my best friend in Calgary, Dana, the one who had been with me every step of the way as a dog parent, so she could say goodbye.

    We had our last road trip and our last few minutes as a family.

    Then he was gone.

    The gift we must give

    Today is Rainbow Bridge Day across the world.

    Today we remember the fur friends who have left us, the best boys and girls who have taught us, protected us and guarded us.

    Today I look to the grace Joshua Waddle and Hamid Habibi have in saying goodbye to their precious Dexter.

    The three made a beautiful family, one that experienced many adventures on the hiking trails around Eastern Washington and North Idaho.

    puggle and his family
    Joshua, Hamid and Dexter

    Dexter, a 12-year-old puggle who went to the ever after on June 22, grew up with Joshua. They went to college in Indiana together and they moved to Spokane together — in search of great adventure in a less humid climate.

    They hiked the Rocks of Sharon, Beehive, Kit Carson and more.

    When Joshua and Hamid learned Dexter’s time was fading quickly, they went hiking in Oregon and then came home to a Memories session with me.

    It was last-minute, hurriedly arranged by email on a late Saturday night.

    “We did one image where our boots are all sandy,” Joshua says. “We love that one because that’s who we were together and we granted him what I thought was his wish to see the ocean.”

    losing our dogs is an emotional journey
    Dexter and his dads’ hiking boots

    The memory eases the pain.

    We would all much rather have our dogs live well into old age and die painlessly in their sleep one night. More often than not, we must make a painful decision to ease their suffering.

    “We sought second and third opinions, even reached out to (Washington State University),” said Joshua. “We never wanted him to live in pain. We made the decision to let him go and I hope I never have to make that decision again.”

    To create precious memories

    Joshua, Hamid, Dexter and I met at People’s Park in downtown Spokane on a beautiful Monday morning.

    The sun was shining and the air was still as we made our way to a little beach on the Spokane River.

    If I could have stopped time and let this little family live forever in this moment, I would have. Instead, their last morning together is frozen in time in these photos.

    Dexter was surrounded by love that night as Joshua and Hamid welcomed Dr. Lacey Rasmussen of Tranquil Passing into their home.

    “Every dog deserves that, to have their love returned to them,” says Joshua.

    In losing our dogs

    As the story of legend goes, our pets cross the Rainbow Bridge to a beautiful meadow where they are restored to full health.

    And they wait for us to join them.

    Though we’re losing our dogs, maybe part of them stays with us until we make it there. When Bella and I go hiking, I try to find a quiet place to sit and rest and reflect on the adventures that my dogs have joined me on.

    And I know Shep is there with me.

    Dexter will always be nearby for his dog dads, too.

    Just as they did for a recent trip to Glacier National Park in Kalispell, Montana, Joshua will take Dexter’s collar and attach it to his backpack.

    He and Hamid will hear the jingle of Dexter’s tags with every step they take and know that the little puggle is there.

    We hold their spirits in their heart.


    Dogs. Adventure. Outdoors. These words set Angela's heart afire. Angela Schneider, an award-winning writer and dog photographer, documents the story of you and your dog and the adventures you take together. Your portraits will be a statement piece in your home, art that will make your friends and family beg to hear its story.

    20 thoughts on “Losing our dogs: We’ll never hike alone again”

    1. After reading about Shep, it was hard to read on through my tears. That decision is so difficult, even when it isn’t really a decision anymore.

      This session is just incredible. The first image is perfection. Then the second, more perfection – The posing, the composition, then the third one. Wow. The whole series is beautiful. I’m so happy they have these lovely images to remind them of all that was special about Dexter.

    2. So beautiful. And yet so sad. I don’t know if I could do it. My beloved cat is getting old. I don’t think I could plan a photo shoot knowing it was because he was going to leaving. I can’t even think about it.

    3. The pictures are so beautiful. We know that the time with our girl is limited now… she’s 12 and, while she still acts like she’s 2, she IS a senior dog. We try to take pictures at every chance possible, including working with a local photographer to get some ‘pack’ photos.

    4. The Dash Kitten Crew

      What a lovely post and how lovely that Dexter had Joshua and Hamid by his side so he was loved for every single minute. The pictures are a real treasure and people need to get a professional in if they can. The memories are pure gold.

    5. Such beautiful photos and wonderful memories captured to forever cherish…the one with the shoes on either side of him brought a tear to my eye! So special. I cherish my photos with my FiveSibes…the moments we share today indeed become our memories of tomorrow…and sometimes that time just flies by way too quickly. Wonderful post.

    6. Saying goodbye to a beloved furry companion is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. I was blessed to have a psychiatrist who understood the bond between pets and their humans who helped me get through.

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