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Ram-a-lam: A heartfelt senior dog photo session for black Betty

    Oh, those sugar faces. 

    Since I’m owned by a big white dog, I don’t always notice the external signs of aging. You know … when the muzzle starts to turn grey? 

    I do get my fill when I book a senior dog photo session, though, and those moments fill my soul with all the goodness possible.  

    Why book a senior dog photo session? 

    This is it, kids. They’re coming to the end of their physical time with us here on Earth.  

    It sucks, it’s difficult to think about.  

    Instead turn your brain onto the moments our best fur friends have brought us over these many years. During your dog’s photo session, we are going to celebrate those times, honor them and smile about them. 

    Yes, even that time your husky puppy destroyed the crate from the inside and then tore through the door while you stepped out to check the mail. 

    These photo shoots are a time to create lasting memories of your adventure buddy and smile through the ache you might be feeling as you think about the days ahead without him by your side. 

    An extra special session 

    Four years ago, I ran a promo for rescue dogs. 

    Tell me your dog’s rescue story, do a photo shoot and let me blog about it. Carol responded but she had a special case. 

    Her two rescue pit bulls, Mr. Wiggles and Betty, could not be near each other. Not even in the house.  

    They would fight. Terrible, ferocious fights. 

    So Carol and Jimmy did everything they could to keep their little North Idaho family together. They kept the two dogs separate in the house, and everywhere. 

    I was able to create a family photo for them by keeping the dogs separated, one each on either side of the young couple.

    young family with reactive dogs
    In 2019

    Then early last year, Mr. Wiggles was diagnosed with cancer. Carol fought for him, did all the treatments, but the universe had other plans. 

    Mr. Wiggles took his last breath on Aug. 4. 

    woman hugs her rescue pitbull
    Carol and Mr. Wiggles

    She contacted me in November. She was worried Betty was nearing her time, too. There’s been no terrible diagnosis for Betty, just all the signs of her body becoming too weary for this world. 

    Carol, a California girl, wanted her session somewhere that was easy for Betty but said “North Idaho.” 

    I knew the perfect place: Hauser Lake. On a clear day, we could get the Selkirk Mountains in the background. 

    We scheduled. The weather sucked. 

    We rescheduled. The weather sucked. 

    We rescheduled again. And this time, Mother Nature graced us with a beautiful day. Blue skies and wispy clouds. 

    Betty hangs out at Hauser Lake for her senior dog photo session
    Lookin’ snappy in her pink hoodie

    Betty didn’t much care for sitting. It’s uncomfortable as arthritis has started to run its course through her hips. 

    But she played the game and was the goodest girl, posing and getting loved up on by Carol and Jimmy. We made our way around the park and nailed the “North Idaho” photo.  

    dog portrait with mountain backdrop
    This is North Idaho

    It’s perfect, Carol said. “And I knew it would be when I saw you setting it up.” 

    The clincher, though … the print that brought tears to her eyes …  

    When we were planning our perfect morning together, I told Carol, “Bring Wiggles. We’ll finally get a photo of the two of them together that we don’t have to Photoshop.” 

    We needed to have Mr. Wiggles there, not just in spirit.  

    It just wouldn’t have been right. 

    pitbull sits with her brother's urn of ashes
    Betty and Mr. Wiggles … together

    In their honor 

    Betty’s senior dog photo session wasn’t the first time I told a client to bring her ashes to a session.  

    I got the idea from Jamie, who had me do two different sessions for her senior beagles. We met at her home for the first one and she asked if she could bring two urns outside so we could include them in the photo album she was planning to purchase. 

    We made it work. 

    urns and shadow boxes for dogs

    In summer 2022, when I had my own session, I held Shep’s collar in my hand while walking on the beach with Bella. 

    These dogs, these soulmates, these forever guardians only leave us physically. They stay with us for forever in our hearts and to celebrate those memories for my clients is a real honor for me.  

    Their trust in me is one of the reasons I created One Last Network, a platform that has two purposes: one, a podcast that connects pet guardians to the resources they may need as their pets age and then cross the proverbial rainbow bridge, and two, a course to teach pet photographers how to better serve their clients whose pets are aging or have been diagnosed with a terrible disease. 

    All around the circle 

    So many people, including my husband, say “It must be torture to do these sessions, especially when you know the dog is dying.” 

    And I say, “No, it’s an incredible privilege for me to see the way my clients love their dogs.” 

    You share so many intimate moments with – smiles, kissed and snuggles – that I can’t help but make a senior dog photo session, particularly the emergency ones, a priority. You may not be able to go on a great adventure and that’s OK. We’ll have a mini adventure at a local park, somewhere that’s quiet and easy. 

    And I will sit with you and get you to tell me stories of your time together, in hopes of making your stress a little lighter. 

    Now let’s go look at more amazing photos of pups on adventure all over the world by jumping into the pet photographers blog circle. 

    Start with Nicole of Pawtraits by Nicole in Las Vegas with her favorite destinations for dog photography sessions.

    Click the link at the bottom of Nicole’s post to continue through the circle. When you get back here to Betty’s senior photo session in North Idaho, that’s when you know you’re home. 

    Right where you belong. 

    If you’re ready to book a session for your sugar face, schedule a get-to-know-each-other chat. And remember, emergency sessions take priority on my calendar. I am a certified pet loss grief companion and master grief coach, ready to support you on your journey. 

    nv-author-image

    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.

    7 thoughts on “Ram-a-lam: A heartfelt senior dog photo session for black Betty”

    1. These are beautiful, Angela! I love the picture of Carol and Mr. Wiggles with the snow – just perfect! And Betty with Mr. Wiggles together- so sweet and heartwarming.

    2. Oh I love this!! I love the reflection shot and also the one of Betty and Mr Wiggles. What a great idea to do a session honouring those who have crossed over the rainbow.

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