There's something so incredibly special about the love of a senior dog. Whether you've loved them since they were a puppy or you opened your heart to a senior rescue dog, you'll know that it can be so rewarding and different than any other stage of a dog's life.
Some senior dogs relax into their golden years, slowing down and enjoying a calmer lifestyle while others embrace their puppy-like personalities all the way until the end.
"Every white hair is one day of experience in being the very best friend you've ever had." - Unknown
While I believe all dogs deserve to have their memories beautifully preserved in photographs, seniors will always hold a special place in my heart. It wasn't until the lose of my senior childhood dog Kyra that I truly understood how important her photos would be to me. What I wouldn't give to go back and take more.
In her memory, I want to share my top 5 tips for photographing your senior dog so you can have the best keepsakes in the world.
1 // Meet them where they are
While some dogs may be up for a hike or long road trip to a beautiful location, others prefer the comforts of their own home and garden. As senior dogs get older, then may be slowing down due to arthritis or other common ailments of aging. Meet them where they are by letting them be your guide.
Keep them comfortable and don't place unrealistic expectations on them just to get a nice photo. Especially if they have a hard time getting around or can't see as well as they used to.
2 // Capture their joy
What makes them happiest of all? Is it a special toy they got when they were puppies or the a puppachino you get after every trip to the park, or perhaps they love lounging on the couch with you or dad. Capture those special moments that are oh so them.
When you look back on these photos you'll want to remember them exactly as they are, happy and loving life, enjoying the things they love most.
3 // Celebrate the season they are in
While puppyhood boasts big paws and sharp tiny teeth, senior dogs also have characteristics uniquely earned over time. Lumps, bumps, grey fur and cloudy eyes are just a few and they all add to your senior and the season of life they have had the joy of reaching.
Be sure to capture the details of each glistening white fur on their adorable face and embrace the lumps and bumps that have carefully shaped the way your senior dog looks now. Remember them as they are.
"Gray hairs seem to my fancy like the soft light of the moon, silvering over the evening of life."
4 // Join in
I get it, being in the photos isn't everyone's cup of tea. But no one has to see these photos other than you, and the point isn't to capture the perfect photos, but rather to capture the perfect bond that you share with your senior dog.
Don't focus on the things you may not like about yourself (for me it's the flabby arms and extra bit of roundness around the face) and instead focus on the way your dog looks at you. The way they lick your face or tilt their head to help you scratch the perfect spot behind their ears.
Use the self timer on your phone or ask a friend or family member to help out. Simply cuddle and play with your dog and have them just keep clicking away. You'll thank me for it later.
5 // Don't put it off
In Washington it can be so easy to say "I'll just wait till the weather is nicer" before deciding to spend some time getting photos of your senior dog. But please, don't. Tomorrow is never promised and if the unthinkable were to happen you'll regret not taking the time to get some photos. I know I did, as I was very much guilty of saying exactly that.
Celebration of Life sessions were created to honor this special season of a dog's life. These slower paced, healing sessions are for pets who don't have much time left and are often available for same-day service.
"We are thankful to have met Marie and have these wonderful keepsakes for memories."
- Ariya's mom
If you'd like to have professional photos taken of your senior dogs, please reach out so we can discuss the perfect session for you and celebrate the life you share together.