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the quiet

July 10, 2010

Anyone who’s lost a dog knows the quiet; in a house that used to hum with the sound of clumsy feet running after a ball; the clicking of nails on hardwood floors in the middle of the night; or the comforting, rhythmic breath as you drift off to sleep. These are the sounds that go missing in a house where a dog once lived.

I doubt that there’s anything that has touched me more deeply, or changed me more profoundly, than the loss of my dogs; in particular, the loss of Gracie (my mija), Lola and Buzz all within an 11-month span. So when someone calls me about a session with a dog who is terminally ill; I have to brace myself for the rush of memories; the reddened eyes; the sighs of people who haven’t slept in days. These are things that we all have seen and felt in a house of dogs.

Pelei has cancer. Her girls–Katherine, Victoria and Mary–have decided not to put Pelei through the pain and discomfort of chemo. They’ve decided that this is life, that this is Pelei’s life and that they will respect that life and make it as meaningful as it can ever be in the time she has left.

I cringe when I think of how many times I have blogged about the death of a dog. here, for example. And here. And the plight of the shelter dog, here.

These shots of Pelei are meant to show her life, how much life she has in her, and how much life she gives. They are meant to hold back the quiet that will come. To fill these girls’ hearts with enough memories of Pelei the goof, Pelei the love, Pelei the elegant and Pelei the silly so that when she is gone, it will be only her body, her physical presence that will be missed.

When you walk through the quiet house where a dog once lived, you are walking through every moment, every breath that dog took in that house. And it surrounds you and comforts you and angers you all at once. Such is love. Such is the state of house where a dog once lived.

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comments

Oh, Susan…you’ve said it all with this one. Angus has been gone almost three years, with Finley moving in to take his place, but there isn’t a day that goes by when we don’t think of him (and his long ago sister, Nessa). My friend just lost her almost 11 year old Newfie, Rollo, the other day so we’ve been laughing and crying while talking about his antics, too. Luckily, I’d had the chance to do a couple of photoshoots with Rollo, so Laurel has great photo memories, too. 😉

Dot

July 10, 2010

oh susan, this really touched me. you’re beautiful, y’know?

esther

July 10, 2010

Oh. You have put it perfectly, my heart aches for the times we have had to do this, and for these girls as they are about to. But what a requiem for Pele these images are.

Ange

July 10, 2010

❤ it's something I have far too much experience in. thank you, all.

susan sabo

July 10, 2010

i can’t even look at a photo of my beloved patches and rosie. i think i might somehow love them more now than before they passed.

the article in the news about shooting 58,000 stray dogs in bagdad was heart wrenching. how can anyone look into the eyes of an animal and not see the heart.

Linda McCraven

July 11, 2010

Beautifully put, susan… tears here for Pele, for our Scooter Rae (51 days gone), and for all the dogs we’ve loved and lost.

bublynski

July 12, 2010

Stunning photos and words. It’s been a little over six months since we lost our Cosette and I’ve learned how important the photos and various things I can pull together to help preserve her memory really are. What an amazing gift you’ve given to this family.

Jodi

July 17, 2010

beautiful susan. just beautiful. this dog, even though she’s going through so much health-wise, looks like nothing is standing in her way of happiness. there is so much love just oozing out of these photos.

We lost our 12 year old ridgeback luca, this weekend (he lives with my uncle), also of cancer – so im glad i came across these images not to dwell on the passing of him, but to celebrate what joy he brought us during the past 12 years. pele’s eyes do exactly that.

erica

July 20, 2010

beautiful susan. just beautiful. this dog, even though she’s going through so much health-wise, looks like nothing is standing in her way of happiness. there is so much love just oozing out of these photos.

We lost our 12 year old ridgeback luca, this weekend (he lives with my uncle), also of cancer – so im glad i came across these images not to dwell on the passing of him, but to celebrate what joy he brought us during the past 12 years. pele’s eyes do exactly that.

erica

July 20, 2010

Oh, Linda, I know how that feels. I’m sorry.

Thanks, Bub. Only 51 days? Ugh, I’ve been through this so many times, and as my friends from Flickr know, 3 times in one year. Every time another leaves me, I think of the others who have left before, just like you.

Jodi, thanks, sweetie. The little memorializations are so important to me; a bracelet, a photo, a piece of ash. I’m wearing a pinkie ring that bears the name of a dog I lost almost 15 years ago: the original small dog. I never take off; probably never will.

Hey, Erica. 😦 I’m so sorry about Luca. This session is particular was so wonderful. I thought it would be very difficult, but there was so much love surrounding this dog. You could tell that it was probably most of what was keeping her going. 🙂

/off to cry a little.

susan sabo

July 21, 2010

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