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In Memory of Sundance

Memory. Celebration of Life.  Rainbow. Joy. End-of-Life. These are all different names that are given to photo sessions for pets that are nearing their last days. These photo sessions are meaningful and so important to the family.  Sometimes we have good intentions for our pets and have a beautiful vision of these moments and memories we can capture.  But the reality is, it is sometimes too late.  I am hear to tell you how important it is to schedule your pet’s photo session when they are happy, joyful and healthy. These are the moments we want to remember!  I do my best to always accommodate these sessions, but sometimes it just isn’t possible in my schedule to get them in.  

Plum Island Memory Session 4

This week’s blog post is part of a blog circle and the topic is “how to conduct and end-of-life-session.” I will be honest – patience and flexibility are how these sessions work.  I planned on writing more about the process, but the process pretty much entails getting the date on the calendar within a day or two and getting it done.  This is a little bit different from my regular sessions where we take the time for a planning consultation prior to the session. I was about to begin writing this post on Sunday morning, when an email popped into my inbox. The title of email was Sundance and when I opened it,

“Hi Darlene

I’m sorry to say that Sundance passed on Friday. I just wanted to thank you again for the wonderful photos. Its something I’ll cherish forever.”

I sat at my computer and the tears came.  (She was doing so good!)  And I want to share with you how I got to know Sundance the past few years and her beautiful family and the time we share together. 

How to conduct and end-of-life session

Sundance’s mom reached out to me in May of 2020.  This was right in the midst of the pandemic. They had gotten a puppy and wanted to get some pictures of Sundance and the puppy before the puppy was so big – and we know how fast puppies grow!  We ended up doing the session the first week of June in 2020, when some of the restrictions were listed and I could photograph safely outdoors. We met at one of my favorite places, Zorvino Vineyards.  Mom had Jethro in a dapper bow tie with Sunance in a pretty aqua flower to match.  Look at those faces!!! We did this picture on a metal print for the wall. 

Sundance and Jethro Posing
Sundance and Jethro

Fast forward to this past February of 2022. Mom reached out to me with: 

“Sundance recently got a not-so-great diagnosis, and I’d like to do something special with her. Obviously I’d like to include myself in Jethro here and there. But mostly for her. I’m thinking somewhere on the coast in New Hampshire as she loves the beach.”

The worst words any dog mom can hear. This broke my heart. But…the beautiful part of this is that I already met the dogs.  Why is that beautiful?  Stories were shared during that session in 2020. Sundance was healthy when we first met. I enjoyed watching her put her new puppy sibling “into place”.  This is a client who trusts me and what I do.   Let’s schedule that beach session to celebrate beautiful Sundance!. 

End of Life Dog Photo Session

We scheduled the photo session for a sunrise, March 21st, at Plum Island Beach.  If I  schedule these session a few weeks out, I always add, “if you have any feeling that we need to do this sooner, please pick up the phone right away and call me”. 

That morning was a chilly one!  We met a half hour before sunrise to get the beautiful silhouette photos.  Sundance and her mom shared a special bond and I was sure to capture the two of them together.  It was a magical morning! 

End of Life Photo session

I’m grateful we had this beautiful morning to share.  I created a memory album to commemorate that fun beach morning.  We chose a purple “sprinkles” cover with a bit of shimmer.  Mom chose to have a quote on the cover, which is one of my favorites:

Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened  ~  Anatole France

When the album arrived, I met mom at Starbucks and we shared stories and cried.  That day, Sundance was holding her own!  

Click on the button to see a short video of the album: 

sunrise silhouette

Schedule your session today.  Our pets aren’t with us forever.  Memory sessions can be a fun celebration that captures your bond with your dog, cat, or even horse.  

There are some amazing pet photographers that offer “end-of-life” sessions, and sessions for senior and terminally ill.  Please make sure you look for a professional that provides a memorable experience.  Next up is Angela Schneider of Big White Dog Photography in Spokane, WA, learning to become a pet loss grief coach.  I’m looking forward to reading Angela’s post.  She has some amazing things in the works and her posts are always genuine, speaking from her heart.  Enjoy! 

7 thoughts on “In Memory of Sundance”

  1. The photos in the “Sundance Memory Album” are stunning! It’s great that you had a chance to photograph the last days of the Sundance life and you show the compassion you have to photograph these animals in their last days.

  2. What a stunning and handsome dog, your images did her justice. Your sunrise at the beach images are always beautiful and the session came together beautifully in the album.

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