Joey’s Legacy Session
One of the services I provide here at HGPP is helping pet parents memorialize and preserve the legacy of their beloved family members in albums and artwork.
Tracy reached out to me in the spring asking if I could create some beautiful portraits of her boy Joey before he passed. She shared that Joey had spondylosis, arthritis, and herniated discs at the base of his spine that have caused him to be partially paralyzed. Knowing in these situations that things can change quickly we booked the session immediately.
During our call, I learned that Joey was a 10-year-old mixed breed that they adopted from Serenity Rescue in Sylvan Lake when he was just 8 months old. His mom told me that Joey loves everyone he meets – but he will always be daddy’s special boy.
Tracy shared that Joey has enjoyed a happy life. Obsessed with belly rubs, he often flopped down and let out a big, contented sigh as you rubbed his belly. He was an active dog and loved running but recently he needed to save his energy for walking on the water treadmill at the Springbank Pet Hospital.
Tracy requested portraits of Joey smiling, some of his goofy expressions, and some of Joey with his brother Winston. A small dog with a big personality, Winston always comforted Joey. The boys were inseparable – always found hanging out together.
Bowness Park, Northwest Calgary
The weather was wild the week of our session with a series of predicted and unpredicted thunderstorms and rain. The afternoon of our session we had breaking news of an upcoming storm so I made a call and we pushed up the start time.
We chose a location in Tracy and Jim’s quadrant of Northwest Calgary because of Joey’s limited mobility. The family often went for walks there and Joey loved going down to the river to have a splash around. I found out that Joey really loved cheese, so I brought some special cheese snacks for him and Winston to enjoy.
The minute I laid eyes on Joey I connected with his beautiful soul. With bright, curious eyes and a goofy smile, Joey was a happy-go-lucky boy that didn’t show any sign of awareness that he had serious health problems. All he wanted to do was run and play like any other dog – and using his front legs to pull him along – he certainly tried.
Joey’s eyes filled with joy when his aunt arrived and surprised the boys to join in the session. The boys love their Auntie!
Watching Jim and Tracy interact and cuddle with their pups, handling Joey as gently as possible, supporting the weight of his back end and understanding when his bladder let go – it was clear that this sweet boy had been living his very best life and no two people could have loved him more.
After the session…
I feel an instant attachment when meeting my animal clients and I fell in love with Joey right away. The combination of being profoundly empathic and having a huge love for animals means, well, to put it lightly, legacy sessions really tug on my heart. Joey’s session was very emotional and I admit that I cried on and off for days while I was processing and retouching Joey’s images.
Joey gained his wings just two days after our legacy portrait session.
On a particularly low day, a friend reminded me of how important these final portraits and memories are to the parents and how they become even more valuable as time passes. Over the years I have had plenty of personal experience with my own losses and I know this to be true – but it was a loving and timely reminder (thank you Alice) . Focusing on my purpose helps me move through the sadness.
“When I look at my artwork… my heart feels full. I have the most beautiful portraits of Joey (whom we miss so much), his brother Winston and the entire family. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed working with and building a friendship with Heidi Grace. After one meeting she loved my boys like they were her own and felt Joey’s loss along with us. I’m glad we had her to share this with!”
Tracy, Joey’s Mom
His parents chose to preserve his legacy with an engraved memory box containing ten of their favourite portraits and a beautiful family wall art gallery for their living room so they could see his beautiful face every day.
I feel that Joey is watching over his family from above with his big goofy grin. He knows that when they’re looking at his photographs and talking to him – that he was and still is – very loved.
(…hold on a minute, I need another Kleenex..)
If you have a senior dog or your pup was diagnosed with a terminal illness, and you’d like to memorialize them – reach out to me today. I’ll ask you some detailed questions and help you decide if a legacy portrait session is the right choice for you.
Please don’t wait. Time is precious.
* Legacy Portrait Sessions are photography sessions held by Heidi Grace Pet Portraiture for pets that are elderly or terminally ill. Some people refer to them as end-of-life photography, rainbow bridge portraits, or goodbye sessions. I chose ‘legacy session’ because I’m here to help you preserve the legacy of love that your precious pet will leave behind. A legacy lives on …. ♥
Go give your pup a great big hug – right now – you won’t regret it.