My closest friend from high school, Emily, is an incredible human being and photographer. She is witty, hilarious, and one of the most caring people I have ever known. Four months ago, Em adopted a small and fragile puppy from Rescued Pets Are Wonderful (an organization that rescues dogs from puppy mills), and his name was Ace. Ace was not only a rescue puppy but also a senior. He had significant anxiety, impending health problems, and wanted nothing to do with Em initially. He cowered behind a chair and wouldn’t let Em pet him without darting away for weeks. He was scared of thunder and loud noises, and he would stay in his kennel as much as possible. It didn’t take long for him to abandon his kennel for Em’s bed, follow her around, and sleep soundly through those loud noises. Em and Ace developed a highly special bond.
A month and a half ago, Em brought Ace to the veterinarian due to her finding weird bumps on Ace, and they told her Ace had a small bump he should get removed. A little over a month later, Em brought Ace to the veterinarian for his surgery to remove his bump. The doctor then told Em that they misdiagnosed Ace and that he had cancer. The lesion inside Ace’s neck grew to be too big to remove (would cause massive damage) and then recommended to Em that she euthanize Ace and put him down. The lesion was only going to get bigger, Ace was timeworn, and he was already immensely weak with his body degraded from spending his entire life at a puppy mill. Em made the decision that she would bring Ace in for the euthanization in a week. She then called me asking to do a sunrise shoot with her and Ace, to capture their final moments together.
The sun rose at 7 am, and its bright rays transformed the meadow into a golden and vibrant field. The dark greens became a lush red and orange, and the dew renewed the weeds into crystallized color. The shoot was warm in every sense of the word. Seeing Em hold Ace in his favorite blanket and watching Em continuously go from looking out into the field and then at Ace was hard. I knew this was difficult for her, and I knew how important these photos would be to her. It was a beautiful time and is now one of my favorite moments I have captured.
Three days after the shoot Em had a veterinarian come to her home to put Ace down. Ace passed away on September 21st, 2016.
A resource for adopting pets is through Pet Finder. “Most people don’t want a rescue because of anxiety and the old age. Old dogs are such a lesson in humility and patience, and if there’s anything Ace taught me that. But Petfinder is an excellent website for people to start, and that’s how I found Ace initially. There are so many senior dogs that never get a loving home and the moment I saw him at the adoption event I knew I had to give him a chance at a good life.” – Em
Other resources and research concerning puppy mills and animal advocacy: