I got my first dog when I was 4 years old. My parents had just cemented our roots and built their dream home on a 3 acre stretch of land in Morgan, and were ready to add a furry member to the family.
I have vivid memories of going to pick our puppy; how I searched all of their sweet little faces looking for the one that was going to join our family. I remember spotting this tiny little nugget tucked away in the corner, quiet, and not begging for attention like the other pups. She was mostly black with a strip of brown around her neck, and I knew she was the one. She had stolen my heart.
I named her Katie (which I'm told was my favorite name at the time) and looking back it cracks me up that I gave her a human name. It caused a lot of confusion when my actual friends named Katie came over to play - I remember one time the dog trying to get on the table that my friend happened to be sitting on and my dad yelling 'Katie get down!!!'. Needless to say my friend was traumatized but we all laughed about it later.
Katie was a part of our lives for the next 11 years. She grew into the most beautiful German Shepherd you ever did see with honey golden eyes and a tongue that just wanted to lick you to death. She was incredibly smart, protective, and always wanted to be where the action was. My dad used to joke that she thought she was a human because when we took her to puppy school, she would hide under the chairs and try to be by the people instead of going out to play with the other dogs.
As she got older she went blind, and slowly started to lose mobility in her hips due to a genetic disease, common to German Shepherds, called hip dysplasia. It was heartbreaking, and when she could no longer walk, we knew it was time to put her down. That day will forever be seared in my memory; walking to the back of our field with my family where our neighbor had dug us a hole with his tractor, choking out our goodbyes, watching silent tears fall down my dad's face, and burying her in the ground.
I was 15 at the time and it was my first experience witnessing a complete life cycle of a living being. Looking back, I went through all the stages of grief; heartbreak, anger, confusion. And I often wondered to myself what the point of having a dog was in the first place if it was only going to die. I couldn't understand why you'd willingly set yourself up for pain like that.
As with all things and the help of time, I eventually got to a place of understanding, and realized that the whole 'point' was in the experience. In the pure joy of having a furry warm being to play with, to cuddle, and to love.
When a client of mine redeemed her gift card that her husband had given her for Mother's Day (the gift of photos scores major brownie points gents, just saying) she wanted to do a shoot with her kids and her pup Orvis who had recently had surgery and wasn't expected to live much longer.
The shoot was a dream and I was so glad to have met Orvis. One week later, I learned that Orvis had passed away.
When I went back to her house for the purchasing session two weeks later and played a slideshow for her of our session with Orvis, there wasn't a dry eye in sight. I couldn't help but think of the timing of it all and how happy I was that I could preserve these memories for her and her kids.
Wherever you are you were very much loved Orvis (and Katie)! And for those of you with pets, I urge you to go give them a big squeeze right now. XO