The Perfect Companion
By Stephanie, Studio Journalist
“Beauty without Vanity. Strength without Insolence. Courage without Ferocity.
All the virtues of Man with none of his vices.”
Last week, we buried the old, tired body of our beautiful brown dog. The words above are from a long-ago headstone for a brave dog named Boatswain. My dog rests under a much humbler memorial - a large, rough fieldstone painted simply with the name “Owen.”
Over the past few months it could be argued that he was maybe not so beautiful anymore, although I could never see him any other way. His shining red-brown coat becoming dull and tufty, the eyes that had gone suddenly sightless growing more and more cloudy. The long, lanky legs made strong by countless hours of fetch and swimming, now perpetually a little hunched, tired. The dog I witnessed, many times, jump effortlessly from the ground into the open window of a pickup truck, laid low by the unfair passage of time.
My heart is very much eased by the thought that although his body rests behind a picturesque knoll on our land, his beauty and spirit and tireless energy are restored in the somewhere, somehow, all around us. I've surprised myself by finding far more peace now, after he has left me, finally free from those last hard weeks of constant worry.
These dogs are not my Owen. Owen of course exists in countless cell phone pictures, and, luckily, in a couple of shots with our “nice” camera… but I did not, unfortunately, ever drag him to one of our family photo sessions, to capture us all loving on him, depicting him, as he was, at the center of our family. Too much hassle, the kids already too hard to handle, etc. Annoyed with him because he had eaten yet another thing he shouldn't have, or had once again found a way to open the refrigerator (Seriously. Yes.) By the time the decision we would have to make became clear, it was too late. Too late to memorialize the beautiful, perfect creature that he was. I refused to do him the indignity and disservice of documenting him only as he was in those very short last months. He will always exist in my heart and memory as the strong, smooth, flawless embodiment of selfless companionship, and I will hang up all the amateur photos I can get my hands on – but I can’t help but wish I had a little more.
I absolutely love looking at all these handsome boys and gorgeous girls. Today, I'm celebrating the incredible gift that these animals are to all of us, and these images give me joy, not sadness. Bring your dogs with you to your session, guys. This team loves them just as much as you do, and they will honor them as the part of your family that they are.
If you've stuck with me through this somewhat sad and self indulgent ride, here's my boy - back in his glory days.
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