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My Only Regret…

I am writing this blog today, because after Saturday I am not sure I am going to have the strength to do it. You see, we have decided it is time to send our oldest pup, Brindel – my business namesake – on her journey to the Rainbow Bridge this Saturday.

Brindel Chair

She has lost the use of her back legs, and we have tried for a year to try and increase the quality of her life. However, as her nerve damage grows worse day by day, important bodily functions like urinating and defecating have become a chore for her, and it’s too hard to watch her suffer any longer.

Why am I telling you this? Brindel is the first pet we have had to choose to put to sleep. She’s the first pet we have had to watch deteriorate in front of us. So, although I thought I had a good idea of what people were after when it came to their “end of life” photos. I really had no idea.

Brindel

The past few days I have been riddled with guilt – thinking I should be taking photos of her. Yes, over the years I have collected a few, but I still feel like I want to capture more of her. But, what I have realized is that I don’t want to take photos of her right now. I think different people will deal with this differently, but there has got to be others out there like me.

I am not particularly fond of the new skin tag that has developed over her eye over the past few weeks. I am not attached to the idea that we need to capture her without the use of her back legs. Nor do I want a photograph of her with her eye that has recently stopped producing tears and become cloudy, foggy, and lifeless. This is NOT the Brindel I have known for 11 years. This is Brindel – whose body is failing her.

I regret that I didn’t get any photographs of us together when she was healthy. The last photo I took of her with Ron (my husband) and I, she was under a year old. And now, it’s too late. And I, of all people, should have known better.

Brindel Running

So, if you are considering getting photos of your pets, PLEASE do it now. Not later when you have to. When you are forced to because time is running out. When it’s the last thing you want to do on top of all the sadness, sorrow and vet bills.  Don’t wait until simply touching your furbaby brings you to tears. When you are so sad, that it’s almost painful to look at the photos, it’s not the right time. Do it now. For goodness sake – do it now.

And get something tangible. Not a disk of files, not even small photos that can be misplaced (I have no idea where mine are). Get something printed and put it on the wall. Get an album. If you are not in a position to hire a photographer, just get your camera out and do it yourself. Prioritize it and cherish it – because as your memory starts to fail you – this will be your reminder.

Brindel Sleeping

And fellow photographers – I am speaking to you too. It’s easy to forget about our own portraits while we are out making them for others. It may seem silly to hire another photographer when you know you are capable of taking the photos yourself. But do it! Get those family shots taken – you may even be able to find another photographer in your position that will take the photos in trade.

I am posting this blog today because I am not sure that I will be able to look at photos of Brindel for a while. The pain, even now, is so great it’s unbearable. Please give your babies a hug and get our your camera or make that appointment with a pet photographer and get those photos that you have been thinking about for some time. And please forgive me for the typos and grammatical errors as I type this through a river of tears.

I love you Brindel. You have been the most amazing gift to me. You have changed my life for the better in so many ways. I will never forget you.

Love your mom, Holly

Brindel Kerchief

 

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  • Liz - Much love and hugs.ReplyCancel

  • Shelley Castle - Oh Holly, I am so very sorry. What a deeply personal post bearing your heartache and revelations in such vulnerable time. Thank you for sharing. I immediately went and hugged my furkids. We are sending good mojo to you, sweet Brindle and your pack. Hugs.ReplyCancel

  • Maureen Buckley - So sorry for you both. After losing our dog about a month ago, I can honestly say I know how you feel. We do have lots of pictures of him but they cannot replace him.ReplyCancel

  • Maryse - Oh my goodness, my heart goes out to you! My boy is 12 and in the last couple of weeks he has been very sick – thankfully he is on the mend but I had to consider that I might have to make that decision and it was the hardest thing I had to think about. I will NEVER regret hiring a professional photographer to take pictures of my fur babies when they were 10 and 8. I cherish those pictures every day. I did it precisely for the reasons you so eloquently said in your post – I wanted good photos of them to remember them by. Photos of them healthy and happy, how I wanted to remember them forever. Photos that captured their unique character and the bond I will always have with them. It was hands down, the BEST investment I have ever made (short of getting my fur babies, of course!). You will never forget Brindel, she will be physically absent, but forever in your heart, forever your guardian angel.ReplyCancel

  • Paul - Hi Holly,

    We know what you are going through unfortunately all too well. Last Easter we lost our Louie after a rather short (1 month) bout with prostrate cancer. It’s a tough decision that we have to make but that is part of our role as companions and protectors. Louie was a cute, cantankerous, extremely dominant (Alpha+++) 18 lb Jack Russell who ruled over the cat, our other dog Ben, and our grown daughters – but we adored him and he us. A relationship that was hard to explain to dog owners let alone those who are not pet friendly. At the time we continued to take photos of him and yes they are sad to look at but I think they helped if only to reassure us that it was the right decision. Even in sickness he was cute. We have photos of him sleeping in his bed covered up, with Ben, our 70 lb Border Collie, 4 times his size yet totally owned by Lou, lying beside it keeping watch on him. We joke that it was Stockholm Syndrome but Bennie mourned his loss also, very visibly. We laid him to rest on a property I hunt right beside my favourite stand. My first visit back in November for hunting season struck me deeper than I would have thought. One day there will be a photo book and I’ll finish and blog the story I’ve started several times about him. One day.

    After a while, we added to the menagerie with Leica, a female Jack Russell with the sweetest disposition and cutest antics of any dog we have ever known. As it turns out, Leica has developed a neurological condition that affects and deteriorates her fine motor control and will eventually shorten her life. While we could sit around and bemoan our “bad luck” with dogs, we choose to enjoy our time with our “special needs child” as we’ve come to call her. She is not in pain, she is mobile (albeit ungainly), and she is happy, very happy, so as long as those conditions are met we will forestall any decisions. And we will enjoy the love of a good dog.

    http://lensonlifephoto.com/lolblog/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/Leica_1.jpg

    If you’re emotionally invested in your dogs like we are, it is inevitable that you will go through this at some point. And yet we get back in line and go for the ride again… and again.

    Cheers,
    Paul & Eve (true we have more photos of our dogs than our kids)ReplyCancel

  • Maureen (Mo) - I know what you are going through. We had to say goodbye to both of our Goldens less than six months apart. A year before we had a friend housesit while we were on vacation and I was telling her how I knew they were getting to that point but not yet. She spent the week taking pictures of them doing their usual things. She presented it to us when we returned. I treasure that photo album so very much. On the upside, we have two more Goldens who make us laugh and brought much needed life into our home and I am so very glad we chose them!ReplyCancel

  • Kristina Zambrano - I am so very sorry for this … sending jujus and strong vibes for you and your family to go through this hard and sad moment you are having with your darling pup … :0( my condolences in advanceReplyCancel

  • Melanie - Your words touched me deeply. I so respect the decision you are making and the courage it takes to do so. My prayer is that I can do the same if needed some day. My Boo Radley is 10 now and I cherish every second, every limp, every joyful look and deep sigh as he skooches closer to me. He has made my life. You will be in my thoughts and prayers.ReplyCancel

  • Maggie - This touched me so much,, I am so sorry for your loss of a very dear family member.

    Brindel will be over the Rainbow Bridge running and playing, and waiting to see you again one day :) ReplyCancel

  • Samantha - Thank you for sharing your experience. There is something in a connection with a pet that cannot be explained and my heart breaks for you, as I read through tears, overflowing and rolling down my cheeks. I hurt for you and with you, for the pets I myself have lost and the pain it brings me to even think for a second about the inevitable fate of loosing my sweet girl some day. I hope you will be able to look at the pictures you do have and realize that it is more imporant to focus on, cherish and celebrate what you did, rather than reflect negitively on what you didnt do. Much Love, from Ontario.ReplyCancel

  • Angela Boone - I am so sorry you have to go through such a painful decision, but so happy you are able to be there with your baby at the end. You are doing the right thing and you will always remember her. Much love.ReplyCancel

  • Rachel Potterr - Having just gone through this with my “original” girl, Pepper…I can only wish you both a blessed last few days and the peace that I know will come with your decision…eventually. <3ReplyCancel

  • Carla - Photos are only for our wall, memories are for our heart. Brindel will carry you in her heart forever.ReplyCancel

  • Susan Nickell - Hugs! That’s all I can offer. (saw this on Facebook) But please, DO take a family shot with your baby tomorrow if you haven’t already. We did it when our beautiful girl was ‘scheduled’ for the next day three years ago, and I really, really, REALLY cherish that photo, including the skin tag on her nose! She and I even did our little self shoot during the week before. It’s worth it I promise. Your pup is a very lucky girl to have had such a loving family, and although it SUCKS right now and will be very different, your memories of the best and happy moments will be with you always. Have a beautiful time under the Rainbow Bridge, Brindel! Please send kisses and play with my Jessie when you see her. She’s the big Newfie cross with a grey muzzle. and I will look forward to meeting you too someday you gorgeous girl!! ;) xoxoxoReplyCancel

  • Ohmelvin - I’m so sorry. I promise you, with all that I am, that you will remember her. You will feel that part of you that grew from loving her and it will carry you. The decision you made, there is no greater act of love you could give to her. She will live on through you.ReplyCancel

  • Kat - She was greeted by my girl Sadie. I too thought there would be time for more photos, photos of us together. After 13 years together and a cancer diagnosis, I still didn’t see her death coming.

    We were better about it with our Akita mix who died in 2010. She inspired my journey to learn more about photography and become a photographer for others who want those memories like I did.

    We photographed her on the last moments of her life before she went in. Including one of the three of us and her last treats with her brothers and sisters.

    I think that is why I photograph everything now, yet somehow still didn’t get those images of my girl Sadie. She left us in February.

    As our 15 and a half cocker also seems to be struggling to hold his weight, I fear of being in your situation exactly as you described with him. We need this to be a priority now and your message here was a good reminder.ReplyCancel

  • Marilyn - You have my sincerest sympathy. I lost my first dog last year, and it was so sudden I didn’t have an opportunity to make sure I took those last few photos I had been putting off until tomorrow. I am working hard every day to make it a priority to get photos with my beloved pets, and with me in them. My poor husband has been getting very crude and quick lessons in pet photography, out of necessity. Take care!ReplyCancel

  • Jennifer Barnett - I am so very sorry for the heartache you are suffering. This really hits home for me in several ways. I will be taking some pics of my babies while I still can, and I will also be looking for a local photog to take pictures of my husband and I, as we haven’t had any pictures taken in the 12 years we have been married.

    Sending prayers and hugs your way!ReplyCancel

  • Cahlean - This past August, my shepherd mix Mick passed away. When I first adopted him, I took hundreds of pictures of him, then he and my rottie. The pictures tapered off, but I slowly returned to taking them, though the real kick back into photographing my gang was with the addition of the squirrely new boxer mix pup.

    This past summer, Mick’s health took a turn for the worse. Frantically I tried to get him on the mend and healthy, and at the same time I started to take more pictures of him, fearing that each day following would be his last. He got better and worse, then better again, all while I snapped pictures of the good days, and tried to make him look good on his bad days. A few days prior to him passing away, I brought him out for a car ride for a low key session, not knowing that these would be the last images I would capture of him. And I cherish them. Sure he looks skinny, and his balance was off, but he was happy.

    Huge hugs to you and your family! Don’t regret that you didn’t get pictures, embrace the fact that you do have pictures!ReplyCancel

  • Jean - Message for Holly – you do not know us but we are very, very sorry to hear about your loss of Brindle. We wanted to send you a note because my husband and I were shocked at how unbelievably similar Brindle looked to our Boxer, Pica. Pica passed away a few weeks ago at 12.5 yrs old. We understand your heartache. We think you might enjoy seeing a few photos of Pica, as much as we enjoyed seeing sweet Brindle. If you are interested, please send your email and we would be happy to send a few your way. (it is shocking! :))
    Jean and Paul HerringReplyCancel

  • Kaylee Greer - Oh, Holly. I am in tears right now for you and for sweet Brindel. It hurts so much to let them go – its the hardest decision you’ll ever have to make in your life. And your heart will be broken into about a million little pieces for what will seem like an eternity. But slowly, you’ll put the pieces back together, with the sweet memories as glue. She served her purpose during here time here on earth – to love so endlessly and to shape and change the heart of the people she spent her life with. My heart goes out to you Holly. Kiss your sweet girl for me. She’s absolutely perfect.ReplyCancel

  • Karen Weiler - Oh Holly…my heart is breaking for you and Ron. This is never an easy decision and I wish you all the strength you need to help her one last time. Now, hug her, hold her, and kiss that lovely big head. Brindel will always be in your hearts and her legacy will live on.ReplyCancel

  • Ann Ranlett - Kaylee said it beautifully.

    I’m so sorry Holly. My heart aches for you and Ron. I know all too well the pain of losing a beloved pet and I’m crying after reading your post. I’m certain that Brindel is grateful for the many wonderful years she’s had with you and for your loving decision to release her from her failing body. Thank you for taking the time to write this post, I hope it will convince many pet owners not to wait to get those perfect photos.ReplyCancel

  • Donna Meade - I feel your pain and share your tears. I struggled with the same decision last year with my 16 year old girl. Although it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, you know when it is time. It took all my strength as I sat with her and stroked her head and reassured her, looked into her trusting eyes, spoke to her softly, even though she has been deaf for years and hoped she felt no anxiety as she passed on. Their lives are much too short. I’m so sorry.ReplyCancel

  • Stacey Morrison - Your heartbreak is palpable in this post – so sorry for the difficult days ahead. Sending healing thoughts to you and your family.ReplyCancel

  • Reena - Hugs to you and your family. It is the hardest thing in the world to do, but you know in your heart it is the right thing. Give Brindel a hug and kiss from me. She knows she is one loved little pup.ReplyCancel

  • Karen Hubbard - My heart goes out to you and your family. May Brindles journey to the bridge be peaceful. Prayers and blessings to you all.ReplyCancel

  • Heather Davidson - Big hugs from me & Oscar Peterson. I have had to make this decision twice. It totally bites! and it doesn’t matter how long our wonderful animals live – it is NEVER long enough for us. You are doing the best for her, in my opinion, as you have likely done all her life. Anything less & it’s for selfish reasons, to spare yourself.
    I hope more people listen to your advice. Luckily it’s a lesson I was born knowing. I have always photographed my furbabies through all stages of their lives. My husband IS a photographer & I have a very good camera & some knowledge of photography, so although many of our images (and thankfully, there are thousands) aren’t by a “professional” they are wonderful & I am so glad to have them.
    You will be in our prayers – hugs & woof, Heather & OscarReplyCancel

  • Rubi Florez - Hi Holly…
    It’s hard for us to take that painful decision to let our friends go to the rainbow.
    But your decision, is a decision for the love of Brindlel.
    You love so much her that you can’t let that this awesome girl feel pain.

    The most important and great photo of Brindel is in your heart. Don’t feel regreats for no taking enough photos of her, your heart is your best photo album of this sweet girl and is a forever album.

    I wish that all that memories whit Brindel, all that moments,all that smiles, give you some peace.

    Your’re blessed with her presence. Please do not let the sadness will make you forget the joy you shared with her.

    Best whishes for you in this hard time.

    (Rubi and all my little dogs: Pequitas, Mechitas, Preciosa, and my little cats Lulo and Michu mIchu)ReplyCancel

  • Beth - Oh Holly, I am so sorry! Its so hard to let someone you love go! My thoughts are with you and your family and Holly!ReplyCancel

  • Emily - Your post hit close to my heart as last year my husband and I had to let our sweet first born, Rosco, go to heaven. He, coincidentally, looked quite a bit like your sweet girl Brindel and was also an 11 year old boxer. I am an amateur photographer. From the day we brought him home (I used to say the day I gave birth to him because I didn’t want him to know he was adopted…lol) I took tons and tons of pictures of him. My favorite, one I took when he was 10 and full of gray on his muzzle but still cancer free, hangs in our living room. It is bigger than life at 18X24 inches. I look at it every day and it has become my window to him now that he is gone. Our pets are our guardian angels while they are here and when they leave us. My heart goes out to you at this terribly sad and painful time for you and your family. I wish you peace in the coming days.ReplyCancel

  • Yolande - So sorry to hear about you are going through this. It breaks my heart as I truly know what it’s like. It’ll be 2 years in December that we went through this with our boxer girl. Part of my healing process was to create a photobook of my girl. Although at times it made me cry, it also made me laugh and it warmed my heart as I recalled when each photo was taken. I can’t say this is for everybody but it helped me. Your point is well taken as although I had a ton of photos of her, I had very few of her and I and I really wish I had more. I won’t make this mistake the second time.ReplyCancel

  • Susan Thieleman - Holly, I wish I could hug you right now. Bless you for loving you beautiful Brindel enough to release her from her suffering. Two of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make were when it was time for my 15 year old Dalmatian to travel to Rainbow bridge and a few months later, make the same decision for my 13 year old Cocker Spaniel. 5 years later and I still grieve for them. I have other dogs in my life now and I love them each dearly and it doesn’t diminish the loss of my “Golden Girls”. I never got pictures done with them and regret it a lot. A couple years ago, I had family pics done with my sons and included my two dogs in the shoot. One of my favorite pics is one of me alone with my furkids. I’ve just recently added another (a foster failure I am)and have already talked to a photog friend about doing new pictures of the four of us. Maybe I’ll even include my sons. I’ll be thinking of you tomorrow when you make this sad journey and will be sending strength and love your way.
    Run free of pain, sweet Brindel. The Bridge is a beautiful place made just for you. <3ReplyCancel

  • Sherry - Holly, Im crying right now, my heart is breaking for you. As a mom to a 14 year old pup that stole my heart when he was 2 months old I am filled with anquish that it will be me soon that will also be going down that road. Your beautiful Brindel will be in Heaven and you will see him again. I truely believe that, what would Heaven be without our loved ones <3 Bless you for sharing your pain, your photos, your love of Brindel. Love SherryReplyCancel

  • Mel Hammonds - Holly, I am so sorry for what you are going through. I have had to make this choice twice already, so I feel your pain. Thank you for sharing your story and for reminding us all of what’s important. Big hugs to you.ReplyCancel

  • Bonnie - Oh goodness, Holly, my heart aches for you and sweet Brindel. This is absolutely one of the hardest decisions you will ever have to make. It is heartbreaking and gut wrenching, and something no one who hasn’t been through it can ever understand. You may not have all of the pictures you would have like to have had, but the ones that you have are fabulous! And you have something else – the memory of her life. I found myself in the exact same position a few years ago – your words really touched a cord with me. Something that I found to be very therapeutic as we mourned the loss of our beloved Oliver, was to write at least one sentence of every funny memory we could remember. Not detailed stories, just something to jog our memories so we would never forget. Years later, I still look over the list we made and remember. Now, it brings a smile to my face and warms my heart. It will take time to heal, but you will eventually find that the pain is easing every so slightly and then more each passing week. Eventually you will look at the amazing images you do have of her and you will no longer cry, but smile and remember the life you shared together.
    Thank you for your heartfelt words and sharing your love for Brindel with us. Your post was deeply touching.
    With sincerest sympathy,
    BonnieReplyCancel

  • June - Dear Holly: My heart aches for what you & your family are going through right now. We have loved & lost 3 Boxers in the past 40 years. I know how it feels to make that decision & then to feel loaded with guilt for not being able to do something more that would have kept our pet with us. We lost ‘Murphy’ due to very similar circumstances as your ‘Brindle’. We tried everything & even carried her in & out of the house to do her ‘business’ ~ holding her while she did it because she had lost control of her back legs her bowels & had very little strength in her front legs. She always seemed to be looking at us with an ‘I’m sorry’ face that broke my heart. The Vet helped us to make the final decision to put her to sleep. Her last days were filled with love & hugging & talking & any treat she wanted from each member of our family. Unfortunately this sad experience has happened several times to me during my 62 years. I want you to know that your letter will be helpful to others dealing with the loss of their pet ~ as well as being somewhat cathartic to you. One thing that helped me endure the experience was ~ at With our Vet during the end process, I held my arms around my dog ~ I wanted & needed them to feel my touch & hear my voice until the end ~ I whispered in their ear how much I loved them until their last heartbeat. Some may think it was a foolish gesture but I know that it helped me. One of the pictures that I took of ‘Angel’ our daughter’s Boxer is framed & sits with his ashes & his paw print. She has her arms around him & both of them are smiling. It is a beautiful memory for her as he passed 2 months later. Your photos & all your advice to pet owners about taking photos ‘now’ is a wonderful gift for you to give in ‘Brindle’s’ Memory. Now I must go blow my nose, get my camera & go take some photos of my babies in the back yard ~ 15, 12 & 8 years old. Thankyou for reminding me! Love & hugs x0x0x0x0ReplyCancel

  • Marianne - Your post showed up on my feed and really touched my heart. I went through this a year ago with a senior dog I had adopted at 14. I had him a year. Luckily for me, the perfect photo op happened at the park about a month before it was time. He was standing in a wooded area and the sun rays just shined on him creating a kind of glow. I knew at the time, this would likely be his farewell picture and will forever treasure it.

    When I was making the extremely tough decision (no matter what the circumstances everyone second guesses themselves)I read a lot of things on the internet, one stood out. It said to be with your dog and calm yourself, communicate nonverbally and wait. It may sound kind of strange, but I really think my dog sent me a nonverbal message that was bittersweet, but a clear message all the same. The overwhelming message that entered my mind was that he was finally happy to have a home where he belonged and was loved and he didn’t want to leave, but knew it was time.

    I held him in my arms and stayed as calm and pleasant as I could. I didn’t want his last experience with me to be with me crying so I saved those emotions for later. I treasure the year I had with him and the fact that I gave him dignity and love in his last days, something that had been lacking in his life as he was in a shelter for a couple of years before I adopted him. He passed on a loved, wanted dog in the arms of someone who loved him very much and misses him every day.

    My thoughts will be with you. The loss is not unlike the loss of a human family member and don’t let anyone tell you your grief is different because it is a pet. Often our connections with our pets are more real than our connections with humans. But the Sadness and Loss is very, very real. Feel it and Grieve in whatever way you need to. Your friends…and even people who have never met you or beautiful Brindle share in your loss and sending loving, caring compassionate thoughts your way. A collective HUG from all of us!ReplyCancel

  • Darlene - Holly – I’m so sorry for your loss. I went through the exact situation with one of my dogs, watching her slowly lose the use of her back legs, helping her pee, etc. It was so painful yet I was grateful that I was able to help her until the end. The end is still terrible though. How fortunate you are to have had such an exceptional companion and how fortunate she has been to have had you to love her.ReplyCancel

  • Fetching! | The Daily Dog Tag - […] Please send good thoughts to Holly Montgomery and her dog Brindel. […]ReplyCancel

  • Debra - I am so sorry for what you are going through. It has been 3 years since I lost my first dog Sasha to Lymphoma, though it feels like yesterday. My heart still aches and when I read about others losing their pets, all the emotions of that day I come back in full force.
    I have tons of photographs of her, and I did hire a professional to photograph me and her together and I am so thankful I did.
    Watching pets age and deteriorate in front of our eyes is one of the hardest things to go though. But take comfort in knowing that your baby had a beautiful life.ReplyCancel

  • belinda bishop - thank you for sharing. digital wasn’t around with our 1st dog so i’ve been trying to get hardcopy photos scanned. i try to take pictures of my dogs at least every few weeks. we have had 3 that have crossed the rainbow bridge in just over a year. i’ve made photo books for each of them. i did make a few pictures of our dogs at the end, but they’re not in the photo book. the photo book only has happy, healthy pictures.ReplyCancel

  • Donna Brand - I am sorry for the impending loss of your precious Brindle. You gave her the give of love and to know that her life meant something and that she had an important place in your life. As others have stated, we have all had to walk in your steps many times. And it never gets easier. Thank you for sharing such a poignant story. As I was with my last dog at the vet’s I held her and sang to her and told her how much I loved her as she slowly crossed over. I have a collage of her and all my other babies on a wall and I smile as I look at it thinking of the events of each one. My thoughts are with you and your family.ReplyCancel

  • Orange Ruffy, Warrior Poet of Catster - To Brindle’s Mommy-please find enclosed an adbridged version of a tribute I have done for those who ascend the stairway before us on Catster. May your Souls rejoice for the wonder you shared with teh world with Brindle, even as your hearts are sad….

    To those who have gone before us….
    Do you, free of earthly bonds, leap up and out
    Guided by your wild heart back to the Ancestors
    And those you have known and loved who have gone before?

    To those who have gone before us-
    Do you, as you find others who are passing up and out, star bound,
    turn and for a moment whimper a soft comforting sound to those you leave behind, sending with it waves of love to blanket sore
    and grieving souls?

    To those who have gone before us, do you, in your infitate wisdom, know exactly where you are going, for Dog is God spelled
    backward, and this is a Mystery you have always known?

    To those who have gone before us, do you, as you skid to a stop amidist good smells and comforting light, meet with elders who touch noses to yours, and say ‘welcome back, and so, what have you learned?’

    To those who have gone before us-I sit up on my hinds, and I salute you, those who may not know me, but who share a warriors heart and a poets soul, and above all, a loyalty and dedication to those we love-be they before us, or to follow.

    I salute you, and I send you, dear canine friend, all the comfort that we, as refuges who have come in from the cold have known.

    May blessings abound, sweet hound.

    love and light,
    Orange Ruffy
    Warrior Poet of CatsterReplyCancel

  • Carol - I feel for you so very deeply. I faced a similar situation last May when I had to let my 19 year old cat go. I’d had him since he was tiny enough to fit in the palm of my hand. I am not a photographer, but I have a camera. Why didn’t I take more pictures?

    He was a lesson in life and lives on in my heart as your Brindel will. If you possibly can, look into ‘at home euthanasia.’ Many vets have mobile units that allow your pet to go to sleep in the comfort and security of your home. My Boukie just fell asleep on my couch. It was very peaceful.ReplyCancel

  • Laurie - So very sorry that you are going through this. I’ve experienced the full life cycle with four of my dogs and have no regrets keeping them as long as I could. Yes, it will be a while before you can look at her pictures without crying, but there will come a time. And yes, photos are great to have once you get beyond that point, but what’s important is the impression Brindle has left on your heart and soul. That will bring you strength and comfort.

    Prayers for God to ease your grief. Godspeed, sweet Brindle.ReplyCancel

  • Stephanie - I can’t imagine what it’s like to be in your place right now. I read this blog post yesterday and thought about Brindle throughout today. I hope your day together was extra special. Thank you for the reminder that our time together is short and to cherish and capture the moments while we can. Many prayers will be heading your way as you face tomorrow and the days to come.ReplyCancel

  • Mary Siani - I’m so sorry Holly. Sending you hugs and warm thoughts. Thank you for sharing and reminding us to cherish every moment. I know you did. xoReplyCancel

  • Gramma - Brindel has been blessed with the best life that any dog could ever hope for. She has always been an energetic happy soul. It now takes great courage to allow her to leave today with the dignity she deserves, and I know it is what she would want. True beauty doesn’t fade with age and it is important to capture that in photos as well, which you have, Holly. You are a lovely old lady and it is with great sadness that I say good-bye, Brindel, but I know we will all meet again someday. Love ya. GrammaReplyCancel

  • Lisa Davis - Your blog post was shared on FaceBook via good friend of mine yesterday, and it really struck a chord with me. I lost my first boy, Duncan in 2007 at age 7 – I thought I’d have more time with him. Then when I knew I was losing my adopted Oscar at age 12, I did invest in professional photos of him and one with him (he passed 3 weeks later). I didn’t get any of my 18 year old cat who passed 2 months later. Last year, I lost my 3 year old Brosa – again, I thought I’d have more time with him and therefore no professional photos with him. Today, my beautiful old girl is rushing towards 12 years old. I NEED to make the appointment to get photos done with her and her newly adopted sister (and 14 year old cat).ReplyCancel

  • Anita - I am reading your very heartfelt post and know exactly what you are feeling. I don’t know you and for all I know you could be half way across the world but please know you are not alone. We had to put our lovely Sampson down when he was just 3 yrs old because of an uncurable very painful eye disease and then just 2 yrs ago we had to lay to rest my first puppy love Zephyr…she was 10 and in just a short time it seemed she turned from playful puppy to a dog who also could not stand with her back legs….although we knew it was her time to go it does not make it any easier. In your heart you know you are doing the right thing so that your fur babies no longer suffer and yet the guilt of actually doing the deed and the heartache in making the decision is almost too much to bear…just no you are not alone and one day again you will be able to look at the photos you have and smile while thinking of all the cuddles and silly things your brindle may have doneReplyCancel

  • Christina - I just happened upon your blog. I am so sorry to hear about your beloved Brindel. When my husband and I married almost 15 years ago we had three dogs who we dearly loved. We lost both our golden retriever and our great dane. In both cases it was extremely sad but they were sick and died due to major health problem in a vets office and there was no choice to be made. Baxter, our Heinz 57 mutt is the third of our 3 dogs and I have always thought he would live forever since he has had no health problems. We found out 2 months ago that he has a inoperable tumor in his nasal cavity. It is growing quickly and we have kept him comfortable. We are now facing that gut wrenching decision of when is the right time to send him to rainbow bridge. I feel that it will be within a matter of days, but both my husband and I are really stuggling.ReplyCancel

  • Cynthia - My deepest and sincerest condolences,,,,, as a pet rescuer, we have bid farewell to many a pet. We miss them terribly and fondly, and have amazing memories, once the pain lessens, and it will. I said goodbye to my 35 year old mare that I had since she was one, a true member of our family. We also said farewell to our 21 year old cat, plus a senior rescued feline as well as her five year old off-spring. We have also sadly buried three senior dogs, but, no matter the numbers, that journey is always a painful one. However, we will always continue to rescue. Our home is not a home unless it has many paws afoot!! We are blessed with four cats and three dogs, which we have had for many years, however, two of the dogs are quite senior and riddled with gray. As an amateur photographer, I share your feelings in that I was not comfortable with photos I had taken of our pets when their health was failing, their spirit saddened and quiet. These photos rekindle the pain and sorrow. The photos that we do cherish are those that instill the memories of the many outtings, journeys and moments that we shared and continue to share, those moments that we managed to capture and depict the true spirit and identity of our pets. In time, you too will cherish the amazing photographs that you took with Brindleberry. Please know out thoughts are with you at this difficult time.ReplyCancel

  • Kimberley - My heart cries for you. Thank you for sharing and I wish you all of the beautiful memories of a young and healthy Brindel in your dreams tonight. Try not to have regrets or guilt, you have given her a wonderful long life and she knows that, and you have given her the gift of not suffering any longer because you love her that much. Aloha to you and your family, God BlessReplyCancel

  • Angela Boylan - I am so sorry you are facing this difficult decision. Our leopard Catahoula, named R.J. was 19 yrs. old. We made the difficult and painful decision after I had spent the last 4 months cooking and he stopped eating. I was cooking for him, because he quit eating dog food of any kind. His heart was enlarged and he had a few skin tags as well. We let him pass on February 16, 2013. We had one last walk together the day before. I knew things were getting difficult and we had to do the right thing. As I write this, I am crying. I know we made the right decision and he is out of pain. We still have our sweet Labrador, named Hilary. My heart still aches and we had never had to put a dog down. I sat on the floor and he went to sleep peacefully while I thanked him for every day he was with us. God is good, but this pain is so unbearable. I will be praying for you and your family during this difficult time.ReplyCancel

  • Jeanne Hogan Warnars - My heart goes out to you for so great a loss. I have walked that road twice, twelve years apart. Both of my princesses were more than thirteen years old~and we had no idea that they would be so cherished, so loved, so much a part of what our family is~ that we wouldn’t want to breathe without them. Thank you for sharing your joys and your grief. You will be in my prayers.ReplyCancel

  • Sara - Holly,
    I am so sorry for what you are going through. We have been in your shoes many, many times and it is always the most difficult thing to say good-bye. I will be thinking of you and hoping that time will heal your pain.ReplyCancel

  • Linda - Has only been a few weeks since we had to make this choice. We were prepared for it to come time as we adopted her from No More Homeless Pets at the age of 11. We wanted to give her the gift of a forever home for her last few years of life. She gave us the gift of trust and love.
    It is never easy to choose this and yet it is truly the greatest gift we can give them. We took Zeika to the Vet and when we lifted her up onto the table and cuddled with her she just totally relaxed and held out the leg with the IV in it. We talked to her of the Rainbow Bridge and how one day we will join her there on the other side. We thanked her for being a part of our life, if only for 3 short years. She drifted peacefully off to sleep. On the way home the song, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”, by IZ came on the radio. And then above us in the rainy sky, we saw a beautiful rainbow. We feel it was her gift to us and she was telling us she had arrived back home across the rainbow bridge. You are in my thoughts and prayers. Much love.ReplyCancel

  • bonny - Holly, when I lost the dog of my heart two years ago, the book that helped me the most was “Going Home” by Jon Katz.

    I am both a therapist and canine behaviorist who thought that I should be prepared for how much it hurt to help Bartleby at the end of his life. I was so wrong.

    The photos of him are what get me through on the rough days. My one regret is that I did not get any video…which I could easily have done!

    My hope is that the courage it takes to do the right thing for Brindel will eventually ease the burden on your heart.

    Blessings for peace and ease of mind.ReplyCancel

  • Holly Garner-Jackson - Holly, I am so very sorry that you have had to go through this pain. Helping your dog go home is the greatest gift that we can give them. I have bee there several times and it is never easy, but so necessary. Our dogs give us so much, this is the one thing that we can do for them, that means so very much.

    What you have said about the photographs is so very true and important. Before the digital age I took photos, but not nearly as many as I can take now without the worry of costs. Four years ago, I lost my heart dog Maggie suddenly and without warning to a bile duct blockage. She was only 6 and I have never grieved as much as I did when we lost her. I had hundreds of photos of our dear Maggie Muggins because they were digital and I posted them on Flickr….. I could not bear to look at them for weeks after Maggie died. Now I look back at them and smile as the memories flood back. Maggie made us smile, even laugh every day.

    Cherish every photo of your sweet Brindel when you are ready, and she will stay in your heart forever. Healing energy to you and your family in this time of sorrow.
    ( I’m a friend of illona’s)ReplyCancel

  • Beth - My heart aches for you, but you’re stronger than you think, when, unfortunately time catches up with the furbabies out age us.It’s been several years since the last of our furkids out aged us…I’ve started crying as soon as I realized what you are going thru, it will subside, but will always be there as any loved that has past…
    My daughter’s first pup, Ginger, 13yrs, she began with the lost the control of her bladder and the quality of life had finally come to that same point you are dealing with.
    And, at the same time my kitty, Weezer, 15yrs, had reached that point too. That was a very hard day; we all gathered, my son, daughter & her boyfriend, to help these wonderful partners of ours move on to the rainbow bridge.
    We took them to our family home to lay them to rest with others that have past thru our lives and left before we were ready…
    My mom’s home, where we had all grown up, even my kids had lived.
    God be with you, you were Brindel’s world and she will be alright because you are there with her thru it all…til the end.
    HUGS & prayersReplyCancel

  • Kathy - Holly,
    I am so sorry. I truly feel your pain. I cried when I read your post. I have sent many pets over the Rainbow Bridge. It seems to be harder with every one. They give us so much love. I do like to remember them healthy and young. It is a good idea to take pictures, videos, etc. Brindel was as blessed to have you as you are to have shared her life with her. I don’t know if this will help at all, but one of my friends once told me that the greatest gift I can give the wonderful being I lost is to rescue another. I wish I could say something to ease your pain and guilt. I know it too well, Thank you so much for sharing. I do think your post will help others.ReplyCancel

  • Carolyn - As a pet parent, this is the most agonizing decision you’ll ever have to make. Our pets ask very little of us, but because of the reality of life, they really do rely on us for so much. A place to sleep, food to eat, a time and place to stretch their legs, waiting for their people to come home to brighten their day, comfort when they need it, grooming, warmth, treats, entertainment, medicine… Domesticated, they are completely at our mercy. Of all these things, the decision of when it is time to let them go is the most important decision we will ever make for them. And the most difficult. And heartbreaking.

    We’ve had many pets throughout our life, but only a few in which we were forced to make this decision. I know firsthand how this weighs on your mind and tears you apart. http://www.phodographer.com/blog/sunset-of-life/

    I wish you strength to get you through the coming days, joy in remembering the life you gave her and the love you shared, and peace to know that you did what was the right thing for Brindel, and that you made what may be the most selfless decision in your life – the decision to let her go.ReplyCancel

  • April - I am so so sorry for your loss. But I cannot express how right you are. A urge came over me last October, when my babies were 7 and 8 to hire a professional photographer and have their pictures taken. Fast forwards less than a year and my sweet girl, who was 7, and had turned 8 in April, died of metastatic lung cancer. Not even a year later – she was gone. I have those amazing photos – which you simply cannot capture on a phone or a camera to remember her. I did do a bereavement session – and some photos I can tell she was ill, others I can’t – she looks healthy and well. I have those memories forever – and I am so grateful. It’s been just over a month since I lost Grace – but I cannot express my sorry to your loss and my agreement in the importance of capturing the memories.ReplyCancel

  • Pam Stacy - I am writing to you because a friend sent this to me so read today. Our mixed dog Pumpkin, is almost 17 years old now, and has massive growth in her stomach area. She is actually our sons dog, but do to his work, he had to leave her with us and she has been with us much longer than she was with him. She is now to the point that she cannot get herself up off the hardwood and tile floor. Her legs give out on her and she doesn’t have the strength to recover them. I believe that it is the mass pushing on her nerves. She has lost her urine many times in the house, which is so very unlike her and she has an awful time defecating. My son lives in Florida and he wants to have Pumpkin cremated. This is fine with us. He also wants to be here IF/WHEN the time comes that we have to have her put down. This is going to be one of the hardest days of my life, besides burying my parents and my Brother. Punks has been like our Grand Child and has been there thru thick and thin for us. The unconditional love that she has given us is remarkable. I have decided to take her to the vet tomorrow and find out exactly what they think and make the decision, one way or the other.

    Please send me strength to make the right decision for our loved one, and the strength to get thru this in whichever way it should go. TY

    My heart is bleeding for you and Brendel and your family.ReplyCancel

  • Lisa Prince Fishler - Holly I am so sorry. These photos you posted here are gorgeous — what a lovely soul. <3ReplyCancel

  • Paula - Hello, I am truly sorry for your loss. I am saying this from my heart cause I just put my golden to sleep the 6th. I know this is the hardest thing to go through. This was my first time too putting my best friend to sleep. I write a pet blog and dedicated it to my Lexi. I wrote a post Good-bye to Lexis, to help me as therapy and hopefully help others to deal with such a horrific loss.

    Everyone has their own way to deal with grief. I had always helped dogs in need. My Lexi was the socializer, so I continue in remembrance of her and she was always my inspiration.

    Just follow your heart and do what is right for you. I prayed a lot too. It is great that you have so many pictures of Brindle. You do not want a current one. I am glad you told everyone to have photos made now. I hardly have any of us together either. But I have lots of her outings and so forth. No hard copy at all.

    Please do not feel guilty, you should have done this or that. When I start to do that, I quickly think of all the things that we did do together. I am sure you can say the same. You gave Brindle the best possible life full of love. Please remember this in your sadness and grief. Here is my tribute to Lexis if you care to read. http://thedogwalkersandiego.wordpress.com/2013/09/07/good-bye-lexis-you-are-always-in-my-heart/

    Bless you in your time of sorrow.ReplyCancel

  • Karen - This is one of the most beautiful and touching tributes I have ever read. God bless you!ReplyCancel

  • Tammi Goff - I am so sorry but want to thank you so much for this post. I sent my beloved Chelsea over Rainbow Bridge a few years back, after 14 years of companionship. Her mind & spirit were willing, but her body was failing her. I wish I’d taken more photos of myself with her when she was younger, but cherish all of the photos I do have of her. I never took any photos of her in her last days because I wanted to remember her as the playful, spunky, spirited pup she was before age caught up with her. It’s a tough decision to make, but in the end, you know you’re doing what’s in her best interest. Take care & God Bless!ReplyCancel

  • Jeannie Blevins - So sorry for your loss of your beautiful fur baby. I just lost mine after 12 wonderful years with my sweet Gabe. My heartfelt condolences. I too regretted not having a really great pic with my pet. God Bless.ReplyCancel

  • moi - So sorry to hear your sad news. Sending you and Brindel lots of hugs, love, light and angels. ♥ReplyCancel

  • Jen - Oh Holly – my heat aches for you and I feel sick thinking of you, your family and the road you have ahead…. – I pray that you gain peace and comfort these next few days and that you remember that you MUST do what is best for her – Brindel has lived a long full life and you MUST remember those days and bask in those memories. Sending hugs your way. what a very moving personal blog post and a great reminder to all(especially us photographers) how beautiful portraits of our loved ones are priceless! Sending more hugs…ReplyCancel

  • Brown Dog Photography | Don’t put off for tomorrow, what you should do today - […] I read a blog (warning, it will make even the hardest of persons teary-eyed) that a fellow pet photographer […]ReplyCancel

  • Verjean - Holly, as a photographer, I learned long ago to take thousands of pictures of my own dogs…from puppyhood through old age. Gorgeous pictures, silly pictures, win pictures, play pictures. When it comes time to say goodbye, I find it hard to look at the pictures for some period of time, and that period of time seems to be different with each dog…but at some point, those pictures are like an old friend, and you find yourself getting lost in them and remembering the day you took them…where you were, what you were doing, what the events of the day were, and just everything surrounding the reality of that photo. Almost without exception, the first task is to gather that photo, or photos that are the essence of my lost companion, and a memorial takes shape. And it seems that is how I work through my grief. Once the memorial is complete, I seem more at ease with the lifetime of photos…and they become a tangible touchstone to that friend which is now absent in this present. The grief is overwhelming, but I wouldn’t trade it for all the gold in the world…because those years of having them in my life are beyond priceless. I am so sorry for your loss. I know the pain all too well, but somehow a new joy always seems to find it’s way into my life and I hope that is also the case with you. God bless you for sharing such a beautiful and painful reality of life in such a loving and compassionate way.ReplyCancel

  • Alliey Bender - I have been following your work for a while now and as a fellow pet photographer and pet owner I know how challenging this must have been for you and wanted to give my thoughts and prayers to you and your family. I don’t nearly take as many photos of my two shih-tzu’s as we are always busy with editing and capturing the moments of others. It is so important to remember we need to remember that we need memories too.

    I know you have given her a good, loving life. Giving you hugs from Ohio.ReplyCancel

  • The Weeks without Brindel » BrindleBerry – Custom Pet Photography - […] many of your read in my previous blog, My Only Regret, the days leading up to Brindel’s journey to the bridge were awful. I have never felt so torn […]ReplyCancel

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