He was their first baby. He was their oldest, their furriest, their tamest. He was with them through moves around the country, and babies, and so many adventures. He was robust, and energetic, and so very good.

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Until he wasn’t. Until one day he started to unravel at the seams and he couldn’t be put back together. They knew the time had come to say goodbye. They knew that the days with Gatsby were numbered and the moments left were precious ones. They knew this was the end that all pet-owners have to face at one time or another.

You may know how this feels. Maybe you have lost a pet in the past? As a fellow dog owner I have seen more than one of my furry babies pass away. I still miss them dearly.

In search of a great photographer, Gatsby’s owner Erik contacted SmugMug, a local company that knows great photos and amazing photographers. SmugMug is a photo and website hosting service and their headquarters are located close to Erik’s home. Many of SmugMug’s employees are photographers or photo enthusiasts. SmugMug reached out to me and that is how I met Gatsby, and his family.  Erik and I talked, and laughed, and I felt Erik’s sadness over his dog’s impending death pulse through the telephone as we set up a photo shoot for the very next evening.

Gatsby was everything they told me he was. Gentle, and loyal. Adoring to his masters and with the children he was as sweet as could be. He had soulful eyes that made you feel like he was talking to you when you looked at him, speaking volumes through those chocolate brown eyes.

We laughed and played in the evening sunshine that day, and for a moment we could forget that this was one of his last evenings. For that hour the sun shone down, and Gasby snuck in licks on his Mom and Dad’s faces, and the kids giggled and patted him. It was a gift. An evening spent watching a family be in in the present soaking up each other and giving thanks for the years they had been given with their dog. Moments like that don’t happen every day, and if you are lucky, you are invited to witness them very few times in your life. I feel honored that I was that witness.

The same day I delivered these photos to this dear family, sweet Gatsby passed away. Their two small children will grow not really remembering this dog of their youth but I am hopeful that these photos will cement in all of their minds this day in the sunshine that they played with their dog before he had to leave.

Rest in peace sweet Gatsby.

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