While it’s hard to find a silver lining in the depths of grief, the truth is that it’s a great privilege to have loved something so fiercely that its loss makes you feel as if the entire world has collapsed.
Two and a half years ago I lost Jackson, the canine love of my life. He had been my dog for six years and was my main companion when I lived alone in Los Angeles. Before horses, before my husband, before I even had a cat.
I won’t recount the whole story here, just the most important lesson I learned.
There is an iconic photo of Kate Moss with a Great Dane on a beach (below left), and I’ve always been obsessed with it. For Christmas one year, my husband Chris gifted me a photo shoot with L.A. fashion photographer Paige Craig.
Is it odd to take pictures with your dog on the beach? No.
It is weird to get professional hair and makeup and styling that included a white gown, and then take pictures with your dog on the beach? Perhaps. Yeah, okay, it’s a little weird. But it shouldn’t be!
I will treasure these photos for the rest of my life.
The fact that I would lose him one day was the furthest thing from my mind when we did this shoot.
But now that these pictures (which are hanging all over my house) are the only physical reminder I have left of him, they are my most prized possessions. And they’re a major part of the reason I’m passionate about telling the love story between a horse and rider.
We’re so, so lucky that horses usually live much longer than dogs. However, they sometimes go in and out of our lives in a way that dogs usually don’t… after all, a sport horse can have a love story with many riders over the course of his life, which is an incredible gift in itself.
The point is this… whether the horse you’re riding now is your forever horse, or a horse you leased for the show season, your bond is real, and unique, and deserves to be preserved with beautiful photography.
P.S. Because you asked…
You can read the entire story of me and Jackson the Great Dane at this link. BUT BE WARNED… YOU WILL NEED TISSUES. NOT ONE TISSUE. A LOT OF TISSUES.
“Dogs’ lives are short, too short, but you know that going in. You know the pain is coming, you’re going to lose a dog, and there’s going to be great anguish, so you live fully in the moment with him, never fail to share his joy or delight in his innocence, because you can’t support the illusion that a dog can be your lifelong companion. There’s such beauty in the hard honesty of that, in accepting and giving love while always aware that it comes with an unbearable price.” Author Dean Koontz