Saying Goodbye

Accepting the death of a pet is never easy. Here are suggestions for working through this difficult time as a pet owner.

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Accepting the death of a pet is never easy. Here are suggestions for working through this difficult time as a pet owner.

by Martha Stewart

Many people have trouble admitting that they’re grieving a pet. They’re often embarrassed or ashamed, especially when outsiders comment that it’s only a pet or that they can get another dog or cat. “There’s a stigma in society about losing a companion animal. It’s more accepted to mourn the loss of a person than a pet,” says Diane Pomerance, author and grief-recovery specialist. She asks people to remind themselves that they are in fact “mourning the loss of a family member.”

Getting through this difficult period starts by giving yourself permission to grieve. “Designate time every day to do this,” says Claire Chew Gillenson, a life-transition coach and petloss educator. Keep a journal. Talk to a counselor or friend who understands your loss.

If you had to put your animal to sleep, try not to fixate on your pet’s last moments. “If guilt surfaces, forgive yourself and remember that you did everything you could,” Gillenson says. Try to remember the good times: long games of fetch or evenings cozied up on the sofa.

If you have kids, especially if this is their first experience with death, talk openly with them. “Children are generally curious and want to know what’s happening,” says Mac Hafen, a clinical marriage and family therapist at the College of Veterinary Medicine at Kansas State, adding that it’s best to use terms such as death and dying rather than going to sleep, which could make children scared of going to bed at night. If they’re not asking questions, find out how they’re feeling. Try engaging them in play or artwork.

Taking time to honor your pet will also bring comfort and peace to you and your family. After Katie died, I sent a note to friends and family announcing her death and sharing stories from her therapy work. One of the hospitals where we volunteered held a memorial service for her, and I spent weeks creating a scrapbook of Katie’s life. All of these activities helped me say goodbye, but there are many ways — such as planting a tree, donating money, or holding a remembrance party — to memorialize your pet. The key is doing what feels right for you.

Images of your pet around your house allows for the grieving process to feel natural, you will feel less separation and can always look into your dogs eyes.

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100th Photo-Shoot with Canine Commitment New England Dog Rescue

I have had a fantastic time working with Canine Commitment of New England over the past 6 months or so. I have had many beautiful dogs come through the studio doors. My goal has always been to help rescue dogs get re-homed. Well, that has happened, and more! I have made wonderful friends with Ross and Melissa the owners of Canine Commitment of NE. They are smart, giving and a joy to “work” with. I can’t really call it work when it is with them. I have met many amazing volunteers that work with CCNE each one loving and supporting the work they do.

Well, in true KSP fashion I could not let this milestone go with out a bit of a photographic celebration. What to do…? Celebration=100th Dog plus nine of his friends=Party Hats=Cake! The let fun begin! All 10 of these beautiful dogs are up for adoption with Canine Commitment of NE, please visit the page to adopt or make a donation to help them continue with the wonderful work they do.

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My next Blog will be about how these puppies got their start.

 

 

Guest Blogger – Ross Norwood from Canine Commitment of NE – Dog Rescue

Dear KSP Followers,

It is my pleasure to have Ross Norwood as a guest blogger today.

Ross began her non-profit in December, 2010. There are two locations that are licensed shelter facilities in the state of NH. In Manchester, Melissa houses pups in her home while awaiting adoption. In New Boston, the pups have their own building on Ross’ property. Between the two locations, and a wonderful group of volunteers that help us care for the dogs, advertise the dogs, and process applications, Canine Commitment is saving hundreds of lives each year – and they continue to grow each year!

Ross grew up primarily in Texas, and attended the University of Texas in Austin where she graduated with an honors interdisciplinary liberal arts degree. Professionally, she spent her career in marketing and PR in both Austin, Texas, and Boston, Massachusetts. She became a stay-at-home mother in March of 2003 with the birth of her first daughter, Jamison. Annelise followed in November of 2006. In 2008 Ross and her family adopted a dog through Canine Commitment in Maine, where she met the director and told her “if you ever need someone to pick up a dog or anything, you should give me a call.” The rest is history. Ross and her family eventually moved from their home in Bedford, NH, to a home in New Boston on 22 acres, where the rescue pups could have their own building. Ross raises her two daughters with her husband, Scott Setzler, while managing the day-to-day activities of Canine Commitment. As a full-on ADD sufferer, Ross’ favorite saying is: Rescue is a lot of things, but it is never, ever boring. She has not been bored one day since starting this rescue journey. It provides the highest highs and lowest lows, but she knows she could never go back to not being a part, no matter how small, of a solution to our country’s overpopulation and killing. In the future, Ross hopes to work on educational programs to help teach children that animals deserve our respect and kindness. Perhaps, if we start with kids, we can all achieve a day where there will be no more dogs killed in our country for lack of a home.

I personally have had the privileged to work with both Ross and Melissa. When I tell you these ladies work hard it is an understatement. These ladies care for sick, injured, scared and abused animals all day every day. There’s is not a 9-5 job!  As much as Ross compliments me, she and Melissa are the ones doing the real work. I hope you enjoy Ross’ post and please consider adopting from or donating to Canine Commitment.

http://caninecommit.org/

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If you are lucky enough to know Kimberly Sarah Photography and you follow them on social media, you likely have seen Kim’s gorgeous photos of Canine Commitment’s dogs.

It was our lucky day, truly, when Kim reached out to us and offered her amazing talents to help us showcase our pups and help find their homes. Kim asked me to share a little bit about Canine Commitment, and I’m happy to do that!

Canine Commitment is an all-breed dog rescue based in New Boston and Manchester, New Hampshire. We have been around as Canine Commitment of New England since 2010, and since then thousands of dogs – and even a few hundred kittens – have come through our doors. “We” is two of us who are licensed as shelters out of our personal homes. We are set-up a bit differently than most rescues in that we work hands-on with each and every dog that comes through our rescue, and also work with the potential adopters. We utilize a handful of foster homes when needed, but primarily keep the dogs with us so that we know them well, can answer questions, and have them ready to meet potential adopters.

But “we” is also dozens of dedicated volunteers and a few employees who care for the dogs daily, assist with medical records and adoption packets, and keep two crazy rescuers sane! Over the years, the rescue has grown in wonderful ways and brought so many amazing dogs and fantastic people to us. We are so grateful that the thing we hear the most from applicants is that they know several people who have adopted from us, or even that they have adopted from us in the past and want to work with us again! It is incredible to us that we find great homes for not only the cute fluffy puppies, but also the senior dogs with medical issues, and the three legged pups and the deaf pups … all because so many people in our area open their homes and hearts to rescue dogs.

New England is unique from many parts of our country in that we do not have overflowing shelters and puppies in boxes for sale at every flea market. That, and much, much more, is what our rescue partners in the south are dealing with each and every day. Through our wonderful partnerships with Tupelo-Lee Humane Society, Southern Magnolia Boxer Rescue, and several independent rescuers, we are able to help move dogs into New England that otherwise would have no hope of finding a loving home. Whether you are looking for a puppy to grow up with your family, or a calm, older dog who didn’t get the best start in life, or a fun-loving, ready-for-adventure goofball, you can find what you are looking for through rescues like Canine Commitment and many other wonderful, dedicated groups across New England. And if you are really, really lucky … it might be one who has a glamour shot done by Kimberly Sarah Photography!

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NH Magazine Cover Image

How one Dog Photographer got the Cover of NH Magazine

I was on my way home from a very needed week off in December, sitting in the airport in the Jet Blue terminal when my phone rang. Well as you know, my first reaction was “another sales call” or “Hi! This is Susan from Google and I can help you get more visitors to your website”…blah. blah. blah. For some reason I answered it anyway. It was a nice gentleman on the other end, he said he was from NH Magazine. I thought, so here it comes, they want me to buy advertising. Nope!

He said he was on my website and loved my images. He was in search of a Cover Image for the February edition called “Pets”. He fell in love with the Out-Take image I had of a sweet little French Bulldog called Fiona. Fiona belongs to a good friend and SOPHA member Sue and her adorable daughter Emma.

It didn’t really hit me at the time what he was saying and on top of that they were boarding the plane! I had to quickly excuse myself from our conversation and ask that we catch up on Monday to talk again. What I really wanted was to make sure I heard him correctly. My image on the cover of NH Magazine!? Really?

As you can guess, Yes, my image on the cover. I was flattered. It was an incredible feeling.

By the end of January I started to look on the news stands and in Barnes and Noble for the magazine, it was not out at those times. In fact I had some what forgotten about it, until one day standing in line at Market Basket with Bud. Out of the blue I had remembered the magazine may be out. As I said to Bud, we should look for the magazine, I turned and there it was. He said I squealed but I don’t think so. I was kind of awesome to see on the checkout stands.

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It was an unforgettable moment! So much fun!

Here is the finished cover.

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NH Magazine is a great read, a great way to get to know what the people around you are doing. There are some wonderful artists, business people, restaurants etc. in our area.

George Eastman Museum – A history of Dogs in photos

When did dogs come into our lives as pets?

Wikipedia and other sites will tell you they aren’t exactly sure. They know it was the Grey Wolf about 27,000-40,000 years ago.  These dogs were mainly seen as assistants to humans. The hunters-gatherers types. Some scientists argue that friendly wolves sought out humans. Friendliness caused strange things to happen in the wolves. They started to look different. Domestication gave them splotchy coats, floppy ears, wagging tails. In only several generations, these friendly wolves would have become very distinctive from their more aggressive relatives. But the changes did not just affect their looks. Changes also happened to their psychology. These protodogs evolved the ability to read human gestures.

As dog owners we take for granted that our dog can get the toy we ask them too. Or if we have taken the time to teach out dogs hand gestures, they can read us. They are reading us! All of the time.Some dogs are so attuned to their owners that they can read even a simple, subtle change in eye direction.

Throughout history, animals have played a key role in human life. People have come to rely on animals for food, clothing, and transportation. Even religious worship.

From what I have learned pet keeping wasn’t generally accepted in Europe until the end of the 17th century, and it wasn’t common among the middle classes until the late 18th century. Pet keeping in its present form is probably a 19th century Victorian invention. At this time, it was perceived as a link with the natural world, which itself was no longer seen as threatening. It also allowed a visible demonstration of man’s domination over nature.

My reason to today’s blog is not to school you in the history of pet keeping but to answer my curiosity of when were dogs important enough to photograph?

The George Eastman House Museum

In my on-going quest to answer this question. I stumbled upon some answers. While Bud and I were attending the George Eastman House in Rochester, NY for a class in Daguerreotypes, we had a chance to visit the museum, or “George’s house”. I was surprised to find these four photos hanging in his private family collection.

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Be Sure to look closely at the dates. The 1800’s!

When I travel through a museum I have this thing about seeing how many paintings include a dog, I want a better understanding. It’s quite a lot actually. Dogs by themselves hunting. Or a girl in a beautiful dress holding a dog. Dogs at the feet of their masters. One of my favorites is of a dog “relieving” himself in what seems to be a church. Come to find out Emanuel de Witte painted this scene quite a bit. Were dogs even allowed in Church? Not in my day, that would have been cool!

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It seems as though dogs for pets were for the wealthy. I suppose so were photographs and paintings, so who’s to say the un-wealthy didn’t keep any dogs for pets. It could be that it just was not recorded.

 

In my travels I keep any eye out for old photographs of dogs. Here are some I have come across.

Do you have any old photos of a dog?

A Piece of My Heart – Sessions One, Two and Three

This past week I have had the honor of completing three Piece of My Heart (POMH) sessions. I must tell you these are the most difficult sessions for me and it may not be the reason one might think.

What goes into a typical session?

I often get inquires from folks wanting more information about my “regular” sessions or for my Four Legged Newborn sessions.  These inquires lead ultimately to a phone call, booking a time for the studio.  It is after this call that I can start my creative process – setting my brain to work on how to make each shoot unique while capturing my style and the customer’s desires.   I truly love this process.  And I love hearing from such proud pet parents! I get excited for each and every pup walking through my door!

All of those things happen for the POMH sessions as well. However, there is more to it, I hear about how much this ill or senior dog is loved, how this dog became such a part of their lives. I hear about the illness that is wreaking havoc over their beloved pet’s body. I hear about all the things they used to do and cannot enjoy any longer. I hear about the choices they have to make for their dogs. I hear about the stories of when they first met – true love stories.  All of this is very heartbreaking, as many of you reading this, I too have lost my best friend and am staring down the barrel of another: my Winston is 10.

But again, in the above sentences those are not reasons I have difficulty with these sessions. I am more than okay with talking to folks about their ailing dogs. Do I cry? Yes. Do I feel for them? Of course I do.I would not be in this business if I didn’t have a wide open heart for dogs and people. They hurt; I hurt.

The reason for my difficulty is making the session “good enough”. I want these sessions to be enjoyable and memorable. I want my customers feel that this experience is long lasting.  And above all I want these images to hang on their walls and not heavy in their hearts. I want people to look at these photos and smile even just for one second as they grieve their loss.  I want theses photos to help in the sorrow that they are feeling. I want people to feel close to their dog. Living or past, dogs fill our hearts with love. That is what I want my photos to do. That’s a tall order.

I choose not to show the images I create in our Piece of My Heart sessions.  These images are private – a moment between the lens and the dog.  These moments, captured forever in these images, represent the memories between the owner and their loved pet.  Those moments are private and in the deepest way personal.  If the owner chooses to share an image publicly, I may, with their permission do so too.  But I won’t post images, however poignant or vital, that might objectify these amazing four-legged members of my customer’s family.

The images I create in these sessions capture the silliness, tenderness, and love of the relationship between two living creatures sharing a journey together. May peace be at their side.

 

If you’d like more information on these sessions, please feel free to email or call me and ask any questions you’d like.

Kim@KimberlySarahPhotography.com

781-504-9404

The Cat Sat And That Was That

Seeing that today is October 1, 2016 the first day of my favorite month! As a child I used to have such anticipation for Halloween! It truly was my favorite time of year. Yes, I loved Christmas as well. But something about Halloween…was it the smell of the all things Fall? Was it the leaves that crunched under foot? Was it the idea of being anything or body you wanted to be? Was it the competition between me and my brothers to see who got the most candy? I suppose it was partly all of those things, but Halloween brought us together as a family as a neighborhood even as a town, and yes everybody was celebrating Halloween across the country. Maybe that was the best part?

As I have said in past posts, I should have been a set designer, I just love decorating!

I had two challenges this day, one to decorate a minimal Halloween set and one to photograph a CAT! Yikes! A Cat??? Let’s just say they are VERY different than dogs, we all know that right? Well that is even more true in the studio! My friend Jenn Bakos of Jenn Bakos Photography and exceptional wedding photographer here in New Hampshire, agreed to take her cat Bumpkin! A black cat, perfect for my creative idea…sort of.

Bumpkin was beautiful, sweet, and…, well…, very much a cat…could have cared less about what was going on. Jenn was great, trying her hardest to get the cat to sit.

Well, all I can say is it has taken me longer to write this post than the photo-shoot with Bumpkin.

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The cat sat – once. I’ll take it!

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