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Before Eric & Dakota’s Hatboro Pet Photo Session began, I sat across from Eric at his dining room table.

Dakota sat by him, just in arms reach. The walls and shelves that surround us in neighboring rooms were decorated with World War Two era photos of a family members that served in the military. His own history intermingled with the past, weaving a tapestry of years of service.  

Dakota soaks up some love in Eric’s Montgomery County home amidst the perfectly balanced decor honoring the services of a man to his county and a dog to his man.

I was sitting at that dining room table because he’d called me the day before with a special request. 

Now I was following bread crumbs of his journey to the monument of a story within his heart. This, so that I could see that monument as he saw it, through the eyes of his heart. Only then could I pick up my camera and come do what was asked of me.  

Following the bread crumbs, I asked about a time that Dakota was there for him, really showed up for him in a profound way.

He recounted the time following his military tour overseas. He’d seen war abroad. Now, he was faced with a war within. He was diagnosed with cancer. He was not alone because there was Dakota. Eric remembered the grueling treatments and with gratefulness he could see himself walking through the door of his home following another round of radiation. Always, Dakota was there to greet him. Giving every ounce of love she had in her. 

I asked him to return to that moment of exhaustion, walking through the door and seeing her face in that moment, if there was a word to describe that emotion, what would it be?

“Compassion”, he said with levity. As tears streamed down his face, he stroked Dakota’s soft fur and with his free hand reached for the box of tissues across the table, he had placed there preemptively.  I’d found the monument.  It was tremendous.  

Dakota is Eric’s snow white german shepherd. Compassion is her gift in the 13 years she’s walked alongside him.

Now, he is faced with the difficult decision to make that those of us who have loved a pet for their lifetime experience. It too is a choice of compassion. It is the compassionate decision to say good-bye. Before he let go of her he wanted to immortalized her legacy. This is the tremendous monument, a thank you. He took the day to spend with her and capture their final hours together – hours of joy and peace.  Now he carries a piece of her with him always in gratitude for her years of service.  

Kristen Kidd Photography is an individual & family portrait photography studio in the North Wales suburb of Philadelphia, Pa. We specializes in helping individuals and two-legged & four-legged families stop and reconnect with the love in their lives through fun and unique photo experiences and custom designed wall art collections.