What Not to Say to Someone That’s Lost a Pet

When I first started my pet photography business I thought I would be romping all around Denver with the cutest of puppies and active teenage dogs taking photos of them with their sweet fresh faces, playing, and running around with tons of energy. It wasn’t long before I realized many people don’t think of getting professional portraits until their dog is older. I would say more than half of all the people that hire me want me to take photos of their senior pets or even pets that have had a recent diagnosis of a terminal illness.

Because of that, I’ve had many conversations with people who have just lost their pet and after years of listening to their stories I can tell you what not to say to someone that has just lost a pet.

“It’s just a dog.” I think this is one of the most heartless things you can say to a grieving person. The translation is, “your dog didn’t mean anything to me.” Our dogs are with us all the time, they are our sidekicks, our best furry friend, our fur-kids. We protect them, feed them, train them, walk them, cuddle with them. They are the family we choose, it doesn’t make them less important.

“They’re in a better place.” Honestly, we thought they were in a pretty great place when they were living with us and saying something like that makes us feel like we didn’t do enough to care for them. It’s kind of like saying our home wasn’t good enough and we could have saved them if only we would have done more. We know you probably meant to say something along the lines of, “I hope you find some relief that your dog isn’t suffering any more.”  But, even that phrase isn’t quite right because it makes it sound like our grief is selfish. We didn’t want them to suffer, we didn’t want them to get sick in the first place.

“This other dog needs a home.”  We know you think another pet will distract us from our grief and make us happy but the truth is sometimes it can make our grief worse. We adopted Boo shortly after losing our dog Cleo and for a while I felt guilt for liking Boo. If Cleo meant so much how could we replace him so fast? The truth is you can’t. So while I was busy taking care of a new dog, I really wasn’t ready yet and it made me frustrated that Boo had so many behavior problems and wasn’t as easy going as our dog Cleo. The comparison game was unfair to Boo and I just felt like crap all around. We aren’t replacing worn out shoes. We need time to get over our loss and time to decide when to move on.

grief from pet loss.
My soul dog, Cleo.

“How long are you going to be sad?” The translation for this is both, “you’re bumming me out, I don’t want to hear about it,” and, “you’re over reacting.” It’s very similar to saying, “you aren’t normal for being this upset.” Grief is different for every person. Some of us are heartbroken and sad for a month or two and some of us will be heartbroken for months or years. There is no normal. Grief is different for every single person.

After all these years I admit I don’t always say the right thing, in fact I rarely do. So I’m trying to say less and less. Maybe that’s the best thing you can do. Tell them you’re sorry for their loss, ask them if they need anything and then let them do the talking.





Auggie the Doggie’s Photo Session at Crown Hill Park

It had been beautiful weather all day and as soon as I met up with Jarka and her dog Auggie the wind began to blow and a few minutes later it started to rain. Some people would say that it’s time to go home but we hung in there and waited because we could see the tiniest bit of sunshine popping through the clouds.

I’m so glad we did for two reasons. The first is that Jarka from Paw Print Memories Photography and I met at a couple of conferences and we’ve been talking about getting together to shoot for a while and this was the first time we could do it. I was excited and didn’t want to postpone. It’s great to be able to meet up with another Denver Pet Photographer. 

The second reason is the gorgeous light shinning through the grass and highlighting the tree in the background. It was so beautiful and only lasted a minute or two but it was worth it. Oh and really there is a third reason, Auggie the Labradoodle. Look how adorable he is. He was an awesome model and even though he looks so serious in these photos he was quite happy to play and prance around. I guess he enjoyed the sunset too.


Labradoodle at sunset
Auggie the doggie posing during our sunset photo session in Crown Hill Park.
Auggie the doggie dramatic sunset
Auggie the labradoodle
labradoodle dog
Labradoodle Auggie the dog.







Denver Events For You And Your Dog In The Month Of May.

Here are just a few of the fun things you can take your dog to do in the mile high city in the month of May!

May 6th, The Furry Scurry. The Dumb Friends League annual walkathon and fundraiser in Wash Park. This event is a fun time for dogs and people. Tons of costumes, music and a lot of pet businesses showing off their products.

May 18th, Yappy Hour. Bring your dog and have a craft brew at Living The Dream Brewing Company from 6pm to 8pm. Proceeds benefit the Dumb Friends League.

May 22nd, Animal Communicator. If you’ve ever wondered what your pet is thinking. Take them to an animal communicator. Lisa DeLong will be giving readings from 11-3 at a Well Fed Pet in Castle Rock.

Get out there with your dogs and have a great time!