It was late at night. My phone buzzed with her message. "I've had a few wines tonight", she said. "I've been cuddling Jobe for hours. He's my baby boy, we grew up together. He means the world to me. How soon are you available . . ." Jobe is a beautiful 12-year-old Rottweiler, suffering from arthritis and a large (possibly cancerous) mass on his spleen. His sister Whitney contacted me to organise a Soul Session, because they weren't sure how much longer they would have with their boy. I've worked with the Kendall family a few times before (photographing Whitney Kendall's gorgeous girl Frankie and Sheridan Kendall's Gypsy and Chucky) so I knew how much they adored their furry family members. Unsurprisingly, Jobe is just as beloved.
"Caitlin takes you on a journey where you get to see your pet's soul and their beauty captured in stunning portraits; something you don't even think is possible. The experience will move you to tears and remind you that every moment with our pets and loved ones is to be cherished.
Caitlin went above and beyond catering to my family so that we could capture special moments of our 'old soul' Jobe and she was with us every step of the way through an emotional time. We can't thank her enough xx" ~ Whitney
Jobe's favourite place in the whole world is Inverloch, a sweet seaside town on the spectacular Gippsland coastline. I know why it's his favourite - I felt at peace the moment I walked through the doors of the family's beach house. The home is made of fresh whites and happy memories, flooded with soft light. I walked into the big family room and there was Jobe.
He was lying right in the middle of the room, surrounded on all sides by his family: Alison (his Mum), Tim (his Dad) and Whitney, Sheridan and Jack (his siblings). Frankie leapt with excitement, covering me with her happy kisses. Gypsy stood back for a minute, then her memory twigged and she greeted me with a quick kiss and a wag of her bum. I watched Jobe as he watched us, calm and content. Did I catch a glimpse of bemusement, as the younger dogs carried on their delighted omg-theres-a-new-person-here-and-she-smells-of-schmakos dance?
The beach is only a 3 minute walk from their house, but Jobe's legs aren't made for distance anymore. His Mum and Dad drove him down, gingerly lifting him in and out of the car. He's a big Rottie to lift, so that's a fair feat! I'm sure there is nothing that this family would not do for their boy. His arthritis makes it difficult for him to stand up when he's been laying down, so every time he wants to stand someone helps him by lifting his back legs. It's a tender moment, one that shows his age. Once he's standing, he resumes his powerful posture - every inch the handsome, strong Rottweiler that we all know he is.
"Now that Jobe is older and wiser, he spends a lot of his time resting. We try to shower him in love, because he has given us so much in return . . . more than most dogs could ever offer. He is a source of comfort and happiness and we all share a unique bond with him that will last a lifetime. Growing up with Jobe as my best friend has been more than I could ask for!"
Jobe was a surprise for Whitney. She had been badgering her Dad for months. It was love at first sight - and a whole lot of work. Suddenly her promises of "I'll do everything - I'll pick up his poo and feed him and walk him . . . I'll do everything!!!" became real and Whitney did admit that Alison ended up doing most of the chores for Jobe.
"Jobe has a strong and intense bond with all of us. He is the first to know when something is wrong no matter how hard we try to hide it. In fact, it's usually through Jobe that we know something is bothering someone in the family. He will stick to us like glue, even follow us into the toilet and lie at our feet."
"I don't think you can top the moment when Jobe met Don. I had never heard Donny speak or seen him smile. When I watched his whole face light up with the biggest smile I've ever seen, I knew Jobe had changed Don's life forever . . ."
Kendalls - thank you from the bottom of my heart for inviting me into your home and your family to celebrate Jobe. He is such a gorgeous man and the love for him that you all share is inspiring. I know you all know how much I love your family. Thank you for a beautiful weekend.