Saffy was a beautiful red Kelpie Healer, who I first photographed on her 16th Birthday. Her Mum Kat contacted me about organising an Old Soul Pet Photography Session for Saffy, and fortunately Saffy's actual birthday (1st December) was available. Unfortunately we live in Melbourne, so the weather was predictably unpredictable!
We had a bit of fun in the rain, but rescheduled a full session for Saff later that month. We headed to Jacana Reserve, one of Saffy's favourite parks. She was an absolute champion.
Kat had mentioned that during her pre-session consultation that "I take photos of Saffy a lot, but it is just so hard to capture her with eyes open or looking good, and with her hearing/eyesight failing it's really difficult to get her attention . . ." To be honest, these are the sort of worries and problems that I hear about all the time. Pet owners are hesitant to hire a professional pet photographer because of the difficulties they've experienced when trying to photograph their dog themselves - please don't let your worries hold your back. I've yet to meet a dog I couldn't photograph! Just look at those big, beautiful eyes staring into the camera - I swear you can see right into her soul.
Saffy and Kat were together since she was six weeks old. Sadly, Saffy passed away not long after her session. Kat was as heartbroken as you can imagine. Saffy lived a very long and very loved life with Kat. She grew up with her fursister Bear (who passed away a couple of years ago) and she used to love swimming, playing fetch and catching balls. As she matured (and arthritis and dementia settled in) Saf's favourite activities evolved into snoozing on the couch and following her Mum around like a furry red shadow.
"We have been together since the beginning of 1997. I have never owned the same dog for this long in my life, and I might never again. She is so special . . ."
"I met Saffy in a pet shop (back then no-one knew about puppy farms). I remember picking her up, and she was kissing me. I put her back down - thought I should think about it, and we could come back later. But I just couldn't walk away.
Then I overheard a little girl who had noticed Saffy, commenting on how cute the red one was. I was so scared that they were going to buy my girl, so I rushed back into the store, picked her up and she's been mine ever since.
We bonded the very first time I held her."
Kat called Saffy her "teddy bear come to life". In a beautiful circle of life, Kat and her partner's beautiful (human) baby girl was born not long after Saffy passed away. What better way to celebrate and remember her teddy bear come to life than with a teddy for her little baby. As Kat said; "within one month I lost my soulmate but I gained another . . ."
We waited a while for the Viewing Session, as I was concerned that seeing Saf's photos (especially the slideshow) would be too raw and emotional for Kat. Still, plenty of tears were shed (unsurprising confession: by both of us) - but they were mostly happy tears at knowing such a sweet, loving, loyal soul.
As well as purchasing her favourite prints from the session, Kat chose Saffy's slideshow (which you can view above).
Kat, I hope you enjoy the photos for years to come, as you remember the wonderful life you shared with your Saffy. Thank you for inviting me into your home - it was truly a pleasure to work with you and your beautiful teddy bear come to life.