In a few hours this bed will be empty. Kiri has been with us for 15 years and today is the day we say goodbye. I always knew the day would come. I knew it wouldn't be easy. I was always prepared. Until I wasn't. I've been a mess for the last 24 hours. The countdown began once we made the decision but the final hours have been the worst. We know it's the right decision, but that doesn't make it easier. Most of you have been through this. You know. This entry is mostly for me as I have not been through this before. But I don't want this to be about me. I want it to be a celebration of Kiri's life. Her essence. Her, excuse the cliche, beautiful soul.
Please forgive any grammatical errors, spellings, incomplete sentences. I don't have the energy to edit. I'm just spilling.
We got Kiri shortly after getting our first dog, Bosley, much to my displeasure. I did not want another animal. Bosley was already an extremely clingy and dependent burden. Another one would be unmanageable. And I was right. Kiri was found on the side of the road, potentially hit by a car, and abused by a previous owner, likely a male, as she wanted nothing to do with anyone of the opposite sex. Multiple times while trying to take her for walks would she slip out of her collar to escape, once for days until some neighbors in an adjacent apartment complex saw our flyers and called us. They took such good care of her. Even bought treats, food, and even a new leash and collar. We were so grateful.
She eventually began being more comfortable around me and other men, but her escape attempts didn't stop. She was Houdini Hound. Six foot fences were no match. Collars were child's play. A locked gate? Pshht. But when we found her she had no hesitation jumping in the car door without us getting out. Always with what can only be described as a grin on her face. Seemingly so proud of herself. It was hard not to respect. No one likes being caged, least of all, Kiri. She always enjoyed being free.
As our trips to the open spaces increased, her need for jailbreaks diminished and her motherly instincts began to blossom. She was a big sis now. She had a pug and a kitty (don't get me started) to take care of. Just like your own mom, here kisses were magic. They cleaned pug wrinkles, healed and cleaned cuts, and were just straight wizardry. She was still a magician, just in a different field.
Back to the open space. She loved running free. She climbed logs. She weaved in and out of the thick growth, disappearing for a bit, until she would shoot out an opening and chase her pug brother. It always looked like a fox chasing a rabbit. Bosley was the fastest pug I'd ever seen (he must get it from me). The only time I've ever seen Kiri happier was if there was snow on the ground (must get that from me, too). No matter how much you hated snow, watching her enjoyment of it melted that away. For me, I just saw another being who could express my snowy emotions physically. I wish I had more of these images.
Kiri loved. She loved food. She loved belly rubs (and would "swim" when you stopped petting. See pic below. Ok, so she's probably sleeping in this pic but you get the idea.). She loved being a dog. She loved being a mother and caretaker (she couldn't get enough of the boys when they were born). She loved walks. She loved life...
But now that's gone. She is a shell of her former self. She only eats and sleeps out of instinct. She's in pain. There is no connection. There is no joy. She is scared and confused. I've been feeding her bacon and eggs, peanut butter, Goldfish. Whatever she wants. I tried taking her on one last walk in the snow to see if there was anything left. Nothing. Just cold and physically exhausted. I realize all these things I was doing were for me. And I also realized it is time to let go. Two hours to go...
Last night I was lucky enough to have one of my best friends available at the push of a button. She's been there. She knows the pain. She knew how I was feeling. The symptoms are all the same. She told me things that helped. But the medication is temporary. The ache in the chest remains...
This morning was was the hardest so far. The boys said their goodbyes before they went to school. They both chose not to be here when she goes. I was crushed. Not by their fragility, but by their strength. They knew the situation. They knew they would never see her again. They gave their love. Unconditionally. Unwavering. Unquestionable. They picked her up one last time. Hugged her one last time. They picked her up. They picked me up. I've never felt so much pain, pride, and joy at once. They've never known life without her. Maybe it will hit them later. And when it does, I will be there to pick them up. I'm not the perfect father. No one is. But I'm getting better. Kiri made me better. The boys teach me more every day than I could ever teach them. I am learning. Hour and a half to go...
Last night we tried to let her sleep in the bed with us one last time. It didn't work. Kiri had to be somewhere. Anywhere. Nowhere...
For weeks I've convinced myself that she doesn't know where she is or where she wants to be. That she's just going through the motions of an animal impulse. But maybe I've been wrong. Maybe she knows exactly where she wants and needs to be. I just haven't been listening to her. Well I hear you now, and I'm willing to let you go, but not without one more snuggle. Good night, Princess Kiri. Be free.
Sometimes honing your craft means you have to suck it up and fly off to Vegas for the week. I know, it's rough. But last week I had the privilege of meeting and working with a group of people who were not only great photographers, but wonderful human beings. This isn't to say there weren't a few rotten apples, but no one seemed to let them spoil the bunch.
On February 27th at 10:00am we were all bussed off to beautiful Red Rock Canyon, just west of Las Vegas. When we arrived there was a light rain mixed with snow. SNOW. In the desert. But as you can see from the photo above, things began to clear as we unloaded. And after a brief organizational introduction we were off to shoot in our groups. Below are some of the images I captured that afternoon.
Woke up at 4am to catch a plane to Vegas and it was totally worth it because I got to make these up-and-coming photographer's day.
My camera could not get enough of these people!
Heaven for photogs!
I just got my second photo published in the Colorado Springs Business Journal (my first was in the Denver Post). When I was younger I thought that just having my name in the local paper for high school soccer was a great thrill, so even imagining that one day, one of my images would be included in a massive Denver publication would have been the epitome of being a photographer. Guess what. It's not. Don't get me wrong, I am very proud that my images have been used by reputable news sources to help tell their stories, but it is hardly where I want to be as a photographer. While I do enjoy covering events, especially if they're socially important, I get far more fulfillment from the one-on-one intimacy of portrait photography. To me, and surely other portrait photographers, there is nothing like capturing a fleeting moment from another human being at 125th of a second. Think about it, in less time than it takes to blink, you can forever freeze (relatively speaking) another human's mood and emotion. Granted, there are many other elements that contribute to the interpretation of your image, such as lighting, wardrobe, background, etc., but when you boil it down, the only thing that matters is the human connection at that moment, and that can be said for just about anything in life.