Downeast Dog News
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Creating Valuable Memories of Your Pet

By Debra Bell | Aug 01, 2019

By Debra Bell

Bell’s Furry Friends Photography

They say that a picture speaks a thousand words, but it’s not just photographs that can help us remember the loved ones, furry and furless. In fact, creating beautiful images in photographs, paintings, drawings or another art form is a beautiful — and meaningful — way to honor our beloved animal friends.

Maine, especially, is full of artists ready to lend their talents to fur families. And for families dealing with loss having a way to create a memorial is an important part of the grieving process.

The American Veterinary Medical Association suggests that art can help owners and pet loved ones work through their grief, including embracing the memories of your pet through pictures, tributes in writing and art. But you don’t have to be crafty or artistic to create art.

While your pet is still bringing a smile to your face with their adorable antics, take a moment to capture images of them doing all the things they love. Look to simple moments like taking a nap in a patch of sun, or focus your attention to their body parts.

Some ideas to spark your own creativity:

● Love Fido’s special marking on his belly or somewhere else? Focus your smartphone or camera on those areas.

● Think outside the box: Look for the heart shapes in your pet’s paws (hint: it’s generally the upside down shape of their paws) or create an image from your pet’s point of view by standing behind your pet as they look out the window or prepare to start chasing a ball or Frisbee.

● Choose a time of day or a special ritual and take a photograph of your pet every day for a month (or once a month) doing that ritual.

● Pay attention to the things around you. Going for a walk in wet sand? Your pet will leave footprints along with you. Have someone take a photograph of your footprints side by side with your pet. For cat owners, consider putting your cat’s paw over your hand or create a heart shape on their fur with your own hands.

● Get in the picture. If you have someone who can take a photograph of you with your pet, do it. It could be a professional pet photographer, your friend or loved one. Alternately, you could consider investing in a Bluetooth shutter release and a GorillaPod tripod to mount your smartphone or a small camera on and have fun creating images while your pet’s not paying attention to the camera.

● Consider a special end of life photo — or art — session. While these types of sessions can be difficult, having images you can look back at and enjoy will help with the healing process. Always ask your artist what he or she recommends and don’t postpone any later than necessary. It can be even more difficult to be willing to do this kind of session when you’re worried about deadlines or your pet is just not feeling it.

If you’re looking to honor a pet that has passed away, consider setting up an area of your home that is a small memorial. Choose a beautiful container for their ashes and choose a favorite photo or two that you can place near it. If your vet helps your pet cross the rainbow bridge, ask to he vet to do a nose print and a paw print in both clay and ink. If you wear jewelry, consider asking for some fur to be clipped from your pet and enlist an artist to help you create wearable art that includes some of its ashes and fur.

Because after all, your pet is worth it. And you are too.