Bela’s 15th birthday called for a big party! She got flowers, a dog birthday cake, a party hat and lots of LOVE. Bela has been with her family since she was a puppy. She’s very well-cared for and a cherished family member. This is exactly how a dog’s life should be and I was so honored to document it. Photographing older dogs can be a joyful experience!

If you have an elderly dog, here’s what you can expect from a photo shoot with me:

First and foremost, I will make sure your pet is comfortable. I follow the dog’s lead and read their body language to see how much they can handle. If a dog needs to lay in the same spot for most of the session or take a nap, that’s fine. I am very good at recognizing pet’s signs of stress and anxiety. If I see any, I back off and give them space.

I’m sensitive to the sheer emotion associated with the end of life. It’s a privilege for me to be invited into your home during the last few months of your pet’s life and I try to respect that. I’ve had elderly dogs of my own so I have experienced seeing beloved pets decline.

Weinheimer dog illustrating a post on photographing senior dogs

The Comforts of Home

13-year-old Raider the Weinheimer was a sweet old soul who wasn’t as mobile as he used to be. Consequently, I photographed him in the comfort of his home. Often older dogs can’t see or hear as well. Familiar surroundings ensure that they won’t become stressed.

Golden Retriever dog illustrating a post on photographing old dogs

Don’t Procrastinate until Spring

If you’re thinking of scheduling a photo shoot for your dog, don’t feel like you have to wait for green grass. All four seasons are beautiful! 14-year-old Lexi was all-around adorable and got around quite well, considering her age. This photo was taken in late November. The soft colors of the cattails were a perfect compliment to Lexi and Gabby’s cream and auburn coats. If we had waited six months, it would have been harder for her handle an excursion to the park.

Portrait of senior McNab Border Collie

Paddy the 13-year-old McNab border collie had outlived her littermates but she was starting to show her age. It’s a good thing that her breed is so high energy because she had plenty of pep – right until the end of her life.

Paddy loved frisbee so I took a few shots of her catching a disc in mid-air. We gently threw the frisbee right to her so she could easily catch it. You could still see the delight in her eyes while playing with her favorite toy.

German Shorthair Pointer dog illustrating a post on photographing dogs at the end of their life
Summer the 12-year-old GSP looked very regal for her portrait.

Old dogs can be a regal sight. Their exuberance settles over the years into a seasoned nobility, their routines become as locked into yours as the quietest and kindest of marriages.

Gail Caldwell
Senior dog photo shoot featuring old Border collie

I always suggest a location that works best for each dog’s unique needs. 13-year-old Remy couldn’t walk far anymore so I had to find a way for him to sit in one spot and be comfortable. It was winter so I wanted to make sure he stayed warm so we used a truck with a cozy sheepskin in the back.

When is it time to contact a professional photographer?

There’s no time like the present when it comes to photographing a senior dog. Let’s use the analogy of photographing your Mom. Would you prefer a professional photo of your mother when she’s in the prime of her life? Say in her 40s? Or perhaps you missed that window of time and now she’s in her 60s or 70s. That’s still good! But would you wait until she’s 98 and in hospice? Probably not.

The same thing goes for your dog. In a perfect world, you want to remember your pup looking happy and engaged! That doesn’t mean they can’t have gray fur or be a little stiff. Keep in mind, I can retouch out warts and cloudy eyes. Photographing older dogs can be a fun bucket list activity for your senior dog.

It’s never a mistake to photograph them sooner rather than later. Give me a call today!