Losing a pet means losing a part of your soul, and it’s painful, and it hurts, and it leaves emptiness in one’s heart forever. The moment of the final goodbye is a moment of facing the harsh reality that someone you love with all your heart, someone who was there by your side when no one else was, is no longer part of your life. Yes, losing a pet means losing the sense of loyalty and friendship that no other person can ever provide you with.
The following photos that capture those “Last Moments” are a part of the project with the same name by the photojournalist Ross Taylor who’s been witnessing unique life realities for more than 20 years.
He hopes these photography series will help build empathy towards the other, and his goal is real. All his work sends powerful message, you just have to take a closer look and see the story behind each photo.
Euthanizing your furry life companion has to be the hardest decision ever, and all these people who are part of Taylor’s photo stories are just a proof that grief is there, and others should no they are not the only ones going through this process.
In recent years, many pet owners opt for the process of euthanasia to takes place in their home instead at a clinic. They hope being around family and in a familiar surrounding would make it easier for them and their pet to accept the reality of having to say goodbye.
Ross Taylor on the project:
Producing this body of work has been one of the most intense experiences I’ve ever had. It’s fundamentally shifted how I react when someone tells me they lost a pet, or that a pet is dying. My heart is more open toward those going through this process, and I have a profoundly deep respect for veterinarians who do this daily. They’re impressive people.
I was moved by my time witnessing the emotions with each experience. In almost every case, everyone was moved to tears, sometimes sobbing profusely. But all of these families are so grateful to the veterinarians for their compassion. This blend of heartbreak and compassion is striking. The work they do is important.
There’s one particular image of a woman who is anguishing out loud over her dog, just moments after she realized that her dog had died. She’s cradling her pet’s face tenderly in her right hand, while her husband and the veterinarian, Dr. Dani McVety, reach out to comfort her. It was one of the early cases I witnessed, and it had a profound impact on me. It was in that moment that I realized the importance of documenting the intensity of the bond.
My heart broke for her in that moment.
My interest in this project originated a couple of years ago. A good friend of mine was agonizing over the death of her dog, and she decided to have her pet euthanized at home. She didn’t want the animal to be stressed by a visit to the clinic and thought it would be easier on her dog at home. It was an intense and emotional experience for her. In many ways, it was her hardest in years.
Driven by this, I began researching the topic and reached out to a number of organizations. The first one that responded was Lap of Love, based in Tampa, Florida. McVety, the founder and CEO of the Tampa-based organization, was open to my request, and more importantly, the reasons behind it. Within a month or so of contact, I began working with them. I also began working with Caring Pathways in Denver. They are also a deeply compassionate organization, and I’m profoundly thankful to them as well.
Finally, none of this could have been done without the families allowing me to be there. They have my respect. I think, in the end, the reason they allowed my presence has a lot to do with the fact that we all have a story to tell, and theirs is worth sharing.
Since beginning this series, the amount of people who have responded to the project is overwhelming. So many people have written me sharing their story. The universality of the bond, and the pain when it’s broken, is something to which millions of people can relate. I’ve had some of the most touching emails and recollections of stories from people; it’s just incredible.
I hope people will never say to someone after losing a pet, “Oh it’s just a dog,” or, “It’s just a cat. You can get another.” It’s crucial to recognize, and respect, the pain that comes along with this. I hope, in the end, it builds more empathy toward one another.