This Is Love


For two days I’ve been trying to figure out how to write this without being clichéd or sappy. And the truth is there is no way to write it without being clichéd and sappy.

We found out our dog “Brie” has an aggressive form of cancer. She had a tumor on her spleen that has ruptured and filled her belly with blood.  Further tests showed she has tumors on all her major organs.She was sent home to die, as there is nothing we can do but make her comfortable and wait for the inevitable.It may be hours, days, or weeks.But she will die. 

We spent this unusually cold weekend hunkered down at the house.We canceled all our plans and spent these last few days being together as a family.It’s kind of like a death-watch but also trying to make her as comfortable as we can.  She is a dog so she lives in the moment. She is basking in all the extra attention and love and can't believe her good fortune that she gets rotisserie chicken for breakfast and dinner, endless dog treats (sent over by our amazing neighbors) and any other “people” food we know she will enjoy. She no longer has to wear the annoying harness that kept her from pulling on a leash, and she has all four of us on walks with her - one of her most favorite things.

This morning on Valentine’s Day, the day of love, all I can think about is how much this family loves her and how she loves us back. Dogs are the furry four-legged embodiment of unconditional love. This dog was no different.

Matt said that Brie has the most amazing ability to make all of us feel like she is “our” dog exclusively.She loved each of us differently and uniquely and in that special way that made her feel like she was ours alone.  Her love was without judgment or abandon.  

As a family photographer, I started my love affair in this genre by documenting my own family, and Brie was often my main subject. She never whined or complained, never put her paw up in front of her face to protest, or gave me a snarky look. She mastered resting bitch face if I tried to make her pose.   But she was a pleaser and to that end, even if grudgingly, she was my subject while I tested out camera bodies, lenses, and any other photo gear. 

Today, I started to scour my archives for every image I have taken of her and to remember all the moments we had.    As we take her on her final walks, all five of us as a family - I realized she was the thing that completed our family. She united us in unwavering love for her and from her.And now as we must all face her death and most likely will have to make the gut-wrenching decision of when to let her go so she does not experience pain, I can't help but notice how she is uniting us again.With two teenagers branching out and away into their own lives, and us as parents trying to build our businesses and careers - we have come together as a family to give her a humane and graceful exit.We decided as a family on the parameters for when it's time to let her go.We will all rearrange our schedules so she is not left alone for too long.  We are all walking her, taking turns hold the leash, and we are working together as a team, as a family, to make the final days the best they can be.  

In her final act as a part of our family, she is showing us the power and comfort of family - because no one else loves her like the four of us. 

Emily Weiss