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Skye Blue Waters

I've been a dog- and horse-lover my entire life. I don't ever remember a time when I didn't have SOME animal to love and call my own. Having a pet (or more than one!) is a joy in life I could not live without. It comes with great responsibility – and there comes a time in every pet owner's life when a decision must be made. The biggest responsibility of all: deciding when it's time to let go.

When you reach that point, it's best not to dwell on the here-and-now; rather it's a great time to remember all the happiness and good times brought about by none other than this sweet pet you've loved for so long.

Of course, I say this tongue-in-cheek since I still haven't been able to bring myself to edit the photos from the final portrait session of my family's 27-year-old mare, Joy...and she was put down in May. All in due time :)

So it was with bittersweet emotion I journeyed to a family member's house to take some final portraits of their beloved 13-year-old yellow lab, Skye. She was sound of mind – and still absolutely 100% obsessed with softballs – but her poor little body just couldn't keep up anymore.

We alternated heading outside to shoot photos with watching the Vikings – this family is as obsessed about sports as their hunting dog was about chasing balls. It was a gorgeous, warm dog-day of summer...perfect for a little family photo shoot.

It was great to see her in such good spirits, and she posed beautifully for my camera (although she couldn't wait for the breaks in between shots so she could chew on her baseball!). Between Skye's utter devotion to treats; Zada's incessant begging for someone, ANYONE, to throw the ball for HER; and the antics of various family and friends on scene, it was a fun afternoon.

Although this wasn't even my dog, she had become part of my extended family – of course, why wouldn't she? – and has been in front of my camera on numerous occasions (in fact, it was a last-minute entry of her that took first place, grand champion AND sweepstakes at the Crow Wing County Fair photography competition in 2010).

From the feedback I've heard so far, I think I captured the true "essence" of Skye – her sweet nature, her undying love of baseballs, her proclivity for crossing her legs in a lady-like fashion, her ability to con a hug (or a snack!) from anyone she came into contact with just by the look on her face.

Skye Blue Waters, you were SUCH a good girl, and gave your family a lot of love over the years. You will be truly missed :)