Saying goodbye to a pet is just as difficult as saying goodbye to a person you love dearly. Sometimes it’s even harder.
When Maria Sharp realized that her companion for the last 16 years, her dog Chubby, was too old and sick to go on, she was devastated. The 23-year-old, who works full time as a wedding photographer, coped in the only way she knew how. She dug up old photos of her and the German Shepherd/Collie/Hound mix from their life together.
Maria and her mother brought home Chubby when he was a puppy and she was only 7 years old. Maria said the dog was the missing piece in their family. Over the past 16 years, the dog was her constant, her best friend and often the subject of her photos.The photographer decided that before Chubby’s life would peacefully come to an end, she should do one final portrait series.
Below are photos and excerpts from Maria’s blog. The photos from the past 16 years and her recent goodbye are no less touching, because Chubby was a pet. As you will see, it’s obvious that these two were soul mates.
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“Sixteen Years. That’s How Long I’ve Loved Chubby.”, wrote Sharp, who adopted her dog from the pound when she was a newborn puppy.
“I just wanted someone to enjoy life with. I keep catching myself using human pronouns.”, Sharp wrote. “Chubby isn’t just a dog. She’s my longest and best friend.”
“This was the first day we got her, I was so excited to have something of my own I could take care of and love.”
“Since it was just me and my mom in the house, Chubby added something our family really needed.” wrote Sharp.
Maria’s mother remembers, “Maria was very happy and showered her 4 legged sister with a mixture of hugs, kisses and cuddles. Wherever Chubby was, Maria was very close behind.”
For 16 years they spent every moment they could together. “I think I was more of her best friend than I realized.”, Maria wrote on her blog.
But lately, Maria wrote, Chubby’s health began to deteriorate. “At first slowly, then suddenly and then all at once.”
She began sleeping all the time and Maria knew she didn’t have much time left.
Maria wrote on her blog that she decided to do the portrait series when she received bad news from the vet. She enlisted the help of photographer friend Suzanne Price, so she could be on the other side of the camera for a change.
Maria’s Dad remembers Chubby as “One of the most loyal dogs I’ve ever seen and it was cute when Maria would always say she was a German Shepard, Collie, Hound mix, never saying she was a mutt.”
Chubby nearly became “internet famous” when Maria entered this hilarious photo in a local “Pet Selfie” contest. “She got a whole lot of lovin’ from people who didn’t even know her!”, she wrote.
“When I didn’t have anyone to hang out with I hung out with, Chubby and I took selfies that weren’t called selfies yet.” Maria wrote. “Chubby accepted and put up with my weird antics.”
Maria’s friend Rob might explained their bond best – “God created dogs for those of us who need an unconditional love that we cannot attain from other humans. They are an truly an example of how we should treat each other.”
Maria’s mom says Chubby was faithful to her daughter since the day they adopted her. “Chubby has been Maria’s one constant in her life. Everything changes…friends, homes, schools, boyfriends, jobs. It was a very difficult decision for Maria to allow Chubby to be pain free.”, Mom said.
“Maria loves Chubby more than anyone in her life and that’s okay”, her Mom wrote. “I am very proud of Maria’s strength during a part of life everyone hates to go through.”
Maria said she’ll miss cuddling with Chubby the most. “And getting to come home and pick her up or sneak a peek at her while she’s sleeping. Just knowing that she’s around makes me so much calmer.”
“When she isn’t around, I always freak out wondering where she is. When I first got to college, adjusting to not having a dog was so weird. I would always expect her to come running when I dropped food.” Maria recalled on her blog.
Maria wrote that support from others has really helped. “I’m also incredibly overwhelmed by everyone’s love and support leading up to this day. So many people have shared their stories about losing their dogs and that has helped me immensely in my healing process.”
“I know the next few months will be tough but I’ll have my sixteen years of memories and all of my pictures of my extremely well documented dog to remember her and how she helped me be the person I am today.” Maria said of her best friend.
Shortly after the photoshoot, Chubby passed away peacefully, without any pain and suffering, and filled with love.