Few things have the ability to bring as much joy into human life as a dog. We forge life-long bonds, we make long-lasting memories. We let our dogs fill the spaces in our hearts that would otherwise remain empty. And we do all this knowing that we’ll have to say goodbye to them in just a few short years.
Taylor is a freelance visual journalist and an assistant professor in the College of Media, Communication, and Information at the University of Colorado Boulder. Taylor was inspired to turn his camera on this topic after his good friend went through the agonizing decision to euthanize her ailing dog. Last Moments is a powerful photo series by Pulitzer Prize-nominated photographer Ross Taylor, who was invited to document the intimate last moments in a beloved pet’s life when the owner must ᴅᴇᴀʟ with a painful farewell.
1. Rebecca Cassity and her husband, Drew, sat together on their couch to say goodbye to their faithful dog, Coco
“She’s always been, my companion. Coco was there for me when he was on deployment,” said Rebecca Cassity, as she fights back tears. Her husband, Drew (at right) was in the military and also struggled in the final moments. Dr. McVety reassures her with a hug and consoling words: “This is a better treatment than any one of us would get.”
2. Leigh Zahn fights back tears as she lays with her dog, Spencer, in her lap a final time, just moments after Spencer ᴘᴀssed
3. Wendy Lehr met Dr. Erica Unz with tears in her eyes. As they settled into the living room, thunder boomed outside. A heavy rain pattered against the roof. Mimosa, center, didn’t move and Wendy Lehr notices it. “She’s normally scared of it.” After a while, Erica Unz asked if they’re ready. “I don’t know if we’ll ever be ready, but I guess it’s time,” she said before starting to openly sob. It was one of the hardest cases I’ve witnessed and brought me to tears immediately. I felt so sad for them.
4. Olesya Lykovi cries out in anguish, moments after the death of her dog, Sam. Moments before, she looked at Dr. Dani McVety, at the right, and asked, “Is he gone?” Dani nodded and said, “He has his wings now.”
5. Vanessa Gangadyal consoles her son, Ian, 8 while her husband Michael Gangadyal pets their dog, Ally, shortly its ᴘᴀssɪɴɢ. At right is Erica Unz, a veterinarian with deep compassion, who comforts the family in difficult moments.
6. “I tried to do more, I tried to do all I can. But they said there’s nothing more I can do,” Kiara Manrique said while weeping at the loss of her dog. At left is her sister, Kimberly, and veterinarian Nil Wilkins (unseen) who later reached out to comfort her.
7. Marquita Leibe paced back and forth shortly before bending down to be near her dog, Daisy, minutes before she is put to sleep. At right is her husband, Donald. Shortly after, he stepped outside to compose himself, overwhelmed with grief.
8. Vanessa Gangadyal consoles her son, Ian, 8 while her husband Michael Gangadyal pets their dog, Ally, shortly its ᴘᴀssɪɴɢ.