The project connects photographers and pet owners

It is not easy to watch your loved ones age.

“We don’t know if she’ll be here another day, another year,” Mary Beth Thompson said.

Thompson’s 12-year-old dog Wren is in his dying days.

“Very sweet, and she’s funny, the way she was chasing me,” Thompson said.

Wren is a cancer survivor and she is losing some mobility in her hind legs.

“I just feel like, oh, when did she get old?” We’ll love her until she doesn’t want to be here anymore, ”said Thompson.

The family invited Lauren Smith Kennedy to help them create a special memory of Wren.

“Photographing end-of-life pets is exactly what it sounds like. So it’s either about photographing elderly animals at the end of their life, or pets with terminal illness, ”said Kennedy.

Earlier in 2021, Lauren offered to take end-of-life photos of an acquaintance’s pet and posted the finished product online.

“I posted it on my social media, on my personal pages and it just exploded and I found out there was such a demand for it,” Kennedy said.

Kennedy said people were offering to take her around the country for these sessions with their pets. She just couldn’t keep up. So she created something new.

“How do I just create a resource for pet owners, so it’s a central list where they can just go and look.” So that’s when the Tilly project started, it’s an organization dedicated to being a network not only for end-of-life photographers, but also for clients looking for these services to meet. and meet again “,

Kennedy says the website currently has more than 500 photographers across the country. She named the project after the death of one of her cats.

“I am still on the journey with my own grief and the loss I have had and I think it allows me to honor those connections, friendships and love. That’s definitely why I named it the Tilly Project, I feel like it’s a great way to pay tribute to him, ”she said.

Michelle Crossley, who works for the Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement, an advocacy and resource group for those dealing with the loss of a pet, says people need to grieve properly.

“One of the most important things is for individuals to be able to talk about it, it’s a healing property,” Crossley said. “Participate in discussion forums, pay a sort of tribute to their lost pet, but from the start, be able to talk about it. “

It won’t be easy for the Thompson to say goodbye to Wren. But when the time comes, Thompson will know.

“We had a conversation and I looked her in the eye and said you were telling me when it was time,” Thompson said.

Kennedy hopes she and other photographers can be there early, to capture the love between animal and person.


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