Mandi the boxer – A love like no other

Aug 16, 2014

When I met Mandi for her shoot in May, she didn’t have a lot of time left. At 11 years old, she struggled with arthritis and had recently been suspected to have degenerative myelopathy. Jennifer wrote me to schedule a photo shoot as the two only had “selfies” together and she wanted to have some lasting memories of them together. “Senior soul” shoots are always emotional for me, but I make sure to hold myself together during the session. The session itself is a beautiful memory and time to celebrate these amazing animals that have loved us for so many years. Well, I didn’t do so well. As soon as I met Mandi, she started zooming around the yard with the biggest grin on her face. Her excitement and joy couldn’t be contained. There was something so beautiful about it that it simply brought me to tears.

I so often hear about cases of neglect and abandonment working with rescues. Here this woman was giving her last penny and all of her heart to make sure her dog didn’t suffer and gave all she could to make sure Mandi had the best life possible even to the very last day. The beauty in that was overwhelming and you could see the love Mandi had for Jennifer as she pranced around.  Thankfully, my tears weren’t sad tears.

May all dogs be as loved as Mandi by their owners.  I know this has been a very emotional journey for Jennifer, but am so thankful to have met Mandi and captured the joy and bond these two shared!  Mandi is now running free and I know my life is a little better having met her and her awesome mama.

Here is Jennifer’s beautiful tribute to Mandi that she shared on Facebook:
“I miss my dog…
Webster’s dictionary defines “UNCONDITIONAL” as ‘not limited in any way : complete and absolute’ … It also defines “LOVE” as ‘strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties – affection based on admiration – warm attachment, enthusiasm, or devotion’…

As for me, I can define Unconditional Love in one word – Mandi… Tomorrow will be two weeks that I had to make the hardest decision I’ve ever faced – to let my Mandi go so she would be free of what had started to rob not only her body, but her spirit as well. My life will never be the same, or my heart for that matter. Eleven years is a long time to have shared the good and bad with my best friend who was not just there as a companion, but as my family… she was my person, the one who has stood by me when there was no one to turn to, the one who loved me when I wasn’t even sure how to love myself. She was my sidekick for adventures, my comedian when I needed a good belly laugh, and my shoulder to cry on… the one being I could depend on…

Many days I cried leading up to the final decision, trying to find the balance between keeping her as long as I could for me, and knowing when to let her go in dignity and peace, which is what was best for her. Trying every treatment, exercise and advise/option I was given to help in anyway I could and finances would allow… but the look in her eyes told me it was finally time. I had to respect that, swallow the lump in my throat and put her before me…. I’ve cried every day since letting Mandi go into a peaceful sleep, but instead of being sad, I want to do my best to turn it around, celebrate and count my blessings to have had her in my life. The bond I had with her (and always will) is unlike any experienced on the human level and I will be forever grateful that I was chosen to be her momma…

I just want to say to my Mandi – Thank You, thank you, thank you – for your bark, and meeting me at the door with a wagging tail and a smile, for the many kisses and silly antics, for lying next to me, unconditionally loving and accepting me for who I am, for your patience – especially when taking a gazillion pictures, for trusting me to take care of you and making sure you had everything you needed before my own needs were met, the constant slobber on the passenger car window, your devotion, listening without judgment, your intuition of knowing when I needed comfort, the adventures and laughs, the crazy memories of you peeing on my side of the car when you were just 8 weeks old then going back to your side looking all innocent, or chewing the feather mattress cover so it literally looked like a snow globe in the room when I snuck in to see what you were up to… your beautiful simple lessons to help make me be a better person, but MOST of all, for letting me be a part of Your life. I will LOVE YOU with all of my heart until my very last breath.

LOVE, my friends, is a four legged word!

What a beautiful world this would be if everyone had hearts like a dog.
— feeling Heartbroken yet Grateful and Blessed”