Unconditional Love Between Old Dogs And Their People, Captured By The Camera

As a lifelong dog lover and a professional photographer for almost four decades, I had long held the idea of photographing dogs for a series in the back of my mind, but it was seeing the powerful emotion connected with a dog in the twilight of its life that finally gave my idea direction.

Although I did not know it at the time, Project Unconditional began four years ago with a visit to my insurance broker, Angela, whose elderly Bulldog, Clementine, came to work with her every day. The love between the two was unmistakable, and it was made all the more poignant by the fact that their time together was nearing its end. I realized that I wanted to capture beautiful old dogs in photographs and to celebrate the bonds of unconditional love they share with humans. People and the stories of their relationships with their dogs became as much a part of the project as the dogs themselves.

Since then, I have traveled the country, meeting and photographing old dogs and their people. My subjects have been people of varied backgrounds and dogs of many shapes, sizes and breeds. It has been a privilege to be a witness to the love they share. I have found that there is something universally human in this bond, and hope that these photographs bring pleasure to all those who have had the joy of loving a dog.

Buster, 14, and Gwyn – Illinois

old dogs and their people

“Buster has been a family member for 14 years. He is the classic ‘velcro’ dog. I can’t brush my teeth without him nudging his way between me and the sink. When I have visitors, he sits between us. When I stand up, he does, too! He doesn’t seem to care where we go or what we do as long as WE are doing it.” — Gwyn (Elgin, IL)

Nekia, 8, and Jenny – Colorado

old dogs and their people

“Nekia is an old soul and I recognized something special in her from day one, even as a pup. Her work as a therapy dog inspires me and has taught me that if you love what you do, it gives you a reason to live. Her gait is a bit slower now and she sleeps more these days, but the love she gives me and others is still going strong.” — Jenny (Denver, CO)

Neblina, 14, and Tim – Massachusetts

old dogs and their people

“Neblina is a Mexican mutt, native to the desert area on Baja. She is remarkably graceful, and goes bounding through tall grass like a gazelle.” — Tim (Sheffield, MA)

Kaiden, 15, and Debby – Vermont

old dogs and their people

“I can’t imagine any other dog being so enthusiastically connected to me. I named him Kaiden because it means companion and he’s been the best!” — Debby (Wilmington, VT)

Tiro, 11, and The Deperro Family – Oregon

old dogs and their people

“Tiro became our best friend the day we got him. It seems we all made a promise to each other. My husband and I promised to love him and give him the best life possible, and he promised to love us and be there for us always. Tiro has met his promise a thousand times over. I can only hope that we’ve met ours.” — Rebecca (Bend, OR)

Clyde, 13, and Sandra – Arizona

old dogs and their people

“Clyde, now 13, has slowed a bit. He still loves his walks, but is more interested in treats. We can’t imagine life without him. As my husband has proclaimed, he is ‘the best dog ever.’” — Sandra (Phoenix, AZ)

Chelsea, 14, and Jim – Massachusetts

old dogs and their people

“To us, Chelsea has always been our protector—a dog with a heart bigger than her (somewhat gigantic) paws.” — Jim (Worcester, MA)

Oak, 10, and Bill – Vermont

old dogs and their people

“Being an explosive detection canine handler has always been challenging and rewarding at the same time. A good canine team instills a tremendous amount of confidence in the most stressful and sometimes scary situations. The trust and understanding between Oak and me goes beyond our work relationship. In his retirement years, he has migrated to the front seat in the truck. He now rides shotgun with one of his paws perched on my arm as we cruise down the road.” — Bill (Williston,VT)

Dharma, 15, and Mary – New York

old dogs and their people

“Dharma is my first dog as an adult, and I assumed she would be as low maintenance as my childhood dog (Ha!). I quickly learned that Beagles have indomitable spirits and that I have a far larger capacity for patience than I thought. She is silly, sassy, strong-willed, independent, food obsessed and challenging.” — Mary (Saratoga Springs, NY)

Nick, 10, and Paulette – New York

old dogs and their people

“My children have their own families and busy lives but Nick is always unconditionally there for me. He is always a big hit no matter where we go. When riding in the car, people laugh and stare, as his head always hangs out of the window. And boy, does he slobber!” — Paulette (Queensbury, NY)

Toby, 10, and Andrea – Indiana

old dogs and their people

“Toby was the smallest pup of his litter, but had a sweet, slightly timid nature that was undeniable. The past 10 years have been a wonderful adventure. We are blessed to have Toby as a member of our family.” — Andrea (Lafayette, IN)


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