As Prancing Paws Pet Photography continues to grow (thank you to all my wonderful past, present and future clients!), I find myself reflecting.
EmJay, or "miss prancy prancerson" or "happy feet" or "drunken sailor" was my heart dog. I love all of my animals and I have very different relationships with every one of them. EmJay was special though. She was a fighter. She taught me about perseverance, she brought me together with one of my closest friends (shout out to Cari and Muddog Creek Candles!) and she taught me daily about not sweating the small stuff.
You must be thinking by now, how does one dog do all that? Well, EmJay was special. She was born at All Heart Pet Rescue in Powassan. She lost her mom and her litter mates to suspected parvovirus. At 7 weeks, her and her sister were brought in to foster care by my good friend Cari. Of course, Em worked her charm and Cari fell in love and adopted her. Now, EmJay was absolutely insane as a puppy. Energy that literally had no end. At around 8 months old, it became clear that EmJay required a home where someone was around more often (Cari worked 12 hours shifts, and even though she had people coming by every few hours to walk and play with EmJay, she needed more). I was in a transition period, having just broken up with an ex and agreed to take on the challenge that was EmJay...and a challenge she was. I committed to her full heartedly - but man...kudos to collie owners cause I could not do that again! We rollerbladed together for 4 hours every day, just to keep her calm enough to not destroy the house and get in a little bit of training - I had a future agility super star on my hands!
At about 1.5 years old, EmJay had to have minor surgery to remove a lump (that turned out to be a benign tumor). We don't know if the anesthetic triggered what we suspect now to be an Autoimmune disease or not, but the timing would suggest it did. The surgery itself went great. But afterwards, I noticed a reluctance to go on our long walks. I thought it was that she didn't like the new harness (since the lump had been on her neck). But it become clear fairly quick that something wasn't right. She would "collapse" when we went to far. Then the seizures started. These weren't a "typical" seizure. She was awake and very aware as to what was happening. Then the cataracts and lipid spots in her eyes formed. She was tested for literally everything under the sun. Working at a vet clinic has its advantages, I am so thankful that money was never a determining factor in what testing or treatment we wanted to try. Slowly, she started to have balance problems...she would "high step" when she walked and would fall over whenever she stopped moving - so she adjusted..and learned to prance. She was never standing still. The neurologist had no idea what was going on, but he was certain of two things: there was nothing they could do, and that she wouldn't live a very long life.
7 years. She lived 7 years past the onset of symptoms. 6 years longer then the neurologist thought she would. She ran, she swam, she made friends, she loved life. Every. Single. Moment. There were many tears on my end, many stressful, sleepless nights. But never Em. She chased soccer balls, she ate like food was never going to be available again, she did her best to "fetch". She would fall all the time, then get right back up and continue what she was doing. She never let her disability affect her life.
Ultimately, it was the seizures that took her from this earth. They became too frequent and were lasting too long. In true EmJay spirit, she had a smile on her face until the moment she peacefully left this earth. I always thought we had this amazing bond because she needed me. She needed me for meds, to act as her eyes and to be her advocate. But once she was gone, the truth was, I needed her a lot more then she ever needed me.
So why do I tell you this story? Because the bond I had with this dog, was the reason I started my business. I wanted to offer people an affordable way to have professional, high resolution, pictures of their dogs. EmJay was an expensive "free to good home"dog (in fact, I was pretty much paid to take her lol) and I understand that stuff happens. So I donate a lot of my photo income to shelters and rescues. With a dream that one day, I will make enough money to offer a program for people that need help with their vet bills. I love what I do, and I love what my business stands for. Most of all, I am thankful to have been given the opportunity to love a crazy, carefree, beautiful rescued collie who stole my heart and changed me forever.
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