(KATV) If you've ever loved an animal, you have likely gone through the pain of losing a family pet. A Little Rock photographer knows that loss all too well and because of her journey, created a source of comfort for pet owners before their four legged friend is gone.
They are called Special Attention Sessions because when Brittney Turner took Walter, her baby English Bulldog for a vet visit, "special attention" was written on his chart. In a nutshell, special attention describes Walter's 12 years. Now photography sessions for terminally ill pets honors him in death.
Duke's owner says, "Look I have a pretend treat for you, sit down."
It's a professional photo session and on this day, it is all about duke. But getting the 12-year old to listen, the word 'easy' doesn't come to mind.
Brittney says, "I decided a few years ago that I wanted, really wanted to do photography and I really wanted to make that my career. A lot of my clients are attracted to me because of pets."
It was 12-years ago Brittney got an early birthday surprise. "I said what am I going to do with a dog? And I guess we figured it out. He was my best friend."
He didn't exactly fit in her camera bag, but Walter, in his famous red wagon never left Brittney's side. He loved traveling and made many trips to bulldog country, Georgia. "I'll have people breathless catch up with us and go, I've been chasing you for two blocks, can I please get a picture of him."
He loved every bit of it. Brittney estimates more than a thousand people have taken pictures with Walter. Not to mention to red carpet, VIP treatment at hotels and restaurants. "He really, he had a great life."
In 2012, Walter got sick because he swallowed squeakers from toys. Over the course of 48-hours, he couldn't stop vomiting, and developed pneumonia. But putting an aging bulldog with breathing problems under anesthesia "It was hard to think he's going into surgery and he may not make it."
The four hour surgery was successful. "When the vets came out, she said we need to talk." They found three spots on his liver and did a biopsy. "Finally I just looked at her and I said are you trying to tell me, my dog has cancer?"
Taking pictures helped time go by in the visiting room. "While I was taking them, I am saying, it could be his last pictures." Because of his health, chemo was not an option.
Walter was given weeks; he made it 6-months and took his last breath in Brittney's arms. "Every day with him was wonderful. I was never going to be ready for him to leave, ever."
That brings us back to duke. His owner says, "Do you want to peak around here with your one eye?" He is battling cancer and recently had an eye removed. The cancer is spreading.
Brittney says, "I want people to have those pictures because I know how much it means to me to be able to look back at Walter's pictures and relive those moments." She continues, "For me it all kind of comes full circle. That really honors him and to me it is a more creative way to give back."
Brittney offers reduced rate and payment plans for Special Attention Sessions because it is expensive to care for an ailing pet.