On April 24, 1998, my mother’s dog, Charlie, unexpectedly had a litter of puppies. Only four weeks after she was born, Olive came home to live with me in Los Angeles. I distinctly remember bringing her into the house and thinking, “What have I done? I’m not a dog person! How many years will this dog be in my life and what is that going to be like?”
Now I know. Olive brought me over 14 years of unconditional love and support. Even though I have lived alone for many years, I have never felt lonely because she was always there. Olive taught me a lot about love. I knew I was important to her by the way she would race to the door any time I came home. How awesome is it to have someone who is so excited to see you that they RUN to the front door? She would jump around and kiss me many times. And to be honest, I was always excited to go home to her, too – I would also jump around and kiss her just as happily. I missed her terribly every time we had to be apart.
Olive had spirit and she was brave. She would always come to my mother’s cabin in Bear Valley with me. One time, she hiked several miles with all of us to a swimming spot called Slick Rock. I was too chicken to go down the natural water slide, but Olive boldly slid down with whomever was going over and over again. She wasn’t a fan of swimming, but if I was out there in the water, she was out there in the water. Once she even went down one of those tube slides with me. If I was doing it, so was she.
Olive was funny and patient and such a good sport. She was always my test subject when I bought a new lens, fussed with a new lighting set-up or thought she was so cute I just had to photograph her – again. She indulged me many times as she helped me celebrate holidays and posed for various photos such as this silly Christmas shot, this one for The Fourth of July or this one to help me ring in the new year.
Olive was a star. One of my greatest accomplishments as a photographer and a dog owner was to create the book, Olive Goes to Hollywood, which won Second Place in the Album Competition at WPPI in 2009.
Lately, Olive has been a fighter. She has always had a funny little gait, but in the last few years, she had developed severe hip dysplasia and had more and more difficulty walking. In the last few months, I’ve had to help her any time she was on stairs. One week ago today we had a really fun afternoon tooling around Point Isabel. She was happy to be out walking around in the sunshine, and was not having much trouble at all. However, I came home on Sunday to discover that she could put almost no weight on her back right leg. By Monday, her leg was more swollen and she was clearly in pain. That started our week of no fewer than five visits to various vets all whom seemed baffled by her rapidly declining condition. Despite her obvious discomfort, Olive was cheerful and struggled to walk on her own the whole time. By the last two vet visits however, her leg was swollen to three times its normal size and we had to carry her in to see the doctor. When she stopped eating and would only take water through a syringe, I finally had her admitted to the hospital. This has been, hands down, the worst week of my life.
At 2:20am this morning my phone rang. It is with inexpressible sadness that I tell you my beautiful Olive passed away in her sleep very early this morning. I have never felt a pain like this before. Olive was my everything, and I can’t imagine life without her. She is survived by her two best friends, Abigail & Alice, and they have been a source of comfort for me today.
This photograph of my Olive was taken a day or so after she first came to live with me. It’s so hard to remember her like this – so tiny that I could hold her in one hand – but I will always remember her soft face pressing against mine and how she made me feel so happy and content when I was with her. I will always love you, my Olive.