“The Professional Photo Shoot (In Honor of My 3rd Child)”

What do you do when you are an empty nester? Well, I got a dog! Check out my guest post below on Mothering in the Middle.

The Professional Photo Shoot (In Honor of My 3rd Child)
by Lori Pelikan Strobel

Lori and Louie at the gallery


The night before the photo shoot, I made sure he had a bath. I brushed his teeth and trimmed his hair so you could see his eyes. The next morning when I said, “We’re going for a car ride,” Louie ran to the door and waited patiently. I packed a bag of his snacks and favorite toys. Finally we were ready. Louie, my dog, was ready for his first professional photo shoot.

I am an empty nester and Louie is my third child. I admit it. Louie has replaced my children – my husband knows it, my kids know it, and Louie knows it.

I love stopping at the pet store to buy little treats and toys for him. He also receives a monthly BarkBox of surprise toys and treats. My phone is filled with pictures of my dog. I feel like a new mom as I take pictures of every new thing he does or encounters.

He sleeps, I take a picture. He looks cute, I take a picture. He plays with a toy, I take a picture. It’s his birthday … well, you get the picture!

With framed pictures of my children around the house, it was only a natural progression that Louie needed a photograph, too. But, not just any old photograph, I wanted a professional one. How could I not have a picture of my third child? So when I saw an ad for “Dog Models” wanted for a photography show, I responded immediately. Louie could be in a photography show AND I could get a professional photo done!

Since my daughters have flown the coop, Louie is the one who follows me around. He is my loyal companion now. He relies on me and I can’t tell you the number of ways I count on him. Louie depends on me for the usual food, shelter, exercise, and a nice patch of grass for him to do his business. He also has come to rely on me to bring him to his favorite coffee shop and to his therapy dog visits. These are not only an outing for him, but also a way for him to socially interact. He thrives on these social interactions. He would rather sit at the coffee shop and people-watch than go for a walk. After an hour of coffee shop “work,” he will sleep for hours. He is satisfactorily mentally exhausted and happy.

I have come to rely on him to be my child. Surprisingly, I found I needed this, too. I like that I still have the responsibility to feed and take care of someone. He fills the empty void that my daughters have left in my home. I feel like I am reliving my young motherhood as Louie has gone through potty training, dog school, vet visits, and play dates.

Many people say I’m crazy for having a dog now in my life. They ask, “Why would you want to be tied down, when you can come and go whenever you want? You have no kids now!” They are bewildered.

Louie professional photo

Photo by Matthew Wagner

The photo shoot was similar to being with my kids when they were three years old. The photographer had stuffed animals and squeaky toys. I had treats to bribe; I am meant to encourage good behavior. Louie’s training at dog school helped in his ability to stay in a position on command. There were pictures of him standing, sitting, lying down, rolling over, tongue out, teeth showing, one ear up, head cocked to one side, and a multitude of others. I had a hard time deciding which photograph to choose. I wanted one that captured Louie’s goofy, lovable, silly self. What I picked was totally different.

He looks regal, almost like he could be guarding the Royal Family. The lighting, the background, and the skill of the photographer captured Louie’s noble and majestic side. To me the photograph shows his dignified loyalty and the devoted attention he shows to our family.

There are no signs of my children living in the home now. There is, however, proof that a dog lives there. I can listen to the click, click of Louie’s nails on the floor as he roams from room to room. The house looks the same as when I leave it, except for the dog toys that get strewn across the family room. Louie’s dog bowls sit in the corner, the couch is covered in a blanket, and I have a special treat cabinet for him.

Louie on the mantle

The biggest evidence that a dog lives in my home is the 24 x 16 photograph of Louie that sits on the mantle with all the respect that is due to my Third Child.


You can view the original article at the link below:

Mothering in the Middle

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