There is no greater love, suggests photographer Nancy LeVine, than the love between elderly dogs and those who care for them. She felt it with her own dogs Lulu and Maxie, who were also the muses for Senior Dogs Across America, for which the photographer has traveled across the country to pay tribute to aging canines and their loving forever and foster homes.
Picasso, 17 years old, Charleston, SC
When asked what makes senior dogs so special, LeVine stays silent for some time before responding that it’s exactly that—the quiet thoughtfulness—that makes an older dog unforgettable. A lifetime of dog days and dog moments suffuses them with a wisdom and sensitivity that eludes most other creatures; an elderly canine, she says, contains a well of “soulful love” and an abiding empathy for those to whom he’s entrusted and shared his life.
Red, 12 years old, New Haven, CT
LeVine spent time with dogs living in family homes, as well as those living their twilight years in rescues. Throughout her journey, LeVine felt an indissoluble friendship between man and dog and with so many senior dogs living in shelters, the photographer witnessed first hand what it means to take in an aging animal. She was astounded and uplifted time and again by the affection that can be shared with a senior dog, and the tenderness each dog returned tenfold.
Daisy, 13.5 years old, an adoptable dog at Foster Dogs NYC in East Village, NYSenior Dogs Across America
is not about death. It’s about compassion, and the lessons we can learn from our canine counterparts. The photographer saw dogs approach old age without foresight or fear, and even as their bodies became more delicate, the dog’s “hearts were still full of their abiding spirit.”
Bebe Neuwirth, 12 years old, an adoptable dog at Badass Brooklyn Animal Rescue in Brooklyn, NY
Many of the photo sessions took place at their dog’s favorite place—sometimes for the first time in a long time. Despite being unable to frolic and play as well as they once had, the memories flooded back, and the younger dog they’d been a few years ago would emerge. About the dogs she’s photographed, LeVine says, “They gave me the gift of themselves.”
Mason, 12 years old, and Bailey, 14 years old, Cle Elum, WA
There are many senior dogs living without homes. To help senior dogs live out their golden years in safe and loving environments, consider fostering or adopting a senior dog. You can also donate, funds, time, or supplies to The Grey Muzzle Organization
, which helps homeless senior dogs. You can also contribute to Muttville senior dog rescue
or Fospice at Foster Dog NYC
Ratzoe, 21 years old, Vashon Island, WASenior Dogs Across America
will be released by Schiffer Publishing in Spring, 2016. Follow Nancy LeVine on Facebook
for updates and news.
Curly, 14 years old, Kanab, UT
All images © Nancy Levine
h/t Feature Shoot