Today has been one of the hardest days of my life.  We lost our gorgeous girl, Abby, this afternoon.  She wasn’t even nine years old.  I can’t believe how quickly this happened.  She was diagnosed with cancer in October of last year.  The diagnosis was pretty grim in that they only projected 4 months.  To top that off, Abby tore her CCL as well.  So my poor girl had an aggressive form of cancer and was one leg down.  We made the decision to do surgery to remove the tumor.  After the first surgery we then found a surgeon that would not only work to get better margins on the tumor but would also perform surgery on Abby’s leg.  Both of the surgeries went well, and it was time to recover.

Recovery was tough for Abby, but she seemed to be doing okay.  Then, all of the sudden, she started going downhill and fast.  I couldn’t believe how quickly things turned.  She could barely walk due to a second tumor forming under a different leg, and you could tell she was just miserable.  I can’t imagine making a tougher decision, but we had to do what was best for Abby.  Our wonderful vet, Dr. Wilkie, came to our home and helped Abby cross the rainbow bridge.

As I’m writing this I’m fighting back tears, and I’ve pretty much been crying for the past two days.  I don’t want to remember my Abby as she was right before she passed, but as the energetic, full of life, always happy to see you, and sweetest dog ever created.  Here are some of the images I took of her over the years.  She was my muse and reason for becoming a dog photographer.  It’s going to be rough without her, but I know she’s chasing balls, swimming, and eating lots of treats.

abby, golden retriever, dog photographer

The above image was taken the day we brought Abby home.  We were in love from the first moment she joined our family.  She definitely grew into a beautiful girl.  I love her coloring, the way her fur curled and crimped by her ears, and the fact that she sat like a golden frog.

The poor pup was always willing to help me out when it came to my work.  This is an image I created in my first year of business.  I had this idea for photographing Abby at the salon.  She posed like a champ, and I still get a great response from this image.

Abby was by far the best big sister anyone could ask for.  She was patient, kind, and always ready to play!

This image is one of my favorites of my sweet girl.  I love her expression and that nose!

abby, golden retriever, dog photographer

I can’t imagine having a home without my sweet girl, and I hate the hole I feel right now.  I didn’t just lose a pet.  I lost a family member, or as I would call her, my first born.  Abby you will be missed, but we will think of you every day and look at your sweet face as often as we can.


  1. Tara C. Patty on January 24, 2018 at 10:50 pm

    So sorry–hate when this happens! Be thinking of your family, Kim

    • Kim Hartz on January 24, 2018 at 11:54 pm

      Thanks Tara… It definitely is the worst feeling ever. I know we will get past it. She was such a special girl, and I know she is feeling much better now!

      • Lynn Salyer on January 25, 2018 at 5:58 pm

        I am so sorry for your loss. My baby girl’s name is Abby also. She was a yellow lab. She crossed to Rainbow Bridge on June 13th, 2016. She would have been 10 on August 23rd that year. She seemed like she was fine that May but then she started losing weight and could barely walk. I took her to my vet and they did blood work. She had diabetes and was very sick. They told me she would have to take shots every day and be on a strict diet. There was no guarantee it would make her better or even how long she would live. I just could not do that to her. I had taken my other baby girl, Kelsey, with me. She is also a yellow lab and is now 7 years old. They said it was good she was there so she might understand better why Abby didn’t come home. I have had them both since they were 8 weeks old. We stayed there with her while she crossed over. One of the hardest days of my life.

        • Kim Hartz on January 25, 2018 at 6:54 pm

          Hi Lynn. Thank you for sharing. It sounds like your Abby was very similar to mine. Our experience was our Abby was similar. We just couldn’t put her through more treatment, and she was just done. We knew it was time. My husband and I were with her until she crossed. It’s definitely one of the hardest days I’ve experienced. I’m sorry for the loss of your Abby!

    • RACHAEL WALKER on July 1, 2018 at 6:24 pm

      Im so sorry Kim. What a heartbreaking post to write and my heart goes out to you . What beautiful images you have to remember her.

      • Kim Hartz on February 11, 2019 at 11:16 am

        Thank you Rachel!

  2. Jennifer on January 24, 2018 at 11:04 pm

    I am deeply sorry for your loss. May she continue to live on in happy memories for your family.

    • Kim Hartz on January 24, 2018 at 11:53 pm

      Thank you so much Jennifer!

  3. Sarah Rios on January 24, 2018 at 11:14 pm

    I don’t know you at all or your precious Abby, but this brought me to tears. I just became mama to a 6 month old yellow lab pup and I’m already so much in love with him, much like what you describe with Abby. My heartfelt condolences to you.

    • Kim Hartz on January 24, 2018 at 11:53 pm

      Thank you so much Sarah! They are such sweet babies when they come into our lives, and they bring so much joy. It’s definitely hard to see them go, but I don’t regret any of the time we had with her. Enjoy your pup!

  4. Betty Kubiak on January 24, 2018 at 11:49 pm

    So sorry for your loss. We have a 9 year old Golden named AbbEy and she has developed arthritis in her back end. So hard to see her struggle to get up sometimes. She was 13 mos old when we adopted her and can’t imagine life without her. Goldens are such sweet, goofy dogs with a huge capacity for love. I know the pain you feel now but soon you’ll only remember all those fun times.

    • Kim Hartz on January 24, 2018 at 11:52 pm

      Thank you Betty. It is definitely not easy, but we are looking back at old videos and photos of her. It makes me remember the good times for sure!

  5. Ronny on January 25, 2018 at 1:12 am

    I lost my first born to cancer as well. Rudy was only 8 1/2 years old. They just don’t stay with us long enough. He’s been gone for 4 years and I still miss him.
    So sorry for your loss. It’s hard

    • Kim Hartz on January 25, 2018 at 1:18 am

      Thank you Ronny. I know it gets easier with time, but it definitely doesn’t make you miss them any less.

  6. Christy on January 25, 2018 at 2:22 am

    My heart breaks with you. Heaven gained an angel , and Abby is healed and playing with my Tucker boy. He tore his ACL and was diagnosed with osteosarcoma within 90 days.

    • Kim Hartz on January 25, 2018 at 2:29 am

      Thank you Christy. This is the worst for sure. Same scenario and it’s so hard. Glad Abby has a friend to play with!

  7. Judy Daniels on January 24, 2018 at 9:35 pm

    I am so sorry to hear this Kim. I know how much you love her. My prayers for you and your family. Hugs. Judy

    • Kim Hartz on January 25, 2018 at 7:35 am

      Thanks Judy. She was the perfect girl!

  8. Kim Austin on January 25, 2018 at 9:49 am

    I am so sorry to hear this Kim. You could feel the love you had for her during your presentation at Imaging. Our furbabies give us so much love and leave us much to soon. My thoughts & prayers for you and your family. Kim

    • Kim Hartz on January 25, 2018 at 2:30 pm

      Thank you Kim! I do love that cute pooch. I know she is much happier now, and I’m sure she was reunited with Sammy, our mama dog.

  9. Shelly Ellis on January 25, 2018 at 11:58 am

    I am so sorry for your loss. I know how much you loved Abby and her fresh baked bread feet!

    • Kim Hartz on January 25, 2018 at 2:31 pm

      Thanks Shelly! I will miss those paws!

  10. Lisa Browning on January 25, 2018 at 2:22 pm

    Kim, I am so sorry for your immense loss. Your portraits of her and the way you spoke of Abby during your class at ImagingUSA showed the deep love you felt for her. She was a beautiful girl and will surely be missed dearly. I couldn’t make it through your blog post without crying. Thinking of you and your family.

    • Kim Hartz on January 25, 2018 at 2:32 pm

      Thank you Lisa! It’s amazing how quickly this happened. She was fine when I left for Imaging. I will always love her and miss her everyday. I’m still fighting back tears as I think about her, and I’m sure I will be for a long time coming.

  11. Sandy Oden on January 26, 2018 at 12:00 am

    Kim, this breaks my heart! I remember Abby coming to Petey’s birthday party. She kept chasing tennis balls and getting in our pool. Abby will be missed!

    • Kim Hartz on January 26, 2018 at 5:06 pm

      Thank you Sandy! She did love tennis balls and your pool!

  12. Twila Morris on January 26, 2018 at 6:35 pm

    So sorry for your loss of Abby. So hard.
    We loved meeting here when you did Lulu’s photo shoot.

    • Kim Hartz on January 29, 2018 at 3:42 pm

      Thank you Twila!

  13. Bridget karam on January 27, 2018 at 9:05 pm

    I’m so sorry to hear Kim. Abby was a great dog and she knew how much you loved her. You did the hardest but kindest thing to keep her from any more suffering. I had to do the same to my heart dog Ringo my little yorkie in October. Grief seems different when it comes to our pets. I’m thinking of you

    • Kim Hartz on January 29, 2018 at 3:43 pm

      Thank you Bridget. I’m so sorry for your loss as well.

  14. Sonia Millan on January 29, 2018 at 3:36 am

    Kim and family, my heart breaks right along with yours. She was an adorable soul. I’m sorry for your loss.

    • Kim Hartz on January 29, 2018 at 3:43 pm

      Thank you Sonia. She was an adorable soul!

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