FRANKFORT, IL — People and their pets often have a strong connection, so much so that the bond is familial in nature. So, when that pet is nearing the end of its life, its family can have a difficult time coming to grips with that inevitable good bye.
Frankfort resident Victoria Vazquez wants to help those families and their pets keep the good memories alive by offering free end-of-life photography sessions, called Rainbow Sessions.
Vazquez saw a video on TikTok by Lauren Kennedy, a photographer in Maine, who highlighted end-of-life pet photography and asked other photographers to do the same.
Vazquez was quick to answer the call.
“My whole life is about dogs,” Vazquez said. “So, I figured why not help out the community and people in need, especially with something so tough.”
She said she searched the internet to see if anyone else in the area was doing end-of-life photography for pets and found no one was. So, Vazquez took to Facebook with an offer of free photography for anyone in the community with a pet that was nearing the end of its life.
Vazquez said a few people have already reached out to her for the service.
“I had a few inquiries about if it really is free, and I told them, ‘Yes, it 100 percent is,'” Vazquez said.
Some people who have reached out to Vazquez have told her that thought of booking a Rainbow Session can be an almost too emotional thing to consider, she said.
“I got a few messages saying, ‘Wouldn’t your sessions just be pictures of my dying dog? Isn’t that kind of sad?'” she said. “And I just want to say that [Rainbow Sessions] is to capture all the smiles, laughs and hugs and everything. It’s to give people closure and memorialize favorite details about [their pet], like their tiny little paws or big paws or little scratchy nose or whatever. It’s a way to keep them close even when they’re gone. It’s honestly showcasing the love people have for the most loyal best friends people can have on this Earth.”
Vazquez’s love for dogs — especially her own dog, Ohana, a German shepherd and pit bull mix — prompted her to become a self-employed certified dog trainer and dog massage therapist. She is also working toward becoming certified as a dog nutritionist, she said.
“[Ohana] is the best dog ever, but he has a lot of behavioral issues. He’s scared of everything. He’ll bark at anything that moves,” Vazquez said. “I’ve always had a passion and love for dogs, and animals in general, and I just really wanted to help him. … It kind of all just snowballs from there.”
Vazquez said that about two years ago she started to feel unwell and would pass out randomly. She said she it was later discovered that she had several undiagnosed disabilities, including some that were neurological in nature. She went from being able to go hiking for miles, to not being able to hold down a 9-to-5 job, she said.
“Once I got sick, I just kind of went even further in the dog industry because I was able to help others who were hurting with things that I was,” Vazquez said.
Vazquez created an Instagram account for Ohana, and she uses the social media platform to educate others on disabilities and mental health issues, both in pets and people. Ohana’s Instagram account currently has more than 1,700 followers.
“He’s basically my inspiration for everything,” Vazquez said.
For more information on Rainbow sessions, or any of the other services she provides, visit Vazquez’s Facebook page, website or send her an email.
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