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podcast episode about pet loss grief

Episode 1: Our Host and the Art of Finding Purpose

Show Notes

Angela Schneider, the founder and host of One Last Network, explains the intent behind the newest podcast for pet guardians. She shares the story of her first Maremma sheepdog, Shep, who changed the way she saw the world around her.

Find Angela:


Hi, and welcome to the One Last Network podcast.

This is the space for pet owners who are experiencing the senior years and ultimate loss of their pet to find comfort in their memories and learn about services they may need as their pets age and ultimately cross the Rainbow Bridge.

I’m Angela Schneider, your host and founder of, a website directory built around helping pet parents find professional photographers in their area to create everlasting memories of their best fur friends.

I am a professional pet photographer and I believe in the service that my friends and I provide. We are all so inspired by the love you have with your pets and our mission is to ensure you have a legacy of beautiful, professional-quality art and images to immortalize that love.

Many of us are also inspired by the memories we have of our own pets. 

On this day in 2014, I lost my Shep. He was my soulmate and my co-pilot in life. When I rescued him in 2004, I had no idea how he would change my life. I look back on who I was then and who I became in the years that followed and I realize he led me to become a completely different person.

Shep helped me find my true path, one with hiking boots on my feet and a camera in my hand. He helped me see the world in a different way. He taught me patience, compassion, understanding … 

And the day he left my world – August 20, 2014 … two days after my 43rd birthday – was the worst day of my life. 

He was 12 and I knew his time was running short. I also failed to see a lot of signs that might have made his transition to the next world easier. Instead, he started to turn his nose up at food – even steak – and he was reluctant to go for walks. 

I rushed him to a vet in Kelowna, B.C., where I was living at the time and Dr. Grellan O’Reilly of the Carrington Animal Hospital immediately ordered blood tests. He called me first thing the next morning and said, “Your dog is dying. His heart is ready to explode. He will start having seizures. You need to euthanize him because he is suffering.”

I whispered softly into the phone: “He’s already had several seizures.”

Dr. O’Reilly said, “Get him in here.”

I didn’t. I called out “road trip” and Shep perked up. We drove the five and some hours to Spokane where my fiance-now-husband was waiting to say goodbye to Shep. I had him schedule an appointment at a vet in my future home of Spokane Valley.

We had about 15 last minutes as a family before Shep had one big seizure and we rushed to the vet clinic. There, I stroked his fur and whispered “I will love you for ever” over and over and over again as the vet delivered the bright pink liquid into his failing body.

I cry deep, heaving sobs of grief to this day because I miss him so much. He was my best friend for 10 years and losing a creature who made so much impact on my life is an eternal loss, not something to get over in a few weeks, months or years. 

And now my Bella recently turned 8. I strive to keep her healthy and make the most out of her days here, trying to provide the best care and nutrition to extend her best life as long as possible.

She is my best friend, my cuddliest snugglebug and the best damn professional dog model you will ever find. She gets paid in treats, cuddles and scritches.

She is the best listener, the best therapist and the most reliable presence in my life.

And the day is coming when she won’t be here. Not anytime soon, I hope. Maremma sheepdogs have a general lifespan of 11 to 14 years.

But I also know anything can happen. 

And I dread that day.

Much scientific research has proven the depth of the human-animal bond, particularly that between humans and dogs. Even more so when research looks at the bond between women and their dogs.

Psychologist Julie Axelrod has pointed out that the loss of a dog is so painful because we aren’t just losing a pet. We’re losing a primary companion, a source of unconditional love and security and comfort. Maybe even a child – you know, the kind that won’t grow up to be a teenager and tell you to screw off five times a day?

Losing our pets can disrupt our routines, too, a phenomenon we’ll dive into next episode with my friend and change management expert Kait Dinunzio. 

We’re going to dig into a lot of research on this podcast, talking to experts in pet aging and pet loss grief. And we’re going to talk through ways to manage our grief, especially the anticipatory grief that comes with expecting our babies’ death, and ways to honor the incredible, all-encompassing love we have for our animals.

I’ve gathered together some of the best content creators I know in the pet photography industry, too: Darlene Woodward of Pant the Town Photography in Massachusetts, Jessica Wasik of Bark and Gold Photography in Pittsburgh, Kylee Doyle of Kylee Doyle Photography in Sacramento, California, Courtney Bryson of C Bryson Photography in Atlanta, Marika Moffitt of Soul Dog Creative in Seattle, Tracy Allard of Penny Whistle Photography in Coppell, Texas, near Dallas-Fort Worth, and Nicole Hrustyk of Pawtraits by Nicole in Las Vegas.

We’re going to talk to folks in our community who provide services and support to pet guardians in the senior and terminally ill years of our pets’ lives. We’re going to talk to past clients and the experiences they’ve found in losing their furbabies and how creating memories have comforted them in the days after.

We are going to cry … I mean, I’ve already cried several times while writing and recording this launch episode.

And we’re going to laugh … a lot … and we’ll find out why that’s OK and not totally awkward in an episode featuring Donna Wilson, a nurse and grief researcher in Edmonton, Alberta.

I hope you’ll subscribe to One Last Network, follow us on Instagram at @onelastnetwork – all one word – to see beautiful memorial images from our legacy and memories sessions, and help push forward a movement to normalize pet loss grief.

To let the world know “yeah, I love my dog that damn much.”

And maybe … just maybe … we can help each other heal by sharing stories of our best fur friends and finding meaning in our days as we face their crossing of the Rainbow Bridge and ultimately our years without them.

I’m Angela Schneider, owner of Big White Dog Photography in Spokane, Washington, and your host at One Last Network, signing off to get some Bella snuggles.

Listen to One Last Network on whichever podcast platform you use. Don’t forget to hit follow or subscribe so you don’t miss an episode.

And if you have a friend who might be interested in our content, make sure you share us with them.

Thanks for lstening.

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