Friday, September 21, 2012

My life with Olive

On April 25, 1998, my mother's dog, Charlie, unexpectedly had a litter of puppies. Only four weeks after she was born, Olive came home to live with me in Los Angeles. I distinctly remember bringing her into the house and thinking, "What have I done? I'm not a dog person! How many years will this dog be in my life and what is that going to be like?"

Now I know. Olive brought me over 14 years of unconditional love and support. Even though I have lived alone for many years, I have never felt lonely because she was always there. Olive taught me a lot about love. I knew I was important to her by the way she would race to the door any time I came home. How awesome is it to have someone who is so excited to see you that they RUN to the front door? She would jump around and kiss me many times. And to be honest, I was always excited to go home to her, too - I would also jump around and kiss her just as happily. I missed her terribly every time we had to be apart.

Olive had spirit and she was brave. She would always come to my mother's cabin in Bear Valley with me. One time, she hiked several miles with all of us to a swimming spot called Slick Rock. I was too chicken to go down the natural water slide, but Olive boldly slid down with whomever was going over and over again. She wasn't a fan of swimming, but if I was out there in the water, she was out there in the water. Once she even went down one of those tube slides with me. If I was doing it, so was she.

Olive was funny and patient and such a good sport. She was always my test subject when I bought a new lens, fussed with a new lighting set-up or thought she was so cute I just had to photograph her - again. She indulged me many times as she helped me celebrate holidays and posed for various photos such as this silly Christmas shot, this one for The Fourth of July or this one to help me ring in the new year.

Olive was a star. One of my greatest accomplishments as a photographer and a dog owner was to create the book, Olive Goes to Hollywood, which won Second Place in the Album Competition at WPPI in 2009.

Lately, Olive has been a fighter. She has always had a funny little gait, but in the last few years, she had developed severe hip dysplasia and had more and more difficulty walking. In the last few months, I've had to help her any time she was on stairs. One week ago today we had a really fun afternoon tooling around Point Isabel. She was happy to be out walking around in the sunshine, and was not having much trouble at all. However, I came home on Sunday to discover that she could put almost no weight on her back right leg. By Monday, her leg was more swollen and she was clearly in pain. That started our week of no fewer than five visits to various vets all whom seemed baffled by her rapidly declining condition. Despite her obvious discomfort, Olive was cheerful and struggled to walk on her own the whole time. By the last two vet visits however, her leg was swollen to almost two times its normal size and we had to carry her in to see the doctor. When she stopped eating and would only take water through a syringe, I finally had her admitted to the hospital. This has been, hands down, the worst week of my life.

At 2:20am this morning my phone rang. It is with inexpressible sadness that I tell you my beautiful Olive passed away in her sleep very early this morning. I have never felt a pain like this before. Olive was my everything, and I can't imagine life without her. She is survived by her two best friends, Abigail & Alice, and they have been a source of comfort for me today.

This photograph of my Olive was taken a day or so after she first came to live with me. It's so hard to remember her like this - so tiny that I could hold her in one hand - but I will always remember her soft face pressing against mine and how she made me feel so happy and content when I was with her. I will always love you, my Olive.

an olive a day


Melinda September 21, 2012 at 2:44 PM  

Oh girl. I have no words. I'm so, so sorry. That loss is felt so strongly when they're such a big part of our lives. Sending you peace today and always. As a wise friend told me recently, love transcends the physical. She'll always be with you. And I'm so glad you have so many fantastic pictures of your sweet Olive.

JLeAnn71 September 21, 2012 at 4:06 PM  

I'm sorry to hear about Olive. Jill

Sharon September 21, 2012 at 4:22 PM  

I truly am so sorry. How your heart must ache. You gave your Olive a great long life and I'm sure you brought her just as much joy as she brought you. I'm sorry for your loss.

emilie inc. September 21, 2012 at 4:38 PM  

Oh Jules. So very sorry. There's no pain worse than pet loss. :( J's pooch Destin passed away two years ago yesterday - maybe they're playing together today. Wishing you all the peace possible knowing you gave Olive a remarkable life. The hurt will never go away, nor will the joy she brought to your life. We love you and we love Olive. xo

Alex September 21, 2012 at 5:15 PM  

Jules, my heart is broken to hear this. She was so lucky to have you, and you to have her. If you need anything, please let me know.

Stephanie Lairson September 21, 2012 at 5:29 PM  

I was fortunate enough to meet Olive once before you moved up north. Ever since I met you, I was always in awe of how cool it must be to "be you and Olive". You have delighted us with stories and pictures of Olive - quite possibly the most photographed dog on earth :) Thank you for sharing Olive with the world.
My tears and heart are with you Jules.

Claire September 21, 2012 at 5:31 PM  

I'm so very sorry for your loss. I've been following your blog since you mentioned it on your Creative Live workshop. Your photos and stories about Olive have brightened my days. And on the days when Olive was having trouble, I sent good thoughts to you both. Still am.

katiei September 21, 2012 at 5:35 PM  

Though I've never met you or lovely Olive, I stumbled upon this blog a few years back and have loved following along with Olive ever since. I'm so sorry that she's gone, but it's clear she left a lot of love for you in her path.

My husband and i both shed tears as soon as we saw this news. We then hugged our black lab and had him talk to Olive on 'bone phone' which lets all dogs communicate, alive or not.

Our entire family sends our love to you and wish we could come visit to share stories, love, and affection for beautiful Olive.

Kristin September 21, 2012 at 6:04 PM  

Jules, this brought me to tears. I am so sorry for your loss. I have been through this before and it is indescribable to lose a dear animal member of the family. I hope you find comfort and healing through you art and the memories you made with Olive. I never met her but she seemed like an old soul. My heart goes out to you. <3

Jules Bianchi September 21, 2012 at 6:09 PM  

Thank you so much... your love and support mean so much to me.

Marcie Lynn September 21, 2012 at 7:17 PM  

Again, so sorry to read Olive passed away this morning. I have two middle ages dogs whom I love soooosososo much and it scares me every day to think of what life will be like without them. We are so lucky to have such wonderful pets in our life! Hang in there! She's watching over you now.


Unknown September 21, 2012 at 11:05 PM  

Jules, I am so sorry to hear about Olive's passing. I have enjoyed watching her adventures over the years through her photos. It's clear the two of you had an incredible and special bond. There will never be another dog like her.

Alicia September 21, 2012 at 11:17 PM  

I have not stopped crying since I heard about this. Dogs are such special "people" in our lives--they are like family and it's like losing a person.

I am so, so, so very sad for your loss and wish that I could reverse the hands of time for you. I know that this is an especially trying time for you and I do what I can do--I pray. <3

Sending you great big hugs from AZ and pray that somehow, someway, you'll still find an Olive a day in the memories you have of her and what a special friend she was to you. <3

Deeply saddened by your loss,
Alicia <3

Will September 22, 2012 at 12:10 PM  

Geez, this makes me hurt. Such a terrific dog. I'll never forget walking around 6th Street with the two of you and being so frickin' amazed when she would trot off to the busy intersections and then wait, patiently at the corner until you said the word. And only THEN would she cross. I was always convinced that living that close to the edge, she would never make it to old age. But incredibly and happily, I was wrong.

'bert September 23, 2012 at 8:58 PM  

Even though I'm not a huge dog person, I only have fond memories of Olive. So sad for your loss Bert. Hugs from Minneapolis.

Unknown September 23, 2012 at 10:12 PM  

I'm so so sorry. Hugs and prayers for you!

Anonymous September 24, 2012 at 7:39 AM  

So sad to read this. I'm in the same boat with my 14 year old girl who has a front limb issue on top of old hips. I'm glad she had that last wonderful outing in Point Isabel as my girl can't make that trek anymore. My heart aches for you but Olive was blessed to be with you.

Anonymous September 24, 2012 at 8:47 PM  

My 14 year old Golden Retriever, Bear just passed away last month. The words that you spoke about Olive could have come out of my mouth exactly. Such a painful loss but feel so blessed to have such a dedicated friend who loved me unconditionally. So sorry for your loss and big hugs coming your way

Daniel October 8, 2012 at 8:57 AM  

Jules... I'm so very sorry for your loss. I discovered this blog a couple years ago when I did a little work for you, and immediately fell in love with Olive. Although I never met either of you, I felt a special connection to her through your pictures and words... and you two made me smile/laugh a countless number of times. Thank you for sharing her wonderful soul with all of us. She was an amazing girl, and I know she'll be missed but not forgotten... Big hugs to you!

Christiana Childers December 6, 2012 at 3:52 PM  

Dear Jules, I'm so sorry to hear about Olive. I'm just catching up on my blogs and read this. I saw that she was sick some months ago on FB but didn't know that she died. My cousin who is very close to me died on that same day which is crazy... so I know a little what you are feeling. I'm very sorry. xo Christiana (from creativeLIVE)

Becky Han January 7, 2013 at 4:59 PM  

Jules, I am so sorry to hear about your loss. We also had to say goodbye to our Sandy this year in September as well. Sandy (& Mimi who is still with us) was privileged enough to be a part of Olive Goes to Hollywood. I'm so glad Sandy & Olive were able to meet and be a part of something so great. I remember meeting Olive when we first met at your place in LA. She was such a sweet dog and so lovable. We are both so lucky to have had such wonderful dogs in our lives.

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