I've said this once before but I think it's fitting to say again here and now...

I strongly believe that my talent lies not in photography but through using photography to make emotional connections with people.

The success I've seen in my first official year as a photographer I put down to this ability and to Him who gave it to me.

If you've read this blog for any time at all, you'll know that I love love. I'm a passionate person and I'm extremely positive in my life. I'm not sure if it's been clear or not but the last few weeks, while we've experienced the highest high of our lives, we've been balancing one of our lowest lows.

I think just like Kesh hasn't found the right words to explain the birth of Roo, I haven't found the right words to tell the story of Trooper - our dog. For Kesh and Roo's birth, the words still haven't come. Maybe they never will. Maybe they will always be somewhere between her conscious thought and the keyboard. For me, the words for Trooper are flooding into my mind. And so I find myself, here at the computer, tapping them out.

I'm not sure I want Kesh to read this. I've been thinking about how I could keep this from her. How I could make sure she didn't check my blog. I can't do that though.

Before we were married, we'd started looking for dogs. Kesh loves living things and dogs are her favourite animal. She is passionate about the welfare of all animals and has a connection to the animal kingdom that I don't think I've seen before. Without telling Kesh, I'd gone back to the RSPCA and picked Troop up as a Christmas present for her.

He was our family, before we had our own and he rode home in the car with us on Kesh's lap, licking her face, just every now and then.

The relationship Trooper forged with us was not like most dog-human relationships. Trooper came everywhere with us. I mean it. He came to church, birthdays, dinners, reunions, dates, beaches, holidays and everything else we did.

He was a special dog, who loved us.

After two knee operations, Troop's quality of life wasn't what is should have been. He wasn't allowed to move faster than a walk, which we really struggled with. Our daily runs along the beach were no more.

One night, we had friends over for dinner who were also animal lovers and they really wanted to meet Troop. We still don't know what happened, or why, but Trooper bit our friend as she leant down to pat him. He bit her face and I'll never forget how I felt that night.

I barely spoke a word for the remaining hour or more that our guests were with us. I couldn't process what had happened and I think the consequences of Troop's actions were overflowing what my mind could process within minutes.

Kesh and I spoke about putting Trooper down. The conversations were tear filled and heavy to hold. Ultimately, we decided against it, and to be much stricter in our management of who Troop came into contact with.

We tried to ensure that Troop was being fulfilled in every way he needed to make sure this wouldn't happen again. We were much more careful with Troop's interactions and were confident we could make it work.

I'm sad to say that Troop didn't improve. He actually got worse. The details are hard to go into here and not something I want to think about too much but I remember bringing Roo home, and seeing Trooper lunge at my nephew, who was visiting. Knowing that if the barrier wasn't there, my nephew might not be. And then a few days later, the same thing happened with my sister. Unprovoked attacks towards people he knew and loved. He bit once again and I knew, as I knew almost a year earlier, what had to be done.

It's not something Kesh could process. She had given birth just four days earlier. Her body and mind were fatigued beyond comprehension. Trooper was our dog but he was always Kesh's first. Her love for him was visible and for me, tangible. She would speak to him, stroke him, look into his eyes and love him. She showed patience with him I was unable to muster. Trooper was with us before we were officially us and Kesh didn't want that to change.

Once Roo was home, I knew. Even before the subsequent episodes...I knew.

The day before all of this, Kesh had warned me it was going to be windy. We live in a town with a name that has an Aboriginal translation for 'windy'. Troop became extremely anxious in the wind, to the point that he would hurt himself from the stress of it all. I decided to go to the vet to try and get something that would help because nothing we'd done had ever had any real impact. My Dad came with me. Strangely, the vet started asking questions that were leading towards other issues - aggression included. I explained Trooper's history and the vet sat quietly, eyes down, for just a moment too long.

I left with a box of something to help Troop relax in the wind and no idea how to make this ok for Kesh...or for me.

We spent the next day calling everyone. The RSPCA, dog rescues, shelters, specialists, everyone. The issue is, once a dog has bitten, it can't be re-homed. We had a dog that had bitten three people. I thought about taking Troop to the RSPCA in the middle of the night and leaving him there, hoping that he would pass their behavioural assessments and have another chance. The thought of him biting someone who didn't know his history and my internal drive for total honesty stopped the thought process in its tracks.

I made one last call to an animal rescue we'd come across at a dog park in Sydney, years earlier. The No Kill Animal Rescue were my last hope. I tried a few times and couldn't get through. About half an hour later, my phone rang. On the other end of the line, I heard a muffled voice ask what they could help me with.

'Are you OK?' I asked.

'I'm really sorry, I've just had to put my dog down and I can't believe it,' she agonised down the phone.

We spoke for twenty minutes or so. Both of us in similar situations with young children and dogs who had bitten and were increasing in their aggression.

I feel as though I experienced a tender mercy that day. To speak to the founder of a group called the No Kill Animal Rescue and to hear of their experience - not a month before, or a week before but minutes ago. I think I was being told this is OK.

I called the vet and made the arrangements. Kesh's parents were with us now and explained that while Kesh's love for animals is an amazing blessing - it's the love for her fellow people, for me and now for Roo that were most important.

I think like me, Kesh had known for a long time. When blood came from our friend's face that terrible night, we knew.

I didn't want Kesh to be there. She packed and so did I. She would drive to Sydney with her parents, while I stayed with Troop and made my way up later in the day. Kesh was worried about me being alone with Troop and then driving up to be with her. For some reason I was strong. For a time, anyway.

I sat with Kesh and before we both left the house, we let Trooper in. He was happy, loving and gentle with Kesh. He nuzzled her and she sat on the floor, crying hard and long tears that hurt my chest and stung my eyes and nose.

I put Trooper in the back of the car and made my way back to the house to hug and kiss Kesh. I told her I loved her and promised her this was the right thing to do. I knew it was but it was so damn hard.

I drove to the beach and let Trooper run. He hadn't run properly in a year and had a freshly operated knee. The damage he did to it on that run would have been massive but it didn't matter. I wanted him to run completely free.

The heavens had opened completely. I stood on the beach, soaked through. The rain pounded us the whole time but I didn't care. If the heavens were open, I knew Troop would get there faster.

I arrived at the vet and waited in the car until they called me in.

'Do you want to stay, or would you prefer to leave Trooper with us?'

'I'll stay,' I said with a crack in my voice.

I was ushered in with Troop who devoured a few liver treats while the next few minutes were explained to me.

I sat on the floor with Troop and patted his head. I looked into his brown eyes that went forever and told him that I loved him. The first injection was administered and I supported Troop as he slowly fell to the floor. He was alive, just unconscious.

I told him that I loved him again and that he was going to be OK.

'Are you ready?' asked the Vet.


I watched as Troop's chest went down and then didn't come back up.

'He's gone,' the Vet said.

I sat there on the floor in that Vet's clinic and held my breath, while I stroked Troop's head. Maybe for a minute, maybe for three - without breathing.

I rushed past the receptionist and into the rain. I slammed the door and sat, still soaking wet. I let myself breathe and it was a breath that went in forever. When I finally breathed out I cried like I never have. I wailed there in my car, knowing that our dog wasn't here with us anymore.

I called my Dad, who loved Trooper and looked after him as a pup when Kesh and I went on our honeymoon. My Dad had spent the morning on the phone, calling about ten different shelters to try and find someone who would take Troop - to no avail.

'He's gone, Dad,' I ached down the phone.

'What do you mean he's gone?' Dad asked not believing what I'd told him. He'd been with me the day before but didn't realise it had already happened.

My Dad just kept saying 'I'm sorry. Tim, I'm so sorry'. Now, it was My Dad was crying those hard tears. I will never forget that phone call. And I'll never forget the feeling of knowing my Dad loved me. He loved me so much that he cried for me, knowing how much Trooper meant to our family.

We stayed in Sydney for about a week. We felt the love of Kesh's family, along with their support, holding us up.

Being there with Trooper was the hardest thing I have ever done in my whole life.

We are close to being at total peace with what has happened and thank you for your sensitivity should you choose to comment.

Trooper was a beautiful dog, who we loved and still love. More than that though, I love Kesh and Roo. I love them more than anything and I always will.

Troop's last run on the beach

Kesh saying goodbye


  1. this is really heartfelt and beautiful. it makes my heart ache for you guys.

  2. I am sobbing. I have been there as well and there is no heartbreak quite like it.

  3. Oh Tim. I don't think i've ever been as affected reading a blog post as I am right now. I'm up late rehearsing for Thursday's show and decided to take a little break and read some blogs, all your words are bringing back so many memories of my history with my two beloved dogs.

    I too have been with my dog as he took his last breaths. We stood around him telling him he was loved. He gave me thirteen years of friendship and I slept with him on my bed most nights. It was the saddest but also most peaceful things i have ever witnessed, he was so old and fragile and still til the very last minute we wondered if we were doing the right thing even though he couldn't walk anymore and his body was shutting down and the vet gave him only a couple of weeks if we left him to himself which seemed so cruel.

    My dog after that is still with us, she lives with Tim now (Jude's Dad) on his property. She is beautiful and wild and has attacked other dogs and animals... we have struggled to keep her well behaved. Thankfully she never harmed a person. She is the most gentle, loving creature with the kindest eyes. I wish she didn't have that aggression in her but it was put there before we were her owners and all we could do was minimise it and keep her safe and other dogs safe.

    I know i'm rambling... but i just want you to know that i know. I know what it's like to be there with your best friend and let them go. I know what it's like to know your animal has two sides. I know what it's like to feel the pressure on your shoulders of these massive decisions. You have done the right thing here. It must have been so hard. Roo is safe and i'm glad you are finding your peace with your decision. I am really feeling for you. It's just so sad but there was nothing you could have done.

    Thinking of you all.


  4. Oh Tim & Kesh really sorry that you both have to say goodbye to Trooper. Growing up in the Philippines we've never really had the same attachment to animals as here in Australia. I've experienced this with Chris' family being cat lovers. But the point of the story was you have told the such a beautiful story full of love. I swear to God that everytime I read your stories I just bawl my eyes out (possibly with Jonsi in the background playing it didn't help). I love how you bring meaning and read signs to the things around you to help you with difficult decision. It's such a gift that you're able to be guided. Lots of hugs to you and Kesh. ps. really love that first photo of Kesh and Trooper. that needs to be in a frame. xoxoxoxoxoxoxoo

  5. I'm not entirely sure this documentary would be the best thing for you to watch but it really is one of my most favourite docs with a very similar story to yours. It's so beautiful and visually captures a lot of what you've described. all the best

  6. wait really, watch that if you do get a chance.

  7. Oh what a roller-coaster for your family, at a time when you are already filled with raw emotions. Our old dog is getting to a stage where we will have to make some tough decisions, and what may be thoroughly right, is going to feel thoroughly terrible. A beautiful and brave post, totally heartbreaking.

  8. Beautiful. Thank you for sharing Tim. My family bought a pug for as a gift. I am a recovering alcoholic and she has been my strength and heartbeAt more times than I can count. My heart goes out to you and your family.

    1. My pug helped me through depression. He is my strength.

  9. My parents had a beautiful white German Shephard when I was born. He would go into seizures and come to with confusion and aggression. My mum said she would shut herself and me (as an infant) in her bedroom until Boone (the dog) would start to come back to normal. She said putting him down was one of the hardest things they ever had to do, but when it came to the safety of her baby should she not be in the room at the appropriate time, it was a clear choice for them. Sorry for your loss, Coulsons. Praying.

  10. Oh Tim! This post is a tender mercy to me. Last night I was crying over my dog Atlas. I was feeling guilty and sad for having to place him with someone else and also kinda silly because someone might say "he's just a dog". Reading your heartfelt words about what it's like to truly let go of such a dear companion and in such a way actually makes me feel peace over my own decision to let go and restores my belief that animals are special and always deserve a place in our hearts. So so sorry for the heartache. All the best to you and Kesh and little Roo. <3

  11. Tim, Kesh - Sorry. What a heartbreaking story, what a heartbreaking decision, I really feel for you. We had to have our little cat put to sleep earlier this year, it's the worse thing I've ever had to do, I still feel sick if I ponder on he thought for long. But in choosing to care for the animals I guess that's part of the deal, a really tough part of the deal, but another part of caring for them in the best way we can. We planted a tree for Shelley (our cat) and we say hello every time we pass it. Perhaps you could do something like that, a little way to remember your Trooper.

  12. This was my family a year ago, except it wasn't a friend that Roxy got on the face, it was our 2 year old son. Our dog was my first baby, bought for me also for Christmas and came with us everywhere, the hardest day of my life was saying goodbye to her and coming home to my son and saying she was gone.

    You know you did the right thing, but it doesn't make it any easier.

  13. So heartfelt, so beautiful. Our animals really are another one of the family, but when we have our children, they do have to move to second place. I can only imagine the struggle you guys went through, love to you all xxx

  14. Such a tough decision guys. Lots of love your way. x

  15. so heartfelt and heartbreaking. much love and sympathy to you both.

  16. Your blog always makes me smile from ear to ear but today's entry left me in tears, so beautifully written. I've never written a comment on here before but I felt the need to reach out and offer a heart warm sorry from a stranger. What a life Trooper got to live, I'm sure each day was worth a hundred in someone else's presence. I can't imagine what you guys have gone through and I'm so sorry that you had to. I've never been more moved by a blog entry than I did with this one, thanks for taking the courage to share it.

  17. I am so sad reading this post. I'm so sad for you and Kesh but I know that you made the right choice.

    This post brought back so many memories of when my beloved dog was put down last December. She was old and so sick and it had to be done. I couldn't bring myself to watch her be put to sleep, but hearing my mum describe the experience - looking into her eyes and watching her breath slow right down.... I just can't even imagine how that would feel.

    My thoughts are with you guys during this, the saddest and happiest time of your lives xxx

  18. tears!!!! so sorry to hear. :( you made the right decision, but i can barely imagine how hard it was. xo

  19. As much as your photos move me your words moved me today. Quiet tears every time I even look at this post. My heart breaks for you and I am so so sorry for your loss and hope that with time you and Kesh are able to be at peace with your decision. You are right though, your love for your wife and baby is the strongest thing and keeping them safe is the most important job you have in this world.

  20. Really really sorry to hear about Trooper, guys... it's amazing how much pets become a part of our lives, part of our families. Definitely lifting you three up in prayer.

  21. Tim and Kesh, I am so sorry for your loss. Trooper was a beautiful dog. He would understand why you had to do what you did - he wouldn't have wanted to hurt you or anybody else. Keep your memories of him close and he will always be with you. xx

  22. I don't even know the right words to write other than how sorry I am for your loss of trooper, I can see how much he meant to you guys as you always wrote about him. This story is so sad but also beautiful to see how animals can affect your life and hopefully you can just take the memories of him when he was good.
    xx charlotte.v

  23. the words were hard to read near the end through cloudy, salty tears. my heart is heavy for you and kesh, tim. the loss of a family member, whatever the reason, is so very, very hard. I am so glad you were surrounded by such love following trooper's death. I had to make the decision to have our old cat put down six weeks after ruby was born, for different reasons than trooper, but still perhaps the hardest decision I have ever had to make. I remember crying for weeks to follow, sometimes at the strangest things, because our home felt empty without him, even though it was filled with love. big love to you three x

  24. My heartfelt sympathy for the loss of your beloved family member. What a beautiful and blessed life he had with you and Kesh. Just remember, he passed on a ver happy pooch, you can see his joy on the beach.

    I've had to make that heartbreaking decision many years ago as well, but in the long run you know in your heart you did the right thing for them.

    Sending love and strength.

    L x

  25. I wish I was there to capture Trooper's last moments; wish I'd known earlier. Thinking of you both.

  26. I could barely read the end of this because I was sobbing pretty damn violently. My daughter is asleep on the couch next to me and I was so worried she would wake up.
    Not only are you an amazing photographer, Tim, you are an emotive and amazing writer too.
    Thinking of you and Kesh and Roo. You did the right thing. xxxx

  27. Such a sad story and such a beautiful post.

    I have had to put pets down in the past and while it never seemed fair that their time had come, deep down I always knew it was right.

    I am sure that Trooper feels lucky for the time that he spent with you and Kesh and that, just as in life, he doesn't judge you at all...he just loves you.

  28. My heart goes out to you and Kesh and your family right now. Our dog Nicky was the sort of dog that we weren't allowed to go anywhere without! If he was with us we knew we were safe. We grew up in the country and all the kids treated Nicky as though he were their dog too. You could pull his tail, his ears, ride him...and he would never complain. One day while we were all playing with him he let out this loud bark which was really unusual for him. Trying to comfort him, one of my friends' touched his back to pat him. He swung around and barked and because she was so close to him he made contact with her ear and drew blood. He cried and cried and sulked away but we all knew something was up. It was cancer - the size of a tennis ball that was traveling up his spine. Saying goodbye to him was the hardest thing I've ever had to do. He was more than our dog - he was more than our best friend - he was more than family -- he was...well...just 'more'....It's hard to put it into words but I'm sure you get it. With that said...the good memories and the opportunity to have even had such an amazing friend like Nicky is something I hold onto and feel blessed to have been given.

  29. Tim and Kesh, I'm so sorry for the loss of your Trooper. Cried my eyes out for you all. We have Bindi, a red cattle dog. She came from a no kill shelter and is our 'first born'. I understand how gut wrenching it was to let him go. Roo will bring you so much healing through this. Sending you lots of love xoxoxoxo.

  30. I saw that you took this down and now up again. You have a way with words just like your photography! I've grown up around pets for all of my life except my adult life - renting in Sydney isn't friendly to keeping pets sadly.
    As I read your blog it was a twist for the reasons why you had to say goodbye to Trooper, that I wasn't expecting. However I respect it. I feels like a twisted world where we can't live with another living thing. I guess with human is this nature we 'lock them up' so to speak. Even so that doesn't help the situation.
    Nothing I can type here is going to fix that pain you feel about saying goodbye or the reasons why you had to do what was done.
    I've put down my beloved horse when an injury was not fixable and the health costs to fix him was far out of our reach. The vets comments where 'its not worth it'. Horrible way of putting it really. He was a top horse too - amazing competitor. I wish we could of kept him just to live out his days - eating grass. But it wasn't to be. I still remember hearing the thud as the drugs took effect and he feel to the ground. I played a song to make it better at the time. Made it worse - whenever I hear that song I'm brought to tears. Either way - making the decision or having no other option is hard. I know there will be many unhappy with the result of your post. But thank you for your honest words. I'm so so sorry for your lose.

  31. I really really really didn't want to read this because I knew how it would make me feel. The kind of stuff that noone wants to feel or think about because it's all to hard...too gritty. I also know i had to read it and also to comment. I know that Trooper was a much loved part of your world and I know that all things happen for a has cycles we can't's not our job to understand...we just have to trust that God put us and the people around us in exactly the right places at exactly the right unfolds as it is meant to. I'm so glad trooper had you both, had a wonderful life and that now is at peace . You are one in a million pet owners. One in a million people and One in a million parents. Sending much you love.
    I am so grateful for what you have given us xx

  32. I, too, feel yours and Kesh's pains deep down in my gut, and sat here sobbing like many of those commenters above. You have such a beautiful way with words, and I feel so deeply for you both. I've always been a huge lover of dogs, and have known the pain of losing a couple of rescued pets in my life. May I ask what caused the delayed onset of unprovoked aggression? Did the vet have an understanding or explanation for it?

  33. I am crying and aching for you. This is a beautiful, heartbreaking post. I am so sorry for your loss.

  34. Timmy, I can't stop thinking about this post. Last night I was on the couch with Rob and had to get up for one of the girls. I came back minutes later to see Rob with tears POURING down his cheeks. I didn't know what had happened - he just passed me his phone and went off to cry some more alone (like a man) and there was this post blinking on his screen.

    I am SO sorry for your loss. Both of you. What beautiful words you have written for Troop though. An amazing tribute and honour for him. You did good. You and he were lucky to have the time you did together. Lots of love to you and Kesh x

  35. I am so sorry Tim, you met us only a few months after I had to do the same with my first baby and I know it is so hard.. I too sat in my car and just sobbed, if I am out running and think of him, I cry.

    The love never leaves but the pain does pass, I promise. Just try and picture him up in heaven running around with no aches and pains and loving the world.

    Love to you both with a little kiss on that forehead for Roo x

  36. Thanks for a moving tribute to a Canine Kid’s importance in a family, and the depths of emotions that tie us to our Little Ones and them to us. In my 68 years I have experienced that gut-wrenching farewell too many times. That’s three times, where I was present, but also another when I had left my Scottie, Mate, at the Vet for what was supposed to be a simple operation to remove a cyst that impeded his digestion.

    I got a phone call from the Vet during that surgery to tell me his pre-op X-ray had not seen a tumor on Mate’s liver behind the cyst which his incision had uncovered, but it was the real cause of my dog’s distressing decline in health. His advice was to end Mate’s life while he was under anesthetic, as the tumor was inoperable … it was the kindest way out, he told me. That convinced me to say: “Do it.”

    What I can tell you from that, Tim, is this … Painful as the up-close farewell is, watching a beloved dog in its last sighing seconds, it is blissfully wonderful to be able to say good-bye compared to the ghastliness of hearing a hollow phone voice that sounds nothing like your own giving permission to end his life. My mind still echoes with my angry and heart-broken venting after that phone call, and still fills with sorrow about not being there to pat him and whisper: “It’s all right, Mate … Daddy’s here.”

  37. i'm so so sorry tim & kesh. i feel blessed to have come to know you through your photographs and your blog. however i can't read this entire post. i only got a couple of paragraphs in and am messy with tears.

    maybe i'll be strong enough one day to read through it fully. but i can't yet. i apologise. but i can't thank you enough for your honesty.

  38. I cannot fathom your loss Tim, I feel so much for you and Kesh at this time and I know it is only a fraction of what you must feel. I hope that the burden of his absence is not too much for you to carry and walk with, and that you and Kesh know that he is always with you. Right by your side. xx

  39. Thank you for this post. My 1.5 year old dog just bit my elderly neighbour today and it was quite distressing for him (although he just brushed it off) and me. Not sure what to do at this stage and then I stumble upon this blog! Hope this writing this has helped with some of your healing. I still miss my dog I had when I was a child! Thoughts are with you.

  40. There are no words. I'm so sorry for you all, Trooper included.

  41. I don't know Trooper but I'm in tears.

    My dog won't understand why he gets double treats tonight. Let just say one is for the celebration of Trooper.
    I'm sorry for you and Kesh.

  42. Oh Tim, I know what you mean about a dog that goes everywhere with you. I'm sure our friends and family think we are crazy, but our two German Shepherds go everywhere we do. We haven't gone away for longer than 3 nights from them. They come in the car with us everyday, my parents babysit them everyday when we're at work.
    This post made me cry- mainly because there is always the chance with a pet, that you will have to decide when is the time, not them. You and Kesh are so brave, and I can imagine that this hurt terribly.
    But you are also right, Kesh and Roo are so loved, and it was right.

  43. A blog post has never made me cry, but this one sure did. After seeing the last photo of Kesh with Trooper -- I lost it. We have a really special attatchment to animals at my house as well. We've had chickens, hamsters, cats, a dog. We bawl our eyes out any time one of our loved pets dies. It is comforting to know that we will see our animals in Heaven again someday though.

  44. To welcome another living being into your life is the ultimate act of love and sacrifice. I wept because I've been there too + then I wept some more because our son dearly wants a dog. I just can't go through it again. I believe you made the right decision by Trooper.

  45. Really shouldn't have read this at work.


    Thanks for sharing all the joys and all the heartbreaks, Tim. You guys are inspiring.

  46. I too shouldn't have read this at work, I'm now passing off the watery eyes as hayfever...
    I'm so sorry to hear you had to go through such a tough decision and thank you for sharing with such honesty. we are facing a similar situation with our cat who is 15 and fading away as the weeks go on. Tough decisions are on the horizon and how best to tackle this with my boys (she's older than my first son J) is something I am still trying to figure out.

    Lots of love to you, kesh and roo. I hope there is some peace as time goes on.

    x Peta