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The Story Behind This Heartbreaking Photo of a Boy Saying Goodbye to His Dog

Marvi Lacar

"I wish I'd had one more day"

Marvi Lacar and her husband Ben Lowy had a feeling their miniature dachshund Wheat was too sick to survive much longer. An intestinal disease and the subsequent complications had left 11-year-old Wheat in pain, and when the New Jersey couple took him to his final veterinarian visit in October, their children Mateo and Kaleb came along, knowing the odds of having to say goodbye were high.

While documenting Wheat’s last moments, Lacar, a professional photographer, snapped a photo of 7-year-old Mateo’s head pressed to the dog’s head, as he spent his final moments with the dog he’d known his whole life. The veterinarian had concluded Wheat was too far gone to recover.

“He looked so tired,” Lacar said of Wheat on his last day. “I wasn’t ready for that decision, now that I think about it. I wish I’d had one more day. But he didn’t seem like he wanted one more day. Whoever that dog was that we had as a puppy wasn’t there.”

The experience of taking her kids along to be with Wheat in his final moments “galvanized” Lacar and her husband as parents, she said. They want their children to experience the “circle of life,” in which death plays a large part.

“For me, having that moment where we were actually able to let our kids feel and see death in the most tender way—we felt that was real and that was honest, and it was beautiful in a very profound way,” she said. “The fact that they saw their parents vulnerable and cry, but then also pick themselves up, was a good lesson for our kids.”

Lacar shared the photo on Facebook and Instagram this week, where it got dozens of likes and comments from people who were moved by the image.

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