Full Service Photographer. What does that mean, and why is it important? These days “shoot to burn” photographers are a dime a dozen. Shoot to burn means you get a book a time slot, get a quick session, and get digital files.

Then what? Chances are, you download your files onto your computer and share them on Facebook and Instagram and maybe make your holiday cards with them. A lot of clients think this is what they want/need out of their photography but let me ask you this… Have you noticed those images dramatically reduce in quality over time as they pop up in your Facebook memories? Have you ever had your computer crash? Have you ever dropped your phone in the water or had it stolen and realized there was no back up to your photos and everything is gone? There’s this false sense of security that comes with having your digital files. Somehow, some way, as our society turned digital, we’ve come to think that digital copies are the way we keep images forever – but it’s actually the opposite. It is far easier to lose your digital files forever, than it is actual prints, albums and artwork. The value is not in your digital files because you burry them on your computer or Facebook and forget about them. The value is in the canvas that hangs above your bed, or the album that you get to show off to all of your friends and family. The value is in the tangible artwork that comes with a lifetime guarantee, that you can physically hand down to your children… digital files are just a bonus to share online and get lost in the world of media with the other thousands upon thousands of images out there.

This is one of the reasons we call our selves Full Service Photographers. It is hard to find what we do in Orange County. You can find a ton of photographers that will book you in for 20-30 minutes, and throw digital files at you, you MIGHT order some crappy prints at Costco, but you’ll never match the quality of artwork or experience that we provide.

We start with getting to know each member of your family so that we can tailor your session to your unique group. We want to know that your son is obsessed with Garbage Trucks and Cocomelon because during your session, that helps us bond with him and break him out of his shell. We want to know that your Mother is a cancer survivor, obsessed with her grandchildren, and has a unique bond with each of them so that we can capture exactly that. We do not take what we do lightly. We are not here to throw digital files at you. We are here to capture your legacy and preserve it for your future generations… because THAT is where the value lies. Your story deserves to be told well, and if you aren’t in photographs… let’s be honest, you don’t exist.

If you follow us on the socials you know that I am basically screaming at the top of my lungs right now about getting your holiday family session booked in!! I spent most of this year sitting on my ass you guys, and I am ready to photograph all of your beautiful families FINALLY. So let’s do it.

This year has been crazy. I started the year off just finishing a few sessions early on and then went on maternity leave to have and bond with my precious baby. Right as I was coming out of leave, I blew out my knee which put me back on leave! I am finally healed (enough) to start photographing again just in time for my very favorite season. Yes – we used to be a wedding photography studio but now we do it all. We photograph weddings in Orange County and Southern California in general. By the end of this year we will have photographed a total of 121 weddings!! This has been a HUGE year for our team with weddings and a very quiet year for family portraits because yours truly has been out of commission. But I’m back baby!!

I am so excited for this season because I just absolutely love to photograph families, design holiday cards, create beautiful stunning artwork for our clients, and see the joy on everyones faces at their image reveal. We are a full service photography studio, in case you didn’t know!! That means we do it all and we do it big. We don’t simply shoot and deliver files for you to lose or bury in a folder on your computer. We plan your family photos alongside you. We learn about each member of your family so that we can tailor your portrait session to your unique group. We set up beautiful fun moments and build a relationship with you so that you all feel at ease during your session and that most importantly, YOU HAVE FUN! Then we design gorgeous holiday cards, stunning heirloom albums, wall art; you name it – we create it. We provide a full experience complete with memories and artwork that will last a lifetime. Very VERY few photography studios in Orange County do what we do. We are unique and we provide a totally unique experience. Basically, we’re awesome – and we’d love to create awesomeness for you. Shoot us an email and come see our studio and talk to us about your session and see if we’re the right fit for you (we are).

Before you do that – check out this adorable family session I photographed in Irvine last season. They grace our website and the walls of our studio because – why wouldn’t they? Just look at them… they’re PERFECT. I adore this family and can’t wait to see them again next month (I’m comin’ for ya Tony!!!).

Thanks for taking a moment to read my first normal blog post in a very long time. I’ll be trying to do better with these 😀

Happy family portrait season!

Love,

Brianna

I can’t even look back and tell you how long it’s been since I’ve written a blog post. It has been way too long. Do people even blog anymore? I’m out of the loop on so many things, but I plan to be getting back into said loop, very soon… and I’ll report back.

I’m using this platform today to share the wild story of what my sweet little family has been through lately, but most importantly to thank those who have helped us along the way.

It all started on a beautiful day in May! I had two shoots on the calendar and was just days away from officially being back from Maternity Leave after having given birth to my second daughter back in March. We started that beautiful Sunday, May 22nd, by attending my cousins son’s birthday party… and we ended that day in serious regret.

The kids were having the time of their lives in the giant bounce house obstacle course that my cousin and her husband rented for the day until someone showed up with water balloons. Then the kids were having the time of their lives throwing water balloons and no one was enjoying the bounce house. So the adults started racing each other through it… because, why not? Bounce houses aren’t dangerous. Who gets hurt in a bounce house? (insert shifty eyes here) …. *Raises hand. Me. I do.

My husband found the idea of me racing my sister amusing and challenged me to race her. This is one of those moments in life where I should have listened to my gut. I didn’t feel like doing it. I didn’t think it was a good idea… but I didn’t want to be the square Mom. I wanted to be the cool Mom that has fun in bounce houses… so I said ok, and coaxed my sister into it as well.

I was wearing ultra slippery socks and was falling behind quickly in the race because I couldn’t get enough grip to climb up the ladder portion to the top of the slide. Once at the top, realizing I was losing, and that was NOT ok, I decided that a leap would be the best and most effective option over sliding down the slide, to get ahead of my sister. I thought of nothing other than, “if I just jump, I can jump ahead of her”. So I did it. I jumped, and every time I think of that jump now, I get the willies, because… I came down and my right foot slipped and my right knee hyper extended and I knew that I was in terrible trouble. I went straight down grabbing my knee in pain, knowing that I had just done something truly terrible to my leg. There was no wishful thinking – it was immediate regret and dread and thoughts of surgery.

If we rewind the clock back to 2003, I had a similar injury to the same knee at a family reunion where I crashed a dirt bike and hyper extended my knee then. So the feeling; the pain I felt; it was familiar. Even though that injury was 19 years ago – you don’t forget that kind of trauma. I knew. What I didn’t know, was that this time the damage would be far worse. 19 years ago, I had a minor tear in my meniscus. This time I tore my meniscus again slightly, took a chunk out of my femoral trochlea (cartilage under your knee cap), AND demolished my ACL. That’s where you pause to cringe because if you know anything about knee injuries… you know that you NEVER want to fck up your ACL.

On June 13th I went in for surgery to repair the tears, and to get an ACL transplant. The surgery was extremely painful. The pain blocker didn’t work, and I woke up in excruciating pain. I went home in excruciating pain. I tortured myself by hobbling up the stairs in excruciating pain so that I could be in my bed, and stayed there for about 5 days. I could not sit up in bed with out assistance. I couldn’t get to the bathroom without assistance. It. Was. BRUTAL. The pain was so bad that I had to have Randy lift my leg up for me to move me around for several days.

We had planned for help to get us through those first two weeks. My Mom was going to come and spend the night for the first night or two in order to help with the kids so that both kids AND my care weren’t all on Randy. However, the night before my surgery, my Mom injured her foot and couldn’t walk. Then our babysitter got sick!! Turns out it was covid. Turns out, Randy caught it. Turns out, he gave it to Brynlee. So by the time my first week post surgery came to a close, my house was infected with covid. I made it 14 days after Randy and 9 days after Brynlee before it finally caught up to me. I am forever grateful to my Mom and my brother’s girlfriend Mariah for showing up that week unafraid. They knew we needed them. They put themselves at risk of catching covid to be here for me and my family. I am so happy to say that neither of them caught it from us, but they came assuming they probably would and they helped anyway. Selfless.

In addition to those two, we have had an abundance of love and support flowing to us during this time. We had people showing up to help before covid, sending meals, sending meal gift cards, and I cannot express how much that helped take off Randy’s plate. He has been caring for both kids, and me, and making every meal, cleaning up every meal, trying to keep the house organized AND work. So taking the cooking/cleaning off his plate was beyond instrumental for his sanity. THANK YOU to everyone who contributed to my family during this crazy time. We are blessed beyond measure to have so much love and support around us, and even more blessed that this has been a temporary set back for us… we are on the upswing from all of it. Healing has begun and we will get to look back on this time and think “wow – that was nuts!” and know that it was just that – a tough time, but a time where people showed us really big love.

To the following people, THANK YOU does not express it enough but they are the only words:

Mom, Dad, Mariah Kennebrew, Robin & Vern, Aunt Janette, Aunt Michelle, Caitlin Ferry, Cindy & Marcia, Trinity Wallas-Ellis, Jenny Rosso, Kara Joffe, Rena Franco, Alex & Dustin, Elaine King, Emily Helmick, Matt Cambell, Aunt Jenny, Lauren Pollack, Philip Aronoff, Uncle Ken & Aunt Kathy, Richelle Loranger, Colton & Alli Centala, Nikki & Trevor Porter, Megan McGarry, Annie Bernard, Jennifer McNeil, Tammie & Max Harlan

Your love, your compassion, and your kindness is truly touching. Thank you for loving my family and for taking care of us. We love you all dearly. Thank you. Thank you. THANK YOU.

THIS SUNDAY IS THE FIRST DAY OF SUMMER YOU GUYS!!!!

Does anyone else feel as freaking pumped as I am about this? Last summer was a total bummer… this summer, the swim and BBQ days are already on like donkey kong in my family. It also helps that the age of two has made my daughter all about that swim life with her cousins. Last year she was still glued to me at all times and didn’t like the water. This year… she asks me to swim every day, her favorite thing to do is go to her swim lessons with “Miss Savannah” or jump in the pool at her Nana’s house with her cousins. She is all about it, and I am soaking it all in, and a little sunshine and white wine too! It feels glorious. Come join me!

Speaking of summer and cousins… the session I am sharing with you today still has me over the moon with joy. A couple of weeks ago I ran an “Energetic Kids” giveaway and this session was one of the winners of my $450 voucher which covered their session fee and a $250 credit toward their wall art. Grandma bought a beautiful 4 piece canvas display for her wall, and Samantha bought a gorgeous custom framed enlargement of her adorable daughter. I cannot wait to see how these look on their walls!

Fun fact: about 6 years ago I photographed Samantha & JJ’s wedding! Samantha still follows me and knew that this giveaway was the perfect fit for her absolute wild flower of a daughter Kylee to play and have some fun with her cousins. Hearing about the bond Kylee has with Katie & Joey instantly gave me all the feels because it reminded me of my daughters bond with her older cousins. So we took the kids to Huntington Beach and had the most hilarious, wild, and fun kids session I have ever photographed!

During our phone consultation I always chat with my clients about their kids and prep myself for their personalities. I gather important information that helps me get the best out of them during our session. I knew that Kylee absolutely LOVES the water, and that it was very likely that asking her to sit and pose would be a long shot – which everyone was fine with. We wanted Kylee to be Kylee! In her element, having a ball… and that’s exactly what we captured.

I am obsessed with this session and can’t wait to plaster it all over the place because it is just so adorable, playful and full of personality. Take a look:

I hope you all have some epic summer plans! Be on the look out for our Summer Series of giveaways. This session has me inspired to do a beach series… hint hint 🙂

For more information or to book a session, please visit http://www.shyheartstudios.com

Value.

Value is defined as: importance, worth, usefulness of something. It goes without saying that different people put different values on different things. Some people spend a couple hundred dollars a month on getting their car waxed and detailed, while others have literally never washed their car once. Some people spend a couple hundred dollars a month getting a mani/pedi every other week, while others just simply don’t care for that type of service and spend nothing on it. At the end of the year, for some people these things add up to $2400+ but we don’t think of it that way… because we aren’t spending it all at once. Yet, the cost is still pretty steep when you think of it in terms of what is spent in a year… and what you have as a result at the end of that year – a nice looking car, and nice nails if those are things you personally value.

Let’s take it a step further and talk about what some people might spend on furniture, or decor in their home. I heard a story recently about a $10,000.00 chandelier that an interior designer put in someone’s home for them. It’s gorgeous, yes… certainly a statement piece. The same person who purchased that chandelier for her home, had an absolutely gorgeous wall display designed by her photographer with custom framed prints from their session. Two gorgeous displays to be exact… and the bill for that stunning artwork came to approximately $8,000.00 when all was said and done (these were extra large, multi-photo displays). The woman was shocked and began asking about ways she could bring that cost down… maybe by framing them herself. Naturally her photographer was discouraged because the immediate assumption was that the cost was in the hardware… the VALUE for her, was assumed to be in the frames, and not in the images that were captured of her children.

I guess the point of this story (and no this was not our client, or our sale) is that value is relative, but at the same time it’s very interesting to me to think about what people THINK they value. Do you think that if that woman’s house was on fire (and her family was safe) that she or her husband would worry about that chandelier? Do you think they’d try to take it down and save it? Or would they pull those beautiful family portraits off the wall and get those to safety? I come back to this question a lot when discussing the value of photography. Here’s another one for you: when she dies, do you think her children will care about that chandelier and who gets it? Or do you think they’ll want all of their childhood memories and photos of their mother to treasure forever?

At the end of the year when you realize you’ve spent somewhere around $2,000.00 on your nails throughout the year… Would you still find value in a $1,600.00 heirloom album complete with absolutely breath-taking photos of your children?

I implore you to stop thinking about purchasing artwork from your session in terms of the bill right here and now, and consider what that album means for your future generations… and for you as a parent, right now. It’s an investment in your family, and it deserves to be recognized as such.

Stay tuned for future announcements about our Photography Membership and how we can turn that yearly bill into a monthly cost so it doesn’t feel so big at your purchasing appointment, but you can still invest in these heirlooms for your children.

When we lose someone we love, the first thing most of us do is grasp at all of the memories and try to hold them as close to our hearts as possible. We start finding photos, framing them, preserving them so that we can hold on to that loved one forever – they quickly go from “just a quick holiday photo for our card” to our most prized possessions. Why do we wait so long to treasure these moments? Why do we wait so long to preserve them? Why are we so quick to drop thousands on furniture, yet easily turn away at the cost of memories that we know will be treasured for far longer than that new couch… which honestly will be tossed out in 5 years or less anyway? Sure, you can get it done cheaper. But remember – that with lower cost comes lower quality, lack of experience, and most likely – a thumb drive or digital download that will get lost, or buried somewhere miles deep on your computer, forgotten about, and potentially lost forever.

I am so passionate about what we do and what we offer here at Shy Heart Studios, because we do it right. We do it with love. We do it understanding the gravity of what we hold for you and your future.

With all the love and sincerity,

Brianna.

I can’t believe we launched Shy Heart Studios just over six years ago now. I’ve never focused on our anniversary until this year…. year six. That was not intentional, I just didn’t think much of it and was always too busy in January every year to give it any thought.

I have been photographing weddings for 12 years! That’s an even crazier number to me. In those first 6 years I picked up a few shoots on my own, but mostly worked for other photographers and even had a business partnership for a couple of years. I was grappling with whether to put my energy into someone else’s business, or pursue my own path. Even though there was a “partnership”, that business belonged to someone else and I was never in control of anything. I thought, at the time, that I needed a boss. I needed someone to keep me accountable. I didn’t really feel like I had the ability to be anyone’s boss, let alone my own. But as time went on, I realized I was so wrong about that. There was something unsettled within me throughout those years with that “partnership”; something missing; something that just didn’t feel right.

In 2014 the door to my future opened. I ran through it… I didn’t have time to put on running shoes, I went barefoot, and had no idea where I was going, but I knew I had to just keep running. I feared blisters on my feet would stop me, but instead calluses formed and protected me. Throughout that year I just went for it and by the end of it, I was building a team. In January of 2015 Shy Heart Studios was officially launched and we have never looked back.

Most businesses fail in the first 5 years. This is probably not news to anyone… I actually never worried about this. I never thought for a second, once we got moving, that we’d fail. I did, of course, fear that when I first went running barefoot out that door… but once the momentum picked up, I didn’t ever see it stopping. Maybe that was naivety, or perpetual ignorant optimism… or maybe it’s what kept me moving. I don’t know! What I do know is that we made it through those first 5 years but in year 5 we hit a hurdle that I wouldn’t have anticipated in a million years: COVID-19.

How did we survive last year? How are we still going? In large part we are still going because of the way I prepared my business for disaster. I never thought it would actually happen, but I prepared for it anyway. I had many tears in 2020 over many things including fear, anxiety, stress over my business. I felt like I was failing. I felt like I was losing something I worked so hard to build. My dream. But I wasn’t. I didn’t. I had a rock bottom moment and the stubborn side of me slapped myself across the face, and said get the hell up and keep it moving. The other large part of our lack of failure – was my team. Namely, Elaine, Ann and Alex – my core team that works the inside and behind the scenes details of this business. They kept going and kept helping this company move through such an incredibly difficult time

The future for Shy Heart Studios is bright. I am more focused and have more energy than I ever have. I’m excited about what is to come, and can’t wait to share our continued journey and growing success.

Cheers to SIX years and counting! Here are images of our team from a shoot we did last week. We photographed each other, and used a tripod for our team shots, and we had a blast.

I can guarantee you that these women are as wonderful as they look. Don’t we have a beautiful team!? I am so proud of each of them and so grateful to them. Two of our 2nd photographers were unable to make the session, but are just as wonderful and valued as all of these ladies.

Keep following us on instagram @shyheartstudios and facebook for updates, contests and specials coming your way. To get the inside scoop on these fun things FIRST, join our newsletter!

With love and gratitude all day every day,

Brianna.

Onward & Upward

After a year like 2020 I’ve decided there’s only one way to go… and that way is up. Bigger. Better. More successful. There are no other options.

I’ll be the first to admit that I lagged HARD in the inspiration department in 2020. The Pandemic ravaged my business like a hurricane, leaving me on the top of a car floating down the road not sure where or how to jump to safety. At first I just thought, hang tight… enjoy the unplanned river float… The waters will stop rising eventually, and the car will start again no problem. It can hurricane forever, right? In a couple of weeks and we’ll be just fine. I’ve got some supplies to hold me over…

Then the summer creeped up and we were ready to get back to work in July. But all of the sudden the numbers spiked again and one by one weddings dropped like flies off our calendar. As the year continued on we got our hopes up multiple times and were let down again. That roller coaster ride had me all over the place and really just not knowing what to do or how to proceed. I knew it wasn’t a matter of IF we bounced back, it was just a matter of when… but it had me feeling like I was stuck in the mud and unable to move forward. I found myself signing contracts and thinking “Yeah that wedding wont happen…” and being right about that more often that I’d like to admit. The negativity was just overflowing and growth is really hard to achieve when you’re feeling down in the dumps like that.

Then one morning some ideas started popping into my head before 4am. I started planning, and talking about my ideas with people who I love that are so good at letting me share and who only further inspire me in these times… and the ideas haven’t stopped. The inspiration is back!! I have big plans for my business and I finally feel like I have a focused vision again. 2021 is the year of growth. I can feel it. I’m already rebuilding the engine on that car that carried me through the flood like a life preserver, and it’s going to take me further than it ever has. Stay tuned.

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The couples session I am sharing today is of Leigh-Anne and Andres. I met Andres through a small business giveaway I ran at the end of the summer last year. He reached out and asked if we could trade portraits for Tacos and I was AALLLLL IN! His company, Nomada, is a gourmet taco catering service and you have never tasted better tacos. I can all but guarantee it. You can follow him @tastenomada on IG. Andres then referred me to Leigh-Anne for her portraits for her business. She is a conscious relationship and intimacy psychologist. You can follow her at @love.evolv.ed on IG. Together they are an absolute POWER couple and their love is on fire! Check them out:

For information on booking a portrait session with Shy Heart Studios please drop us a note at http://www.shyheartstudios.com

If you don’t already, please follow us on instagram @shyheartstudios

As you may or may not have noted, the change has begun. It’s been a bit weird for me combining my two brands into one, I mean I am literally about to delete an instagram account that has 9,500+ followers. That feels crazy – and I know it looks crazy too. But what’s REALLY crazy, is that those numbers don’t mean anything when that following isn’t actually booking your services, engaging with you online, or even seeing your posts. It’s just a number that literally means nothing thanks to shadow banning. But that’s a story for another time. Anyway, as weird as it feels – it also feels GOOD. Like a fresh start where we can focus on growing organically.

So what else is new besides deleting an instagram account? Well effective immediately Shy Heart Studios now offers everything you need photographically! Rather than running two brands, we are offering everything under one metaphorical roof. We photograph proposals, engagements, weddings, maternity, home newborn sessions, family portraits AND business branding portraits / headshots in Orange County and the surrounding areas. We are a one stop shop to photograph your entire love story from the beginning of it all, through the birth of your children and your growing families. If you like us, take us with you on your journey and let us capture it.

Here is a look at some of our latest orange county family sessions:

Those are just a few of the many sessions we captured at the end of 2020. We look forward to capturing more love in all of its forms in 2021. If you’re looking for any kind of portraits, business portraits, family photography, maternity, or anything else in Orange County or the surrounding areas – let us know! Tell your friends.

Visit us at http://www.shyheartstudios.com and send a message to inquire about pricing and availability.

Prior to 2020 had you ever heard the words “Micro Wedding” ? No? that’s because 2020, and the global pandemic invented them!

So what exactly is a “Micro Wedding” in Orange County and the rest of the country, and why is it trending? It’s exactly what it sounds like – a highly scaled down version of the traditional wedding. It’s not quite a regular wedding, and not quite an elopement, it falls right in the middle.

In the beginning of the pandemic everyone was just postponing their weddings by a few months. However, we all quickly came to realize that this chaos was going to last longer than anticipated, and many people stopped wanting to postpone and began preferring to find a compromise. Enter: Micro Weddings. I don’t know who coined the term, but it’s cute right?

Yes, there are still a lot of people opting to just postpone. But the vast majority is beginning to realize that there is no telling WHEN weddings will get back to “normal” and they don’t want to put their lives, and family planning on hold. Many within that vast majority are also realizing… that this has been the answer to their stress over planning a big wedding that they didn’t actually want! If you’ve been there, you know. If you are recently engaged, you also know… if you’re on your way to that sweet spot some day – let us tell you… Weddings can QUICKLY become about everyone around you, and before you know it your guest count is over 200 people and you only really want like 20 of those people there… but you’re trying to make everyone happy.

That is the way the wedding planning story goes for so many people. Too many people, if you ask me. And if there is any bright spot in all of this darkness in relation to weddings – it’s that for so many people, their forced Micro Wedding turned out to be exactly what they have wanted deep down all along: a highly intimate and romantic affair with those who are truly nearest and dearest to their hearts. The pandemic has given some people the excuse they needed to drastically cut down their guest count!

Whatever is in store for your wedding in 2021 or 2022… we are excited to capture it. Whether that’s a petite gathering where we can maximize your photography time, or a big giant extravaganza (pandemic permitting) with elephants and belly dancers – we can’t wait to tell your story. We are very much looking forward to getting back to normal here with Southern California wedding photography, but in the meantime we are very much enjoying these safe little intimate events. There is beauty in waiting for that big giant party, and there is beauty in adjusting your plans to meet the times we are in.

This couple opted to move forward with their event at the end of 2020, and it was their little dream come true. Take a look:

2020 was a strange here and forced a lot of changes… but if you look deep enough, I hope you see some beauty in it all. Cheers to 2021… onward and upward!

With love,

Brianna & the Team at Shy Heart Studios

I thought about just making a Facebook post, but I have too much to say.

My quest for the fountain of youth for Shylo…. has failed. I would never let anyone talk to me about saying goodbye to her some day because that was never going to happen. I couldn’t talk about it, I couldn’t think about it. It wasn’t going to happen. I was going to find the fountain of youth, and just let her drink from it… and then will her to some lucky person when I was old.

On Wednesday evening we said a long and painful goodbye to my best companion. I have felt some pretty major heartbreak in my life, but nothing compares to this. Shylo was a part of me. People who aren’t dog people don’t really get it… but she quickly wiggled her way into my heart and I wanted to keep her there and here on this earth forever. She was my first baby…. and as much as I didn’t want to ever acknowledge it, I knew deep down that she probably didn’t have a lot of years left…. but I thought we had a few.

Just a few weeks ago I was looking at her and thinking, “Man, I am so lucky. Shylo is definitely going to be one of those dogs that lives to be like 15.” She was so healthy. She was 11 and a half years old and kicking ass at life. She was as strong as ever, as protective as ever, and as beautiful as ever even with the ever increasing white hair on her beautiful face.

One night she yelped out in pain out of nowhere. Randy and I were alarmed and checked her out. She was shaking, as she does when she panics or hurts, but calmed down and then just went to sleep. The next day she yelped out a couple more times. So I took her to the vet… if you know Shylo, you know that is always an absolute LAST resort for me with her. I took her only when I felt absolutely necessary. She was riddled with anxiety and she would just tremble in fear, panic, try to escape the room we were in… and in these covid times, I couldn’t go inside with her, so I had to let them drag her away from me. They thought she tore her ACL on her back left knee and told me the surgery would be expensive, and the recovery would be long. But I just said ok – where do we go next? So they sent me to a specialist.

To make a very long and painful story short… it wasn’t her ACL. Shylo had a neurological disease that was paralyzing her essentially one leg at a time. We tried a lot of medication to stabilize her but she continued to plummet every day. Her body failed her. She went from completely normal, to losing all use of her back legs in a matter of two weeks. I went from hanging onto hope to saying goodbye in less than 24 hours.

I called Dr. LePere at Pacific at Home to come to our home and evaluate Shylo. She spent a lot of time getting Shylo’s charts from her vets, and fully assessing her condition. She explained every possible outcome to us, and each was very grim. We (Randy & I) decided together with Dr. LePere, my Mom, my Sister, that it was time to let her rest.

I knew I could not take her back to a place that terrified her for her final moments, so we had Dr. LePere assist her in letting go in the comfort of her own bed, and my arms in our home. It was the most painful goodbye for my heart… but I couldn’t have asked for a more loving, beautiful, gentle way for Shylo. She felt safe. She was with me.

I had the unique experience and absolute joy of witnessing Shylo come into this world and take her first breath; and I held her, kissed her, thanked her and cried over her as I listened to her take her last.

Shylo was my best friend. I know that’s cliche… but it’s true. As my Mom put it, she was my independence. When I moved out of my Mom’s house and was out on my own for the first time, I wasn’t alone. Shylo came with me. Everywhere I have lived, she was the reason I chose the homes I chose. I wouldn’t live anywhere that she couldn’t come. She protected me. She protected my home, my roomates, my family….and for the last 19 months, my sweet daughter. One time my Mom asked me when I was living with roommates, if I ever felt like I wanted a gun for protection. I replied, “I have one. Her name is Shylo.” She literally prevented a break in at my house once… maybe multiple times.

Shylo licked my tears when I cried over heartbreak, she slept at my feet when I was sick; she scared the shit out of everyone who came to my door; she made people earn her love. She didn’t just love everyone. She chose Randy for me. If Shylo wasn’t cool with you, then you were not cool with me… she knew. She always knew. She sat at my feet when I read stories to Brynlee; she let Brynlee climb all over her, kiss her, and pinch her ears (smh). She was so gentle. She was happy as long as she was in the same room as me at any given moment. That’s all she wanted. She was by my side during the biggest moments of my life, good bad and ugly. She was my constant. I named by business, Shy Heart Studios, after her. There will never be another one like her. I will miss this girl forever and ever. I am glad she is no longer suffering, but it all just happened too fast. I was not ready. My soul hurts.

Rest in Peace my sweet Bug.

If you have gotten this far, thank you. Thank you for reading through my Shylo tribute/memorial. This was therapeutic for me… and though I knew some would read through it, this was more for me and my healing than anything else.

To my Mom, my Sister Melissa, my brother Dustin and my Husband… thank you for your support through this. Thank you for being there with me on that excruciating day. Thank you for loving Shylo like you did for all of these years and understanding what she meant to me… and for what she meant to you. Thank you for mourning with me.

To my brother Adam – thank you for giving me the gift of Shylo. You are the reason I got to have this beautiful soul in my life and I will never be able to repay you for that gift.

To my friends who already know and have reached out – THANK YOU for your kind and thoughtful words. They have meant more than you know. I apologize if I can’t answer your calls right now. I just need some time.

With a deeply broken heart,

Brianna.

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