One Tuesday afternoon last month, Laura Tucker enjoyed a routine outing with her best friend, Brandy. They walked and played on a snow-covered Toronto beach, enjoyed the crisp, fresh air and watched the sunset. They chatted with a stranger, who was out walking with his best friend.
Nothing seemed extraordinary at the time. But for Laura and Brandy, it would prove to be their very last romp together.
The next day, Brandy was sick. The diagnosis was grim. And by Friday, Laura made the painful decision to let her go. Brandy, a 15-year-old border collie mix, was euthanized.
While struggling with her grief, Laura recalled that the stranger they’d met on Tuesday had been taking photos. She had relatively few pictures of her own to remember Brandy by – her dog had been jealous of the camera, and didn’t often pose for portraits willingly – so now Laura desperately hoped that the stranger might have captured Brandy in one or two of his pictures.
The problem was, she didn’t know the man’s name or how to reach him. She posted an appeal on Facebook.
It was shared over 700 times. Of course it was.
And of the hundreds of people who were touched by the note and decided to repost it, one happened to have a shutterbug son called Ryan Phillips. Ryan, as it turned out, was the man from the beach. “I got a little buzz when I realized it was me,” he told a reporter for The Toronto Star.
Ryan quickly contacted Laura: Yes, he certainly did have a selection of pictures he could send her. In Laura’s favourite snapshot, she and Brandy are just silhouettes in the glow of a winter’s sunset. But it’s a beautiful memento of the last time she saw her dog at play.
The photographs won’t erase Laura’s loss. But they’re a huge comfort. “You have no idea how much this means to me,” she wrote on Facebook as she thanked all those who had circulated her appeal. “My grief is being lifted by the kindness of strangers.”
As for Phillips, he was glad he could help. “If you can share a little light and a little love, it can really mean a lot to people,” he said in the article.