The Most Extreme Thing I Did For Dog Love

Dog tattoo part oneby: Carol Bryant

Walking into a tattoo parlor and saying “ink me” is one of the most permanent (and extreme for me) things I have evern done to further embrace my love of dogs. I’ve always been someone unafraid to hide her passion to help dogs.

Growing up, I found every dog book I could and took refuge in the library. Words became my escape, my fuel, my passion. I recall the librarian asking me if “I was really going to read 10 books in two weeks” as I stuffed my Judy Blumes and Encyclopedia Browns and the few canine-inspired titles I could find into the small white and purple basket on my banana bike.

Two weeks later, I’d be back with crumpled library card, ready for more.  I could go anywhere with words and in the name of dog. Whatever mood I was in, I had an escape and it was 2 blocks away. And then came the day when I knew ink had to mark the spot….

In what has become a permanent trend in a way to forever memorialize a beloved pet, grieving guardians/pet parents (myself included) are turning to tattoos as a lasting tribute. An intensely personal experience—and forever etched on the largest of the body’s organs (yes, skin)—this indelible ink serves as an emblem of honor and love.

Yours truly went under the needle twice, both times in the name of dog. For my 40th birthday, I gifted myself a tattoo. 
While vacationing in Cape Cod with my Cocker Spaniel, Brandy Noel, in September of 2008, I decided that I would have her paw print impression put on my leg.

Dog mom gets tattoo

For all of her life, Brandy sat on my lap. And when she would get up, her tiny “impression” would leave a temporary paw imprint on my skin. Eureka! I decided to have her imprint done on my leg right where she would rest her paw forever. 

The whole process took about an hour. The tattoo artist owned the shop (Mooncusser Tattoo), and before I decided, I did my research, talked to him about it and then went for it. It really was not as painful as I thought it would be, and it healed up nicely.

Three weeks after having this done, I lost my little girl to what was believed to be liver cancer and complications of IBD. She was one week shy of her 15th birthday. And I think Brandy left me one last gift.

Carol Tattoos

I had a little tattooed heart emlbazoned near Brandy’s paw print tattoo on my leg. On November 8, 2008, little Dexter came into my life.  And as fate would have it, Dexter has the marking of a heart imprint in his fur. Talk about messages from the angels. In 2009, Dex marked his spot with a second paw print right next to his departed sister.

And I am redy to do it again, this time embracing my love of dogs in general. As a wise friend once imparted, the temporary pain of the tattoo is much easier than losing a beloved pet.

What is the most permanent thing you’ve done in the name of your pet passion?



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  1. I’ve got four paw prints on one of my shoulders. Two of them symbolizes two cats I had when I was younger and the other two are for the two cats I have now. I plan on adding to it as I get older and have more pets. Tattoos aren’t for everyone, but I absolutely love mine!

  2. Carol, what a wonderful story and beautiful tribute to your pets. I have three tattoos, one for each of my human kids, but I’m contemplating a pet tattoo…just haven’t figured out the perfect thing, yet. BTW…I had a childhood dog named Brandy Noel Oz (we liked the name Brandy, she came to us for Christmas, and she came from Kansas). Thanks for sharing your story!

  3. That’s very sweet! I’ve thought about getting 3 paws, for our Abby, but not sure where I’d put them. I wouldn’t want them where everyone could see.
    The most permanent thing we’ve done for a dog I guess is move to our current house. We like to say we got it for Abby, since she had 3 legs and we didn’t want her to have to tackle stairs anymore. (We moved from a 2 story to a single level home.) Really, we loved the house – but we like to say we bought it for her. 🙂

  4. Carol, your tattoos are wonderful. I have a purple heart with a paw print inside on my wrist that I got at a rescue tattoo fundraiser. I love it. I have been planning a memorial tattoo for my Nicky, Nino and Mickey, but can’t decide on a design.

  5. This is a great idea, wonderful tattoos.. I myself have 2 tattoos to remind myself what I love the most. Now I’m ready to get another one to show my love for doggs.

  6. Carol, simply awesome, i wish i could have dont the same with my dog name “Prince”. Ofcourse your tattoo is wonderful. i should start working on designing of my own tattoo for my dog.

  7. I adore you.
    I would love to do the same, but I don’t know where I’d have the tattoo. I think on my right wrist. I’m planning to have it done in 2014 for Riley and Blue.

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