Photos of a Last Trip to the Beach to Give a Dying Pit Bull the Vacation of a Lifetime


In August 2014, photographer Zhenia Bulawka and her boyfriend Christian took their three dogs on a special trip to the beach. One of their beloved dogs, an 11-year-old American Staffordshire Terrier named Mr. Dukes, was dying of cancer, and Bulawka wanted to give him a vacation of a lifetime before he passed away.

The Baltimore, Maryland-based photographer says that Mr. Dukes’ favorite activity has always been swimming in the family pool. This vacation was therefore extra special, as it was the dog’s first time seeing the ocean.

It was a three hour trip to the beach at Assateague, Maryland.

Christian, with Ruby (sticking her tongue out) and Mr. Dukes
Christian, with Ruby (sticking her tongue out) and Mr. Dukes
Bulawka and her dog Ruby playing in the ocean
Christian with Mr. Dukes
Christian sharing his roast beef sandwich with Mr. Dukes


Cropped ears
Mr. Dukes and Ruby had cropped ears when Zhenia and Christian rescued them.








Mr. Dukes passed away a month after the trip, so Bulawka is thankful she was able to capture photos of Mr. Dukes on a very special last trip with the people who loved him most. Here’s what she says about his life and passing:

Dukes was my best friend. He was also my muse, as his passion for life served as a constant source of inspiration to me. I could never tire of photographing him. Since his passing, I’ve been told numerous times “how lucky Dukes was to have me.” But in fact, it was me who was so lucky to have him. He was the smartest, funniest, most loyal, incredibly strong, yet equally sensitive dog—all wrapped into one perfect pittie package. He changed my life and I will miss him forever.


You can reach Bulawka’s full tribute to Mr. Dukes in this photo essay over at The Dodo.

Image credits: Photographs by Zhenia Bulawka and used with permission