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Why We Love Pets

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Published May 2, 2017 | View the Assignment | Features Photos From 26 Contributors

    26 photos selected by

    David Y. Lee
    Producer, Nat Geo Your Shot

    It's true, it's a plush, but for her, this rabbit was alive! It was her first pet, the one she lo...

    #biglove #baby #pets #memories #love #photography

    Thank you for submitting to the "Why We Love Pets" assignment. As I was looking through your photos, I realized this assignment shares thematic similarities to the other Your Shot assignment I was curating at the same time, "The Gift of Life." Both invited you to reflect on gratitude. Both encouraged you to think about something special in your life. Both asked you to make me care about your story.

    There were a lot of images of animals submitted; however, this assignment asked you to share why we love pets— not why we like animals. Think about it: the relationship we have with pets is completely different from our interactions with animals. For this final story, I wanted to feature photos that made me feel the reasons we love pets. Then, I looked for compelling captions that share stories to further help me appreciate why we love pets.

    During my treatments for breast cancer I was lucky to have many friends and family help me throug...

    #dog #why_we_love_pets_assignement #love

    Editor's Note

    I agree with Your Shot user Timothy Muffitt: "Such a beautiful and poignant moment... perfect timing however you did it as a selfie! :) I hope your treatments are behind you now and all is well."

    David Y. Lee
    Producer, Nat Geo Your Shot

    That last goodbye is the hardest. And, it's hardest when it's also the first. Learning that...

    #whywelovepets #whywelovepetsassignment

    Editor's Note

    I am sorry for your loss. Thanks for sharing — your caption really makes me care more about the moment in your photo. The way your child is touching and looking at your pet really echoes what you'v... More

    David Y. Lee
    Producer, Nat Geo Your Shot

    Little over a year ago, I was handed a miserable looking, naked, blind, baby squirrel who could n...

    Editor's Note

    Do you know why I love Your Shot? Not just because you share powerful photos and stories like Karen's, but because of the conversation happening in the comments section below. The warmth, support, ... More

    David Y. Lee
    Producer, Nat Geo Your Shot

    The little ducklings would follow my daughter everywhere. Early morning we went outside for our d...

    #daughter #weloveourpets #whywelovepets #spring #stairs #childhood #ducklings #rain #pet

    Editor's Note

    I love how patiently your daughter and other ducklings are waiting for the last one to climb the step. I love that "It seems we are going to be late for daycare, but we should not rush the baby in ... More

    David Y. Lee
    Producer, Nat Geo Your Shot

    We recently celebrated our kitten's 1st birthday!

    #fun #cats #blackandwhite #lifestyle #home #family #children #birthday #people #cat

    Editor's Note

    The fact you and your children would celebrate your kitten's first birthday with party hats and face painting reveals how much you love your pet. This is a fantastic frame documenting such a sweet ... More

    David Y. Lee
    Producer, Nat Geo Your Shot

    Pets undoubtedly make a house feel like home. My cat, Si (short for Simon), can always put a smil...

    #cute #weloveourpets #whywelovepets #laughoutloud #animals #cat #pet

    Editor's Note

    What a wonderful — and well-composed — surprise Brittany. I see why your cat puts a smile on your face. The look in Si's eyes is awesome. I love it.

    David Y. Lee
    Producer, Nat Geo Your Shot

    My daughter and her favorite chicken. She likes to sit in the yard when the chickens are out gra...

    #weloveourpets #birds #animallove #childhood #backyardwarrior #girl #animals #chickens #chicken

    Editor's Note

    This is such a sweet moment Terra. I agree with Your Shot user Kathy Preuit: "Love this one... love the chickens, the way your daughter has her hands cupped, the way the sun shines on her foot with... More

    David Y. Lee
    Producer, Nat Geo Your Shot

    Our cat -Antek- is the best friend of my daughters. He always imitates what they do.

    #children_and_animals #door #childhood #pet_and_kid #keyhole #children #animal #cat #pet

    Editor's Note

    This is such a sweet moment; the body language of all three is precious — I love how your one daughter is one tip-toes. I totally want to know what is going on behind the door. I want to know who i... More

    David Y. Lee
    Producer, Nat Geo Your Shot

    My daughter and dog waiting for my son to return home on the school bus. This is their favorite ...

    #let_them_be_little #siblings #best_friends #watching #home #school #dogs

    Editor's Note

    This is fantastic Mel. I agree with Your Shot user Terra Fondriest: "Love this moment!!! And the composition and light are just great :) Makes me smile."

    David Y. Lee
    Producer, Nat Geo Your Shot

    my husband's job, many times, requires him to be gone for days at a time. it's hard on the kids, ...

    #siblings #blackandwhite #pets #family #love #portrait #dogs #people #photography #frenchbulldog

    Editor's Note

    What a lovely moment to document — because one day they will all be too old to share a bed with their mom, and you'll always have this poignant photograph to remember those memories...

    David Y. Lee
    Producer, Nat Geo Your Shot

    This photograph feels peaceful and warm. It displays the trust between animal and human and the ...

    #sylvester_the_cat

    Editor's Note

    I love how the focus is on your kitten Jennifer — I am feeling your photo through the animal's perspective, and not your daughter's; I feel the loving relationship between them. You are absolutely ... More

    David Y. Lee
    Producer, Nat Geo Your Shot

    Diego is the veterinarian of my dogs, that's how we met. He rescued Chelsea from the streets and ...

    #petportait #costarica #whywelovepets #whywelovepetsassignment

    Editor's Note

    Thanks for sharing your story Rebecca. I really love how you interpreted this assignment because without your dogs, you would not have met Diego. You have successfully illustrated the nostalgia of ... More

    David Y. Lee
    Producer, Nat Geo Your Shot

    My friend Tracey asked me to photograph her with her horses, Ollie & Thunder. She had just gone ...

    #unconditional_love #why_we_love_pets #love #horses

    Editor's Note

    Thank you for sharing the story behind this photo Bree; your caption helps me understand why I should care. The fact that Tracey asked you to photograph her with Ollie and Thunder during an uncerta... More

    David Y. Lee
    Producer, Nat Geo Your Shot

    Animals play an important role in many cultures. In Northwestern Mongolia, the eagle is not just ...

    #eaglehuntress #kazakh #altai #mongolia #strongwomen

    Editor's Note

    Beautiful photograph, and I love the mood you captured. Your caption added so much. It was very interesting to read that Damel is a young girl who is learning this typically male tradition.

    Jessie Wender
    Senior Photo Editor, National Geographic Magazine

    My 4-year-old is still in the process of learning to share. She has recently found out that anima...

    #weloveourpets #share #care #kids #birds #pets #parakeets #animals

    Editor's Note

    What a lovely moment Toni, you've composed your frame really well. By being so close, I feel like I'm right next to your daughter as she is learning that animals share too. And I love the parakeet'... More

    David Y. Lee
    Producer, Nat Geo Your Shot

    A moment shared between a horse and rider before the lesson begins. Her mother teaches riding les...

    #horseandrider #portrait #people

    Editor's Note

    Your Shot user Terra Fondriest left a better comment than I could write, so I'll use her words for the Editor's Note: "I love this image and can relate to it. Growing up in teenage years, sometimes... More

    David Y. Lee
    Producer, Nat Geo Your Shot

    They have been together since the beginning. Their love is more of a sibling love. They are hardl...

    #empathy_gap #everyday_life #child #dog #why_we_love_pets #home #the_gift_of_life

    Editor's Note

    Such a sweet moment... I love how their heads are gently touching. And then I LOVE what you wrote: "My heart swells for the two of them and I can't imagine my life without them. [They] are the reas... More

    David Y. Lee
    Producer, Nat Geo Your Shot

    This is a photograph of an old sisters live at the countryside in South Vietnam. 60 years ago, th...

    #social #vietnam #life #dog #family #animal #people

    Editor's Note

    There is so much love in this frame. I agree with Your Shot user Brenda Snape who commented, "Such a beautiful but sad story. The photo is a wonderful memory." Thank you so much for sharing this ph... More

    David Y. Lee
    Producer, Nat Geo Your Shot

    If you don't look closely, you'll probably miss him. It's Patrick our Standard Poodle who is the ...

    #technology #standard_poodle #why_we_love_pets #raising_boys #lifestyle #teenagers #boys

    Editor's Note

    This is a fantastic slice of life Katie. I love observing the different ways your sons are holding and engaging with their devices, it is fascinating — and then I really love how your dog Patrick i... More

    David Y. Lee
    Producer, Nat Geo Your Shot

    The Aurora Borealis made an impressive appearance early in the hours of November 7, 2015 (my birt...

    #auroraborealis #labrador #northernlights #caninecompanion #northern_lights #aurora

    Editor's Note

    Wow. What a wonderful way to spend your birthday!

    David Y. Lee
    Producer, Nat Geo Your Shot

    My most favourite selfie with my beloved muse Gromit, I'm rarely without my camera and my faithfu...

    #poodle #selfie #portrait #selfie_animal

    Editor's Note

    This photo is so fun Nancy, it makes smile. I like that you made this frame. But I really love how reflective you are in your caption, as you wonder out loud about the thoughts in Gromit's mind. To... More

    David Y. Lee
    Producer, Nat Geo Your Shot

    Obviously not a great quality photo - but one belonging to my heart. My husband had ALS. He was...

    #cats #pets #family #love

    Editor's Note

    It is fine that this is "not a great quality photo" — the story you shared in your caption makes me understand why this image is special for you. Your caption made me care. Thank you for sharing yo... More

    David Y. Lee
    Producer, Nat Geo Your Shot

    The best way to teach a child to care about animals and have empathy and love for animals is to b...

    #sweetmoments #whywelovepets #petlove #kitten #child

    Editor's Note

    Beautiful moment between your son and Smokey. This photo successfully makes me feel the truth in this hypothesis from your caption: "The best way to teach a child to care about animals and have emp... More

    David Y. Lee
    Producer, Nat Geo Your Shot

    "Mommy, when is Kirby going to die?" led to lots of tears and snuggles this particular evening. A...

    #petsandchildren #dog #mortality #pets #aging #goldenretriever

    Editor's Note

    You have documented a tender moment between your daughter and Kirby — I can feel her love. And knowing that this photo is your daughter's reaction and response to her question: "Mommy, when is Kirb... More

    David Y. Lee
    Producer, Nat Geo Your Shot

    From the moment she was born this little bear has had a special place in her life and in her hear...

    #friend #shadows #dream #light #child #nap #sunbeams #portrait #love #people #sunshine #girl #pet #bear

    Editor's Note

    What a wonderful interpretation of this assignment Jennifer; I love it. I really like Your Shot user Elizabeth Paoletti's comment: "I can totally relate to this. My daughter had her favorite bear a... More

    David Y. Lee
    Producer, Nat Geo Your Shot

    When I interned at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the director of photography would always say the same thing before he looked at my photos from the day’s assignments: “Make me care, David Lee.” This assignment is called “Why We Love Pets,” and the key word in this phrase is “why.” The “why” reveals the heart of the relationship we have with pets; the “why” is the reason you refer to your dog, cat, horse, fish, etc. as a pet and not as an animal. The photos selected for this final story reveal the “why.” I hope this recognition inspires you the next time you’re out shooting, and the next time you submit to a Your Shot assignment. Make me care, Your Shot community. Make me understand the “why.”

    David Y. Lee
    National Geographic Partners Associate Photo Editor

    About the Editor
    David Y. Lee
    Producer, Nat Geo Your Shot
    Before joining the Your Shot team, David covered the White House for Time and Newsweek, and served as an official photographer for Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. He also started The Waiting List, a non-profit storytelling project humanizing the statistics of organ donation.

    Photographers Published In the Story