Photos: Pauline Zonneveld

On a winter day in 2010, photographer Pauline Zonneveld recalls, she noticed her neighbor's elderly Australian shepherd, Kali, "walking gingerly, with such a gentle expression." She made a mental note to photograph her and surprise the neighbor with a portrait, but before she had a chance to do so, Kali died.

Recognizing that the clock is always ticking, Zonneveld, 53, set out to find more aging models—cockeyed teeth, grizzled smiles, graying beards, and all. "They might not be puppies," she says, "but these dogs have real vitality."

For the Good Old Dog Project, now in its third year, Zonneveld has photographed more than 188 canines, all of whom have reached or surpassed their expected life spans. (She charges owners only a retainer for prints.) The portraits are exhibited in her studio and in galleries and coffee shops around Zonneveld's hometown of Portland, Oregon, but she plans to extend the project to Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle this fall. As the dogs play their way through the shoot, their souls shine through. "In the studio I let them just be," she says. "No matter how lethargic old dogs are, they become energetic and alert, and when I'm lucky, even their past goofy selves."


12, Shetland Sheepdog

His owner says: "He's Mr. Social with riders on the early morning bus, but come 9 P.M., it's bedtime."

Next: See more photos from the Good Old Dog Project


Photos: Pauline Zonneveld

2. Franklin
10, Saint Bernard-German Shepard-Great Dane

His owner says: "A regal giant, like John Wayne wrapped in a fur coat—with a tongue as big as Texas."

Photos: Pauline Zonneveld

3. Cubby
15, Pomeranian-Spitz

His owner says: "He loves dressing up in his own tiny Santa suit every year. He's always on his best behavior, never growls."

Photos: Pauline Zonneveld

4. Arête
11, Rhodesian Ridgeback

Her owner says: "Got food? Then you're her best friend. She will follow you anywhere."

Photos: Pauline Zonneveld

5. Lexie
14, Pug

Her owner says: "She loves men—hobbles over to them and gazes into their eyes until they pet her. Such a little flirt!"

Next: The most adorable photos you've ever seen


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