A stunning photo project shows how dogs age through the years.

For many people, dogs are so much more than just a pet.

Dogs can be an integral part of life. They're loyal companions who, just like everyone else in the family, are there for the big moments and the little ones — like the birth of a baby or moving to a new home, or the first time you got grounded or binge-watched the last season of "Breaking Bad." They bring joy and support to our lives every day. It's easy to see why they've held the title of "man's (and woman's!) best friend" for ... pretty much ever.



Oh my dog! That is precious. GIF via Canal de MASQUENADAmx/YouTube.

That's the experience Massachusetts-based photographer Amanda Jones had with her long-haired Dachshund, Lily. Jones was inspired to adopt Lily after a photoshoot she did with the breed.

Lily brought 16 wonderful years of energy and love to her family, and Jones was there to capture it all. When Lily passed away, Jones made a memorial card to honor how much she had grown and changed over her lifetime, from a spunky little puppy to a well-loved, experienced senior.

Lily at 8 months, 2 years, 7 years, and 15 years old:

All images from "Dog Years: Faithful Friends, Then & Now" by Amanda Jones, published by Chronicle Books, used with permission.

The visual look at Lily's life gave Jones a bigger idea.

"If I have these photos of Lily, I could probably go back and find some other dogs I've taken photos of in the past and do the same," she recounted to Upworthy over the phone.

As a photographer for 20 years, she knew she had a huge database to work with. So she started following up with some clients from previous dog photoshoots, and turned her idea into a book called "Dog Years."

In "Dog Years," Jones shares photographs of 30 dogs in black-and-white at different points in their lives.

"The visual impact of comparing the young and the old varies greatly from dog to dog, just as it does from person to person," Jones says in the book.

She's so right.

Abigaile at 4 months and at 8 years old:

Fred at 3 years and 10 years old:

Audrey at 3 years and 12 years old:

You won't find any props or cutesy backdrops in her photos. Jones focuses on pulling out the dog's personality instead.

"A dog’s life starts off small and then grows to include many different humans, other dogs, new tricks, and new experiences," she said.

Cooper at 3 years and 10 years old:

Some dogs don’t seem to age, yet others show the signs quite openly.

Maddy at 5 years and 10 years old:

"Maddy actually turned completely gray and wasn't even that old. She had been treated for cancer, and the drugs turned her coat completely gray."

On that same note, Jones said, she photographed a Yorkie that didn't make it into the book "because she looked the same at 12 years old as she looked at 1."

"The easiest part of working with dogs is they don’t look at their photos and say, 'Oh my God, I look awful! Do I really have that many wrinkles?'"

It may be hard to get dogs to sit still and take a picture, but there is one distinct advantage of taking photos of dogs instead of people: They don't hold themselves to unrealistic standards the way humans do. Which means they're never self-conscious subjects, and don't know Photoshop even exists. (And even if they did... they probably wouldn't care).

"The easiest part of working with dogs is they don’t look at their photos and say, 'Oh my God, I look awful! Do I really have that many wrinkles?'" Jones said.

Visualizing the timeline of a dog's life is as beautiful as it is bittersweet.

Looking at these photos can bring out strong feelings and personal reflection on the dogs we've encountered in our lives, whether or not they were part of our families. There's a really profound connection between humans and our dogs, and Jones captures it in a very real and touching way.

For a behind-the-scenes look at how she created "Dog Years," watch this video:

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Courtesy of Macy's

In many ways, 18-year-old Idaho native, Hank Cazier, is like any other teenager you've met. He loves chocolate, pop music, and playing games with his family. He has lofty dreams of modeling for a major clothing company one day. But one thing that sets him apart may also jeopardize his future is his recent battle against a brain tumor.

Cazier was diagnosed in 2015. When he had surgery to remove the tumor, he received trauma to his brain and lost some of his motor functionality. He's been in physical, occupational, and speech therapy ever since. The experience impacted Cazier's confidence and self-esteem, so he's been looking for a way to build himself back up again.

"I wanted to do something that helped me look forward to the future," he says.

Enter Make-A-Wish, a nonprofit organization that grants wishes for children battling critical illnesses, providing them a chance to make the impossible possible. The organization partnered with Macy's to raise awareness and help make those wishes a reality. The hope is that the "wish effect" will improve their quality of life and empower them with the strength they need to overcome these illnesses and look towards the future. That was a particularly big deal for Cazier, who had been feeling like so many of his wishes weren't going to be possible because of his critical illness.

"In the beginning, it was hard to accept that it would be improbable for me to accomplish my previous goals because my illness took away so many of my physical abilities," says Cazier. His wish of becoming a model also seemed out of reach.

But Macy's and Make-A-Wish didn't see it like that. Once they learned about Cazier's wish, they knew he had to make it come true by inviting him to be part of the magical Macy's holiday shoot in New York.

Courtesy of Macy's

Make-A-Wish can't fulfill children's wishes without the generosity of donors and partners like Macy's. In fact, since 2003, Macy's has given more than $122 million to Make-A-Wish and impacted the lives of more than 2.9 million people.

Cazier's wish experience was beyond what he could've imagined, and it filled him with so much joy and confidence. "It is like waking up and discovering that you have super powers. It feels amazing!" he exclaims.

One of the best parts about the day for him was the kindness everyone who helped make it happen showed him.

"The employees of Macy's and Make-A-Wish made me feel welcome, warm, and cared for," he says. "I am truly grateful that even though they were busy doing their jobs, they were able to show kindness and compassion towards me in all of the little details."

He also got to spend part of the shoot outdoors, which, as someone who loves climbing, hiking, and scuba-diving but has trouble doing those activities now, was very welcome.

Courtesy of Macy's

Overall, Cazier feels he grew a lot during his modeling wish and is now emboldened to work towards a better quality of life. "I want to acquire skills that help me continue to improve in these circumstances," he says.

You can change the lives of more kids like Cazier just by writing a letter to Santa and dropping it in the big red letterbox at Macy's (you can also write and submit one online). For every letter received before Dec. 24, 2019, Macy's will donate $1 to Make-A-Wish, up to $1 million. By writing a letter to Santa, you can help a child replace fear with confidence, sadness with joy, and anxiety with hope.

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