LIGONIER, Pa. — In early May, we witnessed the true loyalty of Blek, a six year old German Shepherd police dog that remained at the side of his human partner, Lt. Eric Eslary of the Pennsylvania Police.
Eslary was involved in a fatal head-on collision with a van that was driving the wrong way. Eslary was instantly killed, and Blek remained at his side, refusing to leave the body as emergency vehicles arrived.
It’s been 56 long days since wife, Mary Beth Taylor-Eslary, lost her husband. She still hears Eslary around the house. She still expects him to come home.
Photographer Christy Boyd lives in the same community and wanted to reach out to help Taylor-Eslary deal with her grief. Boyd also lost her stepson in a car crash in 2008. Boyd doesn’t charge for her work and sometimes clients make donations to a scholarship fund in her son’s name. She stumbled upon these sad and touching photos of another cop’s widow and children and thought that something similar might provide comfort to Eslary’s grief-stricken wife.
They had a photoshoot on June 28, an emotional and difficult event. Taylor-Eslary suggested they include Blek, who is almost recovered from the crash. She says he is almost back to his old self, and will likely soon be officially retired into life as a pet, where he will stay with Taylor-Eslary.
“It’s an honor for me to be taking care of Blek,” she says.
Taylor-Eslary said that she and her husband laughed constantly, and that life without him is boring. They had both been married before, and made the decision to get married after she received a multiple sclerosis diagnosis a few years ago. She said he always wanted to be sure she’d always be cared for. Thankfully, he can be rest assured that his canine partner has stepped up to that role.
A photo series can never capture every part of their relationship, but Boyd says she hoped to produce some images that would represent this family’s bond and their loss.
“A true love story. It really was,” says Taylor-Eslary. “He was the love of my life, for sure.”
See their whole photo story below.