On Labor Day weekend, Chris Barton waded into the Atlantic Ocean cradling Franklin.
The 15-year-old dog lapped up the sun, having just enjoyed a breakfast of doughnuts and a trip to the playground.
In photographing the intimate moment, Brenda Croughn of Pennsylvania unknowingly captured the final hours of Franklin’s life — freezing him mid-smile as he peered into the sky while Barton kept him afloat. Barton commented on the thread and thanked people for the kind words.
Franklin was euthanized the following day as his battle with degenerative myelopathy worsened to the point of disrupting his quality of life.
Since posting her encounter with Barton to a Myrtle Beach Facebook page on Tuesday, it’s garnered more than 13,000 likes, 8,000 shares and nearly 500 comments.
While Barton himself was among the first to reply with a public thank you, some respondents viewed Crough’s photographs as an invasion of privacy.
Neither Barton nor Croughn could immediately be reached for comment on Sept. 19, but Barton said in a publicly shared post that Franklin had been with him since he was 26.
“He was my best friend in the whole world. We would go running, swimming, and driving together—everyday with him was a blessing. He also helped me through the loss of my dad and more recently the untimely, passing of my sister,” Barton said.