If you clicked on this story, I just want you to know exactly what you're getting into. Hold your breath. Prepare your body. The winners of the 12th annual Dog Photographer of the Year Awards for 2017 were announced this week by the Kennel Club, an international organization dedicated to dogs, dog owners, and people who work with dogs. What follows are probably the most adorable, most stunning, most poignant photos of dog photography you will probably look at this year.
The overall winner of the awards was Maria Davison, for her portrait of her friend's dog for the "Man's Best Friend" category (see above). All of the winners and runners-up illustrate not just the intangible joy a great dog can provide, but also the power great photography can wield in telling their stories. Davison said as much in this statement about her photo, provided by the Kennel Club: "It is one of the photographs I am most proud of. It was not only a beautiful, real and candid moment I got to capture, but also a demonstration of the strong bond between one of my closest friends and her dog, Yzma."
Scroll though the photos of all the categories below (including not one, but two, categories just for puppies), and if you get home to your own dog tonight, scratch 'em a little extra behind the ears, just because.