Tribute to Garry

I write this with a heavy heart.  My good friend and training partner for many years died unexpectedly a few days ago.  I am devastated at his loss and still can’t quite believe that he is gone.  The last time I saw him was in October at a fundraising event for the rescue group Stray from the Heart, in NYC.  He had donated a dog photography session for the silent auction and his beautiful photos were on display.  We had a lovely evening and he got to meet the wonderful Bernadette Peters, who has been a supporter of SFTH and other animal causes for many years.  Even at seventy plus years old he looked so handsome in his leather jacket, making the women around him swoon, reminding me of the actor Sean Connery.  People loved him because he was smart, funny, gentle, kind and caring.

Garry Gross was a well known fashion photographer in New York City for many years.  His amazing photos appeared in fashion magazines, advertisements and album covers all over the world.  He lived a wonderfully hedonistic life, never managing to settle down and always on the go – he loved his profession. Garry’s photographs, were to him, studies in art, but a decision to take on a job commissioned by a well known organization, proved to be his downfall.  The resulting controversial photographs made headlines and years later, even after winning a court case regarding these photos, Garry was ostracized by the industry and never worked as a photographer again.

He decided to pursue a career with the other love of his life, dogs.  He went to school and gained his certification as a trainer and that is when he came into my life.  I was working as a trainer in Manhattan and Garry contacted me with a business proposition.  I was skeptical at first, but as soon as I met him and saw his passion for dogs and training, I knew that he would be the perfect business partner for me.  Together we created Dog Trainers of New York, a successful dog training company that in the last ten years has helped thousands of dogs and their people around the Tri-State area.

Garry lived in Greenwich Village and I used to love going down to see him.  We would sit for hours in our favorite restaurants going through cases we had had, developing new ideas and comparing techniques.  He was thirty years older than I was but his energy and enthusiasm was infectious and I never thought of him as an old man.  He loved working together; loved my husband and my daughter and was so proud of me when my idea for a dog training television show came to fruition.  He was a wonderfully supportive person who made everyone he was with feel special.

After ten years of training Garry decided that he wanted to pursue photography again, but this time, photographing dogs, and the results were outstanding.  He wanted to concentrate on showing the world how amazing dogs were through the magic of his camera lens.  He was particularly focused on photographing rescue and senior dogs and his photos were nothing short of mesmerizing.

Garry and I had begun to work on a project that he was very excited about.  It was his dream to achieve this.  Unfortunately he will not be here to realize his dream, but I am going to continue working on the project in his memory and make sure that one day his dream will be fulfilled.

Garry you made my life richer and I feel so fortunate to have known you.  Thanks for all the great times we had and for all your support. I will miss you and love you forever.

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32 thoughts on “Tribute to Garry

  1. Deb

    Victoria, I am so sorry for the loss of your friend and mentor. I know that your memories will be somthing that lets you remember him deeply and keep him that special place in your heart alnog along with the contiuation of your work in the dog world itself.
    My Deepest Sympathy
    Deb in CT

  2. Victoria Thomas

    I am so sorry for your loss Victoria. Once in a lifetime we may be lucky enough to meet someone on the same wavelength, with the same passion, and we feel truly blessed.
    May you have many, many happy memories of your time together and they will ease the pain of loss.

  3. Carol Linguanti

    I am so sorry for the sudden loss of your good friend. May your memories of him hold you tight and warm your heart as you mourn the loss of him in your life.

  4. Paula Nowak

    Wow, I am very sorry for your loss. He sounds like an amazing man. His photo's are without a doubt amazing.

  5. Ginny

    So sorry to hear of your loss. I recently had a friend take her life a few days ago so I know your heartache. Bless those he left behind and may his memory live on in future endeavors of you and his trade.

  6. Angela

    I'm so sorry to hear of Garry's death 🙁 Thinking of Garry's family and friends at this very sad time.

    I have admired his dog photography for a while now and look forward to hearing more about the project you both planned, in the future.


  7. Cara

    He sounds like a very special individual, and one who contributed greatly to our beloved dog companions. So sorry for your loss, and I KNOW you will honor his memory in your resolve to see his dream come to life.

  8. Adela Dávila-Estelritz

    Whether sudden and unexpected or expected after many months or years of ailments, the loss of a friend is like the loss of a piece of your heart: irreparable. Please accept our condolences and take comfort in the fact that your friendship was true and strong and deep. Lucky you both!

  9. Sharon Stone

    Oh my G-d, I am so saddened by this news. i just reconnected via Facebook with Garry a couple months ago. I worked as a styling assistant back in the late 80's with Garry and had such fon memories that I searched him put and "friended" him. His portraits were so amazing, and I found his passion to be so genuine and inspiring. I am sad.

  10. debbie

    So sorry for your loss, Vic. I know how you feel because I lost a friend and colleague over a year ago . May. You find comfort in memories and pictures.

  11. Karen

    I, too, am sorry for your loss of a great friend, Always remember you made his days brighter and helped him find his way in this life too. He will always be in your heart and you will always be in his. Thank you for this touching and honorable tribute to a man that loved and valued the spirit of dogs.

  12. Art

    I didn't know Garry personally, but was introduced to his work through Catherine Ventura. I was simply stunned at what he was able to convey in his remarkable canine portraits. Many times I wished I could get my pooch in front of his lens, but as I'm not lucky enough to live in NYC, that wasn't possible.

    Thanks for a wonder remembrance. It's good to know his work will live on through the efforts of his friends.

  13. Iva

    I am so sorry for your loss, Victoria. I only recently connected with Garry on Facebook, but it felt to me like we were old friends. It was evident immediately that he was a wonderful and gentle soul. My sincere condolences to his family and to his many friends -- his memory will live on in the beautiful images he created and in the hearts of all who knew him.

  14. Kim

    I'm so sorry for your loss, Victoria. Garry will live on in your heart and in his photography. My condolences.........

  15. Mara Kurtz

    Dear Victoria,

    Thanks for this lovely tribute to Garry.
    He was one of my oldest and best friends.
    We went to college together and never lost touch. My parents adored Garry, he was "family."

    Garry was there for me during two incredibly difficult crises in my life.
    I will never forget what a wonder friend he was and what a kind, funny, loving man.
    Garry, wherever you are, I love you.


  16. Marcia Mazuryk

    I am so sorry for your loss. Please know, though, that a part of Garry will be with you every time you help a dog and their human. And he will also be with you during your project. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

  17. Teresa Schaffer


    I am so sorry to hear about the loss of your good friend. May he be forever in your heart. Our prayers go out to you and your family. Remember, Gary will be with you in everything and everywhere you go.

  18. Renate

    So sorry to hear of your loss, Victoria. What little time we have is too short, but we are blessed when we can share moments with wonderful people who touch our lives, who teach and inspire us. Wishing you peace and light.

  19. Brenda H

    So sorry for your loss Victoria though your wonderful memories will keep Gary close in spirit. Your tribute is so profound and I am intrigued to learn more of Gary's life & works as I recently homed a naughty little Jack Russell Terrier and also love photography albeit a complete amateur. I'm in Scotland though a huge fan of your programme and use many of your techniques on Alfie and with time and consistency we are sure to have a great little family pet. Many thanks for your precious talent.

  20. Makiyah

    I am very sorry for the loss of your friend/mentor. I know that even though he is gone you will still do great things as a dog trainer and as a person. Keep doing what you're doing. I try to follow your footsteps. You are my role model.

  21. Bonnie Cotton

    Hello Victoria,

    I am a loyal follower. The friendship you had with Garry sounds absolutely beautiful. I would love to have been a fly on the wall at one of your lunches in your favorite restuarant. My goal since I was a child was always to have a "dog farm". I had no concept of what this would look like, but my ambition was to help dogs and make them feel loved and safe. I truly believe they are connected directly to God and when we are lucky enough to be the object of their affection we are truly blessed. I just turned 65 and have had 5 dogs in my lifetime. 3 were cocker poos, one a corgi mix and now I have a 6 lb. rat terrier. My first dog lived until 20 years and 9 months. Her name was Sara and she was a cockapoo. She died of old age. Then I got Sophie from my local pet shop, she was the corgi mix. It was not a puppy mill. The pet store rarely sold dogs, but they agreed to find homes for this littler. Sophie was most amazing and we bonded during her puppy class. She died of cancer of the lymph glads at a young aga of 10. Then I got Buster and Honey. We went to puppy class too and continued to have a wonderful life together. Honey died when she was four from a stroke and Buster just passed away one year ago from liver cancer. i bought Buster and Honey from a local family. He expected to have about 4 or 5 pups from his cocker spaniel because that was what she had in two other littlers. He called me when the pups were born and told me only two pups survived and they were exactly what I wanted a boy and a girl. I adoped two from a previous littler and they were so well behaved and mellow, I knew I would want one or two of these dogs. I had to return the first two I adopted because they upset Sopie alot. Now I have Ruby the rat terrier. She is two and I got her from the Vallejo - Benecia Human Society. She was found a year ago wander around the Vallejo rail yard, all 5 pounds of her. She was spayed right away and put up for adoption. Her coat was in bad shape and she wouldn't eat the dry food they gave her. They did not change her diet to give some wet food so she would eat. I was never so happy to get her out of there and home with me. She just turned 2 and her coat is beautiful . It was ev ident to me that she was loved a lot in her previous home, my guess is her owner died and she ran away. She learned five tricks in two weeks and I have taught her how to find things and I have perfected her housebreaking. She is very smart. I am always shocked when I lose my pets at a young age. I think each one will live as long as my first dog. I have learned so much from you Victortia and love your program. You honor your business party Garry qll the time when you share with us. I sympathie with you very much. Love, Bonnie Cotton

  22. Jerry

    Victoria, my wife and I watch your show as often as we can (Its me or the dog) because we have a chihuahua that is driving the wife crazy with it's constant barking and growling at her and visitors. We are trying to learn how to get the dog to stop it, by watching and seeing what you tell people on your show. We love watching your show and hope we will eventually learn how to fix our chihuahua's little problem.
    I am so so sorry to hear that you lost a dear friend (Garry Gross). Please accept my heart felt condolence for your loss. Yeah it hurts when we lose someone close to us. May I suggest something? Sometimes we focus on the loss and that hurts. If you try to focus on all the good things about him and all the great times you had with him that may help in your grieving process. Anyway, I do hope so.

    A fan, Jerry W. Shugart

  23. vani

    soooo sorry again...he sounded like a very good man..I am sure he is having an awesome time in the afterlike..u should keep on helping dogs just like him..

  24. Harriet Zucker, CPDT-KA

    Hi Victoria,
    I just learned of Gary's death. I am so sorry for you...I know how valuable and meaningful that friendship was.
    I knew Gary both as a photographer and a dog trainer. We printed in the same darkroom and I did some processing and printing for him as well. (I had a way of processing film that was different and he liked and wanted to try with his fashion work...I probably still have some test strips around.)
    I too fell into training and even when to chicken camp the year after he did. I'd run in to him from time to time in the city or at seminars or events. I even met you with him at one of the first giant Adoption events in Central Park NYC dog trainers are not always that close unless working at the same place so I did not hear of his passing until recently. I was shocked and surprised at his age........ I had no idea!

    Everything you have written is right on. Friends ( and characters) like him are rare and it is sad when we lose them.
    Again I am sorry


  25. Gary Stilwell

    Hi Victoria, my name is Gary Stilwell I live in Perth Australia, I was wondering if we might be related my family and I moved to Australia in the 60's from England, my fathers name was Brian William Stilwell and we lived in Portsmouth England, just wondering that's all take care Gary Stilwell .

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