A man builds a virtual environment to connect with his departed dog.


For more than a decade, Daniel Esparza shared an incredible bond with Sam, a sweet dog who meant the world to him. Wherever one of them went, the other was sure to be there, too.

“She was my companion for almost 13 years,” Esparza told The Dodo. “She was a Labrador, very cute and intelligent.”

A few months ago, however, after a long and love-filled life, Sam passed on to a place where Esparza couldn’t follow her.

“She had a problem in her brain because of her age,” Esparza said. “We were supposed to have one last trip to the beach for vacation, but her health didn’t let us make it. She fell asleep one day and didn’t wake up.”

The pair never made it to the beach together for that bittersweet final memory. Esparza, however, found a way to share that moment with her regardless.

Esparza works professionally in the burgeoning field of virtual reality technology. On a whim one day, prior to Sam’s passing, he used his equipment to make a 3D scan of her sleeping.

Now that she’s gone, Esparza decided to put that 3D image to use.

He built a virtual world for himself and Sam to commune in — the beach she never got to visit that one last time:

Esparza regularly visits with Sam on that virtual beach he created for the two of them to share.

It’s not quite the real thing, of course — but it still brings comfort to share that virtual space with a pup who’s still very real in Esparza’s heart.

“It feels like a window to the past. [It] makes me feel happy to know that I can remember her when I grow older, when my memory may not be the best,” Esparza said. “I know she is gonna be in my heart, and in these memories.”

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