My friend Naomi of Urban Row Photography came up with the best idea when she was photographing our Mini Photoshoot: portraits of pets wearing flowers at the shop. Not only was it a money making opportunity, we also got more great pics and made another video for the blog. It was frenetic and lots of fun. We booked 20 appointments for 10 minutes each back-to-back. The timing wasn’t perfect, but it all worked out. We had a few late arrivals and some cooperation issues (diva models), but due to the short time in front of the camera, we could make adjustments on the fly.
My shop is a 2,000 sq ft warehouse and has two garage doors in the front. One of my concerns was appointments overlapping and the animals getting too excited seeing each other. I opened both doors and set up my rolling work tables to divide the space between the photoshoot and waiting areas. The pet parents also know their animals, so some stayed outside until their turn.
I was also a little concerned about convincing the pets to wear flowers. We had mostly dogs. My lead designer, Jess, is a pet parent herself and was great with the animals – we didn’t have a single biting incident. And the animals behaved themselves too (sorry, my husband’s dad jokes are sliding in). We made several different flower crowns and collars in various sizes for the pets to wear for their photos. We designed the arrangements to be smaller in circumference and taller than we create for people utilizing chicken wire tubes stuffed with moss. To reduce stress for both the animal and Jess, I found some drawstring cinches so we could quickly and easily attach and remove the flowers (some models removed the flowers themselves). We didn’t use any glue, we just stuck the stems into the chicken wire and moss. We weren’t worried about a water source because it was only a few hours. We packed each crown and collar tight in the chicken wire due to some of the models’ proclivity to shake it out . It mostly worked. We needed a little maintenance after each session to keep the flowers looking good.
The only difficulty we had was getting the animals to pose and look at the camera. Our friend Kira, whose rabbit Jeremy had an early appointment, ran out for a squeak toy. It worked for some pets. Watson (pictured right) was especially enamored with the toy and wanted to take it home (sorry, buddy.) Others’ attention were fixated on treats held up behind Naomi as she captured the cuteness. That intervention proved to be too much of a temptation for some of the models who jumped off their mark (amateurs). But, Naomi is a professional and got the shots when she had the chance.
After the photoshoot, I sent a questionnaire to the participants so you can get to know a little about the models. Here are some of the responses:
As you can see, the camera loves Jeremy. This was not his first professional photoshoot. He’s a star. You can find an image of this handsome three year old on wikipedia’s Lionhead Rabbit page. He also poses often for his nearly 400 Instagram followers @bmorefloof.
Kira and Neil found Jeremy on @AdoptableBuns. His favorite foods are dehydrated carrots, timothy hay, and romaine. He spends most of the day napping, being generally timid/skeptical of most things, but going a bit wild at night with zoomies.
Kira says bunnies make great pets! Jeremy is cage free and litter trained, though he can be a bit aloof. Neil describes having a rabbit like “having a vegetarian cat.” Can you even?
Briscoe is a nearly three year old Pembroke Welsh Corgi. He is a fit 28 pounds with low suspension and became a city dog after being born a farm. Obvi, his name comes from his humans’ obsession with the tv show Law and Order. He loves beef liver treats and anything his dad is eating.
Briscoe’s typical day: “Wake up for breakfast, then back to sleep until 11am (classic Briscoe). Go to the park at lunch to visit my dog friends. Nap time until disc golf with dad and frisbee buddies Otis and Eddie before dinner. Eat kibble (picking the chicken bits out first) and beg dad for his food. Try to get people to play squeaker toy with me and annoy my cat sister. Chew my bully stick and try to take it in the bed with me so my parents find it in the middle of the night. ”
Fun Fact: Corgis have tails! They are usually cropped when they are puppies, but they are super cute and fluffy. Briscoe is fully tailed.
Belle is a 1.5 year old Cavapoo – a cross between a Poodle and a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. She couldn’t be cuter. She loves walks, Mission BBQ turkey and almost everything else. She got her name from Beauty and the Beast and is an expert at walking on her hind legs.
Typical day: wakes up, goes outside, back to bed with one of her humans, watches her other human do a Peloton cycle class, sits in front of the window and barks at everything, takes a nap, goes for a walk, takes a nap, chews on her bone, greets her human when he comes home, plays with her human that just came home, watches tv, goes outside, eats a greenie, goes into her humans’ bed before getting kicked out into her own bed for the night.
Tzatziki Dracula Gino Lambson Lewis
Twelve year old Tzatziki eventually relaxed when he realized how good he looked in his flower crown. This good boy is a Whippet Rat Terrier mix. He met his human, April, at Barcstoberfest and soon after was adopted. He loves guarding fences and barking through windows. When he isn’t dumpster diving for paper towels, he is seeking out sunbeams around the house for napping.
Homemade moonshine, a road trip to Wilmington Delaware, a pediatrician with a tortoise breeding side hustle – it sounds like it could be the plot for next sequel of The Hangover. Instead, these were the things that led Laurel to welcome Snacks, a Russian tortoise, into her home.
Snacks wasn’t a natural in front of the camera, but they will eat just about anything we have in the shop. Pink snapdragon petals occupied them while Naomi snapped some action shots.
Fun fact: You can’t tell the sex of a tortoise until they’re physically large enough! We still don’t know Snacks’ sex and they are 4 years old. Notice the gender-neutral pronouns.
I’m ending this post with a tribute to Ike, who sadly passed away shortly after the photoshoot. His human, Molly, shared what was special about him in her response to my questionnaire:
This was challenging to write. Ike passed away 3 weeks after these photos were taken. It was somewhat unexpected. He had been getting progressively sicker but we weren’t expecting the decline to happen as quickly as it did. I cannot tell you how grateful we are to have these amazing photos.
Thank you so much for doing this pet photoshoot. It means the world to us to have these pictures of our beloved boy.
Name, Age, Weight, Breed/Type of Pet: Ike, 12, 75 pounds. While he was technically an American Bully, a very strong argument could be made that he might actually have been a hippo or a marshmallow and sausage mix.
How Did Your Pet Come to Live with You: We adopted him from BARCS when he was 7. When we met him, he was completely uninterested in us but we were instantly in love with that aloof dog. Over time, he grew to love and trust people again and it was the most beautiful transformation to watch.
Favorite Food: This is tough. His favorites were peanut butter, bacon, skin-on salmon, french fries, and cheese whiz.
Favorite Activity: For being a dog that couldn’t swim without a life jacket, he loved the beach.
Typical Day: Ike slept in until noon, then demanded breakfast. After breakfast, a post-meal nap on the couch touching a human was needed before going for a walk. After the first walk of the day, he would nap and then demand to go to Patterson Park where he would not so stealthily herd his humans to Bmore Licks for a doggie ice cream sundae.
How Did Your Pet Get Its Name: His microchip said his name was Ike. We didn’t want to change it because we assumed he knew it since he was 7 years old when we met him. We soon figured out that he didn’t know his name but it had already stuck with us.
Best Trick: Snoring.
Worst Trick: Farting.
Favorite Toy: Blue rubber stick or stuffed alligator. Both of which, he picked out himself. Over his 5 years with us, we must have bought dozens of blue sticks. He used to proudly carry a toy on his walks.
Best Friend: Muffin (14-year-old mini poodle neighbor)
Most Annoying Thing About Your Pet: His love of foraging for and then eating cat poop on walks.
If Your Pet Was a Person, What Would Their Job Be: Food critic or model. He was the cover model for BARCS’ calendar last year!
Does Your Pet Have an Instagram Account: No
If So, Who Has More Followers, You or Your Pet? In real life, he had a fan club. Everyone in our neighborhood knew him. I know almost none of my neighbors but everyone knew Ike and said hi to him often. It was like living with a celebrity.
What is Something Most People Don’t Know About Your Type of Pet? As a Bully, Ike (and his breed) was frequently misunderstood. People would cross the street when we were walking on the sidewalk. Parents would stand protectively in front of their kids as we passed. Some folks wouldn’t let their dogs meet Ike (which always made him sad). The pitbull stereotype is pervasive. I wish that more people gave these dogs a chance because otherwise, they’re missing out on the love of a lifetime.
Anything Else You Would Like Readers To Know About Your Pet: The picture of him curling his lip is his “I want that treat” face. It had never been captured on film before. Also, Ike used to talk so much. I have never met a dog with so much to say. He was so opinionated and never afraid to share it. We could all learn from Ike’s ability to advocate for himself.