words and photographs by Juli Leonard
They came in sizes small and large. Drooly ones and shy ones. Some could barely stand still; others were clearly ready for their close-up. One leapt into my lap between every shot. Another tackled the backdrop.
With a Father’s Day gift assortment of beautiful ties, hats, and scarves on hand, the challenge was interesting: How to match each item with its best canine model? This was no small task.
One of the challenges was figuring out which dogs were willing and able to wear a hat – and also had the right-shaped head. It turns out no dog has the right-shaped head. Then there was the Hat Sinking Factor. This, I learned, is when the hat-wearing dog sinks lower and lower with the most mournful look…until the offending chapeau finally falls right off.
Portrait shoots with dogs – with or without hats and ties – require a well-honed checklist. The right treats (did you know some dogs are grain-free?!); Towels for wiping drool; A squeaky toy with just the right pitch of squeak; A sense of humor; A quick finger. Plenty of advance rehearsals of my monkey coo are also important. I need to be able to tease out the perfect head tilt.
Amazingly, it all came together. It was interesting to see how the dogs began to emerge as anthropomorphized human characters. Transformed by a hat, one became a golfer; another’s bowtie made him a dead-ringer for a dapper Brooklynite. And all of them allowed us our laughter and our typecasting – all for one simple thing – a cookie.
Thanks to our retail sources: Bailey’s Fine Jewelry; Edge of Urge; Great Outdoor Provision Co.; Kannon’s Clothing; Lumina Clothing.