They say never work with children or animals. but when one of my healthcare clients asked me if I was interested in shooting a Pets As Therapy calendar featuring the pets, I thought why not, after all what do “they” know; it’s either going to be fun or utter chaos! The parting shot from the brief being “if you can get them doing any tricks that would be brilliant – but we don’t expect it!”.
The first pet was the delightful Bailey; a more docile dog you couldn’t find, and he sat perfectly still for the whole shoot. I remember thinking that this would be a walk in the park, without even having to throw a stick. It turned out that Bailey was one end of the spectrum, as I got a message saying that the next dog was going to be a couple of hours late as he was being a diva! Now I grew up with the sounds of “Walkies” and “Sitttt!” emanating from the mouths of every dog owner, as Barbara Woodhouse was in her prime and all over TV sorting out troublesome dogs and training their owners to control their dogs. You can see this eccentric old lady in action here (it does turn in to a video about jump suits for some reason). I’m certain the thought of a diva dog would have her turning in her grave!
As a back up plan in case some of the pets didn’t turn up, my client brought along some robo-pets (I kid you not) in the shape of a cat and dog, which meowed and barked as well as wagging tails. Weird as this seems (and I’ll be honest as they looked) they do apparently work bringing calm to disturbed people. Grace, my client, declined the offer of bringing the robo-horse with her in her car though!
At one site we were told we had no chance of getting Peggy the cat to sit still for a photo but they reckoned without the skill of one of the residents whose bedroom Peggy slept in. She put Peggy exactly where we wanted and got her to stay for the duration of the photoshoot.
One of the dogs, Marmite, even has his own blog, where he blogged about the photoshoot. It was very hot on that day but he was extremely well behaved and, unlike the homonymous yeast extract, you can’t help but love Marmite.
Over the course of a few days we photographed dogs, cats and rabbits for the 12 month calendar, and although pets doing tricks were rather rare, I did manage to convince a few of them to touch their noses with their tongues…
And the more “serious” photos are here: