Thursday, December 9, 2010

Winter wonderland

I couldn't decide whether the message on my voice mail was either really exciting or really foreboding.  I had a call from the Tracy Animal Shelter that I could come down and photograph a special pet of the week-their annual attempt to create a special holiday themed nightmare for a dog or cat in search of a home for the holidays.  The shelter staff said they had outdone themselves this year in the Christmas creation and I could by anytime.  Yes friends it was once again  time to Dress the Dog.

We had talked around the office about what this year's adventure could be.  Kittens in a stocking?  Pit bulls pulling a sleigh?  Too mundane.  No this was bound to be something flashy, more than a dog wearing a sweater and mittens.  If they were going to outdo last year's cats in a box they would have to take the pet humiliation up a notch.  Ask and yea shall receive.
Opening the door to the shelter office I discovered what happens when evil minds have time to plan and way too much time on their hands.  Tucked into a corner of the office they had created a little winter scene complete with a dog house decked in Christmas lights, snowmen decorations, and  wrapping paper as the background scenery.  Our own little winter wonderland for a pet portrait.  Who would be our unwitting victim?  Cue Yo-Yo.  Little Yo-Yo, a 7-month-old greyhound and terrier mix  was going to be the Santa for our winter scene.  First thing I noticed was he was a quick little guy, just check out his first camera tests.

Step one was to make a little merry in the office and get in the Christmas mood.
Ok, now lets get Yo-Yo into his costume, which was easier said than done.  Yo-Yo was a chewer so he seemed to want to eat his elf outfit rather than wear it.  After a few struggles, some thoughts of a staple gun the costume was on and were ready to shoot.  Cue the snow.

Yep they wanted snow in the picture.  Not real mountain snow but some kind of instant  just-add-water plastic snow, just like instant oatmeal but more appetizing.  Is it toxic I asked?  Ummm don't know was the answer so hopefully Yo-Yo would be more interested in running through the snow than eating it.  The game plan then became what kind of photo were we looking for?  It seemed the consensus was Yo-Yo was supposed to be emerging from his brightly decorated home as the snow fell around him.  Just like a scene from a Norman Rockwell painting.  I was afraid we were going to end up with something more resembling a Salvador Dali painting but I pressed ahead.  

First thing I noticed was some mixed signals coming form the crowd.  Yo-Yo was stuffed into the house and then we would take turns shouting stay or whistling for him to hop out.  I was confused and I wasn't even in the dog house.After a few aborted runs we decided to just place young Yo-Yo outside his abode and photograph him sitting in front of the house with the lights and decorations around him.  All Yo-Yo would need to do is sit still and patiently look at the camera.  Did I mention he was greyhound puppy?

So I am not above bribery especially with dog and since it wasn't my lunch we decided to entice Yo-Yo's cooperation with pieces of deer jerky.  I won't mention how we almost choked him with a dog cookie, but he seemed to enjoy the deer jerky and it kept his attention well enough so I fired away.  Then we noticed Yo-Yo was getting excited, I mean really excited in a male-puppy sort of way.  We thought about covering it up with an elf hat but we just decided to press on.
So with a few hundred photos or so in the can we decide to try and add a Santa hat complete with beard.  that wasn't Yo-Yo's favorite accessory.  We though about adding some duct tape to keep the hat on the right spot but just decided to pull it more over his ears.  Yo-Yo was losing interest in the whole photo shoot and our supply of deer jerky was waning so I laid on the motor drive hard to capture the last few frames of our happy Christmas scene.  A few more camera frames, one or two more uncooperative hops around the floor and we done. 

 Dressing the Dog 2010 was in the history books, Yo-Yo celebrated his picture shoot ending by flailing about as hard as he could to get the hat and beard off.  
It's always an adventure each Christmas  photographing our special pet of the week but it has become a tradition just like decorating the Christmas tree, singing Christmas carols and keeping drunk relatives out of the eggnog.  
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and Happy New Year to everyone!


Tear & Scream Photography said...

That...Is Too Awesome For Words!

Cheri said...

So cute!!! Love it, Glenn.