Serendipity

Serendipity
Serendipity
Commercial photographer Andrew Grant accidentally found his calling photographing dogs. In doing so, he has raised over $2 million dollars for rescue and made a fan of Ellen DeGeneres.

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Andrew Grant was working as a commercial photographer, shooting a catalogue for Chef Works when two French Bulldog’s belonging to the kitchen showroom’s owner wandered onto set. To be nice, Andrew obligingly including them in a few shots. They sat right where he wanted them and peered right into the lens. “Simple stuff,” he thought, later commenting that perhaps he should do a book of dogs someday. After learning that millions of cats and dogs enter pet rescues in the US each year, “someday” became next week and Andrew began shooting dogs for what would become a book called Rover.

Andrew’s original vision was to create a book filled with homeless pets—flipping through a book like that would illustrate that healthy, smart, and beautiful purebreds and mixed breeds are available at rescues, he thought. But after visiting with a few rescues in the San Diego area, Andrew quickly learned that their greatest challenge is raising money to support their programs and care for homeless pets. This is where everything fell into place.

“I recognized that it would be very challenging to raise a meaningful amount of money with the profits of a self-published and distributed book,” Andrew says. “So I launched a program that enabled pet lovers to have their pet photographed and included in the next book when they made a donation of $5,000 to a pet rescue.” That program has now generated donations of over $2 million dollars for over thirty rescues across the country. More importantly, it has created lasting relationships between generous donors—donors who might not have been aware of the great work these rescue groups do in the face of tremendous challenges—with deserving and effective organizations. 

“During that first year I had so much serendipity in my life that I was able to conceive the project, photograph all the dogs for the book, design the entire book, locate an overseas publisher, and see Ellen DeGeneres flipping through the pages of Rover in just nine months. Seeing everything fall into place so easily assured me I was on the right path. We are now in the ninth year of that ‘one year project’ thanks in large part to Ellen’s great support of Rover.

Not that there isn’t a lot of hard work and dedication involved. Andrew, along with his partner and co-photographer Amanda Hedlund, have spent years “living on the road with all of our belongings in storage, crisscrossing the country chasing down donors and photographing their pets.” They welcome all purebreds and mixed breeds, even dogs that weren’t originally rescued, as raising money for rescue is their primary goal. Plus, highlighting all dogs helps underscore their message that all breed types are available in shelters.

Their work is their passion. Donors, present in the studio when their dog is being photographed, are able to see the images on a large monitor. When Andrew hears, “Oh! THAT’S our boy!”, he knows they’ve accomplished their task.

Donors can also make an additional donation to sponsor a homeless pet. That dog is then photographed too and included in the book, “showcasing that beautiful purebreds and mixed breeds are available at rescues.”

Photographing the homeless pets at a rescue is both a heartwarming and heartbreaking experience. “After a few treats in the studio,” Andrew shares, “we often discover that the scared dog in the kennel has a repertoire of tricks. It’s at those moments when I find myself asking, ‘what is a great dog like you doing in a place like this!?’ Dogs end up in rescues because their elderly caretaker can no longer care for them, because of financial problems… As a result, it’s easy to find wonderful dogs at a rescue. That includes house trained dogs, gentle senior dogs, and even purebred puppies.  

“A pet rescue is a very complicated business with living inventory and tremendous expenses,” Andrew continues. “If the books and articles like this result in more people donating money and/or their time to rescues then we’ve done our job. We also hope that the books inspire people to welcome a shelter pet into their home…even folks with a penchant for a certain breed of dog can find just what they’re looking for at a rescue!”

 

Interested in having your dog immortalized by Andrew while supporting rescue? Andrew is now photographing donor’s dogs in cities across the country for the next book. A list of stops is available at RoverWorks.org.

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