The Don’t You Want Me Project - providing hope and support through a first of its kind Rescue Grant
The Don’t You Want Me Project documents the lives of queer people and their rescue dogs by creating a visual global platform for them to tell their stories. Finding strength and purpose in the unconditional love given by dogs we watch the project’s subjects heal and transform. The project’s aim is to highlight what happens when the marginalised receive unconditional love and support. This bond and the subsequent personal growth form the backbone of the Don’t You Want Me Project.
Last November the Project announced the launch of the Don’t You Want Me Rescue Grant. The DYWM Rescue Grant will enable someone from the queer and trans community (one person in Toronto and one in the U.K) who is struggling with mental health issues, the opportunity to adopt a rescue dog and be given ongoing support.
It is expected that the first recipient of the DYWM Rescue Grant will receive their dog this March. As witnessed throughout the project it is anticipated that the arrival of the rescue dog will have a profoundly transformative impact not only on the recipient’s mental health but on every aspect of their life.
Approximately half of the Project’s participants have said that their rescue dog saved their life.
Parties involved in the Toronto DYWM Rescue Grant to date include:
Friends of Ruby - Mental Health Partner
Friends of Ruby is a Toronto registered charity dedicated to the progressive wellbeing of LGBTQI2S youth (aged 16-29) through mental health services, social services and housing. Friends of Ruby will help determine a suitable recipient for the DYWM Rescue Grant and will provide ongoing mental health support as the recipient welcomes the rescue dog into their life.
Save Our Scruff - Rescue Partner
Founded by one of our Project participants, SOS, a non-profit organization in Toronto is dedicated to rescuing dogs and finding them safe and suitable permanent homes through adoption, advocacy and education. SOS will work closely with Friends of Ruby to match a suitable rescue dog with the chosen recipient of the DYWM Rescue Grant, waive their adoption fee and provide ongoing support. If deemed beneficial, SOS will assist the grant recipient in working towards training their dog to be a therapy/service dog.
Nood Pet Food
NOOD recipes are packed with ethically sourced proteins, superfoods and a range of vitamins and minerals to provide a complete and balanced diet for your pet. NOOD believe every pet — big and small — deserves the proper nutrition to live a healthy, happy life. And every single pet owner deserves to know what goes in (and what stays out) of the pet food they buy. No junk, no nasty surprises, no pesky fine print. NOOD is working to close the gap on pet food inequality and to make affordable pet food accessible to all. Nood Pet Food is donating 3 years worth of food to the grant recipient.
Doggy Dates Toronto
Doggy Dates Toronto is a trans owned, award winning dog walking and photography business founded by Jack and Jet Jackson. Doggy Dates Toronto will be providing dog walking services and documenting the journey of the grant recipient and their rescue dog through photo journalism.
Balmy Beach Pet Hospital
Dr. Singh comes from a traditional “Sikh” family. The word Sikh means student. To this end, Dr. Singh has devoted her life to honing her skills as a veterinary practitioner, to continue to provide the best medicine and care to her patients. Her goals as a practitioner are to provide affordable and professional veterinary care, maintain the highest level of transparency, and practice in an environment that is safe for pets, pet owners and staff. We are in the process of finalizing the contribution from Balmy Beach Pet Hospital.
Dogtopia of Bloor West Village in Toronto is your dog’s home away from home. The brand new dog boarding facility, owned by Jen McCain, makes your dog’s everyday like it’s the most exciting day ever! Through dog daycare, boarding, training and spa services they are committed to showering your pup with all the love and affection they deserve when you can’t be with them. Dogtopia Bloor West are donating grooming, dog training and job shadowing if desired.
Small Wonders Pet Store
Toronto’s landmark original independent pet store. Small Wonders will be providing $20 worth of treats each month to the grant recipient’s dog.
Still seeking - a dog bed, coat, leash, collar, toys, pet insurance, and training and behavioural services.
If you would like to help with a fiscal donation to subsidize the cost of important services like training, vet care and day care when needed, we are taking donations here.
We know times are hard for lots of people so your greatest gift would be to share this far and wide.
Never work with animals or children they said…..
I have been doing these sunrise sessions for over 3 years now, but like anything that’s worth having, what we are trying to do is not always easy. I am a perfectionist, I dream about these sunrise sessions, and work obsessively at being the best I can at my craft. I control as much as is possible about the session which I structure and time around the sunrise. That being said, and in order to manage expectations, I stress to every client that this is outdoor, off leash dog photography, and dogs will be dogs (which is why we love them so much)!
Training and tricks
The most important thing that we need from your dog is to be able to hold a sit or down position for at least 5 seconds. If you can spend some time practicing this in the lead up to your photoshoot it will be the most important investment in the session. If you can get them to hold this position for even longer, even better! If you want to incorporate a high five, a treat catch, a roll over, or any other tricks you might like your dog to do feel free to practice in the lead up to the photoshoot session. These extras are absolutely not essential, these are just for fun if you wanted to try them.
If your dog is regularly groomed, it would be great timing to get a groom done in the days leading up to your shoot. A quick nail trim also looks great.
The morning of the shoot
Please arrive no later than the agreed time. The different locations/backdrops of the session have been purposefully chosen to work with the position of the sun, so if we start late, we will not only miss the sunrise, but the rest of the shoot won’t be as ideal as it can be. The beautifully saturated colours of the sunrise only last 15 minutes or so and we need time to acclimatize your dog to the camera and flash. Whilst I know it’s tough to get up so early, it’s not only the best time photographically in terms of light and colour, but also there are less distractions around for your dog at this time.
We go through a lot of treats during a typical photos shoot so I strongly advise against feeding your dog prior to the session. Please bring some peanut butter and a selection of your dogs favourite treats. I will bring some liver treats, but it works well having some high value treats on standby. You will need more than you think you will need - we go through a lot of treats!
During the shoot
I will acclimatize your dog to the flash/camera and once they are comfortable we’ll go straight into the session. When I am doing close up work with your dog, your best place to stand is behind us and just enjoy the show. The close up shots work much better if I can get your dog to focus solely on me (hence the treats!). During the action /running segment of the session, you will be involved in getting your dog running towards me at high speed! If you wanted to take any behind the scenes photos we always welcome any images you can send or tag us in!
Think about the collar your dog is wearing. I will leave it up to you if you want the collar on or not. If you are comfortable with it being off for the shoot I believe the images look better this way, but it is totally your call and comfort level.
Extras you might want to bring
Water - there is one location during the shoot where your dog will not have access to water so during the hot summer months, you might want to bring some extra water. During the colder months, you may want to bring a blanket / coat for your dog, particularly if they are small or not winter loving dogs.
What happens after the shoot, when and how do I get my images?
Editing time varies, but I should be able to send you your gallery within 10 days to 2 weeks after the session. From your gallery, you can select your favourite images. In all of our packages, I provide additional images so that you have a choice when selecting the images. Once you pay the balance of your session via the gallery checkout, your web optimized images will be emailed to you without the watermark. Web optimized images are suitable for everything aside from printing.
I love the images so much I want to print one - what now?
If you have chosen a package that includes prints, you will have a meeting or call with Jack to discuss printing options. If the package you choose does not include printed products, we can still do an ordering session with you. There is a considerable amount of additional work involved when printing images which is why Jack handles this in house.
This year has taught us many things, one of those things being how much our dogs have been fundamental in helping so many of us during the pandemic. Hell yes, let’s celebrate them.
For more stories about unconditional love and the transformative power dogs have on our lives check out the Don’t You Want Me Project.
Feel free to share this blog if you want your doggo pals to get in on the Doggy Dates action!