Exciting things have been happening on the Don’t You Want Me photography project that we sponsor! Recently Jack was approached by Pet Valu after they saw the Toronto star article to ask how they could support the project!!
With Pride just around the corner we decided to amplify our existing stories from the project through video. Pet Valu immediately got to work hiring the best of the best for the job. I couldn’t believe my luck when I found out that Westside Studio’s Angie Bird was to direct the videos. For anyone that doesn’t know Birdie, she’s a hugely respected award-winning director, part of the LGBTQ community and has a rescue dog! Check out one of her award winning groundbreaking videos here.
Fast forward a week and the participants for the videos had been chosen, Birdie had held zoom interviews with all of them, the outfits had been decided upon, and even the dogs had all had a little makeover and manicure!. Everyone was getting excited for the big day. I’ve never actually been to a proper film set but it was seriously impressive.
Pet Valu had provided a dog handler, a craft table just for the dogs (obviously), all the refreshments we needed and Birdie had the washroom signs changed to gender-neutral. Everything was done to make our participants (both doggo and human) feel as comfortable as possible. I got a really heartwarming text from one of the project’s participants at the end of the day saying it was the first time in a long while that they had not felt ‘othered’ be that through race, sexuality or gender. I distinctly remember the first time when I was in a group of people and just blended in (it was at an awesome dog photography workshop!). I wasn’t ‘other’ and I wasn’t visibly queer and I felt a calmness that I’d never felt in a group setting before. Let’s hope as a society, we reach a place where visible minorities no longer carry with them such underlying fear and anxiety.
We couldn’t have been happier with the final videos, the one below having received well over 2 million hits to date. Yes you heard that correctly!
Huge thanks To Pet Valu, Angie Bird and her team and of course all of the Don’t You Want Me participants and their dogs, without whom we wouldn’t have this project. If only these once abandoned unwanted dogs knew how instrumental they had been in changing the course of our lives.
How can you help?
If you believe in the power of storytelling and dogs as much as we do please share this blog on your social media. The project is looking for more people to sit for photography sessions. To be eligible to be part of the project you must identify as LGBTQ, have a rescue dog and have a story of transformation that you are willing to share. This could be anything from the arrival of your dog being the catalyst for a major life change, to your dog dramatically transforming your mental health or to an exciting new adventure instigated by the arrival of your rescue dog.