A Sneak Peek of The Photo Shoots for The New Rochelle Humane Society 2012 Calendar
by Klara Hanincova
I would say that this was one of our most challenging but also very interesting photo shoots featuring firefighter Christian Carozo from the New Rochelle Fire Department and Ophelia, an adorable cattle dog/border collie mix, who came to the New Rochelle Humane Society from a high kill shelter in Ohio.
Christian has been a firefighter in New Rochelle for six years. Three years ago, he adopted a Pit Bull Terrier named Spanky from the New Rochelle Humane Society. At first, Christian had his hands full with the rambunctious young Spanky, but he never gave up. His patience paid off. Spanky became Christian’s best friend and constant companion. He enjoys hiking, workouts at the park and jogging with Christian. He is also great with children and made lots of friends with other dogs. Christian has a wonderful family. His mom, brother and two cute little nephews joined us during the photo shoot. It was so nice to meet them.
As soon as very smart but also very cautious Ophelia entered the training room, she knew something was different. She began to sniff around and investigate then suddenly she discovered it. It was right there, under her nose, a huge white something covering the floor and reaching all the way to the ceiling. Cautious as Ophelia is, she found our seamless background paper extremely suspicious and decided that she was better off being as far away from it as possible. Seeing her reaction, I went to consult the shelter manager Dana Rocco. Dana was convinced that with use of positive reinforcement Ophelia would not only familiarize herself with the background, but also happily stay on it. When we returned to the training room, Dana asked everybody in the room besides Christian to ignore Ophelia. This way all of Ophelia’s affection was directed towards Christian, the only person in the room who was responding to her presence and playing with her. Christian is great with dogs and so Ophelia did not mind at all that he was her only friend. The problem, however, was that Christian was in the middle of that white suspicious looking thing that Ophelia was trying to avoid the most. Dana sat down on the floor, beside the white paper, with treats in her hand and called Ophelia. Although suspicious, Ophelia was not able to resist the treats and slowly approached Dana. Dana repeated this several times and each time she moved closer and closer to the center of the paper. It did not take long for Ophelia to realize that each time she stepped on the paper she got a treat. She understood that staying on the paper earned her a reward and suddenly the paper was not her enemy anymore. Now we had a hard time getting Ophelia off the paper…:)
Once Ophelia was comfortable being on the white paper, I began to photograph. The last shot of Ophelia on Christian’s back was indeed a team effort. Dana put Ophelia on top of Christian’s back and quickly moved away. While Ophelia did not mind being on Christian’s back she would not take her eyes of Dana. Barbara who was standing behind me tried everything from squeaky toys to sound of the plastic bags with treats to get her attention. Nothing worked. Since we knew that Ophelia likes children, and was very happy to see Christian’s two little nephews when she first walked into the training room, we called the boys to the rescue. We asked them to stand close to the camera, and as soon as Dana puts Ophelia on Christian’s back, to call her name as loud as they could. So there we were. Dana put Ophelia on Christian’s back and moved away. I was behind my camera waiting for the boys to call out Ophelia’s name loud enough to catch her attention. As we were all waiting, a very silent “Ophelia” came from behind me. It was so cute. It was not only Ophelia who was a little shy. The boys, who by the way were great and during the entire photo shoot were sitting quietly and ignoring Ophelia just as we asked them to, were also a little shy with all these new people around them. To the rescue came their dad and Christian’s brother. He used a bunch of keys to produce loud metallic sound that suddenly caught Ophelia’s attention. She looked our way for a few seconds. That gave me just enough time to take this photograph.