Kaylee Garrick’s canine photo-shoots can stop traffic in Shetland – and the fame of her very obedient dogs has now spread across the globe.
BBC News reports that the 29-year-old student paramedic has trained her pets to pose together for a range of eye-catching images.
She has seven regular models – Shetland sheepdogs Fenton, Thiago, Thorin, Gimli, Murphy and Jara, and an Alaskan Klee Kai called Ghost.
They are sometimes joined by Fjana, who is owned by Kaylee’s mother. The popularity of their pictures grew through social media, and has now helped raised thousands of pounds for charity.
Kaylee, from Scalloway, has been taking photos of dogs since she was 10 years old, back when pictures had to be developed.
She said it “came naturally” because her first dog, Flint, was “so handsome against the Shetland background”.
However, when Flint died from bone cancer in 2007, Kaylee put her camera down and stopped taking photographs.
That changed after a friend suggested she should look at a litter of puppies in 2011. She fell in love with Fenton, who remains one of her star models – and her love of photography was also rekindled.
“It took off again. The camera just seemed to follow my hand,” she said. “For the next few years we just kept adding more dogs and photos. “With social media, using Facebook and Instagram, it became even more of a thing. The world went nuts for Shetland sheepdogs on Shetland.”
Kaylee said she started receiving more and more requests for pictures. “We originally used it to promote Shetland. People have come here just to see the dogs. “I had a couple from Australia recognise us. It was crazy.” Kaylee said the photos then started getting “stranger” over the years as she started using costumes. In one, they are wearing caps and waistcoats in a look inspired by the television show Peaky Blinders. Kaylee said that while the backgrounds of some images have been touched up for artistic effect, the poses struck by her dogs are real. She said the secret of their obedience was “trust and confidence”.
“They are obsessed with their ball, so we use positive reinforcement – they get rewarded for good behaviour. “They are trained to pose, I line them up, say ‘wait’, get the camera out, take the photo, say ‘good dogs’ then throw their ball. It does not take long at all, as they are so used to it.
“However, you can get a lot of people coming up to you, so that can take a bit longer – one photo, where they were in the street wearing bright boots, caused a traffic jam. “People were taking photos themselves, then I noticed all the cars stopping.”
Kaylee produced a charity calendar for 2020 after being “pestered” by people asking if she would do one.
She thought a print run of 250 would be enough, but it quickly sold out and copies have been sent all over Europe, America, Canada, New Zealand and Australia.
The calendar has raised £2,000 for the The Ambulance Staff Charity (Tasc) and Bravehound, which provides training and dogs to support veterans.
Kaylee, who works as an ambulance technician, said she also used her photos in the back of the ambulance to calm down patients.
“I take my phone out and show them my dogs and they forget they are in an ambulance,” she said. “Their blood pressure goes down and they start smiling. “And children respond well to it. Turning it into making people laugh has made it more quirky.”
(Story source: BBC News)