Tonawanda News

Local News

August 10, 2013

Swimming into the spotlight

Shelter pups get chance to shine as award-winning photographer returns to Tonawanda


Tonawanda News —

Joanne Campagna, one of the owners of Canine Splash, said 17 puppies (in addition to the adult dogs) were expected this weekend. Some were brought by their owners for a chance at celebrity, but the SPCA and rescue groups Sadie’s Safe Harbor, Black Dog Second Chance and Educate-A-Bull also contributed pups for a possibility of  photographic stardom.

Campagna said that any rescue or shelter with a puppy whose photo gets included in the new book will also be included in the marketing of the book, a public relations windfall for an organization.

“It’s obviously good for a business like ours, but it’s even better for shelters,” she said. “If he can get shelter puppies in the book ... what a great statement that could make.”

As opposed to the shoots for the adult dogs, the puppy photo shoots last only about 15 minutes each, Campagna said, for practical reasons. “Within 15 minutes, they get tired. Within 15 minutes, he either gets a shot ... or he doesn’t.”

In the pool, some of the challenges inherent working with young ones were showcased as Casteel coaxed the pups from the SPCA into the water, working to build their confidence and their comfort around the water. Eventually, in fact, he shooed watchers out the door temporarily so the little ones wouldn’t be distracted.

It’s not easy. In fact, Casteel said, during a recent photo shot in Chicago, he worked with 30 puppies over a four-hour span ... and didn’t get a single book-worthy shot.

“That’s how hard it is. There are many more challenges, 100 times more challenges” to working with puppies, he said. “The first challenge, of course, is their level of confidence.  ... You need to build their confidence so they can start to enjoy themselves. Once they enjoy it, I’m starting to get pictures.”

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