'Watchdog' Photo Series Shows Small Dogs in a Big Light

Courtesy Sophie Gamand Photography


By Deidre Grieves | Pet360.com

When people hear the word "watchdog," they think of big, muscular canines that produce a loud bark and a potentially dangerous bite. But photographer Sophie Gamand, best known for her Wet Dog series of photographs, is turning the traditional watchdog stereotype on its head.

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The French photographer, who lives and works in New York, recently completed a new series of photos that depict small and toy dog breeds with jeweled armor to make their larger-than-life personalities shine through.

Gamand got the idea for the series from witnessing women in New York City carrying small dogs around in their purses. These women take their dogs everywhere, and the small canines become loyal, loving companions that are integral to their owners' lives.

"These toy dogs have taken the place of friends, family and social interactions. The dogs become an emotional rampart," says Gamand. "I wanted to design a series that would take this concept further. They are a new kind of watchdog and they deserve a new visual identity."

To give the dogs a regal appearance, Gamand created costumes out of jewelry and feathers that included blinged-out collars and elaborate headpieces. The photographs were brought to life by dogs that Gamand worked with in the past, and she explains that good training and patience is key to getting the right shots.

Gamand keeps the shooting environment fun for the dog and always includes the dog's owner on set, who gives commands, treats and praise during the session. "We take multiple breaks, snuggle, play, relax, and go back to work," she says. "I want the experience to be both playful for the dog and the owner, and challenging at the same time."

But the safety and comfort of the dogs is the highest priority of the award-winning photographer. "My rule is: if a dog is absolutely uncomfortable with a piece or a pose, I stop," she says.

Gamand hopes that the new series will help challenge people's perceptions and stereotypes about the traits that make up a good watchdog. Small dogs, she says, can be just as loyal and protective as large canine guard dogs.

"Forget the mean looks and thick spiky leather collars. These dogs are delicate and fierce," says Gamand. "They come in small packages, but their personalities are bigger than life."

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