Internationally celebrated photographer Mike Ruiz has just unleashed what is definitely one of 2018’s hottest calendars.
HeartThrobs and Hounds features some of the world’s top fitness models posing with dogs.
The cute couplings aren’t just for the ‘awwww’ factor. There’s a heartfelt reason for the pairings.
Proceeds from the sale of the calendar will go towards Fur Friends in Need and Lilo’s Promise animal rescue. Both organizations seek to find new homes for abandoned pets.
Nancy Flint, the founder of Fur Friends in Need, said that the organization received multiple calls every week from people looking to re-home or surrender their pets.
‘We try our best to help as many of these animals as possible so they do not end up at kill shelters. We also reach out to local shelters to see which animals are on the TBD list (To Be Destroyed) to see if we can match them with appropriate foster homes before it’s too late.’
Adopting a pet doesn’t just provided a much-needed home to an animal. Only this week, the RSPCA in the UK, launched a campaign to encourage people to adopt animals to help combat loneliness.
Dr Julia Wrathall, chief scientific officer at the RSPCA, said: ‘As well as providing vital companionship to people who live alone, there are also a number of other benefits to owning a pet.
‘Evidence suggests that when we stroke animals – or in the case of dogs, when we just look into their eyes – our bodies release oxytocin, a hormone that brings about bonding between individuals as well as helping us feel more optimistic and lowering blood pressure.’
Known for his celebrity portraiture, Ruiz has shot Prince, Kim Kardashian and Katy Perry, among many others. Male fitness models are another speciality.
‘I admire men who have sculpted their bodies into works of art. It takes incredible skill and knowledge to form human tissue to near perfection. Photographing their work is quite gratifying to me,’ said Ruiz in a statement.
He’s also an animal lover. Five years ago he saved Oliver, a pit bull that had been left for dead. It was from this experience that he first had the idea of producing an annual calendar that bought together his two passions: photography and dogs in need.
Asked about the importance of Oliver in his life, Ruiz told GSN, ‘I consider Oliver in every decision that I make so that must put him at the top of the list of importance.’
He’s also fond of photographing his pooch. Oliver has his own Instagram account documenting his life with his two daddies!
Ruiz explained why he was very happy to lend his support to the animal shelters benefitting from this year’s calendar.
‘They are both small rescues that do great work. Lilo’s takes difficult cases that many rescues won’t touch and I’ve seen them rehab dogs that had very little hope and they are happy, healthy and loved now.’
And how did the shoots go? Some people advise you to never to work with animals or children?
‘I tend to like animals more than most people so it’s a pleasure working with them!’