Pet Tales: Dog show features photos

It's not often that dogs get the chance to sponsor and underwrite an art exhibit, but dogs Rascal Hipsley, Otis Jeffe, Bingo Pangburn and 27 others stepped up and donated $440 to do just that for the Sewickley Public Library.

Through the end of October, the library is having a dog show -- but not the kind where beautiful dogs prance around in a ring. This show features 18 canine photographs by two professional photographers whose books of pictures have been best-sellers.

An eye-catching color photograph of Dutchess shows the black Labrador retriever swimming underwater. Her big brown eyes look ecstatic as she uses her front paws to doggie paddle.

That same picture of Dutchess is on the cover of the best-selling book "Underwater Dogs" by Seth Casteel of Marina del Ray, Calif. His photographs are all over the Internet and social media, where they have gone viral.

My personal favorite might be Duncan, the pug, because that's a breed not known for its swimming prowess. Also look for Buster, a big-eyed Cavalier King Charles spaniel whose long red and white hair streams and flows in the underwater photo. A yellow Labrador retriever named Bardot and a Border collie named Nevada swim side by side in pursuit of a tennis ball.

Since 2007, Mr. Casteel has donated his time to animal shelters, teaching staff and volunteers how to take great photographs that will help animals get adopted. Go to to learn more about that project.

It's worth the trip to the charming village of Sewickley to see the dog show at 500 Thorn St. (15143). About 75 people came to opening night Sept. 13. Library patrons are reportedly loving it ,and the show is attracting people who aren't regulars, which is one of the reasons libraries have exhibits

Mr. Casteel loaned 10 color photographs to the library. You can see the exhibit for free. If you buy a photograph for $85, portions of the sale go to the library and to the Animal Friends shelter in Ohio Township.

Fine art and commercial photographer Valerie Shaff of New York City sent eight digital photos from her book, "If Only You Knew How Much I Smell You: True Portraits of Dogs." In the book and at the library show, the photos are accompanied by text by writer and humorist Roy Blount Jr.

Text with a portrait of a boxer says, "What does that mean 'expensive shoe'? I ate it because it smelled like you."

Other portraits include a Saluki, Border collie, Weimaraner and terriers. Ms. Shaff's dog portraits can be purchased for $300, with a portion of sales going to the Sewickley Library.

Both books strike me as the kind that make great gifts for the dog lover "who has everything."

Randi Morgan, exhibits curator at the library, brought the winsome dogs to town on a budget that is basically zero, which is why dogs were asked to donate at least $10 each.

Ms. Shaff had sent digital pics, and the thrifty and clever Ms. Morgan found a way to get the photographs professionally printed, and all 18 photos matted, for free. She enlisted the help of professional photographer Chap Achen of Redwing, Minn., who happens to be her brother. The artists did not charge the library for the use of their work.

So let's give a shout-out to the rest of the dogs who helped mount this exhibit and whose names appear on the official promotional poster: Diesel Holt, Daisy Pawuk, Buddy Vranick, Lucas Viall, Bella Tranter, Jake Benson, Lily Schurman, Jonesy Traci, Maggie Gaudio, Izzy Orkwis, Bear Guinto, Hazel Turner, Cocoa Quillan and "in memory of" Jack Perrone.

Some families had multiples: Mulligan, Maverick and Camilla House; Joe and Boss Graham, Tupper and Chester Forsyth; Quinn and Chance Strunk; Honey and Cody Luzer; Willa and Zippy Riley.

This is a pet-friendly library. Two years ago Ms. Morgan mounted the "Hello Kitty" show with paintings and drawings by local artists, and 10 years ago the "Literary Dogs" show that included original art from famous books, including "My Dog Skip," and the wonderful illustrations of Alexandra Day from her much-loved children's books about a Rottweiler named Carl.

Library hours are 9 a.m.- to 9 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays, 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Fridays, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturdays and 1-5 p.m. Sundays.

Pugtoberfest 2013

A dog doesn't have to be a pug to attend the annual event that raises money for two non-profit groups that help pugs in need, including some that need expensive veterinary treatment and surgery. This year it's 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. next Saturday at Kunkle Park, 286 Pine Church Road, Apollo (15613).

Leashed dogs that are up to date on vaccinations get in for free, and people donate $5 each. Events include auctions, vendors and contests, including curliest pug tail at 12:30 p.m. and best pugwannabee trick at 12:45 p.m.

The costume contests are always a big hit. Individual pug costumes are judged at 3 p.m., right after group costume judging, which is an event in which non-pugs can compete as long as one member of their group is a pug.

Pugtoberfest 2013 benefits Southwest PA Pugs with Special Needs and Guardian Angels Pug Rescue.

Shelter helping shelter

When the Fallen Timber shelter in Elizabeth Township permanently closed on Sept. 30, 16 dogs were still there, waiting to be adopted. Another shelter stepped up to help: The Washington Area Humane Society staff took five dogs into their shelter in Eighty Four, Washington County.

"We wish we could bring in all of the dogs left behind but we only have the ability to take five," said general manager Kelly Backo.

Although Fallen Timber is closed to the public, the 11 remaining dogs are being cared for there, said Gretchen Fieser, spokeswoman for the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society, which has operated the Fallen Timber facility. Ultimately the dogs will be "transitioned" into the Humane Society's North Side shelter, she said.

Pet Tales appears weekly in the Saturday Home & Garden section. Linda Wilson Fuoco: or 412-263-3064. Got a pet health question? Email it to It may be answered in an upcoming Pet Points column by veterinarians at the Point Breeze Veterinary Clinic.