Saturday, November 26, 2016

Little Kids and Their Big Dogs

I consider life to be truly remarkable when an event that started out as a coincidence, turns into destiny. At least that's what happened to photographer Andy Seliverstoff.

Andy has always had a passion and love for dogs, especially large breeds, and got his first dog, a Saint Bernard, over 25 years ago. After the dog passed away, Andy couldn't imagine life without another 4-legged companion, which is how he ended up with his first Great Dane. Together they started taking part in and photographing dog shows first in Europe, then around the world. This new found hobby grew quickly, and before Andy knew it, more than 10 years had flown by.

Then in Summer 2016, the coincidence occurred. Good friends of Andy asked if he would professionally photograph their 2-year old daughter, Alice. Andy agreed, and they decided to conduct the shoot in a well known park. As it just so happened the couple also brought along their Great Dane, Sean, who ended up becoming part of the photo shoot.

2-year old Alice and her Great Dane, Sean
On a separate occasion, Andy photographed another friend's gentle and sociable Newfoundland Dog, Ringo, with the strong desire to capture the communication between children and dogs.

3-year old, Fedor, and Newfoundland, Ringo
After the two photo shoots with Alice and Sean, Fedor and Ringo, Andy decided to post the photos on his Facebook page. What he wasn't prepared for was the astounding and touching reaction that came from his audience. Friends and strangers both loved the photos, and appreciation quickly turned into requests. It was then that Andy realized that such a small coincidence had turned into destiny, and decided to continue his new project, Little Kids and Their Big Dogs.

Photographing children, especially children so young, comes with it's own unique set of challenges that have to be cleverly overcome. For example, when Andy was asked to photograph Alexandra and her harlequin Great Dane, he and her mother were both struggling to find ways to calm the capricious 2-year old. As it just so happened, Alexandra loved to play with electronics, and when her mother handed her a small compact camera, she started playing the game "photographer" taking pictures of her dog as the model. It was then that Andy went to work to capture these energetic, intriguing, and interactive moments of fun between dog and child.

2-year old, Alexandra, and her harlequin Great Dane, Zara
As the series continued to grow, Andy chose to start varying his approach. 3-year old Lisa and 4 Leonberger Dogs was the first session where more than one dog took part.

3-year old, Lisa, and Leonberger Dogs
Andy also conducted action shoots to again capture the communication, love, and joy between children and animals while playing sports.

Young boy with 4 Bracco Italiano Dogs
I first came across these photos on Facebook, and as a dog owner, instantly fell in love with their beauty and eloquent innocence. Curious to know more about the photographer and inspiration behind these photos, Petopia contacted Andy for an interview.
"The main priority for this photography series wasn't just to make a beautiful photo, but to achieve and show communication and condition of contact between child and animal."
Andy recalled the exact date that the series began, 24 July, 2016. The locations for the photo shoots are all natural places where the models usually walk with their dogs. In the future Andy would love to photograph a Komondor, which is a Hungarian sheepdog, but also many more large breeds. He is, however, cautious about photographing Terrier breeds with children, unless the child grew up with the dog. A common re-occurrence Andy is noticing is that families do not often introduce large breed dogs when they have small children, the exception being that the child was born into a family that already had a large breed dog. More often then not the children have grown up and moved away when the dogs join the family. So in these cases where owners still would like to participate in the series and request to have a photo shoot, they are instead bringing their grandchildren or children of friends and acquaintances, and therefore the dogs and children are already familiar.

2-year old, Anechka, and her Dogue de Bordeaux
Andy is still in the beginning stages of this new chapter in his life, and is excited about the prospects to come. His plan is to take enough photos of children and large breed dogs to one day publish a book called "One Hundred Little Kids and Their Big Dogs".
"The work with this series is at the beginning. I hope to capture and present the maximum number of representatives of large breed dogs. The love to dogs and children makes people better!"
Click here to see more photos of Little Kids and Their Big Dogs

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Everyone Deserves A Party: Organizing Events for People and Pets

When you envision a birthday party what do you see? A cake, balloons, party hats, and a room full of your closest friends, right? Well when the almost 2-year old Border Collie, Baillie, was asked the same question, her answer was identical.

Nancy Wendt is the founder of the party planning company, The Party Ville. And while her agenda is to party, she doesn’t limit her clientele only to those with two feet.  For her dog Baillie’s 2nd Birthday, Nancy planned and hosted a dog party. Friends of Baillie and their owners were invited, dog and human cake and refreshments were served, handmade decorations for the ballerina theme added the perfect touch of elegance, and a great time was had by all.

For the most part, people consider parties a human only event, and never even consider partying with their pets. But in the USA and Latin America, this mindset has already begun to change. Nancy has started her company in Luxembourg, and hopes that over time the thought of having a dog party will become second nature, like a housewarming party or a wedding. Petopia was intrigued by such a creative and original idea, and thought that sharing the experience with others could help jump-start the trend. After attending Baillie’s 2nd Birthday, Petopia interviewed Nancy to learn more about the source of her inspiration and her envisioned future for The Party Ville.
Handmade decorations added elegance to the dining setup for the dog owners
When did you start your company and what inspired you?
I started planning parties when I was 17 back in high school and once I moved to Luxembourg I continued doing it while writing about it at The Party Ville blog. However in 2016 after losing my full time job, I decided to try to do the party planning as a business, and so far it’s looking very promising. I now have a small team and each day we get more and more party requests!

What inspired me to create The Party Ville was the possibility to create moments of happiness with decorated theme parties, while taking care of the environment. After planning and decorating parties for 5 years in Luxembourg, I had collected a big amount of party supplies that I wouldn't want to get rid of, so I decided to plan parties for other people and to reuse as many party supplies as possible and replicate that feeling of happiness with more people.

In your opinion, what differentiates you the most from other event planning companies?
I think there are many things that differentiate The Party Ville from other event planning companies, one of them is, for example, that we own a large inventory of party supplies available for rent so there is less waste and we can reuse the things allowing our prices to be very attractive.

Another fact that differentiates us is that we love to create things on our own, we do a lot of crafting and handmade decorations, which gives us flexibility to adapt to each client's needs and create original parties. Click here to see Circus Party photos

Finally at The Party Ville we use as much Eco-friendly materials as possible such as bamboo, wood, paper, etc. For us it is important to take care of our environment, so we choose carefully our products to offer the best quality to our clients. And as we want to share our favorite party products with as many people as possible, we decided to open a party shop in Luxembourg city from February 2017!
Refreshments and party favors for people and dogs
How did you come up with the idea of including “dog parties” into your business?
Well it just came from a personal need, after getting our dog Baillie, we started to meet a lot of dog owners and our dog made a lot of dog friends. My husband and I made a lot of new dog owners friends and we thought it was a good idea to celebrate our dog's first birthday with them, after all The Party Ville, it's all about celebrating important moments in life in a creative way, so we thought if we can customize parties for kids and adults, why not also customize parties for dogs?
What other types of events do you plan and which type is your most popular?
We do practically all types of events from weddings, adults parties, baby showers, kids parties, company parties, baptisms, to dog parties. I guess when it is about celebrating special moments there is no limit, as long as we can use our creativity to create a memorable party. So far the theme parties have been the most popular, as it leaves us room to decorate and transform a place into the desired theme.

What do you enjoy most about party planning? 
I love many things about party planning, I guess this is why I have been doing it for over 10 years. But if I could choose the top 2 things I love the most, I would say that one of them is the feeling of creating something from scratch while making a wish come true, transforming an empty room into a theme, it could be a circus, a winter wonderland, a tropical paradise, etc. The second thing I love the most is to be able to make people happy, to transform their wishes into reality and put a smile on their face, I love exceeding their expectations and creating a nice memory of an important moment in their life.
The Beagle is looking to help Ifigenia eat her cupcake
What was your inspiration behind the ballerina theme for Baillie’s party?

For the ballerina theme party for Baillie, I was inspired first by the color of her pink nose, I knew I wanted something pink, because it would match perfectly with her nose. I wanted to create first of all a dog costume that would be both comfortable and pretty, so I had the idea of creating a dog tutu, as I already had done some for little girls. From there came the idea to do a ballerina dog party.
Baillie wearing her ballerina tutu
Do you think that dog parties are something that can become a trend or popular in Luxembourg?
Dog parties are getting more and more popular in the USA and other Latin American countries, so I don't see why they wouldn't be popular in Luxembourg as well. After all I think that Luxembourg is a very dog friendly country and people seem to have money and time to take good care of their dogs, it’s just that I think that they might never had thought of the idea of celebrating their dog's birthday with a dog party. But if they have a small community of dog owners and their dogs are friendly with other dogs I don't see a reason why they shouldn't celebrate together!

How many dogs were at Baillie’s 2nd birthday and the breeds?
At Baillie’s 2nd birthday party we had around 10 dogs that were all friendly with each other. We had a Golden Retriever, Pug, French bulldog, Beagle, Bichon Frise, Shetland Sheepdog, two Belgian Tervuren shepherds, and Baillie, who is a Border Collie.
Pug, Golden Retriever, Bichon Frise, Beagle, and Border Collie, Baillie
What would you say to people considering having a dog party in the future?
I would tell them go for it, it is so much fun and if your dog is so special for you why not celebrate together? Just gather your dog lover friends and have some fun!
Dog biscuits were given away as party favors
What was the type of dog cake that you served?
For this year's dog party we created a water based ice dog cake and the dogs loved it. The idea came after seeing how much Baillie loved ice pops.
Cupcakes and meringue drops were prepared for the dog owners
What other dog parties have you planned in the past and what were the themes?
Another dog birthday party I planned was in red and blue with the theme of paws, it was very similar as the dogs could be together playing with each other, however, all the decorations were made with dog paws which I thought was very cute. Click here to see pictures from Baillie's 1st Birthday party
Invitations were sent out for Baillie's 1st Birthday party
What is your favorite type of party to plan and why?
I don't really have a favorite type of party to plan, as long as it is a theme party. Theme parties are so nice because we can really work on a concept and create something special that would bring a lot of happiness and nice memories. Click to see more pictures from Baillie's 2nd Ballerina Birthday party