A bitchin’ calendar | AspenTimes.com

A bitchin’ calendar

Jeanne McGovern

Talullah. Lucy. Princess Kholee. They’re no ordinary calendar girls.

In fact, Miss November 2004, Miss December 2004 and Miss January 2005 are a different breed altogether.

“They all had different personalities, and I enjoyed every minute of shooting this calendar,” said local photographer Theresa Miller. “It was quite an experience.”

Fortunately for the New Zealand native, the subjects of her Dogs of Aspen calendar are dear to her heart.

“I love dogs so much, and I’ve always taken photos of them,” explained Miller, a professional photographer who specializes in black-and-white wildlife photography and animal portraits. “So this project made a lot of sense to me.”

After studying photography and completing a degree in art history at Canterbury University in New Zealand, Miller traveled the world for 10 years before visiting a friend in Aspen about two years ago. While here, she met her husband and decided to settle down.

It didn’t take long for Miller to realize Aspenites were crazy about their dogs. So when the idea of creating a calendar featuring the town’s most beloved mugs was brought up, she jumped at the chance.

“Aspen really is a paradise for dogs,” she said. “And that’s the whole reason this calendar works … it wouldn’t work in any other city.”

Locally produced – Miller shot all the photos, local graphic designer Stefano Bossi handled the layout, and Glenwood Springs-based Gran Farnum printed the calendar – Dogs of Aspen was a labor of love.

According to Miller, nary a penny was made from sales of the calendar as it cost as much to produce as it was sold for (shops such as Amen Wardy, Living the Dogs Life in Aspen, Explore, Carl’s Pharmacy and Rocky Mountain Pet Store had it available for $15; remaining copies are now available through Miller directly). Miller also donated copies to the Aspen Animal Shelter and Aspen Animal Hospital; she hopes to be able to contribute $1 from future calendars to the animal shelter.

It’s a high-quality product, too. With sleek pages and a clean design, Dogs of Aspen isn’t a kitschy souvenir shop calendar. Plus, the “cute” factor can’t be beat.

Included on the calendar’s pages are more than a dozen dogs – all of them local and none of them professional. (Well, Fraser the Yellow Dog, of local author Jill Sheeley’s series of books, is pictured on September’s page.)

“These aren’t show dogs … they are just regular dogs about town,” said Miller, adding that most of the calendar’s models are the pets of her friends or other dog lovers who approached her once they heard of her endeavor. “And none of the photos was totally posed.”

Take Ralph, or Mr. July 2004. “He was like a supermodel,” said Miller, adding that the bull terrier just rolled on his back and laid there for the camera, “cool as a cucumber … I finished the shoot and 20 minutes later he was still on his back, passed out on the deck chair.”

Then there’s Ms. December. Lucy, a Boston terrier/pug mix with a wildly animated face, is pictured standing on the J Bar, where her owner works. As a dog “who does not associate herself as being a dog,” the setting was ideal, said Miller.

Even the calendar’s cover, a sweet image of Talullah and Timba touching noses, has a story behind it.

“I had gone to Bear Dance Ranch to photograph Timba and had taken my then 4-month-old puppy Talullah,” recalled Miller. “Well, she just couldn’t stay in the car and managed to climb out. She set out to exploring the horses, donkeys, peacocks and the other 10 dogs at the ranch … she was in heaven. Then, just as I was taking some shots, she approached Timba – a giant Pyrenees mountain dog – and didn’t quite know what to make of him … it was that initial introduction that became the cover shot.”

As for future editions of Dogs of Aspen, Miller said there are plenty of charming canines to be found. First, though, she has to find some upfront funding as last year’s edition broke the bank.

“It was definitely a nonprofit venture,” said Miller. “But I did it for the dogs, and I would really love to do it again.”

Jeanne McGovern’s e-mail address is jmcgovern@aspentimes.com


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