‘Rover’ books fetch big bucks canines

Randy Wyrick
Vail Daily

It’s a dog’s life for fashion photographer Andrew Grant.

He travels the western United States shooting portraits of dogs, creating big, beautiful coffee-table books and giving every dime he raises to local animal-rescue shelters.

Grant says he’s having a great time, but it’s a serious cause. It’ll cost you $5,000 to have your pet photographed and included in the book.

The money goes to the Eagle Valley Humane Society, Lucky Day Rescue of Aspen and some of the other organizations they work with across the country.

Grant keeps none of the money. The Eagle Valley Humane Society received $24,500 in 2012. This year it has already generated donations totaling $10,000, Grant said. Lucky Day Rescue in Aspen is up to $85,000..

All dogs welcome

There’s a new sponsor program that enables a donor to have their dog, along with four dogs living in a rescue or shelter, photographed and featured. That’s a donation of $25,000.

“Even though most of the dogs featured in the “Rover” books once lived in a rescue or shelter, please know we welcome all dogs, including purebreds, in the book,” Grant said.

You can buy “Rover” books at Gorsuch stores in Vail and Aspen.

“They’ve helped us raise a tremendous amount of money for rescues in Colorado and throughout the country,” Grant said.

“Rover is a good vehicle to attract brand-new donors who’ve never been involved before,” he added.

Last year, Grant just showed up at the Eagle Valley Humane Society and sat down with director Char Quinn. She’d never heard of anything quite like this, she said, but thinks it’s a great idea. He’s back this year, and it’s still a great idea, she said.

Fashion to Fido

Yes, the fashion world is beautiful to look at, but it does involve certain personality types. Digital photography shows everything — perfection and imperfection — and models tend to provide input about their pictures. Lots and lots of input.

“I’ve never had a dog complain about his or her picture. Let’s put it that way,” Grant said.

Grant didn’t always live a dog’s life.

He used to make his living in property management and decided he’d had enough, long before the real estate market crashed. He studied photography at the Brooks Institute and started a commercial-photography business.

He was shooting an ad campaign and catalog for Chef Works in a friend’s Southern California store. She has five show kitchens, so it was like shooting in five different homes, Grant said.

She also has two French bulldogs and they kept walking through the sets. He couldn’t very well shoo them away because they’re her dogs and it’s her store. So he photographed them.

As he was driving home in California, he had lots of time to think.

“I should do a whole book of dogs,” he thought.

That was February 2008, and a couple weeks later he started on his first dog book.

The economy hit the skids later that year, and people were walking away from homes and pets. Local animal shelters were deluged with abandoned pets.

He kicked the project into high gear, and a few months later he was doing press checks at the printing plant.

Two months after that, it was featured on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show”, “Extra” and “InStyle”. Pet advocates Heidi Klum and Ewan McGregor picked up the torch.

He was raising money for a specific shelter when he decided to take his show on the road. Grant lives in San Diego, and this road trip will take him to Los Angeles; Santa Barbara and Carmel, Calif.; Santa Fe, N.M.; San Diego; Vail; Aspen; and other spots.