Erin Einbender is a photographer from Illinois – you might be familiar with her dog Rocco if you happen to be one of his almost 55,000 Instagram followers! Erin has been volunteering with One Tail at a Time Dog Rescue in Chicago since last October and has truly made a mark in the lives of some of the adoptable pets there with her photography project, “Cones of Fame.”
“I realized I could use photography and my knowledge of social media to help the dogs find forever homes.” Erin tells iHeartDogs. “I was brainstorming ideas for my final photography project and came up with the idea of ‘Cones of Fame’.”
Like many other rescues, One Tail at a Time requires that their adoptable pets be spayed or neutered before finding their new homes. Erin noticed how sad so many of the pups looked in their cones after their surgeries and felt compelled to help them.
Her project aims to take an object commonly associated with “shame” – the cone – and use it for good. Through the project, she empowers the pups who wear her specially-designed cones, educates the public about the importance of spaying and neutering pets, and of course, helps them find their forever homes!
Erin had help from other shelter volunteers to make the cones the night before her first shoot, and the dogs chosen as models were fine wearing them.
“Obviously not every dog is into having a cone around their neck, I never forced any dogs to do something they didn’t want to do,” she says. “I had a volunteer help me with the shoot. I bought some high-value treats and a squeaky toy to get their attention. It definitely helps when the dog is food-motivated. I am also known for making weird sounds to get dogs to look at me. I sound ridiculous but it helps to get the dog’s attention on me.”
Erin’s love of photography and dogs has come together in a way that is making a huge impact in the lives of these pets. All the dogs photographed for Cones of Fame have since been adopted.
Miguel, a smiling pit bull mix in a colorful feather cone was a favorite of the staff at One Tail at a Time, but because of his appearance and separation anxiety, he was passed over by family after family for nearly two years. Not long after his photoshoot with Erin in his colorful cone, he was adopted by a volunteer at the shelter who loved him enough to give him a home!
Erin’s project has gone viral, but the real reward is the attention her photographs have brought to the pets in the shelter.
“It’s really amazing. There’s nothing more satisfying than doing something you love to help make a difference in the world. I’ve been to Chicago Animal Care and Control and it just breaks my heart how many dogs are there. CACC keeps hitting capacity so the more dogs that get adopted through rescues, the more room the rescues have to be able to pull dogs out of CACC.”
“Rescues are always looking for fosters. Fostering saves lives. If we work together we can make Chicago a no kill city.”
Erin is looking forward to designing more cones, photographing more dogs, and getting them out of the rescue! She hopes to photograph dogs in shelters all over the U.S., and someday have guest artists and designers create cones for her shoots. You can see her work in person at One Tail at a Time Wednesday, June 21, and keep up with Erin and her photogenic pup, Rocco, on Instagram!
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