Never judge a book by its cover.
That was the ultimate goal behind photographer Sophie Gamand’s whimsical photo series, “Flower Power,” which features Pit Bulls — a dog breed that has been stereotyped as being aggressive and mean — decked out in beautiful flower crowns.
“Pit Bulls make people uncomfortable… Through my series ‘Flower Power: Pit Bulls of the Revolution,’ I decided to photograph them with flower crowns, to infuse a softer energy into their imagery, “Gamand writes on her website. “I wish for this series to challenge the way we look at Pit Bulls, and ultimately the way we treat them.”
All the models from the series are shelter dogs who were waiting for adoption at the time of the photograph, and some still need homes. Gamand’s photos flip the “scary” Pit Bull stereotype on its head, and showcase just how warm and loving all Pit Bulls can be.
Here are some of our favorites from the “Flower Power” series.
1. Hopeful Houston
When @thelostpaws came across Houston, they hadn’t planned on rescuing a dog. But they were at Animal Control in Phoenix, looking for a lost dog, and their heart skipped a beat when they passed Houston’s cage. He was a skinny white dog wrapped tightly in the smallest ball his body would allow and he had graffiti on his head symbolizing “West Side” (gang graffiti). How cruel and stupid? As if he were a thing. A “thing” in a very bad shape, too. Houston was shaking. The people from The Lost Paws tapped gently on his gate and though Houston heard them, he barely lifted his head. Houston had given up. His body was broken, and most horribly, his spirit was down too. A shake of a treat bag made him lift his head a bit more and that’s when the rescue realized how emaciated he was. You could see every bone in his body. His hair was falling out from the malnourishment and he had sores on his body from where the hard surfaces he had been laying on rubbed against the bone. I wonder what he went through, or maybe I shouldn’t, and the things he saw and heard. There was no way The Lost Paws would leave without him so they took him into their rescue program. Houston is getting all the love (and food!) he deserves now and he is doing great. He is really awesome. He already knew basic commands so he must have been loved at some point? Hard to imagine how he ended up in the place and shape he was in. But all this is behind him now, and Houston is so ready for a family! More info: www.thelostpaws.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org. ???????????? This crown was generously sponsored by the Balun family in memory of Skunk and Sammy. ???? @jessabalu @99rbalun. Thank you for your support! ???????????? #LostPawsHouston #PitBullFlowerPower #PitBullFlowerPowerARIZONA #sophiegamand
Houston went from being emotionally and physically broken, to learning commands and thriving under the right care. Don’t call it a comeback.
2. Rockstar Roxie
#PitBullFlowerPower Roxie is about 6 years old and available for adoption at the MASH Unit @mcso_mash_unit. She was seized from a fighting ring in central Phoenix. It is believed that she was a breeder with Scooby, another dog who was seized also. Roxie is a very energetic girl and she loves to please people. She is one of those dogs that really make you appreciate full ears instead of cruelly cropped ones -I’ll post a pic of her without the crown, her ears are spectacular! Roxie shows so much emotion and personality with her ears. She is a very special doggy from the MASH Unit, as she was selected go through the Canine Good Citizen program. As I explained in previous posts and an article I wrote about them (see link in bio), inmates care for the dogs at this unique shelter. One of the inmates has been working diligently with Roxie to get her trained and ready to graduate from the program. This kind of work and the bond that the inmates form is what helps them transition from the bad decisions of their past towards a better and brighter future. How amazing is this? She is the first from MASH to go through this program, but hopefully there will be more. There is nothing like being given responsibilities and feeling important to recover from rough patches in life. Btw if you would like to support the work the MASH Unit does, please check the link above, I have listed a couple of options (Amazon Wishlist, donations) at the end of my article. I actually have just bought them a much-needed new camera so they can document their work and the seizures better, and photograph the animals for their adoption portraits! I know they are in dire need of cat litter right now too. — To adopt this fun girl, visit the MASH Unit’s Facebook page for more info (Facebook.com/ SJsMU) or their website (http://www.mcso.org/Mash). The shelter is located at 102 West Madison Street, Phoenix Arizona. Call (602) 876-1212 for adoption info. #PitBullFlowerPower #PitBullFlowerPowerARIZONA #AdoptDontShop #FlowerDog #FlowerCrown #sophiegamand A photo posted by Sophie Gamand (@sophiegamand) on
Roxie is clearly in her element as the center of attention and happy as can be.
3. Natural Nakita
Nakita is a very sweet girl who came to @thelostpaws (Phoenix Arizona) from Pinal Animal Shelter along with two of her puppies. Her demeanor is timid at first and a little hand shy, which leads her rescuers to believe she was likely abused at some point in her life, but that doesn’t stop her from trying to win your love! She’s a complete love bug! Nakita loves toys, playing in water and wants to be with you whenever possible. She has a mild case of separation anxiety, but is crate trained, and that is helping her to overcome her fears. From what we know so far, Nakita can be a little dog selective, so proper intros are a must when she meets a new dog. The rescue is working with her on her confidence around other dogs, too. Nakita loves going on car rides, and is a very good passenger. She is probably around 1.5 year old. She is spayed, current on her shots and micro-chipped. More info: www.thelostpaws.org or email email@example.com. ???????????? This crown was generously sponsored as a gift to Avery Sanzo – Happy 1st Chanukah, Avery! Her mommy @bree52u is raising her to love Pit Bulls and all other dogs. Love Auntie Sasha! @pantses211 ???????????? #LostPawsNakita #PitBullFlowerPower #PitBullFlowerPowerARIZONA
A photo posted by Sophie Gamand (@sophiegamand) on
Nakita radiates a youthful curiosity and optimism that most of us wish we still had. She might be shy at first, but you can tell she’s got a lot of love to give.
4. Joyful Juno
Meet #PitBullFlowerPower model Juno from @karunabullyrescue! This gorgeous boy has his own Facebook page: “Swipe Right to Find Juno His Forever Home” so follow him for more! Juno’s story began a while back, when an animal control officer received a call from an owner saying she had puppies and if nobody would take them, she was going to throw them into a river. Karuna Bully Rescue offered to take the puppies in immediately. Juno’s siblings were adopted. Juno waited 6 months and finally got his forever home. Or so the rescue thought. At 1 year old, he was returned. Turns out, despite all the vetting and checking we can do, sometimes adopters are not the persons we thought… His adopter had not properly socialized Juno, and he was crated most of the time. So Juno came back to the rescue, having missed proper training, exercise and socialization for the key months of his teen-hood. He has since been fostered by a wonderful volunteer, Shannon, who drove a couple of hours to bring him to our Flower Power shoot. Juno lives with a foster brother and goes to Doggie Daycare twice a week – so he is socialized. He has been with the same foster for 2 years. He loves to hang out in the back yard in the sun and he loves playing in the snow. Because Juno has been bounced around a lot in his first months, it takes him a while to trust his people. But once he knows you, he is incredibly affectionate and very smart. He is very eager to please and with consistent training he can learn anything. Karuna Bully Rescue is looking for an adopter who would love to continue training Juno and someone who has the patience and understanding for a boy who has been let down so many times (and his foster added: a great sense of humor because Juno is funny!!). Visit http://www.karunabully.org/ for more info. ???????????????????????????? This crown was generously sponsored by @T_band628! Thank you ???????????? —- Check out my previous post: I am taking #PitBullFlowerPower to Arizona!! ???????????????????????????? #PitBullFlowerPower #pitbullsoftherevolution #endBSL #flowerdog #spayandneuter #SophieGamand #flowerCrown #flowerpower A photo posted by Sophie Gamand (@sophiegamand) on
Juno has bounced around to all the wrong humans, some who didn’t want him, and some who didn’t have the proper resources to give him what he needs. But this brilliant boy is resilient, is living with a wonderful foster family, and becoming the best version of himself. All it took was good people believing in him. Go figure.
5. Bashful Bella
Here is my first #PitBullFlowerPower girl from my shoot at @mcso_mash_unit! Her name is Bella and she is available for adoption. Please take a moment to click the link in my bio and read about this unique shelter (and see a #BehindTheScenes video of my shoot with Bella). It’s an old jail converted into a shelter, where inmates take care of the dogs. This gorgeous girl is about 2 to 3 years old. Bella was seized in a severe neglect case. She was so emaciated she looked like a skeleton. She also had severe, untreated, valley fever, a pretty nasty disease caused by a fungus found in Arizona’s dirt (and other states like California). For starving doggies who chew on rocks or dirt to ease their hunger, valley fever is deadly. Bella is well taken care of now, and totally healthy! She is also one of those dogs that love to show off their toys. The shelter told me they had a group of people touring the facility when Bella was out playing and she brought them toy after toy after toy. How cute!! If you, too, need more toys in your life, please consider adoption this gorgeous girl. She is in Phoenix Arizona. PS: did you see I have Bella’s crown some grapes so she could make her own wine ???????????? Visit the MASH Unit’s Facebook page for more info (Facebook.com/ SJsMU) or their website (http://www.mcso.org/Mash). The shelter is located at 102 West Madison Street, Phoenix Arizona. Call (602) 876-1212 for adoption info. . ???????????? This crown was generously sponsored by @perrirose13 to celebrate the opening of her mom’s store @laurelandleaf. Laurel and Leaf is our kind of stores! Beautiful florals, gift ideas, and a official mascot who is a bulldog named Olive ???? If you are in Nashville, TN, stop by that store and tell them #PitBullFlowerPower sent you ???????? ???????????? #PitBullFlowerPower #PitBullFlowerPowerARIZONA #AdoptDontShop #sophiegamand
Bella has not had an easy life, but she’s a survivor. And her demure expression indicates that she has no idea just how beautiful she is.
6. Charming Chopper
Chopper is an absolute star! As a matter of fact, he played a special part in our filming with CBS at @tohanimalshelter because he is just that sweet. I am not sure when the CBS piece will air (more urgent news are piling up on top of our #PitBullFlowerPower story I am afraid), but wait till you see us take a hike in the forest with Chopper 🙂 He is currently in foster care and available for adoption via a rescue group (Long Island Pit Stop Animal Rescue). Chopper is quite great! And one interesting fact about him: he likes walking backwards! #pitbullflowerpower #AdoptDontShop #SophieGamand #flowerdog #flowercrown A photo posted by Sophie Gamand (@sophiegamand) on
Chopper is bursting at the seams with charisma. And somehow, he also knows how to walk backwards?! We smell a star in the making…
7. Majestic Jessica
Remember Jessica and her soulful eyes? (Aka the queen of the smokey eye!!!) She is one of the beauties in my 2016 #PitBullFlowerPower calendar who is still looking for a home. She is available via @secondchancerescuenyc. Jessica is gorgeous and has had a rough life. She was nurtured back by the rescue and is so ready for the next chapter in her life! She is about 40lbs and would do best in an adult home or with older children. She is calm most of the time and sometimes the puppy in her gets out! ????she is house trained, crate trained, and loves to snuggle. She has been boarding for so long! We would love a foster home for her – or better yet, an adopter!! ???????????? My #PitBullFlowerPower calendar is 20% off until tomorrow!! (Dec 1st). Check the link in my bio. Order it now to get it on time for the holidays ????
Yep, those eyes can see right into your soul. And the best part? Jessica just wants to love you, for exactly who you are.
8. Terrific Topaz
That moment they crown you with flowers. Stay tuned for Topaz’s adorable #PitBullFlowerPower portrait! This fun, gorgeous, petite pittie is available at @tohanimalshelter and she is a favorite there!! #PitBullFlowerPower #pitbullsoftherevolution #PitBullAwarenessMonth #AdoptDontShop #endBSL #flowerdog #flowerpower #SophieGamand A photo posted by Sophie Gamand (@sophiegamand) on
Saved the best for last. This goofy girl is all kinds of fun, and she’s ready to get silly with humans who will adore her.