A little more than a decade ago, when she was living in West Hartford, Conn., Lisa Asp, a professional photographer, adopted her first pet, a retired greyhound racer named Jersey.
Soon she had become involved with local greyhound rescue organizations and decided to use her business to raise money for animal non-profits by creating pet photo calendars.
Asp moved to Edina two years ago to open the Tangerine House of Design, and this past April 40 canines posed for her pin-up pets calendar in 27 separate sessions. The approximately 1,000 calendars printed will raise up to $10,000 for five non-profits: Homeward Bound, Secondhand Hounds, Twin Cities Pet Rescue, No Dog Left Behind and Windmill Animal Rescue.
Asp photographs the calendar aspirants for free, but she collected $2,100 in donations to help pay for the production of the calendar. (An additional $1,400 was raised from eight business sponsors placing ads in the calendar.
“It allows me to work with clients who otherwise might not have come in,” she said.
After the photo-shoots, Asp picked her favorite photos and posted them to her website where anyone could vote on their favorite for $1 a pop.
“We encourage people to stuff the ballot box,” she said.
This year, Mimi, a 4-year-old pit bull terrier with an affinity for chasing rabbits and squirrel, won the plurality of the 623 votes cast.
“I think she’s adorable for one thing, but I think her owner also did a really good job of rallying votes for her,” Asp said.
Neither Jersey, nor Asp’s second greyhound, Sawyer, have found a place on any of her calendars.
“I keep saying I need to do that, I need to get my dog in the calendar,” she said.
Photographing live animals, everything doesn’t always go smoothly. Asp tells stories of two corgi housemates who fought so bitterly that she had to pose them separately and then Photoshop them together and of another pair of dogs who bit and scratched each other in the middle of a photo-shoot to the point where one needed stitches.
But she says that she’s become adept at negotiating doggie tempers.
“A lot of them are rescues, and some of them have had issues, have been abused, are afraid of men,” she said. “Once you talk to the owners and know what their issues are, you can be conscious of it and sometimes you don’t want to get right in a dog’s face, for example.”
Edina residents interested in buying a calendar, can visit Asp’s website or contact one of the animal non-profits directly.