Poughkeepsie Shelter Dog Gets Royal Treatment

How a Utah photographer gave one Hudson Valley canine the best two days of her life


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Where there's a Willa, there is indeed a way.

Photos by Guinnevere Shuster

Utah-based Guinnevere Shuster is on a mission: to give shelter dogs a chance at a forever home through photography. While typical shelter photographs often make animals look sad and unwanted, Shuster aims to capture their individual personalities. She temporarily takes them out into their natural state and brings out their liveliness and playful personas. And with a little extra TLC, she’s helped thousands of dogs get adopted. In fact, with her assistance and recognition in a Utah shelter, 10,000 animals were placed in one year alone. Just look through her Facebook, and you’ll see many of the 7,000 faces she’s documented and help house.

“I believe in the power of strong photography,” says Shuster. “I think people have misconceptions about shelters and shelter animals, and sometimes all it takes is good imagery to get them through the door.”

And by becoming the fourth winner of Canon's “Rebel With a Cause” Contest, which awarded her $10,000 and a new camera, Shuster was afforded the opportunity to live her dream, expanding her hometown boundaries and traveling across the nation to do her work.

This week, she’s been right here in the Hudson Valley, photographing one very special dog, Willa. The healthy and playful 4-year-old walker hound has been in Poughkeepsie's Hudson Valley Animal Rescue and Sanctuary (HVARS) for a few months, and like the 3,200 shelter dogs that are euthanized each day in America, her odds of finding a loving home are not so likely.

That's why Shuster and her team took Willa out for a two-day photo/video-shoot excursion, where she was able to let it all hang out while being driven around town in a limo and catered to by multiple back scratchers. By capturing her love of life through a little bit of pampering and play, Shuster hopes to that you too will fall in love with her. And if you do decide to give this adorable face a home, Shuster advises that Willa loves a good neck-and-shoulder rub. Have a look for yourself below.

UPDATE (October 20, 11:40 AM): Still interested in adopting Willa? You can meet her and various other HVARS animals at the weekly Petco adoption fair in Poughkeepsie on Saturday, October 22. Visit 11:30 am - 4:00 pm for the chance to rescue a shelter pet and change a life.


To adopt Willa, or other dogs like her, visit hvars.org/adoptions/dog-for-adoption/.


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