There are certainly dangerous “bullies” in the world, but photographer Doug Sonders doesn’t believe that pit bulls and other “aggressive” dog breeds should be named among them. After adopting a pit bull mix rescue named Emma from a local animal shelter, Sonders’ desire to advocate for these so-called “bully” breeds culminated in a portrait project called Not a Bully that serves to provide the public with positive exposure to these dogs.
In the following video, Sonders discusses his inspiring project and photographs a loving pit bull mix named Porter, who was rescued by his current guardian after being severely beaten by a real bully:
Like many of the dogs that Sonders has photographed for his Not a Bully campaign, Porter was viciously brutalized by humans but has displayed not one hint of resentment or violence since his rescue. In fact, Porter’s guardian, Julie Conway, describes him as “just a love” without a mean bone in his body and an “ambassador for the breed.”
“Porter is a really perfect example of what I’m trying to do with this portrait series because here’s an example of a dog that was found beaten, kicked, broken,” says Sonders. “Legislation is where it starts, and education. That’s the whole story. They’re not [bullies].
How to Relax a Dog During a Photo Shoot
To top it all of, Sonders is assisted during the photo shoot by Cesar Millan, a dog trainer who is widely known as a “dog whisperer” for his innate ability to understand dog behavior. Millan provides Sonders, Conway, and viewers alike with an expert tip on how to calm a dog during a portrait shoot. Rather than stroking a dog’s fur, Millan prescribes a deep tissue massage up and down middle region of the dog’s back.
“It’s best to do the deep tissue massage because that’s what relaxes the brain. If the brain is tense, he won’t stay there, but [the massage] forces the brain to relax,” Millan says as Porter enjoys the attention. “They’re locking hearts, not jaws.”