When it comes to Pit Bulls, they have the reputation of being aggressive, but if you are not a keen dog-lover it will come off as a surprise to you that they are definitely not aggressive. No dogs are born aggressive, Pit Bulls have always been trained for the dog-fighting because of their size and strength and not because they are aggressive. This lent to their reputation as violent dogs. Apart from this, mean dogs are mostly not socialized as pups or are abused and starved. But given the normal circumstances, Pit Bulls are very sweet and gentle.
People fail to realize this and do not adopt these precious babies from shelters making them the most neglected and abused breed of dogs. Unbiased and educated dog-lovers advocate for Pit Bulls positive image from time to time. One such person is the photographer Sofie Gamand who has taken upon herself to rectify the negative image of these dogs. Starting back in 2014, she used her love for photography to show Pit Bulls in a softer and more welcoming light. She adorns these Pit Bulls in flowers of all kinds and colours to reflect their warm and loving hearts. She works with shelters in the US and uses these sheltered dogs who are up for adoption as ambassadors of inclusivity and love on the behalf of all Pit Bulls. Her ongoing series is named Pit Bull Flower Power. Such an impactful name. She is releasing a coffee table-style publication book in the same as her series. This 250 pages will have portraits, outtakes and inspiring and heartfelt stories along with adoption updates of these babies. You can pre-order them on Kickstarter if you are interested!
Sofia Gamand very generously took time out for an interview to talk about her book and the message behind it. Scroll down to look at some of the portraits along with the interview!
A holiday is the perfect example of how cheerful and adorable Pit Bulls really are!
The yellow flowers bring out the warmth of Holiday’s eyes!
We decided to ask Sophie Gamand as to what really inspired her to start this project in 2014 and how has it changed since then? And this is what she had to say about it.
“I was afraid of pit bulls, but as a volunteer photographer in shelters, I saw a lot of them. Each time I would tense up, not giving these dogs a fair chance. I decided to create a series that would force me to interact with these dogs in a more intimate way. I was curious to see if art could rebrand them, help them get adopted, and change the way we see them. As soon as the first images came out in summer 2014, they went viral big time, propelling me into the role of a pit bull advocate. It was unexpected but I decided to embrace this journey. Slowly, I learned to know pit bulls and understand their plea. I started travelling around the country to go meet these dogs in shelters. This series changed my life in so many ways, and now it saves the lives of many dogs too.”
Meet blossom, a doggo blossoming with pretty flowers!
A perfect name for such a gorgeous doggo!
We wanted Sophie to share some of the stories that readers will find in Pit Bull Flower Power and she added;
“There will be a wide variety of stories, which illustrate the things these dogs go through, how the system often fails them, and spectacular adoption stories and updates. It will be a celebration of my models and the people who care for them, like Blossom who was adopted and returned 3 times before finding her home. One of her families had to bring her back to the shelter when the dad was deployed to Germany, a country that doesn’t allow the importation of pit bulls. So although Blossom was perfect and safe and very sweet, she suffered from that prejudice, and her family too.
Murdock was seized from his owner who used him as a bait dog in a dogfight (as per forensic evidence). Bait dogs rarely survive their ordeal: they are rendered powerless, restrained and their teeth are filed, their muzzle shut with duct tape or even wire shut so they can’t fight back, and they are used as a training tool for lead dogfighters. It’s a brutal, cruel practice. It’s rare to be able to meet an ex-bait dog as they are usually killed in the process. Murdock was very sweet and snuggly. It was a heartbreaking encounter.
For my book, I was able to chat with the Animal Crimes Unit of the DA’s office that was in charge of his case. There will also be the story of Connor, who was diagnosed with a sensory processing disorder (on the autism spectrum). His story will bring to light mental illness in dogs, a subject that hasn’t been studied much. Each story will be a pretext for me to explore many different themes related to pit bulls, dogs in general and shelter dogs in particular. And then, of course, I will have many adoption updates and sweet messages from adopters, showing how much these dogs are now loved.
Say hello to Murdock. The boy who totally owned that flower crown!
All we wanna give to this doggo are infinite hugs!
Those sad eyes on Aria are breaking our heart! This portrait is heartbreakingly beautiful!
We wish Aria all the love and acceptance in this world.
Frida looks like an absolute queen in this extravagant crown!
Do those eyes look violent to you? They just melted our hearts!
What’s the most memorable subject you’ve ever crowned?
“Frida! I met her last January in Mexico. She’d been rescued after her owner, we suspect, broke her spine. She’d been dragging her legs for over a year. I saw her on a mattress, in the middle of the jungle, at the rescue compound. She’d been there for 9 months or so. I couldn’t leave her behind. I organized her transport to New York, where I knew she would have a chance at adoption. I raised $10,000 to help her and all her Mexican friends back at the rescue. I fostered her, got her a set of wheels, and it was amazing to see her gain more freedom. Then I found her a home in Ohio, where she now resides with her family. Frida is my special one, and she has a special crown too. She marks a new important milestone in my personal and creative journey.”
How can people hate doggos like Walter! Such a precious baby he is!
This just warmed our heart!
The most precious toothless smile we have ever seen! Happy dogs are such a pleasant sight!
We are smiling ear to ear, just like Luther!
As we look at the images, we see that they are beautiful, dreamy, and serene— So, we asked Sophie how did she manage to achieve this tranquillity in her portraits?
“During a shoot, I try to level with my models and meet them where they are. It’s a dance, a language. I find it hard to explain. I think they trust me. Or at least, they are intrigued by me. I am drawn to that kind of portraiture, moody, sometimes sad. People will comment, “Oh this dog looks so sad!” But I think it’s my approach and personal affinity that they see in the portraits. Although sometimes, of course, some of my models are heartbreaking, scared, shut down. You can see they have sort of given up. I have photographed about 500 dogs for Pit Bull Flower Power. I have met many different personalities!”
Black Pearl is definitely a model!
We just hope that sadness in its eyes is replaced with happiness!
Adam is an example that all Pit Bulls are innocent and lovable and sweet!
We love this sad doggo a little too much!
Since beginning this project, have you seen the stigma surrounding pit bulls change? How so?
The only reference I have is my own world, of course, my social media, people around me, shelter staff. I know that Flower Power has changed the mind of many because I receive lots of messages about that. People will tell me my work has opened their eyes, that they fostered or adopted a pit bull for the first time, or that they don’t feel like switching sidewalks anymore when they meet a pit bull in the street. What I love most about this project, is that it inspire compassion. It goes beyond shelter dogs or pit bulls. It’s about the way we view the world and finding spirit in all beings.
Those flowers really compliment Rum’s snow-white complexion
Those eyes are the most gorgeous!
Zeus is such a king! He truly deserves that flower crown!
Bow down to his highness!
In addition to the Kickstarter, what are other ways for people to support you and your flower power?
People can follow my social media, in particularly my Instagram. They can share the work, bringing awareness to shelter pit bulls and promoting adoption. They can purchase fine-art prints and merchandise throughout the year. I operate like a non-profit basically (even though I don’t have the legal status, something I am thinking about!). I never charge a cent to shelters for the photoshoots, I cover my own travel expenses, and I don’t get paid either for all the work I do on a daily basis for rescues (posting dogs every day to help them get adopted for example, or fundraising for them). My supporters who purchase my work make all of this possible and I am super grateful.
Sweet-pea is the sweetest lil doggo! We just lost our hearts to this doggo!
Those teal petals look too gorgeous on sweet-pea!
We love what Sophie Gamand is doing! We are eternally thankful to her for introducing these gorgeous sweet babies to us! We stan her noble work and we hope this post and her book educate people so they accept these doggos warmly. These babies deserve all the love in this world. It is not their fault humans have exploited their breed for their own selfish gains for years. It’s time we all stand up for these precious dogs. Share this with your family and friends so they know how adorable Pit Bulls really are!