One December afternoon, after having left work early because I felt sick, my phone rang. I didn't recognize the number, but answered it out of curiosity.
“Crystal? Barbara O'Brien calling. Would Maisy be available for a modeling job for Target next week?”
Let's just all admire my self control for a moment. Instead of screaming in her ear, I simply requested the details. (I screamed and jumped around after I hung up. Then I called everyone I knew. Then I screamed a little more. Maisy was confused.)
The next week at the appointed time, I drove across town to the studio where the photo shoot was happening. The receptionist directed us to a small waiting room. Maisy and I checked in, she had her measurements taken (“In case we want you for Halloween costumes,” I was told), and then we sat around for about 20 minutes. There were four other dogs in the room with us. One barked almost non-stop, and the other was pretty wild and excited. Maisy handled it like a freaking pro. She sat there sweetly with a huge smile on her face, occasionally sitting up or offering a paw (and eating lots of cookies).
Then it was our turn! We were led out to a set by a woman who would be our helper for the day. (She actually had a fancy model-talk title, but I can't remember what it was. I also can't remember her name, which is too bad, because she was really nice.) The set was pretty intimidating. It was an area about the size of the waiting room, with a white backdrop and white floor. One one side, there was a huge bank of lights and those reflective things that they bounce light off. On the other, there were props. Across from the backdrop, there was a large camera on a tripod hooked up to a computer (just like on America's Next Top Model, not that I'll admit to having watched that!). One person ran the camera, and one person watched the computer and gave the photographer feedback.
I had the choice of handling Maisy myself, or the woman could. Of course, I did most of it, but she helped, too. The job was actually pretty tough. They needed Maisy to stand or lie in very particular positions. Her legs and feet needed to be in certain places, her tail lying just so, her head turned the correct amount, her ears (well, ear) needed to be up and forward, and her mouth either open or closed, depending on what they requested. I have not trained Maisy to do most of those things, but the woman helping us had it under control. She used treat bags and toys to get Maisy's attention directed in the right place, while I physically placed her feet or tail where I was directed.
Maisy ended up being a total rock star! In addition to all of the stuff (which was pretty intimidating), there was another set right next to ours with another dog working. There were all kinds of noises and flashes going off, but Maisy acted like she'd been doing it her whole life. She hit her mark and held it, all animated and flirty and adorable. It's like she was born to be a model. I was so danged impressed with her.
The art director must have been, too, because we ended up doing three sets. Barbara told me later that most dogs only do one or two. Maisy shot two different dog beds and a crate, and if her shots are chosen (it's possible none of her photos will be used; there were lots of dogs modeling the same items), you will get to see her on the packaging at your local store! If that happens, you can bet that I will find lots of excuses to go to Target.
I was so proud of my dog. I threw her into a crazy situation, asked her to do all kinds of very particular things, and she was all like, “I got this.” You would never have known that she ever had issues. In fact, when I told the woman helping us about Maisy's past reactivity, she didn't believe me. We were there for almost two hours, and the worst thing that happened was that she flinched the first couple of times the flash went off. I gave her some cookies, told her it was fine, and it was.
Several weeks later, Maisy got a paycheck in the mail. That was pretty awesome, although I'll admit I felt a bit jealous to learn that Maisy's hourly rate is over twice what I make! And I had to go to school and pass a licensing exam!