Pets pose for a cause

"Cal" at the Urban Dance Company

By Christie Lagally, Special to the Richmond News

See original Richmond News article here

Richmond’s Urban Dance Company studio is no stranger to the pitter-patter of little feet. This locally owned and operated dance studio offers Richmond dancers of all ages classes in ballet, tap, jazz and hip-hop.

But on Remembrance Day, the studio was closed to four-year-old ballerinas, and open to canine and feline feet for a pet photo shoot! Rabbits, birds and children were also welcome.

Urban Dance Co. owner Wendy Riley shares her love of dance with a love of animals, and she is always looking for ways to raise money for less fortunate animals. So she teamed up with professional photographer, Adrienne Thiessen of Gemini Visuals Creative Photography, and staged a pet and family photo shoot in the halls of the Urban Dance.

Riley arranged to have all the proceeds go to the Richmond Animal Protection Society.

As families and pet owners came in and out of the studio, Riley was busy finding places for each dog and family to prep themselves for the photo shoot.

Meanwhile, Candi Raphael, the photographer’s assistant, was herding groups of animals in and out of the upstairs dance studio between shoots. There was no doubt that Riley, Thiessen and Raphael were out numbered by happy, go-lucky Labradors, boxers and pugs, but these women kept the Urban Dance studio running with the same organization as if it were any other day.

I was lucky to arrive when Ted Fazio turned up with two adult boxers, and a little pug named Bentley. Fazio had heard about the charity photo shoot through a co-worker and brought his boxer, Raffi, and Raffi’s two friends Cal and Bentley.

In their staging area, Raffi, Cal and Bentley’s made good use of the Studio 2 to play ball and tug-of-war before their big moment in front of the camera.

All three dogs were well behaved but were surprised to find three more dogs in studio mirror that looked just like them!

When it came time for their photo shoot, Thiessen had each dog eating out of her hand, and her expert imitation of kitten meows ensured that Raffi, Cal and Bentley were all intently looking at the camera in every shot.

Raffi and his football

However, the fun for the dogs happened between shots when the dogs got lots of treats and Raffi kept going for the football that he brought with him into the studio.

Thiessen, who grew up in Richmond, is no stranger to charity photo shoots. She and Riley held a previous pet photo shoot this summer to benefit Richmond Animal Protection Society, and Thiessen has performed shoots for Canuck Place Children’s Hospice and Peace Arch Hospital. Thiessen says she particularly enjoys photographing larger dogs that people stereotypically fear. Her experience training her own doberman has given her the skills to work with especially sensitive dogs like pit bulls, boxers and mastiffs.

Riley and her team will be arranging a calendar of some of the day’s best shoots. You can purchase the calendars at Urban Dance later this winter and, again, proceeds goes to the animals.

And if you missed your opportunity for a pet photo shoot this time around, check back with the Urban Dance Company early next year for future dates.

Urban Dance Company can be reached at 604-277-4494 or on their website at

Christie Lagally is a volunteer pet columnist. View her blog at
© Copyright (c) Richmond News


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