Mike Ruiz’s annual calendar this year is more needed than ever; who is not looking to turn the page on the year that has been 2020? Thankfully, this year’s edition, Pitties and Pecs is eighteen full months of stunning models and adorable pit bulls in their arms. Ruiz’s shots continue to be endlessly engaging, but the message of ending both the discrimination and the misunderstanding of Pit Bull dogs is the true mission of the project.
Jessica Mellen-Graaf and Marvin Graaf founded Philly Bully Team in 2011. The foster-based bully breed rescue pulls dogs from different parts of the country due to natural disasters, dog fighting and a variety of other reasons. “We began rescuing, caring for and homing abused and neglected animals ten years ago,” Jessica Mellen-Graaf explains. “Due to the overwhelming amount of bully breeds that end up in open intake shelters, we have decided to focus our work on placing these discarded dogs into loving and compatible forever homes.” Both the founders and Ruiz himself are hoping everyone grabs a copy of this year’s calendar, as 100% of the proceeds are going to the rescue completely.
The celebrity photographer (who has shot Katy Perry, Billy Porter and Nick Jonas among others) was sure to choose subjects for this year’s calendar that not only captured our attention, but also our hearts. Toby Richards is a former Royal Marine Commando and swoon worthy cover model. Ruiz selected him for the cover based on n to just his looks, but his personality. He is holding Loiza in his arms, who’s mom was rescued when pregnant.
Ruiz says of the calendar that “this year’s calendar is so important because the pandemic has imposed so many restrictions on how we can actively help these inherently good souls.” He goes on to indicate how initially, the pandemic worked to get animals out of shelters because everyone was looking for a companion of sorts during the height of the pandemic. Subsequently, some of those (at the time) desired companions are being returned as people return to their careers. “It’s so sad that these sweet souls were there to give love to people in isolation but were not considered when the need had passed.” Ruiz goes on to say “These are living, sentient beings that are not here for our entertainment nor are they disposable. That’s why I feel the need to work harder than ever to help educate people.”
Two pups that will definitely stand out from several of the others featured are Brienne, who makes her way on her front legs like a frog (coining the nickname Frogdog Brienne). Atlas is paralyzed and uses a wheelchair, yet has the sweetest disposition around and is blithely unaware of his challenges. Both of these dogs would have been euthanized had Philly Bully Team not rescued them.
Mike Ruiz’s 2021 calendar, Pitties and Pecs is available for only $26.99 and are available at phillybullyteam.com