Underdogs Project Literally Has A New Angle On Helping Dogs In Need

By Reyna Abraham

While there definitely are creative and fun ways people raise money to help animals in need, Jason Kenzie and Tania Ryan have come up with a totally new angle — literally — to raise awareness and funds for rescue organizations.

Sullivan seen from underneath
One of the pairs favorite photos featuring Sullivan
credit: The Underdogs Project

The photography and design duo started The Underdogs Project, a creative photography venture to help raise money for animal welfare by, get this, taking photos of the undersides of dogs.

While you might think that the bellies and paws of dogs wouldn't make for cute pictures, once you take a look at the amazing expressions of the dogs photographed, you can't help but smile at the quirkiness of it all.

"I actually feel they are adorable — angelic," Tania Ryan told Cuteness.

Findlay a chihuahua seen from underneath
Findlay
credit: The Underdogs Project

The team started their project in November of 2016 somewhat spontaneously. Both Tania and Jason love photography — Jason a photographer for 20 years — while Tania got into photography much more recently.

"We were on our way to a photo shoot of Dalmatian puppies when I turned to Jason and said, 'I wonder what taking photos of dogs from underneath would look like?' Jason jumped on this right away and said, 'let's do it!'"

Ruby seen from underneath
Ruby
credit: The Underdogs Project

Tania and Jason have managed to bring quite a bit of attention and funding to their chosen rescue organization, TDIAO or Thank Dog I Am Out, with their Underdogs calendar. In fact, 35 percent of the calendar sales go directly to TDIAO.

The rescue organization in Vancouver, Canada, founded by Susan Patterson in 2009, has managed to save many dogs from "high kill shelters" from around the world. In the Fall of 2016, TDAIO flew 60 rescue dogs from California to Vancouver, saving them from euthanasia. It was the arrival of the dogs that was truly an inspiration for both Tania and Jason. "We went to cover the story," Tania said. She described the experience of waiting for a plane to land, "The anticipation in the hangar was building," she said, "everybody was silent." Everyone waited for the dogs to come out. "One-by-one the dogs were taken off the plane. They were really packed in there; 60 dogs is a lot."

Husky named Chia seen from underneath
Chia
credit: The Underdogs Project

Knowing that so many dogs had been saved from death was such an incredible and emotional experience for the photography team, that they both knew their photos had a bigger purpose than simply satisfying curiosity. The shared their idea with Susan Patterson, and she was hooked. She even suggested a few rescue dogs that would make great models.

It turns out that dogs look pretty incredible from underneath. With their alert eyes, curious expressions, and bodies twisted around in their attempt to look at the photographers, it's obvious how much character each dog has.

"It's fun to look at them from a different angle," said Tania. "We had no idea what we were going to get, but we knew these photos were going to stir up a lot of attention."

Rocky the dog seen from underneath
Tania's dog Rocky
credit: The Underdogs Project

Tania and Jason started with Tania's dog, Rocky, who is 8 years old — although you'd never know it from the photo. "Adult dogs look almost like they're puppies from this angle," said Tania.

"All the dogs were great at having their photos taken," she said, "Seeing the look in their eyes--they all had fun." However, that is not to say that all dogs can have their photo taken in this way. "If they're nervous, forget it. The dog has to be comfortable." While she didn't give away exactly how they manage to capture the unique angles of the dogs, she did share that they are "treated--literally treated--the same. There are lots of treats involved." While the dogs are busy eating treats, "you don't know what expression you're going to get from moment to moment. They're hilarious."

Sydney the shepherd seen from underneath
Sydney who weighs in at 70 lbs
credit: The Underdogs Project

"What has surprised us the most about The Underdogs Project is the overwhelming amount of smiles we get as people look at the photos," Tania said. And while Tania claims to have no particular favorites stating that "every dog is different," she did mention that shooting Sydney, the 70-pound shepherd was a memorable experience.

As for whether or not the team has plans for future projects involving any other interesting animal angles, we will have to wait and see.

Learn more about The Underdogs Project on their website and be sure to grab a calendar!