‘Muttcracker’ Photo Project Brings Adoptable Pets On A Magical Journey Just in Time for the Holidays
Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy
Pratt and Kreidich, a husband-and-wife team who’ve worked together for over 13 years, started Dancers and Dogs in 2017, but have been the professional photographers for the St. Louis Ballet for the last five years. Pratt tells Daily Paws that Dancers and Dogs started as an experiment to compose images with dancers from the St. Louis Ballet with dogs of different shapes and sizes and see what kind of images they could capture. “Along the way we learned that [the photos] really connect with people, so we just kept going with it,” Pratt says.
Meet Brice: Brice and buddy Eckerle came to Stray Rescue of St. Louis undernourished. The two had not received proper care before entering the shelter, which resulted in them being unable to fully use their hind legs. The duo is currently being fostered in the St. Louis area.
After encouragement from fans of Dancers and Dogs, Pratt and Kreidich approached Stray Rescue of St. Louis in 2018, and the Muttcracker photo project was born. The partnership began as a lighthearted way of incorporating rescue animals into the project, but awareness was at the heart of the photographers’ goals. Pratt tells Daily Paws their goal was, first, “Trying to raise awareness for animals that need to be adopted. And second, making people smile.”
Waltz of the Flowers
Public persona of dancers may be that they’re extremely serious and even unapproachable, but through Dancers and Dogs, Pratt and Kreidich get to depict a different side of the professional ballerinas. “Dancers are really silly and fun people in real life, and the dogs really bring that out,” Pratt says. The project allows the dancers to let loose in front of the camera and have fun with the animals.
Meet Luna: This island dog came to Stray Rescue of St. Louis all the way from Saint Thomas in the Caribbean. Luna is affectionately known as a “foster fail,” since her foster mom adopted her!
Cats were added to the Muttcracker campaign last year thanks to a cat-obsessed dancer who played the role of Sugar Plum Fairy, and we’re grateful they’re making an appearance again in 2020. Every year for the Muttcracker photo project, Dancers and Dogs tries to mix things up with new costumes, different backgrounds, and even animals with special needs. “We want to make sure those animals get highlighted too,” Pratt says.
Meet Squishy: Squishy is a cat who has hydrocephalus, a condition where spinal cord fluid accumulates on the brain. Squishy is in need of a medical foster in the St. Louis area where she can spend the rest of her days resting comfortably in a home where she’s loved.
Because of Dancers and Dogs’ relationship with the St. Louis Ballet and Stray Rescue of St. Louis, all of the animals featured in Muttcracker the previous years found homes—most within days! The entire production is volunteer-run. The dancers volunteer their time to the project, and the ballet’s costume director always makes sure that the costumes are ready to go before it’s even Nutcracker season. We’re crossing our fingers that this year’s crew has as much luck as the last finding homes!
Waltz of the Snowflakes
Stray Rescue of St. Louis selects the rescue animals that will be featured in the Muttcracker photo project, in hopes that media attention will help them get adopted into their forever homes. Most of the animals have no training, so Pratt and Kreidich say they aren’t trying to do any extreme posing. They follow along with what the animals are comfortable with and instruct the dancers to just flow along with the animals. The results are beautiful! “With Muttcracker, even though we’re not doing anything difficult, people love seeing the dancers even hugging the animals,” Pratt says.
You don’t need to be a dancer (or a photographer with expensive equipment!) to nail picture-perfect poses with your pup. Pratt says that it’s still possible to capture some great photos with your pooch even without training as a pro photographer or ballet star. “The biggest thing is really working on your basic commands,” she says. Sit and stay are essential, she says, and Pratt also recommends getting on your dog’s level for photos by kneeling or sitting on the floor.
Meet Jumbo Jack: Jumbo Jack suffered in the days before he was brought to the shelter. The sweet pup was the victim of a gunshot wound that damaged his face. Even though he ended up having to have part of his jaw removed and eat through a feeding tube, the dog's story has a happy ending: he recently found his forever home with an adoptive family!
If you’re loving these photos, Dancers and Dogs also has a book filled with over a hundred pages of some of the best images Pratt and Kreidich have captured. You’ll find professional dancers from across the United States posed alongside various dogs. “We try to represent a diverse community both with the dancers and the dogs,” Pratt says.
Buy the Book: Dancers and Dogs, $43; amazon.com
Dance of the Reed Pipes
Now that your journey through the magical Land of Sweets is complete, reach out to Stray Rescue of St. Louis if any of these furry dancers caught your eye. These precious animals are sure to dance their way into the hearts and homes of hopeful adopters very soon!