Calendars support WAG, auto-extrication team 

Dogs and firefighters seemed like a natural fit

Where else but Whistler will you find a dog driving a fire truck?

Well, maybe not exactly, but that’s just one of 12 images you’ll find in the “Stop, Drop and Roll Over” 2009 calendar, a new charity item that shows off Whistler’s firefighters and their many canine companions.

Proceeds from calendars go to WAG, a local charity that takes care of lost, abandoned and harmed animals within the area.

The idea for a calendar came from members of the local firefighters’ softball team. Marc Kester, who is a volunteer firefighter, noticed how “dog-heavy” the team is. Many of those firefighters have gotten their dogs from WAG, according to Kester.

The team wanted to do a firefighters’ calendar but wanted to avoid the typical “shirts off” pictures.

This one, Kester said, goes beyond the norm for a firefighters’ calendar.

“WAG’s always wanted to put a calendar together but they’ve just never known how to,” Kester said.

Dogs occupy a special place within Whistler, according to Kester and partner Lindsey Ataya. The two of them bring Bella, their Rottweiler Labrador, into the Pique office three days a week. And there are many other places in Whistler where dogs can be found indoors.

“If you look at the attitude toward dogs up here, compared to Vancouver, dogs can go into shops with people, dogs go everywhere people go,” Kester said.

Ataya once went to a euchre night at a friend’s house and found that the dogs outnumbered the people there.

“There was four of us and five dogs,” she said. “It just seems like so many people have dogs here.”

The calendar, which shows firefighters and their dogs in a series of playful poses, was a lot harder to put together than it looks.

Led by Kester and Ataya, a team of photographers started putting it together in August. Ataya’s graphic design skills kept them from having to hire a graphic designer, and thus saved them a lot of money. Twelve community sponsors covered the calendar’s printing costs.

As they tell it, the first day was extremely difficult trying to keep dogs in the pictures. “Dogs aren’t the most easy to photograph in a large group,” Kester said. “The first time we tried this we had all the firefighters together and all their dogs.

“You know how in the movie industry they say that babies and animals are the hardest things to work with? You can tell.”

After that, they tried to do more individual shots, according to Ataya. It saved them the trouble of having to keep several dogs still in a single photo.

One photo in the calendar shows Bella lying in the foreground with Kester perched on a truck’s bumper behind her. Another shows Whistler firefighter Caine Tsujimura putting headphones on his dog, Banned-It.

The calendars are on sale now for $20 each. They can be purchased from WAG, Whistler Village Fire Hall, Mountain Hound Lounge, Armchair Books, Happy Pets, Coast Mountain Vet Clinic, Whistler Chiropractic, the Whistler Health Care Centre, LocalMotion Therapy in Pemberton.

They will also be available at WAG holiday events in the future.

Of the $20 purchase price, $15 from each calendar goes to WAG, while $5 goes to the Whistler Fire Rescue Service’s Auto-Extrication Team.

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