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August 2023

A Day in the Life of a Dog Model: Behind the Scenes at AAFW


Ever wondered what it’s like to direct dogs at photoshoots? Let’s just say it’s a (worthwhile) challenge! Join us and our four-legged stars behind the scenes at Afterpay Australian Fashion Week.

11:00 – Dogs arrive on set and take each other in. We’ve got Evie the Pomsky, Ted the Toy Poodle, Apollo the Beagle and Kiwi the Spoodle. Maybe in the world of high fashion you might expect an atmosphere of healthy competition and some subtle side eye…but these are dogs so instead we’ve got wiggle butts and play bowing. All work greetings should start this way.

11:05 – Dogs are ushered into fitting room backstage. It’s a place for them to chill out while the human models get ready. Apollo obliges by promptly settling in for a nap.

11:15 – More humans arrive – they’re here to take pictures backstage and direct the shoot. They insist on introducing themselves. Apollo isn’t interested in pats (his highness is snoozing) but Ted’s all about them.

11:16 – Humans pull out their camera phones.The dogs mull over how strange it is that humans can be so obsessed with a device that doesn’t produce treats or a high-pitched squeak. Humans are weird. Ted attempts to convey this message by licking the floor but they don’t follow suit. See? Weird.

11:19 – Evie the Pomsky is having her photo taken backstage and she’s using her diva attitude to boss the team around. Can someone bring her a puppuccino?

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Extra foam, thanks.

11:32 - The human models are coming out of hair and makeup. Evie can’t help but notice they’ve spent hours preening themselves, but she just woke up looking like this. All the dogs are currently relaxing, since their natural cuteness requires no enhancement.

11:38 - Human models are getting dressed. These humans sure spend a lot of time preening. Not everyone can be born with these looks though.

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Born this way, baby.

11:51 – Time to rehearse. There’s a stage the humans are strutting down and expecting the dogs to follow. Boring. They’re going to channel their best dog park energy instead. Try to keep up.

12:01 - Kiwi the Spoodle isn’t sure about this coordinated strutting business, and he starts running in circles instead. His master plan succeeds, and he is going to be carried down the runway – no silly coordinated strutting for Kiwi.

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I own you, human.

12:05 – Ted is an excellent strutter but confuses ‘outfit change’ with ‘chasey’ and makes a break for it. He’s swiftly intercepted by one of the models. What a great game he thinks, shall we try this again?

12:06 – Meanwhile, Evie is back from the runway and feels her work here is done. Perfection has been achieved, and she’s turning her nose up at her next outfit. Mum bribes her with treats.

12:09 – Apollo observes these antics with bemusement. The consummate professional he is, he doesn’t need treats or tricks to stay focused. He’s in the zone: he owns this runway.

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The roof is not my son, but I will raise it.

12:30 – Humans are ready to film runway walk two! Will it go smoothly?

12:34 – Define ‘smooth’? Dogs are excited by the bright lights and crew and are doing zoomies on the runway. They’re being encouraged to walk in the right direction by an off-camera director who’s enthusiastically waving a Hot Chocolate Plush toy. Move over Dance Moms, this is an A+ reality show in the making.

12:38 – Ted aces catwalk number two.

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Ok, strut, then more chasey?

12:40 – Kiwi and Ted are playfighting and nearly miss their next cue, but one of the models saves the day and brings focus back. She’s rewarded with a lick to the face.

1:02 – A piercing squeak fills the room like a siren – only it’s repeating at random intervals. It’s the Lexi and Me Hot Chocolate Plush. Someone clearly messed up Evie’s puppuccino order. Amateurs, amateurs everywhere.

1:03 – There’s going to be a group photo. Who’s turn is it to wave the squeaky toy in the air?

1:06 – A bag of treats falls on the ground – it’s the Billie’s Bowl Chicken Calming Treats. The four-legged models are taking their self-appointed roles as clean-up staff incredibly seriously.

1:07 – What spilled treats?

1:13 – After some jostling, ‘we got the shot!’ is called.

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It looks effortless. It wasn’t.

What a day! Working with dogs has its challenges (human models rarely need to be persuaded not to do zoomies on the runway) but the advantages make it worth it. Even blooper pictures rate 10/10 for cuteness, and you can always toss treats at the dogs to persuade ‘model’ behaviour…a practice which may be frowned upon if you tried it with a misbehaving human.

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