When Erin Einbender began volunteering at Chicago’s non-profit, no-kill rescue One Tail at a Time in late 2016, she felt right at home.
“It’s really like a family where everyone is equally obsessed with helping dogs,” she says.
That spirit motivated Einbender to use her skill set (she’s finishing her photography degree at The Art Institute of Chicago) to come up with a fun, new way to help the dogs at One Tail at a Time find their forever homes: the “Cones of Fame.”
Since all of the dogs who come through the rescue have to be spayed and neutered before being adopted out, they have to wear the dreaded, albeit very necessary, e-collar (also affectionately known as the “cone of shame”) as they recover from their surgery.
Einbender wanted to give the collars, and the dogs wearing them, a fresh look and new perspective. With that, Einbender hit up her local craft store and bought gemstones, fake flowers, paper butterflies and colorful pom-poms with a mission: create bright and beautiful e-collars that the dogs could wear for adoption photos.
She and her fellow volunteers quickly got to work and created a variety of inspired and adorable cones for the dogs to wear, then Einbender photographs them in their snazzy new accessory, in the hope of getting them adopted more quickly.
While not every dog likes having a cone on his or her head, Einbender says that when the dogs are wearing a “Cone of Fame,” their attitude can quickly change.
“It does seem like the dogs realize they are special once they have a decorated cone on. Some dogs smile and pose,” she says. “It’s super cute.”
Einbender says she never forces an unwilling dog to pose, and for her eager participants, “ I always have treats, balls and squeaky toys on hand to make them more comfortable.”
Einbender is also using the now-viral photo series as a way to raise awareness and educate people on the importance of spaying and neutering pets.
“I hope that the people who see the project will decide to fix their pet,” Einbender says. “Spaying and neutering your pet ensures there won’t be accidental litters and keeps more animals out of the shelter. I also hope people will be more open to welcoming a rescue dog into their home and that they’ll be inspired to reach out and volunteer in their community.”
So far, the response to Einbender’s photo series and its important message, has been overwhelming. Not only have all the dogs (including Snowflake, Buddie, Miguel, and Ellie, all pictured above, respectively) featured thus far been adopted, but there will be an art show opening of the “Cones of Fame” gallery at One Time at a Time adoption center on June 21.
“I am amazed and humbled by all of the positive feedback I have received for this project,” Einbender says. “It’s made me want to work harder to help these dogs and to bring the community together.”