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'Tails of Phoenix' photobook shows local dogs and raises shelter funds

One Phoenix-based dog photographer started her business with the goal of raising funds for local rescues. Her latest project is aiming to bring 25 local dogs’ stories to coffee tables across the Valley.

Monica Adalsteinsson went from a career in health care to full-time dog photographer after moving to Phoenix from Portland in 2016.

A self-described dog lover, she volunteered at a local animal shelter and saw staff use webcams to snap photos of the animals.

“So, I started packing my camera with me and taking photos of adoptable dogs,” Adalsteinsson said.

From there, it snowballed into a business: Pup + Me Photo.

“I can’t quite explain it, it just gets me excited,” Adalsteinsson said of her work. “There’s something about photographing people and their dogs and documenting that important relationship. Because these dogs, they are our companions. And it’s so important to show that love, and document that relationship you have. It just makes me so happy.”

Outside of capturing the love between people and their dogs, Adalsteinsson said the business is centered on raising funds for local rescues.

“We have raised over $70,000 for local rescues in the time that we’ve been photographing,” she said. “This year alone, we’ve raised over $25,000.”

One hundred percent of profits from the photo book in the works — called "Tails of Phoenix" — will go to Almost There Rescue.

Submit your own pet tales

“They do something I don’t see many other rescues doing,” Adalsteinsson said. “They specifically rescue mom dogs who are about to give birth, and they care for the puppies and place them at home.”

From medical costs to feeding them and everything in between, taking care of puppies gets expensive. Adalsteinsson said she’s been working with the shelter for six years, and hopes the book will help continue its work.

Starting Sept. 30, people can apply to be featured in "Tails of Phoenix" by submitting their own stories.

“There’s a waitlist,” Adalsteinsson said, “and once the registration opens you can email right away, so you can sign up and be one of the first ones to apply.”

As far as what to put on the application: “Write your story about your dog, about how you found them, how much you love them, how much they love you — we want to hear it all.”

The book itself will be available in the spring. In the meantime, Adalsteinsson encouraged those with the means to adopt, foster or even day foster to look into doing so, and start their own story with a furry companion.

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Kirsten Dorman is a field correspondent at KJZZ. Born and raised in New Jersey, Dorman fell in love with audio storytelling as a freshman at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication in 2019.