Radnor Township Police Officer Dylan Royce was working late one night when someone brought in a dog that had nowhere to go. Her family could not keep her. At that time, there were few investment options. So Royce, a dog lover, decided to search for the super affectionate brindle pup named Gidget until he found something.
Two years later, Royce and Gidget are now Mr. and Mrs. October in the latest edition of a pet and pin-up calendar: Gidget standing on two legs and Royce crouching shirtless.
The calendar, Hunks for Hounds (and Cats!) 2023, raises money and awareness for some of the most needy animals in town. This year, the money will be used to help the city’s approximately 400,000 community cats – homeless felines and kittens who live outdoors. Philadoptables also supports other animal groups through its various fundraisers.
With Hunks for Hounds, it’s raining men, as well as cats and dogs.
“This is our ninth year doing the calendar. All services are donated,” said Michelle Helms, president of Philadoptables. “All we do is buy Saturday and Sunday lunch for the volunteers and the photographer. It’s beautiful.”
Apparently calendar consumers think so too. Philadoptables have filled orders from as far away as the UK.
The men aren’t professional models, just local guys willing to partially strip naked for a good cause. Some are named by a friend or family member. Others volunteer.
Personal trainers are represented, as you would expect. This year, Helms said, there is also a scientist, a city employee and members of law enforcement, among other professionals.
Appearances matter when Philadoptables chooses its calendar guys, but so do their stories.
To keep things real, the animals pictured with the men are all rescues – either their own pets or on loan from local groups. One of the dogs, Sisco, a gray and white shih tzu, is in the process of being adopted by City of Elderly Love, a shelter for senior pets.
Alison Dunlap, the Cherry Hill photographer who donates her services, said the animals are a big icebreaker.
“I think what makes them most comfortable is having the animal there,” Dunlap said. “It’s such a fun distraction. The dog will just start kissing them and then they will snap.
One thing the men have in common is that they are all animal lovers.
Matt Cowper, vice president of Beasley Media Group, shares the November page with a blue and brown-eyed rescue pup named Robyn. He grew up with three dogs, and if his 6-year-old has anything to say about it, another is on the way soon.
The radio director is vice-president of the Darren Daulton Foundation. So when colleagues involved with Philadoptables told him about the timeline, he decided to volunteer.
“It’s for an amazing charity,” Cowper said. “We help pets to be adopted. We raise awareness.
Blaise Lacca, a Philadelphia police officer and Mr. January of the calendar, also met his dog Ruby through work.
Several months ago, a puppy was shot in Philadelphia. “She was actually in the news,” Lacca said.
When he learned that the pup was being cared for by a rescuer he had volunteered with, he asked to meet her.
“We just clicked,” he said.
He and Ruby volunteered for the calendar, despite the comments it earned him from other members of the Rolling Badges, a motorcycle club of police officers, firefighters and former military personnel.
“My motorcycle club teased me,” Lacca said. “They said they were going to print it out and turn my photo into placemats.”
Gustavo Ugarte, a pet fashion designer from Northeast Philadelphia, has had nothing but positive feedback from friends and gym buddies. It also brought new visitors to his Wow Wow Ugarte Collection Facebook page.
This is Ugarte’s second time in the calendar.
“I almost had a heart attack when I opened the calendar and saw that I had made the cover. Oh my God!”
He shares the honor with two very cute kittens.
Tim Zeltner, personal trainer at Prime Intensity Training in Conshohocken, was encouraged to make the schedule by a friend. Last spring, his beloved dog Scout, whom he had adopted 14 years earlier, died.
“I thought it was a nice way to honor his memory,” Zeltner said.
Any discomfort he felt was dispelled by a litter of husky puppies.
“Highly recommend it,” Zeltner said. “I’ve never done anything like this before in my life. It takes a lot of courage, whether you are physically fit or not, to put yourself forward.
A good number of her friends bought the calendars, he added, “whether it was just for me, the dogs or both.”
Hunks for Hounds calendars are $20 with free shipping via philadoptables.org.