USF photography students producing K-9 calendar for charity

April 28, 2021

Police dogs, well-known Fort Wayne locales and enthusiastic University of Saint Francis students proved to be a perfect mix for a worthy cause.

Professor Cara Lee Wade’s studio art students in advanced photography spent many hours during the spring semester photographing Fort Wayne Police Department police dogs for a Blue Line Paws 2022 calendar. Blue Line Paws is a non-profit organization designed to help current and retired K-9s and their handlers.

“It’s been really fantastic,” K-9 Officer Chris Faherty said. “These students are an amazing group of people. They’re dedicated to getting things right. It’s been fun to stand back and watch them work, figuring out how to get the best shot. It’s been a great experience for us, to get out and talk to young people in this age group in a lighter manner. We’re really grateful – beyond the calendar and Blue Line Paws – to meet and collaborate with these young people.”

The students worked together in two teams to conceptualize, stage, design, light and photograph the images for the calendar. The students chose the locations for the images, including Sweetwater, the Old Fort, the Embassy Theatre, Fort Wayne’s Famous Coney Island, Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory, the Brass Rail, Science Central, Promenade Park, the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo, Parkview Field, the Fort Wayne Museum of Art and USF’s Brookside.

“This project helps them realize they can be involved in their community,” Wade said. “They don’t have to be CEOs to be board members and they don’t have to have a tremendous amount of time to give back. Something that we’ve been instilling in them here at Saint Francis is focusing on service. With this project, they recognize they can use their skills for good in volunteering along with their education and career.”

Students participating in the project were Alexis Bennett, Rebekah Boger, Alex Ebetino, Amanda Gargac, Twyla Herron, Megan Hohman, Alex Hoover, Jennifer Meisner, Hayley Richard, Naomi Sauter, Andrew Schiebel, Braedin Schwartz and Eva Toscos.

“The coolest part of being a part of the Blue Line Paws project was being able to work side by side with my classmates, as well as side by side with the people and animals that protect our streets,” Schwartz said. “This project was also a great learning experience for our photography class. We’re nothing but grateful to get to be a part of the calendar.”

“This has been a blast,” Wade said. “It has been so much fun figuring out where we’re going to do the shoot and what shots to take. It’s amazing the amount of confidence our students had in the later shoots compared to the first shoot. They were feeling empowered to make decisions. It was amazing to see the growth in them in working with these dogs.”

The interaction between students and officers was welcomed by both.

“It has been a really unique opportunity to get to know the police officers better and to know that doing something like taking a picture is going a long way,” Herron said in a feature story by WPTA21.

Wade will design the calendar this summer and it will be available for public purchase later this year. Faherty said he expects it will be a popular fundraising item for Blue Line Paws.

“So much of these dogs’ lives have been spent serving and working with us,” Faherty said. “We want to help them after retirement and help their handlers too. They become sole property of the handlers and they have to deal with all the medical concerns. With Saint Francis’ help and Cara getting the media involved, our Facebook page is getting more notice. We owe a lot to Saint Francis for getting Blue Line Paws’ name out there.”