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These Dogs & Daddies are Using Their Love to Help HIV+ Youth 

Dogs and Daddies

It’s commonly believed that men of all types become even more attractive if you add a dog to the equation—and the new photographic book Dogs & Daddies definitely exemplifies that.

The latest project from inkedKenny, the popular photographer known for gritty photos of men, plays on that trope and even takes it further by letting you quench your thirst with not just sexy photos—but also by allowing you to support those in need.

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All profits from the newly released Dogs & Daddies will go directly to support the efforts of Fred Says, a charity that supports HIV+ youth around the country that was started by openly HIV+ pediatrician, Rob Garofalo, who credits his dog Fred as saving his life after his own diagnosis.

We briefly chatted with inkedKenny on the week of his latest release to hear why he took on his first portraiture project, the special relationships between men and their dogs, and how our furry friends can be a place for refuge for all of us—no matter what we are going through.

OUT: What inspired you to highlight men and their relationship with dogs?

inkedKenny: Keith Stryker and Robert Garofalo were brainstorming about doing a new fundraiser for Fred Says and when the idea of men and their dogs came up, Keith told Robert that he had to meet me. Talking to Robert over lunch, I was deeply inspired by the foundation and its driving force in providing support for our community.

Everyone in our community has battle scars from fighting HIV in one way or another. I personally have lost numerous friends and two partners. I find imperative to somehow give back, and I am fortunate enough to know a myriad of men who think the same way as I do and were willing to participate in this project.

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You own a dog, correct? What was it like working with so many men and their dogs? Did it make it easier?

I adore dogs, and I am drawn to them, but lately until now, my lifestyle of constant traveling didn't permit me the luxury. So David, my partner, and I are getting ready to be daddies soon; it is just a matter of time.

Shooting the men with their canine companions took me to a more portrait style of pictures. Trying to navigate into that realm while retaining my personal style was a challenge that I fully embraced and loved.

Why do you think it's important to show men and their pets in this way?

Important is a strange choice of word, because the subject of the pictures isn’t the beckoning force. The drawing attraction is the connection between these two different but symbiotic species. Knowing the unconditional love dogs spew out and our dedication to them and trying to capture that; that is what’s significant about this collective work.

What we aim to convey to people—and hopefully they’ll see it—is that this type of relationship where one provides refuge to the other and vice-versa is at the core of our experience as inhabitants of this present life.

Dogs & Daddies is now available online at www.fredsays.org.

Tags: Art & Books, hiv, Pets

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