LIVINGSTON, NJ — By collecting pet photos from local dog parents, Livingston resident Staci Ruderman Weiner has come up with a unique, collaborative way to fundraise for animal-related causes such as Wise Animal Rescue, Seeing Eye Dog, North Shore Animal League and NYC Rescue Dogs Rock.
After posting in community Facebook groups with her request for canine photos, Weiner put together a “Dogs of Livingston” picture book that she is now selling for $28 per copy.
With the many photos she collected, Weiner created whimsical Photoshop designs that depict Livingston residents’ fur babies hanging out together at coffee shops, playing sports, riding in cars and more. The book also includes a “Rainbow Bridge” section as a special tribute to beloved pets that have been lost.
“I thought that it would be a cute idea to make a Livingston dog photo album because I know how much Livingston moms love their dogs,” said Weiner, a former special education teacher who now runs her own dog-walking and dog-sitting business, PurrFetch LLC Boarding For Small Dogs & Walking Service.
With six years of business-owning under her belt, Weiner explained that it was her sister who inspired her to make the change in profession; and now, she said, she “couldn’t be happier” with what she does.
“[My sister] knew that I had always had an obsession with animals,” said Weiner. “I can't tell you how many times my parents came home to find a lost dog, cat, a hurt bird or a turtle. I also always have to stop to pet a dog walking past me…
“I never dreamed I would be doing what I absolutely love. This isn't even a job—it’s just my life, and I couldn't be happier.”
Although she grew up with Westies in her home, Weiner said her Coton De Tulear, Millie, “brings [her] so much happiness.” At home, Millie is the recipient of endless belly rubs, cuddles, kisses and snacks; but Millie can also be seen accompanying Weiner to restaurants with outdoor seating, running errands and taking long walks.
Weiner is also know as a pet-sitter extraordinaire and treats her canine guests as if they are her own.
As for the jump to photobook creating, Weiner said she has always been interested in photography, and specifically enjoys photographing dogs.
“I get upset if I don’t get that tilted-head-with-tongue-out look,” she said.
When she decided to learn Photoshop three years ago, Weiner said she knew she wanted to use her favorite photography subjects in her designs. Her first Photoshop pieces were dogs dressed up for Halloween.
“I would ask people on Facebook’s Livingston Moms group for pictures of their dogs in costumes, and for the past three years I made a Livingston Halloween collage,” said Weiner, adding that she found the collage project “very rewarding” and that it “kept [her] entertained.”
It was the Halloween collage and her former work with pet-related charities that inspired Weiner make the leap to publishing a full book of dog collages.
The Livingston resident has also undertaken many non-dog fundraising projects in the past, with her first big project benefiting Tourette Syndrome.
“Each year I try to do something,” she said. “A few years ago, I collected over 100 pairs of prescription glasses for the people of Haiti, and two years ago, I did a coat drive for the less fortunate in Newark. Drop-off is right behind the YMCA on Livingston Avenue.”
Weiner said that if her latest fundraising project garners enough interest, she would consider publishing a sequel to the “Dogs of Livingston” book.
To purchase a copy of the current album or to be included in the sequel, contact Weiner at email@example.com.