As if such a thing were possible, a Birchwood teen has found a new and ingenious way to use a GoPro camera.
She put it on her dog.
The result is a humorous collection of candid canines doing what dogs do at a dog park. They sniff, they goad, they cavort.
Susie Kixmoeller, 17, came up with the idea of attaching the camera to Tula, a 4-year-old Lab mix the family rescued, to get just the right angle.
“I’ve always liked photography and I thought Tula’s interactions with other dogs were really interesting,” Kixmoeller said. “It’s hard to get good pictures, because as soon as you get close they stop and you can’t capture their natural interactions. So I came up with the idea of putting a camera on her and getting pictures from Tula’s point of view.”
Kixmoeller found a harness online to attach the GoPro Hero 4 Session, the smallest and lightest model, and Tula took it from there. “She doesn’t even notice it,” said her owner.
Most of Tula’s many photos are taken at Otter Lake Dog Park in White Bear Township. It was Kixmoeller’s idea to post them on Instagram, which quickly generated 3,000 views and caught the attention of newspapers in the United Kingdom.
As Kixmoeller explained, Caters News Agency, the UK’s version of the Associated Press, contacted Second Chance Animal Rescue, the organization that sheltered Tula after she was found abandoned in a birdcage alongside the road. They contacted the family, which told the news agency their story behind the photos. It was picked up in newspapers like The Telegraph and Daily Mail.
The Blake High School junior hopes to use Tula’s pictures to raise money for canine sanctuaries and rescue shelters. Kixmoeller said she plans a project with a sanctuary called Home for Life that takes in disabled dogs that no one will adopt. She’s already put GoPros on some of the dogs at the Wisconsin facility and plans to post their photos on social media to raise money, awareness and sponsors.
“A lot of people have been asking on Instagram how to do this,” Kixmoeller said. “It’s spreading through the dog community, so there is interest in my idea.”
Tula’s social duties are expanding, as well. The family pooch accompanies Susie’s dad to Children’s Hospital as a therapy dog and will soon be used in summer reading programs at the library.
“She is very friendly,” said Tula’s owner, “and she loves all the other dogs. The dog park community in general is very friendly. They can look aggressive, but that’s how they play.”
Little do they know their four-legged playmate is secretly saying “Cheese!”