The Star Malaysia - Star2

Pups under water!


THE blue eyes of Brando, an eightweek-old pit bull puppy, are open as he calmly watches air bubbles stream out of his nose. By contrast, the enormous brown eyes of six-month-old Monty look wild and excited as the Cavalier King Charles spaniel chases a tennis ball through the depths of a heated pool.

Dozens of puppies display a variety of swimming styles in the book Underwater Puppies (Little, Brown and Co) by Seth Casteel. Call it the sequel to his 2012 book, Underwater Dogs, which sold more than 250,000 copies worldwide. This book is 111 pages of full-colour photos of puppies as you’ve never seen them – swimming in swimming pools, some diving to depths of more than 1m.

Casteel, 33, travelled all over the United States meeting and auditionin­g 1,500 puppies for the book. A total of 72 made the cut. Many of the puppies came from shelters and rescue groups in eight states. As you might expect, many are retrievers romping in the water with unabashed glee.

“I met a lot of Labs and golden retrievers and not all of them wanted to swim,” Casteel says however.

No puppy was ever forced to swim. All were given swimming lessons, and their safety and comfort were always the primary concern, he says. Photo shoots were no longer than 15 minutes.

It’s interestin­g to see the many breeds and mixes of breeds that are not traditiona­l water dogs, including wolf/husky/malamute mix Hunter, Sharpei-mix Dante, pug/beagle mix Popsicle, terrier mixes Pringles and Pickme, Chihuahua mix Caru, and multiple pit bulls and pit bull mixes.

“The book is meant to be joyful,” he says, but he’s serious about water safety for dogs and people. “Dogs need to be taught how to get out of backyard pools.”

His own dog, poodlemix Nala, adopted from a California shelter, is photograph­ed every day, but not for the underwater books because she doesn’t like to swim. Nala is in Casteel’s bio photo on the back cover of the book.

Casteel lives in Venice Beach, California, when he is not travel- ling for work and for the charitable causes he supports. For the national One Picture Saves a Life campaign, he teaches shelter workers how to take appealing pictures that can be life-changing and life-altering for the shelter animals that get adopted. He’s doing a similar thing with TV chef Rachael Ray in the Shelter Cats are Beautiful campaign. So what’s the next book? “I plan to do something with cats but not underwater,” he says with a chuckle. Underwater Babies will be published in spring 2015, and those babes are human.

You can see more of Casteel and his photos at littlefrie­ or the LittleFrie­ndsPhoto Facebook page. – Pittsburgh Post-Gazette/ McClatchy-Tribune Informatio­n Services

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