Paramedic and proud dog mum Kaylee Garrick, who often causes traffic when she takes creative photos of her eight puppies, hopes to encourage others to venture out to see Clan’s Light The North sculpture trail.
Kaylee, who is based at the Lerwick station, said she “adores” art sculpture trails like Clan’s which sees 50 2.5m tall lighthouses spread across Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire, Moray, Orkney and Shetland.
“Not only are the sculptures beautiful and fun to discover every time, but the actual act of going out and finding them also encourages positive mental wellbeing,” said the paramedic.
“More and more of our calls are focused around people suffering a mental health crisis – so anything to try to bring people back into the fresh air again is good news to me.
“For me personally, taking the opportunity to go find these sculptures subconsciously allowed me some ‘time out’ from the thoughts I carry from work and I came back home feeling more relaxed and revived.”
Kaylee hopes her stunning pictures – which she shares on her Fenton Goes Forth Facebook page – will encourage locals as well as visitors to do the same. And there may not be a better way to promote the charity art trail than to have eight furry celebrities pose in front of the lighthouses.
Encouraging people to venture out to see Light The North sculptures
Kaylee, who is from village Scalloway, has eight dogs – six Shetland sheepdogs and two Alaskan Klee kai. They’re called Fenton, Thiago, Thorin, Gimli, Murphy, Ghost, Jara and Daenerys.
Kaylee said: “Fenton is a stunning dog and just looked so natural against the rugged Shetland backdrop. We started uploading photos online and they soon became a huge hit around the world – so much so, they were putting Shetland on the map and encouraging loads of people to actually visit the islands.”
Fenton is also an “ambassadog” for Shetland, representing the Scottish island for the past several years.
After she realised her photos brought smiles to people’s faces all around the world and received many encouraging messages, Kaylee started recreating scenes from popular films and Tv shows including Ghost Busters, Peaky Blinders and Game of Thrones.
She said: “I’ve found that the hardest part of my job is helping people with their mental health and honestly, I can’t begin to tell you how rewarding it feels to know I’m playing an – albeit small – part in giving someone a well-needed lift in their life. I guess you could say, my motivation is happiness – even just a smile.”
Attracting a lot of attention
Taking pictures of eight puppies is not an easy task and Kaylee tends to attract a lot of attention during her photoshoots in public places.
“We once caused a traffic jam in Scalloway while taking our most famous shot at the coloured houses on the street – it was crazy,” said Kaylee.
“And we caused quite a stir on the street in Lerwick while getting the Fairisle lighthouse photo too.
“We actually noticed the police drive past a few times wondering what on earth was going on, closely followed by their large grins when they realised ‘oh, it’s the famous dogs again’.
“I’m actually so honoured by the amount of love we receive when people see us. Most of the time, I don’t think people quite believe what we do and so it comes as a shock seeing it in real-time.
“The gang always lap up the attention as well – they can’t get enough of it. We do try to limit the madness, however, and as a result, we’re often out at 5am to take photos to avoid big crowds.”
Positive reinforcement is key to make dogs pose for photos
Many people wonder how Kaylee manages to make her eight dogs sit still and pose for pictures.
She said: “I’m a huge promoter of positive reinforcement. My biggest saying is ‘sad dogs don’t take nice photos’ and it’s true.
“The only way to have a happy dog posing for the camera is to make it fun for them and this includes loads of praise and rewards.
“We train fairly regularly with our props so they get used to their costumes before heading out on location to shoot.
“I always try to let people know this as I think it’s important that folk know the amount of effort that goes into making these pics work – forcing your dog into a jumper and expecting them to pose nicely within seconds doesn’t work.
“It takes time, patience, practise and love. They’re not teddy bears, they’re living, sentient beings – and like all supermodels, they have their ‘off days’. Trust me, if they just aren’t feeling it that day, the camera just has to go down – it’s not worth arguing with these hairy celebrities.”
Supporting cancer charity Clan’s Light The North trail
Kaylee thinks Clan’s Light The North trail is a brilliant idea and she is proud to support the cancer charity.
She said: “The whole project is a win in that after we’ve enjoyed seeing the art dotted around, it then gets sold to raise money for a worthy cause.
“There are no words strong enough to describe how much I despise cancer – it is the harshest, cruel and most merciless disease in the world.
“I know many who have benefited from the kindness of those who operate in Clan and I will always be thankful they are there for those in their most vulnerable time of need.”
In addition to supporting Clan, Kaylee has also raised funds two other charities close to her heart.
She said: “They are TASC (The Ambulance Staff Charity) and Bravehound. TASC supports ambulance service personnel through counselling and additional support if they need it – a role which is becoming more important than ever as we continue to face the effects of the pandemic.”
“Bravehound train service dogs to support war veterans. Last year we raised around £10,000 for them. This year, I would love to beat that total.”
Kaylee has created multiple calendars, with funds raised supporting these charities. The 2021 calendar can be purchased here. The one for 2022 will be available soon.
At the end of this year’s Light The North sculpture trail, which will be present in each of the areas that Clan Cancer Support operates, all lighthouse sculptures will be auctioned off to raise funds for the charity so that it can continue supporting people affected by cancer.
Clan’s Light The North Farewell Weekend will take place from Friday October 29 to Sunday October 31 and the auction is planned for Monday November 1. Click here for more information on the lighthouse trail.