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Dogs get their closeups at South End store

From left: Melissa Lillie; Will McLaughlin;  Jones, a Bull Mastiff;  Jones’s owner Adam Satin; and Jess Fitzgerald.

Sean McLaughlin

From left: Melissa Lillie; Will McLaughlin; Jones, a Bull Mastiff; Jones’s owner Adam Satin; and Jess Fitzgerald.

Dogs and rugs are typically not a good fit — unless you have a spray bottle on hand for accidents.

But the scene on a recent afternoon at Hudson, a home design store in Boston, gave some of the area’s most fetching pups the chance to work as a canine model for rug company Dash & Albert.

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“What happens if she pees on the rug?,” asked Katie Ragosa as she walked Moxie, her 4-month-old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, onto the photographer’s set in the back of the South End store. “She’s not totally trained.”

Like many of 50 dogs auditioning for placement in the July catalog for the Bunny Williams for Dash & Albert collection, Moxie sometimes took direction from dog wrangler Melissa Lillie and sometimes didn’t. Ragosa likened her pup’s personality to Lady from “Lady and the Tramp.”

“She likes to eat her meals out of your hand,” said the Winchester resident. “When she gets a toy, she walks with her head in the air.”

Next up for photographer Sean McLaughlin, who often shoots for the Western Massachusetts-based company, was Roxie, a food-obsessed Black Mouth Cur.

“She’s been an actress before,” owner Val Maass confided as Roxie sat, then laid on a rug for her test shots. Maass, who lives in Brookline, said Roxie’s big break came last summer when she landed the role of Crab in “Two Gentlemen of Verona” for the Commonwealth Shakespeare Company.

‘A lot of dogs are quiet, but then they pose and they’re beautiful. It’s a good mix if they’re treat-interested and toy-interested.’

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“As soon as the applause started, she didn’t want to get off the stage,” Maass said, turning back to watch the photo shoot. “Look at her, she’s acting.”

Between the treat-driven thespian and other wannabe models, there was sure to be drama. And it came halfway through the afternoon when a herding dog bolted from set, running out the door and into South End traffic.

Drama aside, the day also marked Hudson’s being the first New England retailer to carry the Bunny Williams for Dash & Albert collection of indoor/outdoor rugs.

Hudson owner Jill Goldberg, with Molly, a St. Bernard.

Sean McLaughlin

Hudson owner Jill Goldberg, with Molly, a St. Bernard.

“They’re as beautiful as you’d want, but they have that livability that anyone would want,” said Jaime Kelly, director of brand development. “You can do anything to the rugs.”

The canine contest will have several finalists, all of whom will be unveiled on Dash & Albert’s Facebook page where visitors can vote for their favorite.

So what does a dog spokesmodel look like? Lillie, who works as a visual stylist for the company when she’s not squeezing dog toys to elicit a desired expression from her four-legged subjects, said, “A lot of dogs are quiet, but then they pose and they’re beautiful.”

“It’s a good mix if they’re treat-interested and toy-interested,” she said.

She and McLaughlin agreed that the best-behaved dogs often aren’t the best models. “They’re like a person who doesn’t have another look,” he said.

That wasn’t the case for Louis, a 4-year-old Soft-coated Wheaten Terrier with a goatee to rival Metallica’s James Hetfield’s. As Louis faced the camera, his owner Hue Linh Tran told him to stop scratching.

“He’s very skittish,” she said. “But he can jump on command.”

Equally talented was Milly, who once posed for an online ad for Mighty Dog. A natural in front of the camera, Milly’s owner Keryn Gannon of Boston said her 4-year-old Schorkie Tzu is a bit of a diva.

“She’s pretty high maintenance,” she said. “But, unfortunately, I think I’ve made her that way.”

Jill Radsken can be reached at jill.radsken@globe.com.
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