Episode 16: Mindy Dutka – Dogs I Meet, Tales of Support

Mindy Dutka_ep2

Dogs I Meet believes dogs are among the unsung heroes of COVID-19.

It is scientifically proven that the human-dog bond can improve a person’s physical and mental well-being. The pandemic has turned every dog into a therapy dog.

In a time met with unprecedented levels of loneliness and tragedy, the wagging tails and wigglebutts turned out to be the support system we all needed. Through photos and stories, Tales of Support will spotlight dogs that have played an important role in sustaining their humans throughout the pandemic.


Read the Inspiring Stories:

Tales of Support: https://dogsimeet.com/tales-of-support

Learn more about Mindy and Dogs I Meet:

Dogs I Meet website: https://dogsimeet.com/​

Connect with Mindy:

[email protected]

Keep up with Mindy and Dogs I Meet on social media:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/dogsimeet​

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/dogsimeet/​

Hi, I’m Mindy Dutka from Dogs I meet and you’re tuned in to The Animal Innovations Show.

You’ve tuned into The Animal Innovations Show where we feature people, products, services, and ideas that are helping animals and the people who care for them live better lives. If it’s innovative and if it helps animals, you can find it here first. So, get ready. Here comes this week’s newest innovation for animals.

Yeah, very nice. Mindy. Well, welcome back to The Animal Innovation Show. So, remind our viewers and listeners who you are and how you’re innovating and helping animals.

Oh, well, thank you so much for having me back. And I am the Chief Storyteller at Dogs I Meet pet photography. Our tagline is: Because every dog has a tale. And that’s whether it’s the dog’s tail or the tale the dog brings to the human. And I’m obsessed with telling that tale visually and in storytelling, that’s why I’m back to talk about my latest project, which is called “Tales of Support.”

And I’ve spent a lot of time thinking during the pandemic about the role that dogs have because they definitely have a role in a story throughout the pandemic. We’ve all heard the term “pandemic puppies.” Suddenly, you know, we’re home and everybody’s like, “I need a dog” and it’s real, and the dogs are like, hey, the dogs that were already there, this great everybody’s home. But they really, I mean in my opinion, dogs are all dogs or therapy dogs, but they’ve really come through and shining truly as therapy dogs during this. I don’t know how else to put at this dark time that we’re in and they’ve provided support. They’ve provided comfort. People are isolated, people are lonely, people are experienced loss. And the unconditional love of their dog is really, very often the main thing that’s getting them through. So, I became, you know, also fascinated with this story and I wanted to create a project and tell people’s stories about their dogs, whether it was a dog that they had or a dog that they got during the pandemic, and it’s been so interesting and so well received and people are so excited to share their stories about their dog and I think also they’re happy to have somebody listen to be able to tell their story and I think they want to honor their dog, they want everyone to know how great their dog has been.

So, I’m doing it as a series, it’s an ongoing series right now, I’m doing it mainly in the Boston area because that’s based out there we go, she’s telling her story. Exactly, so, and I will be actually, I’m going to start doing some stories in san Francisco in some other areas outside onto the country. Exactly, I’m, and eventually I’ll probably do some stories from new york and you know those things open up, you know, I’d like to continue adding to the stories and I’m doing as I said as a series and it’s through photos and a narrative, so the photos capture the human dog bond and then the story, because everybody’s story is a little bit different and I feel that it’s important to go into more depth to add the narrative to it.

So yeah, tell us something about, about how this works right because you’re trying to highlight that human-animal bond, the human-dog bond, which as you said has become really strong during the pandemic. I know my animals are like, “you’re never leaving dude,” like this is going to be. So, tell us, how are you finding people, how are you approaching this may be what the inspiration behind some of this was.

The inspiration behind it to me was I really wanted to document it is an unprecedented time. It’s a time that hopefully, you know, fast forward when we’re behind us, but that we look at it and we learn from it and we remember it and it becomes part of of our lord of the story, of what happened during the pandemic. And the dogs have such an important role. Their story should be part of it. So, I felt by doing this, it’s documenting it. You know, it’s becoming part of what was and my hope is that it lives on and these stories, you know, other people hear them, Other people tell them, other people think about them. So I’ve been reaching out in several different ways.

Actually, Tufts University has a great program that’s about the human-dog bond. So, I reached out to them and they were really interested in it and they let people know at the school. And I got some people from that, some rescues um that I worked with or those are people that have, you know, either had adopted a dog or got one during the pandemic. They shared the information, I have a funny flyer with a dog and it says is your dog keeping you sane during the pandemic? My right. And certainly, you know, -2. And I had a double story because I had lost my 16-year-old golden doodle in September. And to me actually, that was the silver lining of the pandemic that I got to spend the last five months of her life with her every day, you know, and I had normally travel a lot, so that really was special. And then after she passed I lasted a couple of months and I was like I need to have another dog.

And that in itself was a story to of trying to adopt a dog during the pandemic. So I really thought a lot about the pandemic and how it affected dogs and the shortage of dogs and how it’s changing how the shelters are run. So it’s a variety of things. Also. I had reached out to healthcare workers, people that I knew either lost their business or their business pivoted. You know, it’s kind of a variety. And now they started finding me, you know, are you interested in a veteran with the service dog? Do you want to hear about that?

Yes. Yes, I do. Yeah. I was going to say like how are you finding the people to feature and the people and the animals and the stories you take such great photos and you’re really bringing us into that bond, right? I mean I can really feel the connection. So I’m just curious how you find most of them are people that have seen my post or my flyer or my message through a word of mouth. And they contact me because I asked them to email me and they usually tell me a little snippet of their story. Um, probably similar to the way you do the podcast. We have an intro call and we talked a bit and then, you know, everybody says they’re on board. I let them know what’s involved and I do an interview via zoom for the story and I do that before the photoshoot so that I really understand their story and their relationship and a little bit more about the dog and what they’re going through. And then we schedule a photoshoot, which I’d say 90% of the time.

The location is part of the story, you know, so I’ve worked hard to say is there a special place? Is there someplace that you’ve gone that’s meaningful to you during this time? So it could be just, there was one family that had two little boys and basically they spent a lot of time just walking around their neighborhood walking dogs. That was, so that’s where I did that shoot. Another one. Somebody talked about how like she didn’t even realize it, but you know, like the dog didn’t know what they were doing. He just wanted to go out for a walk, spending couple of hours, which she never would have had the time to do in the woods and she went to a state park. So we did the photos there. Another one was just meaningful to the person. We did it at her college campus, which actually her mom had also graduated from there. So it was a special meaningful place to her. So that’s been interesting too, it’s interesting for me to see all these different locations.

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I mean now that everybody’s working remote, it’s kind of like our office is at home right with our dogs. And I got to believe that that’s something that’s really cementing the bond more. And you know, it’s giving you more to talk about more to ask about because people get to know their animals that much better when they’re home all day with them. So true, So true. And you know, I live it really wide open, you know of what’s your struggle bit and they just start talking and then I take it from there and their story develops. But absolutely. And speaking about, I had one dog that was very shy dog and we attempted to do a photoshoot outside, but the dog was just really nervous and I was like, you know, let’s just do it in your house. That’s where the dogs comfortable. So I’ve really tried to adjust the photoshoot to the temperament of the dog and the story between the dog and the people have been doing during this time.

Yeah. So what do you hope people get out of this Mindy when they check this out? I mean, what do you hope they pull from this?

I want them to think about it, you know? Hey, Yeah, because not everybody, I mean, people are getting dogs, people are spending more time with their dogs, but I don’t know that they’re really, you know, is everybody thinking, I think they’re one of the unsung heroes the dogs and appreciating what dogs bring to the table. And also there is a little bit of a worry that, you know, when things open up, that people will just say, oh, I can’t keep the dog. Not everybody is as devoted devoted to their dogs. So I hope this too is a reminder. Hey, they were here for me. Look what they got me through. You know, let’s figure out how to make this work.

So, you know, I hope that it does a little bit of that and I hope it brings a smile to people because the stories are tinged with sadness, but really they’re very heartwarming because it’s just people getting joy from the unconditional love of dogs. So I just love to share how great dogs are.

No, you do such a really good job with the storytelling. That’s what I love. I mean, it’s the picture tells a story and then you’re weaving that into the blog post if you will. And I really love just reading them. Like you said, it’s just very inspiring. It just kind of reminds me of how much our animals mean to us now. I know you said you’re going to be traveling quite a bit, trying to do some of these in different areas around the country.

Yeah, well basically if I will be in San Francisco so what I’m doing is wherever I know I’m going to be, I’m putting out the word to some rescues, some contacts that I have people I know that are more in the dog world and some of them I’m just posting maybe someone has a large group of people on Facebook. So, right now it’s sort of the reverse if I have to travel somewhere I’m adding in time to do the stories and hopefully, you know, in time I’ll be able to just travel because I want to. But yes, so I do have this opportunity I’m going to be, I was out in Martha’s vineyard and there, I just literally put posters up around the storefront and I’ve started to get people calling me and I’ve been doing a little bit more on my Instagram and LinkedIn asking people if they’re interested in the story or not.

Where do you see this going? I mean is Tales of Support going to be only during the pandemic or do you see this being an ongoing thing?

I took a question, I don’t really have an answer. It could be, you know right now again, it’s to me to document this specific period of time since it’s so unprecedented. I want this to be stories that are told related to the pandemic. And who knows? I mean, I started off saying, oh I’ll call it, You know, something 2020. And it was like Maybe not 21 for all we know it too. But it did get me thinking of different stories that I could tell. And I mean, ultimately, if it became a book, that would be wonderful if it just gets out there in the world, you know, in some publications online and just kind of nowadays, things just have a way of sure. It brings some joy to people.

Now. I know the last time I was giving you crap because we need to have cats in there as well. So that is true. I could do the cats, the cats are just a little harder to do the photographs. So that still you got to get them when they’re sleeping. But you know exactly. I mean, you know, I don’t I don’t want to belittle the cats. They’re welcome. Very welcome. Exactly. Say because you know, there are days. I’ve got all four cats and the dog in the office. So you know, it’s a cool place to hang out as my office these days.

Exactly. You know, maybe if people are interested, do you want them to go to the website? Sign up, contact you. Like, you know what you contact me. They can email me at [email protected] by all means go to the website which also lets them know my Instagram is @dogsimeet. Please follow me. Check out these stories. They’re really interesting. If you know somebody, if you’re interested, get in touch if you have a place you think the stories should be shared, let me know.

Yeah. I really love the stories. Like I was reading some of them this morning and they’re just very heartwarming and they’re very personal. Is it’s like looking inside somebody else’s life and that’s what I think is really cool. You do an amazing job capturing the spirit and the photograph and you’ve done a great job just telling their story and that’s something that’s really important. Thank you. Thank you. It’s been really interesting for me to hear these stories and the different stories. And they can say they range from someone whose home all the time to healthcare workers who were out of their house 12 hours a day. And they come home exhausted with like PTSD and it’s the dogs that revive them. So there’s just lots of different stories and lots of different ways the dogs are helping people.

Yeah, we’ll definitely, we’ll tell people to check out the Tales of Support on dogsimeet.com and they can reach you at [email protected] Is there anything else you want to mention Mindy before we wrap things up today?

No, just give your dog a kiss and a hug and know how special they are. Absolutely. And we’ll just remind everybody if you’ve got an idea for a product or a service or something amazing program like what Mindy is doing. Let us know, just go to INNOVATIONS.SHOW and we’ll get them on the show and we’ll talk about it.

So thank you again, Mindy. This is really exciting to see you and you’re the first person that’s come on twice. So thank you for that. I’m honored. Thank you. So keep up everything you’re doing and we appreciate you. Thank you. Thanks a lot, Chris!

Thanks for joining us for The Animal Innovations Show. If you want to volunteer to help animals, check out DOOBERT.COM, where you can join tens of thousands of Dooberteers, supporting rescues and shelters around the world to help animals. And if you know of something or someone innovative that’s helping animals let us know by going to WWW.INNOVATIONS.SHOW.


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