+
True
Facebook

When Fluffy arrived at the Animal Care Center in New York City, he wasn't in the best shape.

He'd spent quite a while at the shelter but had yet to find a home. As if that weren't bad enough, his long, shaggy fur was seriously matted, causing painful sores all over his body. He was far from looking or feeling his best.


All images by Mark Imhof, used with permission.

The sad truth is, the way a dog looks plays a huge role in how it feels and interacts with people. It also affects how potential families see it. A single grooming session can be the difference between finding a home and being euthanized.

Shelters are filled to the brink with unwanted and abandoned pets.

When you visit an animal shelter, there are a lot of little fur balls in need of love, vying for your attention. According to the ASPCA, "approximately 7.6 million companion animals enter animal shelters nationwide each year. Of those, approximately 3.9 million are dogs and 3.4 million are cats."

If that doesn't break your heart, this next fact might. The ASPCA states that "each year, approximately 2.7 million animals are euthanized (1.2 million dogs and 1.4 million cats)."

The reality is that the animals people find the cutest go the fastest.

Kittens and puppies are swooped out of shelters at a much faster rate than their fully-grown friends. Some organizations such as PAWS, a national rescue and adoption organization, aren't even able to post photos online fast enough due to the high demand.

Older pets, special needs animals, and those that have lost their luster get overlooked easily.

Dexter, a senior bichon frise, posing for the camera after his spa day.

Even the biggest animal lover may not notice the shaggy guy in the corner when there's a puppy the size of a palm falling over and offering kisses in exchange for some love.

That's where Mark the dog guy comes in. He gives animals in need of some TLC makeovers, helping them to find their forever homes.

Mark worked in the financial sector as a certified public accountant and internal auditor before deciding to dedicate more of his time to something that would bring him endless joy.

Mark knew the role that animals' appearance plays in their adoption firsthand — and how uncomfortable lack of grooming can make them: When his fiancé went to pick up the pit bull they had decided to adopt from the shelter, she was so disheartened by the pup's appearance — she looked nothing like her photos — that for a moment she considered turning back.

She didn't, and their worlds changed forever. They took her home, gave her a bath, and saw the dog completely transform. Mark recalls the layers of dirt coming off of her fur.

He told CTV news, "We could tell right away that some of her self-respect came back. It's magical, the transformation the dogs have."

Image of Mark with Cleo, his first pit bull and inspiration for Mark the Dog Guy.

This experience set the wheels in motion. Mark wanted to give baths to pit bulls and raise awareness of the sweet, loving, dogs they can be, but the scope of this project grew pretty quickly. He now runs his business, Mark the Dog Guy, and donates his services to shelter dogs in need of a makeover so that they can look and feel their best — and hopefully find a family that's eager to take them home.

Like Fluffy. Remember Fluffy?

A few sores from the matted fur, but Fluffy's working it for the camera.

He was the NYC ACC sponsored dog of the week, but Mark's grooming skills gave him the comfort and confidence to charm his new family. They'd seen his photos and were intrigued, but the loving, clean-cut pup that greeted them sealed the deal. After being groomed, Fluffy went from a shy guy with painful, matted fur to a loving, happy pup. The family was completely smitten, and Fluffy went home with them that day.

Here are some of Mark's other happy customers.

Meet Sean, who had some pretty serious behavioral issues that made it almost impossible to get him adopted.


See how calm and collected he looks after his grooming? The matted fur was causing him so much discomfort that he'd acted out. Only days after Mark worked his magic, Sean's new and improved temperament made it possible for him to move to a new shelter to find a home.

This is Sugarplum.

Mark said, "What I love about this picture is that he has the same face in both pics, but one is covered up with matted fur and the other shows his soulful eyes and cuteness."

Here we have before, during, and after shots of Paris at the Brooklyn ACC.

Mark says, "you can see the matted fur coming off in one piece that used to be stuck like glue to this poor dog’s body."

Free of the painful, matted fur, Paris looks and feels like an entirely new dog.

For Mark, the experience is incredible.

He explained to us, "The dogs usually become so used to the pain that they have from the matted fur that they just think that’s their new normal, this pain that they’re in." After he works with the pups, they experience a new reality for the first time in a long time. He says, "Once they’re done, they’re usually super happy and just loving. And then the best part is when they get adopted."

He shares their stories on Facebook and Instagram and urges people to visit shelters first when considering welcoming a pet into the family. Because that's the end goal: to find these pups their forever homes.

The pups aren't the only ones transformed. Mark's world is changed too.

Many dog owners like to ask, "Who rescued who?" (In fact, there's even a bumper sticker). It's the same for Mark. He said, "I feel like my heart has completely opened up, and it’s just really special and amazing, and I feel grateful that I’m able to do this right now."

We're pretty sure those dogs are pretty darn grateful to him, too.

via Chewy

Adorable Dexter and his new chew toy. Thanks Chewy Claus.

True

Every holiday season, millions of kids send letters asking for everything from a new bike to a pony. Some even make altruistic requests such as peace on Earth or helping struggling families around the holidays.

But wouldn’t the holiday season be even more magical if our pets had their wishes granted, too? That’s why Chewy Claus is stepping up to spread holiday cheer to America’s pets.

Does your dog dream of a month’s supply of treats or chew toys? Would your cat love a new tree complete with a stylish condo? How about giving your betta fish some fresh decor that’ll really tie its tank together?

Or do your pets need something more than mere creature comforts such as life-saving surgery?

Keep ReadingShow less
popular

Artist captures how strangers react to her body in public and it's fascinating

Haley Morris-Cafiero's photos might make you rethink how you look at people.

Credit: Haley Morris-Cafiero

Artist Haley Morris-Cafiero describes herself on her website as "part performer, part artist, part provocateur, part spectator." Her recent project, titled "Wait Watchers" has elements of all her self-descriptors.

In an email to us, Morris-Cafiero explained that she set up a camera in the street and stood in front of it, doing mundane activities like looking at a map or eating gelato. While she's standing there she sets off her camera, taking hundreds of photos.

Keep ReadingShow less
Pop Culture

Medical student becomes TikTok star for her 'awkward black girl anthem'

For Isimeme Udu, aka Hemlocke Springs, creating catchy beats that would take on a life of their own was never part of the Ivy League college plan. But here we are.

From med student to TikTok pop star.

Sometimes, life takes us on unexpected detours. One day you follow an impulse and suddenly you have a brand new purpose.

Such was the case for Isimeme Udu (who also goes by Naomi), who not only managed to become an overnight musical success on TikTok, she did it while pursuing a Master of Science degree from Dartmouth College.

Her musical persona, Hemlocke Springs, came from a random-name generator site—a strategy made famous by Donald Glover (aka Childish Gambino)—and is reminiscent of pop stars with eccentric vocal stylings and bold fashion choices like Kate Bush and Marina. She jokes that people have ascribed her sound to countless genres and similar artists. If you ask her, it’s all “regular shemgular pop.”
Keep ReadingShow less
Celebrity

U.S. Soccer star expertly handles an Iranian reporter’s loaded questions about race.

Tyler Adams’s response proves exactly why he’s the captain of the US soccer team.

Tyler Adams expertly handles Iranian reporter's question

Reporters are supposed to ask the right questions to get to the truth but sometimes it seems sports reporters ask questions to throw you off your game. There's no doubt that this Iranian reporter who was questioning Tyler Adams, the US soccer team captain at the press conference during the World Cup had an agenda that didn't involve getting to the truth.

It's not clear if the questions were designed to throw the young player off of his game or if the goal was embarrassment. It really is hard to tell, but Adams handled the unexpectedly harsh encounter with intelligence and poise when some may have found it justified for him to get angry.

Keep ReadingShow less

Writer/Director Richard Curtis and Emma Thompson

Since its release in 2003, the Christmas-themed rom-com "Love Actually" captured hearts and became one of the most beloved holiday films of all time. True to its title, the film celebrated love—all kinds of love—as it actually is, and managed to maintain optimism without being overly saccharine. This, coupled with a truly stellar ensemble, made it so well received among audiences, despite the mixed reviews from critics.

Nearly 20 years later, the film’s writer and director Richard Curtis (who also brought us "Notting Hill" and "Bridget Jones’ Diary") reflects back on why it might have meant so much to so many people. As an artist who has made a name for himself creating enduring love stories, perhaps it’s no surprise that he feels it’s something the world is in constant need of.

Keep ReadingShow less