Everyone loves photos of adorable pit bull pups. So what happens when you pair the cutest pooches on earth — who just happen to be in need of forever homes — with beautiful, hunky men? The year’s most buzzed-about calendar.
Photographer Mike Ruiz’s 2019 calendar, “Bullies and Biceps,” is fourteen months of perfection (2 bonus months in 2020) that will put a smile on your face every day of the new year.
Mike Ruiz is a celebrity photographer whose clients include Kim Kardashian, Katy Perry, Nicki Minaj and countless others. In addition to his work in Hollywood, Ruiz is known for shooting top male fitness models. “I admire men who have sculpted their bodies into works of art,” he says. “It takes incredible skill and knowledge to form human tissue to near perfection. Photographing their work is quite gratifying to me.”
The men featured in “Bullies and Biceps” are some of the biggest male fitness models working today including Bryan Richards, Michael Dean, Nick Topel and cover-model Casey Christopher. Collectively, they have hundreds of thousands of followers on social media. They also are all passionate about animal rescue.
Mike Ruiz, too, is a pit bull rescuer and this year’s calendar is in special tribute to Oliver, his beloved canine, who passed away last month. Mike and Oliver shared six wonderful years together. It was Oliver who inspired Mike to fuse his two passions — photography and pit bulls — together into a calendar that would benefit dogs in need of rescue.
The pit bulls that appear in the calendar were chosen at random and represent only a fraction of those in need. “This is a very sad time to be in rescue,” explains Carla Mohan of the New York Bully Crew. “People are giving up their dogs without remorse. Pit bull type dogs are especially vulnerable because most rescues shy away from saving them due to lack of experience, knowledge and the negative media coverage the beautiful creatures have received.”
Founded by Craig Fields in 2010, New York Bully Crew specializes in the rescue, rehabbing and rehoming of pit bull type dogs. They partner with city shelters around the country to help local animals and have also begun outreach in Puerto Rico, Honduras, Peru, and South Korea.
“Pit bulls are the most loyal and loving dogs,” Carla continues. “They are soulful creatures that can be the silliest best friend ever. I have had many different breeds of dogs in my life, but none compare to pit bulls.”
She hopes the calendar will open people’s eyes and hearts and change misconceptions about this goofy and jolly breed. While shooting the calendar, the pit bulls on set stole the hearts of the super gorgeous male models. “I wanted to take them all home with me,” laughs Casey Christopher.
Every dollar made from the sale of the “Bullies and Biceps” 2019 calendar will go directly to New York Bully Crew for various services benefitting the health and welfare of the dogs. “The calendar makes the perfect holiday gift and also brings awareness to these special animals,” says Mike Ruiz. “Every pit bull deserves a forever home.”
Well Bullies and Biceps, this is another gorgeous calendar and a great cause. Being the proud parent/guardian of 3 rescues: Chihuahua, Dachshund mix, and a live-in house rooster who thinks he is one of the dogs, my heart goes out to all dogs, cats, and other animals who are waiting to find their forever home. If this is not too emotional of a subject, could you tell us if it was Oliver who first prompted you to take on these successful and sexy calendars?
Oliver is 100% responsible for inspiring me to do as much as I possibly can for animal rescue. This calendar is one of the things that I do.
Are you able to tell us a little about Oliver’s story?
Oliver was found roaming the streets of South Central Los Angeles, skin and bones, cherry eye and cysts on his legs. He was dumped off at a high kill shelter where he had 1 day to live before being pulled by Bullies and Buddies Animal rescue. They found a foster who happened to be a good friend of mine. On one of my trips to LA, I stayed with this friend while he was fostering Oliver and it was love at first sight. Within 24 hours, the paperwork was filed and I was Oliver’s dad!
When we rescued Buddy and Lucky I knew firsthand the story and I knew I was going to make sure they had the best home I could give them. With the oddball Rodney the rooster we could not let him fall prey to the elements or predators so we did the only thing we were able to and took him in. For Oliver was it the story that finally helped you make the decision to be his forever family or was it more?
It was my immediate connection to Oliver that literally changed the course of my life. I didn’t know his story prior to meeting him nor did I know much about animal rescue. My love for him inspired me to research everything I could about pit bulls and animal rescue. When I learned how animal shelters are overrun with abandoned pitbulls, I couldn’t stand by and do nothing.
Your photography to this journalist is second to none, the way you can capture a model’s unique essence is amazing. I am not just saying this to stroke your ego, I have worked with many photographers and artists over the past 30 years and no matter how good someone is you can always see who has talent and who is gifted and you are truly gifted and your pet calendars show this gift. In your pet calendars Pecs & Puppies, Hunks & Hounds, Heart Throbs & Hounds, and the current Bullies & Biceps you have created gorgeous pairings of human with K-9. I saw in the promo video a little of how you choose the pairing, but I could see that there was more to the process, can you tell us how you decided on the models and the rescues before the photoshoot?
Animal Rescue is all about 2nd chances so I try to find models who are not only pleasing to the eye but who also have stories of overcoming adversity AND who have some connection to animal rescue. Once the models are secured, we basically have the rescue bring dogs who need homes or who make great mascots for the cause. From there, I see where love connections are made between the pups and the models. Aesthetic compatibility is also a consideration. It’s important they look good together and that they connect on some level.
For this year’s calendar Bullies and Biceps, as for the other calendars, once you commit to making it can you go through the hows of how you first start.
It was important to me to have this year’s calendar benefit a pitbull specific rescue since I wanted to honor Oliver, so I decided to benefit New York Bully Crew. Once that was decided, then I had to figure out how I wanted it to look aesthetically. From there, it’s all logistics such as scheduling, casting, getting the puppies scheduled and a million little details that are far too boring to include.
During your photoshoots of the current and past calendars have any of the models adopted their K-9 companion?
This year, Bryan Richards was inspired to adopt a pitbull. Some of the models wanted to do the calendar because they were already pitbull dads.
If a person is looking for a companion would you tell them to find a local rescue and adopt from them first or to adopt a puppy from a breeder?
I would never encourage anyone to buy from a breeder when there are 2 million dogs discarded to shelters every year, 40% of them are pitbull type breeds. People think that when they pay a bunch of money for a dog that they are getting a better quality dog. This, of course, is absurd. You can find any dog with any characteristics you might want from a rescue or Petfinder. The function of a rescue is to get a dog ready to be adopted by giving them the best medical care and training so that they are behaviorally compatible.
Do you think you are going to create another pet calendar for 2020?
I will continue doing these calendars until I can figure out an even better way to help animal rescue. Not only is my goal to raise money for dogs in need but it’s also to educate people on the great benefits of adopting vs buying.
I’m pretty sure the next calendar will be co-ed. I have several gorgeous and very high profile women who want to participate next year so it’ll be men and women. Not sure what to call it yet, maybe “Babes and Bullies”?
This Calendar has a feel as being a memorial for Oliver and if it is I think it is a great way to share him with the world and show him that he was a loved part of your family. To critics who think Bulldogs (Pitbulls in general) should be banned and put down because they are animals that will someday turn and hurt someone, what message do you have?
Sadly the media misrepresents the true nature of bully breeds. Only since the 80’s have they been vilified in the media. Prior to that, Dobermans were feared and German Shepherds before that. For over 100 years, Bully breeds were considered to be the best family dog. So much so, they were coined “Nanny Dogs”. You are more likely to be bitten by a golden retriever or Border Collie than you are a pitbull. Education is the best way to understand something. People should take the time to do a tiniest bit of research before buying into false information. PEOPLE are responsible for animal aggression. Any dog will become aggressive if abused, neglected, beaten, and starved. So would most humans! I always encourage people to spend time with a pitbull before writing them off as vicious attack dogs. I am now dad to another sweet girl named Julia who is the sweetest, gentlest angel, just like Oliver, her brother before her.
To help New York Bully Crew and other rescues around the world as a parent who chose a rescue over adopting from a breeder, what words of advice might you offer?
The best advice I can give is to go on Petfinder. They are a great resource for both people adopting and rescues looking to place dogs. They are a wonderful conduit for making some love connections. I found my baby girl on Petfinder.
Read this interview and more in the digital pages of Proud Times Magazine