Photographer Scott Pena smudged dirt on firefighter Jonathan Cook’s face Friday at the old Falstaff Brewery building as he gave him a brief battle speech.
“You can’t be too clean, especially if you are rescuing a puppy,” Pena said. “You gotta get that ‘Game of Thrones’ look.”
Cook’s blue eyes, dirty face and muscular torso will appear in a calendar, “Galveston Heroes and Hounds,” to raise money for the Galveston Island Humane Society.
The calendar was the firefighters’ idea, Daniel Martinez of the Galveston Firefighters Association 571.
“We knew we wanted to do a calendar,” Martinez said. “As a union, we decided it was a great idea.”
All 14 men posing for the calendar work for the Galveston Fire Department, but they are participating on their own time and as union members.
“It’s been such a great thing,” Martinez said. “The guys were getting in shape, losing weight and getting healthy.”
And while there are only 12 months in the year, the humane society plans to fit all 14 men in the calendar by including December 2017 and January 2019, said Liz Rogers Alvarado, who is a Galveston Island Humane Society board member and past president.
The shirtless firefighters held puppies and petted dogs in their photo shoots. The animals came from the humane society and all are in need of homes.
Two of the puppies at the Falstaff photo shoot Friday were Chihuahuas rescued in June from alleged hoarders.
The Galveston Island Humane Society is a nonprofit organization, and Caroline Dorsett-Pate, its executive director, said she is grateful for the unexpected and chivalrous offer from the men.
“We rely on fundraising,” Doresett-Pate said. The firefighters’ offer to cuddle with critters in front of a camera to support the humane society pleased her and Alvarado.
“The firefighters’ association is trying to change culture, really trying to show they are healthy and fit,” Alvarado said.
And a calendar is one way to show just how healthy they are. The 14 men don’t know which month of the year they’ll be featured in the calendar. The firefighters don’t want to make that decision because everyone wants the same months.
“June, July, August,” Martinez said. “Because they’re hot.”
The responding hoots echoed in the empty Falstaff building, but the puppies didn’t seem bothered by it. The industrial setting had just the right sort of grittiness Pena wanted, he said.
Photographer Lacy Dagerath, who works with Pena, stood in a strategic spot behind Cook, partly hidden behind his open yellow jacket. She aimed a special aerosol can behind him, then released the canned smoke behind him. Smoke swirled over his head.
Then, and only then, when he was dirty, sweaty and smoky, was he allowed to cradle a puppy in the nook of his arm.
The $20 calendars go on sale Sept. 9 to coincide with the annual Battle of Badges competition between area police and firefighters.
“All the animals in the calendar are available for adoption,” Alvarado said. “Do you want to adopt a dog?”