This is not your grandmother's pet calendar.
In mid-September, Good Shepherd Humane Society will reveal its 2013 calendar, with illustrations that delve into the fantasy life of pets. It's not just dogs and cats.
"There are going to be chickens," said Victoria Marshall, project coordinator.
The actual photographs are being kept secret until the release date, but Marshall provided a glimpse of what's inside. For October, Robert Norman combined a graveyard, disembodied cat heads and ghostly shapes floating over "Goldie the Ghost Hunter." March features Persian cats on flying carpets. Artist Betty Johnson's painting of a poodle pole-dancing is a cross between dogs playing poker and a Matisse, with the owners' dogs painted in. For December, photographer Jeremy Mason McGraw made cardboard dog figures, wrapped them in Christmas paper and used them as the "bodies" for Cheryl and Brenden Johnson's Great Danes, Rudee and Maxamillion.
As well as modeling, the Danes work with Cheryl at the Good Shepherd Thrift Store on Mondays, where they greet customers. Rudee, 4, is a rescue dog from Fort Smith. Max is a pup the Johnsons adopted when he was 3 months old. Max, whose previous owner advertised him as an outdoor dog who couldn't be house broken, is deaf, so Cheryl taught Max sign language -- "good dog," and "I love you" as well as the usual sit, stay and down.
"He knows 'no' but he doesn't like it," she said.
An illustrator and thrift shop volunteer, Marshall was looking for an original concept for a calendar when a photo Christmas card she received several years ago turned up on her desk. The card shows friends Kathy and Steve Kirk in cowboy outfits astride their pet beagles, Harlan and Ellison, who were transformed into steed-sized Beaglelopes via Photoshop. The beagles are named after science fiction writer Harlan Ellison, a friend of the Kirks, whom Marshall met through Steve's brother, Tim, when she worked at Hallmark.
"I looked at it and thought, 'That's it!' That's the idea,'" Marshall said of the Christmas card.
The idea has already raised $1,000 -- Marshall raffled off the calendar slots to pet owners at $5 a chance last spring. One raffle winner, Ken Farley, donated his slot back. The photographer, Randal Thompson, suggested using it to pay homage to Leo, the recently-retired store cat at Zark's Gallery.
"We're honoring him for his many years of service," Marshall said.
Another winner lost her pet after securing a spot in the calendar, so the space went to first alternates Marie Howard and Trella Laughlin. Photographer Edward Robison III created a sepia circus photograph of their cat, Morris, jumping through a flaming hoop. Their dog, "The Amazing Cocoa Butter," juggles rawhide bones while riding a unicycle.
"Both Edward and his son ride unicycles and juggle," Marshall explained.
Some of the photo concepts started out tame. Photographer John Rankine and Debbie Davis envisioned Davis' granddaughter, Claire, having a tea party with her two dogs, Dilly and Rooney. The dogs weren't buying it.
"One of them -- I'm not saying which -- bit the photographer," Marshall said. "That was one of the concepts that got changed immediately."
The cover dog and cat, chosen from the shelter, were also not amenable -- photographer Melody Purdy had to chase them around her studio. Both cover models have since been adopted, Marshall said.
All the photographers donated their services, as did graphic designer Marie Turnock, attorney Kristi Kendrick and Kate Wicker of Geographics. Sandra Ostrander, who writes the shelter newsletter, composed photo captions. For February, Ruby and Brodie, Darlene Simmons' cats, are remarking behind their paws on the table manners of Daphne, her dog, at a Mardi Gras party.
August is the ultimate dog fantasy. Caramel and Chester are lying in bed while their owners bring them breakfast on a tray.
The first 500 copies of the Good Shepherd Humane Society calendar are scheduled to come off the press in mid-September. Pre-order forms are available at the Good Shepherd Thrift Store, 157 W. Van Buren, in Eureka Springs; the Berryville GS Thrift Store, 111 Carl Ave., Berryville, and at the humane shelter, 6486 U.S. Highway 62, Eureka Springs. Price is $15, with discounts for orders of more than 10. For more information, go to www.goodshepherd-hs.org.