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Idaho Life: Boise woman finds niche as 'pho-dog-grapher'

Nette Shaff's photo shoots rely as much on Scooby Snacks as shutter speeds.

BOISE, Idaho — For most people, taking the dog to the park entails a lot of walking around. But for some it's a little more sit and a lot more stay.

"Back, back, come here, over here, right here," says Nette Shaff, talking to a yellow Labrador retriever named Toula. "Sit, sit."

Nette is a photographer with a penchant for puppies.

"Ready?" she asks Toula. "Keep your eyes on the prize, good girl!"

Nette began her career leaning toward wildlife but diverted to dogs about a decade and a half ago, inspired by her Chihuahua, Hercules.

"The weirdest goofiest dog ever," says Nette.

A five-pound pooch with missing teeth, meaning he had a hard time keeping his tongue in his mouth.

"He was funny, he always wanted to be in front of the camera," Nett continues. "He made sure you were watching him doing his antics."

Credit: Nette Shaff/Unleashedfur.com
Hercules enjoying a nap.

So Nette would capture his kookiness and she would often take pet pictures for friends.

Then four years ago, at the age of 14, Hercules passed away. So did her other dog, Chuie. In the same week.

"Three days apart from each other," recalls Nette.

Devastating, for sure, and Nette says she sought solace in snapping shots of other older dogs.

"I was just looking for something to kind of make myself feel better," she says. "Because I have so many pictures of both of them."

That's how her company, Unleashed Fur, was founded.

"Like, everybody else needs pictures of their old dogs," Nette remembers thinking.

Now she spends her days with a pet parent's pride and joy, never wondering why anyone would want professional photos of their dog.

"Are you kidding? I don't have children, this is my child," laughs Cindy Armstrong, pointing at Toula. "We have photos throughout the house."

Credit: Nette Shaff/Unleashedfur.com
A sunset photo of Toula.

Nette isn't necessarily opposed to people and has even taken their pictures on occasion.

"Yeah, but then people are like, 'Can you fix this, can you Photoshop my arm?'" Nette says. "Dogs don't do that, dogs are like, 'Gimme a treat.'"

So that's why it's full-time, four-legged, furry faces-only for Nette. It's just an easy essence for her to catch.

"The focus is on the dog," she says. "Always on the dog."

Nette opened her first studio in December 2018, which means, even when it's cold outside, families can still get the photos they want of their furry friends.

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