The Just Love Project 025: Kona’s Claim to Fame

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Dogs do lots of things on accident.

They’ll mistake your shoe for their favorite chew toy. They’ll barrel through your home like a freight train, with little regard for the path of destruction trailing behind them. When they’re very young, they pee. Everywhere. On everything. All the time.

Dogs doing things by accident comes with the territory. It’s sort of a package deal with their ability to love unconditionally. But, in all the stories of unintentional dog behavior, accidentally launching a short-lived modeling career is on the rare side.  

For Steph and her five-year-old mini Australian Shepherd, Kona, that’s exactly what happened. Steph works for a branding and design agency in Chicago, and while working on a packaging design project for a dog food company, a client wanted the artwork to feature real dogs. But, options were running thin. Stock photography wasn’t working and was too expensive. Hiring a professional dog model even more so.

“We could use Kona?” Steph remembers asking the team.

After evaluating three critical criteria, the suggestion didn’t seem so crazy.  

First, Steph’s office has a photo studio onsite and an in-house photographer ready-to-go. Check.

Second, it’s a dog-friendly office so Kona is already familiar with the space. Check.

And, finally, but most importantly, as Steph explains, “I didn’t even need to get her groomed. She was born beautiful.” Check and mate.

Three days later, they got to work. The camera loved Kona. Kona loved that she was getting so many treats for doing the same stuff her mom always has her do at home. The shoots were a smashing success. Kona’s life was never the same. Fans lined up for paw print autographs. Kona demanded six different types of peanut butter in her dressing room on her nationwide tours.

No not really. But her photos really did work wonders. And just a few months after the lightbulb moment, Kona was featured on dog food packaging across the country. And she did make at least one screaming fan.

“My mom was obsessed with it,” Steph remembers. “She bought 15 bags when it came out and told everyone about her ‘famous grand-dog.’”

And, in appropriate fashion, it even made some of the other pets in the office a little jealous.

“A few coworkers brought in their cats. They weren’t exactly as cooperative as Kona,” Steph says.

But, as Steph is quick to remind friends who marvel at Kona’s brief modeling career, “She’s far from perfect. Right now she’s won’t stop whining until I retrieve her favorite ball that she got stuck under the couch. It’s equally adorable and annoying.”

A more-typical, accidental dog behavior.

Steph & Kona’s story is part of Mutt Jackson’s THE JUST LOVE PROJECT – our blog series dedicated to celebrating the extraordinary bonds that exist between humans & their dogs. Every Wednesday, we’ll be sharing a new piece – be sure to subscribe to our newsletter so that you don’t miss an installment! And, if you or someone you know think you have a tale to tell, please shoot us an email at – we’d love to hear from you!