Podcast Episode 1: Milla Chappell of Real Happy Dogs

Welcome to Wear Wag Repeat Podcast! I’m so excited to introduce this podcast to you. It’s been such a joy to learn how to do something new and to get to know so many inspiring dog moms through these interviews. Season 1 will have 10 episodes, and I’m starting you out with three awesome ones! Help me celebrate and head over to iTunes to subscribe and listen! Please take a minute to leave a review through iTunes and tell me what you think of the show.

Let’s dive in to Podcast Episode 1: Milla Chappell of Real Happy Dogs. Learn her top tips on capturing great photos of your dog, her favorite dog friendly parks and businesses in New York City and you’ll also hear about how her Boxer adjusted to life in the big city after their move up from Pittsburgh. It’s a pretty funny story!

Listen to the Episode


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Milla Chappell of Real Happy Dogs is a documentary dog photographer based in the East Village who specializes in “Day in the Life” sessions of dogs and the people who love them. As a personal project, Milla works with local rescue groups to photograph and share success stories of rescued dogs in order to raise awareness about the importance of adopting senior, handicapped, and abused animals.

Tori: How did you get started photographing and sharing rescue stories?

Milla: I started doing dog photography as an offshoot of wedding and engagement sessions. I realized how many people were bringing their dogs to the engagement sessions. That’s when I started Real Happy Dogs. After I started doing day in the life sessions with people and their dogs, I realized I loved hearing the backstory of how their god came to be part of their family Through those stories I came across some really unique stories about dogs who came from hard situations and have amazing happy lives now. Now I do a combination of day in the life shoots with people and their dogs, and then I love on the side to seek out particularly interesting rescue stories.

Interview with Milla Chappell of Real Happy Dogs

Tori: I love discovering dog friendly places. Do you have any favorite places that like to go to for photoshoots in New York?

Milla: In New York there are amazing outdoor spaces. Central park before 9am and after 9pm is completely off leash. The riverside parks are great with dogs. I also like to go to Washington Square and other iconic places. The Bean is a famous dog friendly coffee shop, and there are so many restaurants that allow dogs at the outdoor tables. The Strand is a beautiful old book store that you can take your dog to. There are so many beautiful independently owned dog stores with really fun items. I recently did a shoot at The Standard hotel, the have a great outdoor space. If you ask, a lot of places are happy for you to take your dog!

Tori: You get involved raising money for many animal rescue charities. What do you have coming up?

Milla: I’m training for the New York City Marathon, I’m raising $3,000 for the North Shore Animal League of New York, the world’s largest no-kill shelter. 100% of the money raised will go straight to them. I also ran the half marathon in Pittsburgh to raise money for dog rescue there. I enjoy being a part of these fundraising events. I’ll be the photographer for Strut Your Mutt next weekend, and they are raising a lot of money for animal rescue.

Tori: Do you have tips for listeners to capture great photos of their dogs?

Milla: First, always have a pocket full of treats! And no matter what kind of camera you have, be super aware of your backgrounds. Watch that you don’t have something really distracting coming out of your dog’s head, like a house plant. Look for colorful walls that you can use a backdrop. Often you don’t need to adjust your dog, you can move yourself a few feet to the left or right. I rarely ask the dog to do something specific, I follow the dog around and take pictures of them doing what they want.

Also, try to take the picture from different perspectives. Try kneeling for a few, then go above their head, then try each side. Sometimes the last thing you try is the best shot!

Don’t stress your dog trying to force a moment to happen. The more natural the better!

Tori: How did your Boxers inspire you to pursue your passion?

Milla: My husband and I adopted our first boxer Tuco, then we got Turk. We had them both about 10 or 12 years. They are such lovable and goofy dogs. If you get a boxer, you better love to exercise because they have a lot of energy! I started doing photography when we got the dogs, and we didn’t have children at the time. The dogs were 100% our children. So I really could relate to how people felt about wanting their dogs in their photos. Since I could relate to that feeling as a dog mom, i felt I could also relate to what kinds of photos people would want with their dogs.

Interview with Milla Chappell of Real Happy Dogs


Real Happy Dogs Website
Support Milla and the North Shore Animal League in the New York City Marathon


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Tori Mistick is a blogger, podcaster and certified Canine Enrichment Specialist. You might call her a professional dog mom! Tori has a soft spot for senior dogs and loves the color pink. Based in Pittsburgh, PA.


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