A Calendar by Photographer Mike Ruiz

The new edition of Mike Ruiz’s annual calendar turns the page on a difficult 2020 and looks ahead to a more hopeful, huggable 2021. Pitties and Pecs is bigger and sexier than ever beforeeighteen months of perfectionfeaturing some of the most lovable pups in the arms of equally gorgeous male fitness models. As always, the photographer’s vision is captivating and provocative, but his message is timeless: to end the discrimination and misunderstanding of the beloved pit bull breed.

The calendar was shot this July in New Jersey. The male models were chosen from hundreds of submissions from around the world, all willing to fly themselves to the New Jersey studio to be part of the project. Due to the pandemic, a long list of safety measures were implemented, from wearing masks and social distancing to serving individually-packed meals for the crew and hungry fitness models.

Behind-the-Scenes Footage

The hunk on the cover is renowned fitness model Toby Richards, a former Royal Marine Commando. Mike Ruiz chose him for the cover because he is an extremely kind, compassionate, and genuine person who just so happens to look like a Greek god. The pup in his arms is the adorable Loiza. Her mom was rescued while pregnant. 

Also featured in the calendar are two stand-out pups who would have been euthanized had Philly Bully Team not rescued them. One is Brienne, nicknamed Frogdog Brienne, who, due to splayed back legs, hops around by her front legs like a frog. The other is Atlas who is paralyzed and uses a wheelchair. He is the sweetest, happiest dog on the planet and clearly has no idea that he’s challenged.

“This year’s calendar is so important because the pandemic has imposed so many restrictions on how we can actively help these inherently good souls,” explains Mike Ruiz. He points out how initially, the pandemic helped to get animals out of shelters because everyone wanted a companion during the quarantine. Sadly, many of the dogs are being returned as people go back to work.

“It’s so sad that these sweet souls were there to give love to people in isolation but were not considered when the need had passed. These are living, sentient beings that are not here for our entertainment nor are they disposable. That’s why I feel the need to work harder than ever to help educate people.” 

Ruiz hopes that everyone will find it in their hearts to support this year’s calendar as 100 percent of the proceeds go the rescue. 

Mike Ruiz is a celebrity photographer whose clients include Kim Kardashian, Katy Perry, Nicki Minaj, Billy Porter, Ruby Rose, Priyanka Chopra, Nick Jonas, and countless others. He is also an animal rescuer. In fact, it was his beloved Oliver, a black pit bull, that inspired him to create his annual calendars benefitting the breed.

Founded by Jessica Mellen-Graaf and Marvin Graaf in 2011, Philly Bully Team is a foster-based bully breed rescue. Philly Bully Team pulls dogs from different parts of the country as the result of natural disasters, dog fighting, and a myriad of other reasons. 

“We began rescuing, caring for, and homing abused and neglected animals ten years ago,” says Jessica Mellen-Graaf. “Due to the overwhelming amount of bully breeds that end up in open intake shelters, we have decided to focus our work on placing these discarded dogs into loving and compatible forever homes.” The dogs that appear in the calendar represent only a fraction of those in need and she hopes the calendar will help change the misconceptions about this goofy and jolly breed. 

Mike Ruiz’s 2021 calendar, Pitties and Pecs is available for $24.99 at phillybullyteam.com.