The Cone of Shame, or the Elizabethan collar, as it is more officially known, is most likely a dog’s least favorite accessory.
It keeps them from licking, biting, sniffing, snooping and all the other activities dogs enjoy. Unfortunately, it is a necessary evil. It is a goofy piece of plastic that makes your pet look like a lamp, but it also allows them to heal from surgery and other health issues quickly.
Erin Einbender wanted to change the predominant perception about these collars, and so Cones of Fame was born.
The photography project started when Einbender began volunteering at One Tail at Time, a Chicago dog rescue, 8 months ago while finishing her degree at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
“I realized I could use photography and my knowledge of social media to help the dogs find forever homes,” Einbender, who is the mom to Insta-famous dog @Rocco_roni, told PEOPLE. “I was brainstorming ideas for my final photography project and came up with the idea of ‘Cones of Fame.’ ”
Having already taken professional shots of several cone-less rescue dogs, Einbender turned her attention to those stuck in the bulky collars after their spay/neuter surgeries because, “the dogs looked so sad in their cones and the cones have been associated with shame. I wanted the cones to represent something positive and had the idea of blinging them out.”
With a vision spinning in her head, Einbender started crafting elaborate, adorably-themed cones for the shelter canines who needed them, and then taking photos of the dogs in the final look.
“I wanted to empower the dogs while educating people on the importance of spaying/neutering pets. Spaying and neutering your pet ensures there won’t be accidental litters and keeps more animals out of the shelter,” she said.
Gone are the sheepish looks and sad faces, in Einbender’s cones the pups shine, offering big smiles and bright eyes for the camera as they sport their colorful new cones. Along with giving post-op shelter dogs a fresh look, Cones of Fame gives them another, more permanent gift: a forever home.
All of the dogs photographed by Einbender for Cones of Fame have gone on to find forever homes shortly after the shoot, thanks, in part, to the charming photos the dog-loving student has taken.
Einbender hopes that by sharing this project with other animal lovers, she is able to help even more shelter pets.
“I hope this project inspires people to spay/neuter their pet and reach out to their local rescues and shelters to help in some way, whether it’s volunteering, fostering, adopting or donating. There are so many dogs out there that need forever homes. Every dog deserves a chance,” she said.
Cones of Fame is already starting to spread. Einbender is starting to work with more shelters and would love to collaborate on cones with artists and fashion designers.
To keep up with Cones of Fame and get more cute dog photos on Facebook, follow the project’s account here.