CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- If you're like most proud animal servants, you have plenty of pictures of your pets. Now's your chance to show them off! The Sunday Gazette-Mail is launching a new Pet of the Week feature in the Life & Style section. Readers are invited to submit photos for consideration. Beyond good-quality photos, what are we looking for?
First and foremost, personality. Just like people, most domesticated animals have their own unique characteristics. Some are affectionate, some are needy. Others are playful, or rebellious, or have more attitude than most teenagers. Photos that express your pet's unique personality will rise to the top of the heap.
Photos that evoke emotion. Pictures that make us laugh or cry or utter any version of "awww!" have a better shot at being selected.
Spirit and creativity. If you catch your pet in the midst of mischief, if you can persuade your pet to don a costume or décor that depicts an upcoming holiday or special event, we're eager to take a look. Think Valentine's Day. St. Patrick's Day. The Fourth of July. And of course, Halloween. You've seen those adorable ladybug and pumpkin costumes that generations of children too young to protest have been forced to wear. In much the same way, if your pet looks slightly humiliated, temporarily embarrassed, if the attire is likely to send the other animals in your neighborhood into howling fits of laughter, even better.
A few details. Give us your pet's name, age (if you know it), breed (if you can detect it), and a line or two about him or her. Any favorite tricks? Sticky situations? We're all ears!
Think outside the crate. This feature isn't limited to dogs and cats. We're open to everything from turtles to tamed flying squirrels, as long as you can legally own it in West Virginia.
One important note: No animals can be harmed in the making of these photos. Not even a little bit. We don't want to see anything that looks dangerous, painful or uncomfortable -- for you or your pet.
We're kicking off this new segment with photos of a few pets near and dear to the hearts of those of us here in the Gazette features department.
There's Ellie, who was rescued from a hoarding situation in 2010, and Riley, who was adopted from the Kanawha-Charleston Humane Association in 2009, both owned by Amy Robinson, who edits the gazz and FlipSide.
There's Penny, a year-old Jack Russell terrier mix who can leap 4 feet into the air from a sitting position. She belongs to Bill Lynch, an entertainment and features staff writer.
And last, there's my cat, Sour, an 11-year-old Siamese and the more, shall we say, energetic half of Sweet and Sour. (His aptly named sister went on to that kitty playground in the sky a few months ago, so he is relishing his role as top cat. For now.)
Here are the submission guidelines:
Email photos to email@example.com with the subject line Pet of the Week.
Include your name, phone number and contact information, where you live, your pet's name, age and breed if you know them, and a line or two about the photo or something that makes your pet unique.
Photos should have 170 DPI or a minimum file size of 300 KB, so they look as good in the paper as they do on your home computer.
One final note. We love animals. We especially love your animals. But we can't run every photo that's submitted, and as you can see the competition is stiff -- so send us your best stuff!
Reach Maria Young at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-5115.