A dog and a woman walk down a catwalk modeling matching sweaters and furry hats at Detroit Dog Rescue's Canines and Couture.

By Hannah Levine

Detroit Dog Rescue (DDR) is hosting its fifth annual Canines and Couture fashion show, a show devoted to showing off adoption-ready pooches and raising money to support the Detroit Dog Rescue’s medical fund. The event will be held at the Townsend Hotel on March 11 at 2 p.m, and will go on for about three hours, giving everyone ample time to fall in love with the adoptable dogs.

While the idea of a doggy fashion show might seem unconventional, executive director and 36 Under 36 honoree Kristina Millman-Rinaldi says Detroit Dog Rescue thrives on the unconventional. “In an age where everything moves so fast, it’s important for our ideas to make an impact, to get noticed,” she says, “and what’s better than a dog in a cute jacket and sunglasses?”

The Fashion Show

“It’s a great time for a great cause.”

–Kristina Millman-Rinaldi

There are more than 100 dogs at Detroit Dog Rescue, so not every dog is ready for his or her runway debut. After working with the dogs and getting to know them, the staff choose the dogs that will do best with meet-and-greets in a large group of people. They focus on force-free and positive reinforcement training, which helps prepare the dogs for forever homes. At each step and every event, the goal is to set the dogs up for success in whatever way possible. If that means some dogs have to stay out of the fashion show, that’s OK.

A man and a woman pose with a dog at Detroit Dog Rescue's Canines and Couture.Like any good fashion show, the clothing design is very important to creating a great experience on the catwalk. With Canines and Couture, the dogs are outfitted by doggy boutiques and special garment orders from Premier Pet Supply. The outfits are chosen not only to showcase the designs, but to showcase each individual dog’s personality, whether that includes best drooler, coolest haircut, kindest cuddler or something else entirely. That way, potential adoptive pet parents can get a better idea of an individual dog’s ideal home.

The Silent Auction

In addition to the runway show, Canines and Couture will feature a silent auction with more than 100 items and experiences. This year, items include everything from autographed sports memorabilia to an actual penguin feeding encounter at the Detroit Zoo. And if those options don’t suit your interests, there are also hotel and spa packages, jewelry, themed baskets and more.

The money raised from the auction will support the DDR medical fund.

Local Celebrity Appearances

At Canines and Couture, the dogs will walk with local celebrities Amy Lange, Blaine Fowler, Erika Erikson, Kimberly Craig and a few surprise guests. Kristina is more than enthusiastic to have these great guests, but she says her dream runway model would be Cher, saying, “her costumes alone would be enough entertainment.”

Detroit native and Michigan favorite Lily Tomlin is another dream guest on Kristina’s list. She ran into Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin briefly in Detroit and said Tomlin loved the Detroit Dog Rescue dogs. Kristina even asks, “Lily? If you’re out there — Detroit Dog Rescue needs you!” hoping an opportunistic appearance from the Grace and Frankie star will help rescue even more dogs.

Detroit Dog Rescue Events

A man and woman pose with a dog and some photos of successful adoptions at Detroit Dog Rescue's Canines and Couture.Canines and Couture is just one of many fundraising/adoption events throughout the year. DDR takes in more abuse and neglect cases from the city’s municipal shelter than any other organization. In order to keep up with caring for hundreds of dogs, including dogs who have been victims of violent crimes, Detroit Dog Rescue gets really creative throughout the year with its events. So while Canines and Couture will feature dogs strutting their stuff down the catwalk, it won’t be the only event where you can see a variety of dogs looking for their forever homes.

And if events aren’t for you, the shelter is always an option to find your new best friend.

The Adoption Process

Potential adopters are encouraged to fill out a survey or application on the Detroit Dog Rescue website to figure out if a particular dog will be a good fit for all parties. After that, a DDR staff member will follow up with a home visit and a personal meet-and-greet with the dog in question. If it looks like a good fit, DDR will facilitate the adoption.

It may sound like a long process, but it actually moves fairly quickly and simply. Adopting a dog is not a decision to take lightly, so the adoption process tries to ensure a positive outcome for many years to come.  

Why Is Canines And Couture So Successful?

A man and a dog walk down a runway at Detroit Dog Rescue's Canines and Couture fundraising event. When asked the magic question, Kristina jokes, “dogs and clothing.” She goes on to say that in actuality, the people of Detroit are well aware of the stray dog epidemic ravaging the city. “Thousands upon thousands of dogs are dying in Detroit. People see the ethics, the transparency and the genuine credibility Detroit Dog Rescue has and they want to help.”

Kristina says Judaism played a large role in getting her involved with animal welfare. “Our whole religion surrounds the idea of peace and giving. Giving to others, animals and people, has always been such a big part of our community and it definitely played a role in my life’s path and the work I do today.”

And she’s not alone. There are many ways to get involved with Detroit Dog Rescue. Since being featured as one of The Well and the JN’s 36 Under 36 honorees, Kristina says she’s seen an increase in the Detroit Jewish community’s involvement in the shelter. “From mitzvah projects to family projects, we’ve seen a definite increase in volunteers, adoptions and giving,” she says affectionately of the fortunate support she receives from the Detroit Jewish community. She adds, “If anyone wants to foster, volunteer or donate, they can go to DetroitDogRescue.com.”


Canines and Couture

Sunday, March 11, 2018 2-5 p.m.

The Townsend Hotel


Do you love dogs? Don’t miss the Detroit Jewish News and TyVy Pet Hotel‘s #DJNDogContest. Starting March 9!