“Shadow and Lexi Blowing Kisses,” taken by Anne Weller of St. Petersburg, won the kids and pets category of the 2006 American Humane Society’s Pets and Pals photo contest.
ST. PETERSBURG – Anne Weller of St. Petersburg got a shot at fame last week when the American Humane Society announced the winners of this year’s Pets and Pals photo contest.
Weller won first place in the kids and pets category. She won $500 for the adorable picture of her sister’s dog and 4-year-old great-niece puckering up.
Celebrity judges included actresses Dakota Fanning, Jenna Fischer and Raven-Symoné and Jay Bush and his talking dog Duke from the Bush’s Baked Beans commercials.
Weller, who is a teacher for the gifted program at Perkins Elementary School, said the photo she took of Lexi, who was just turning 5 then and is now 6, was taken with good instincts and pure luck.
Visiting her sister’s house in Mokena, Ill., for Lexi’s birthday, Weller spotted her cute great-niece in the kitchen hugging their dog – and blowing kisses.
A right-handed person, Weller nonetheless grabbed her trusty Canon digital with her left hand and clicked, fast.
Surprisingly, the photo was centered – except for the inclusion of her right hand as she gripped the table. The pose was darling, with the dog sticking out his tongue in an “air kiss” as Lexi puckered up.
“It was perfect timing,” said Weller, adding she did nothing to the photo except for croping out her hand.
She didn’t think much about the picture again, which was taken in the summer of 2005, until she was compiling family photos for a calendar she was making her parents for Christmas. She came across the photo and decided to enter it into the contest.
The title of the photo is “Shadow and Lexi Blowing Kisses.” The thing is, when other pictures were compared with the shot in the kitchen, it was determined that the dog was actually not Shadow, who is since deceased. The dog is the younger Preston, the mixed breed the family adopted from their local shelter.
It’s appropriate the duo in the photo are throwing kisses. There’s a lot of love in that family. Besides the two golden retrievers that are a part of Weller’s family, she shares a generous heart and life of service with her husband and three children, who make annual treks to Peru to do relief work for the poor – her husband, Brian, travels five to six times a year there to help improve the lives of the residents.