December 13, 2020 - January 16, 2021: Issue 478


The Dog Project

Tania, India and Gavin Kerr at Avalon Bowling Club- photo by A J Guesdon

Our final Profile for 2020 is one close to our heart for four reasons - The Dog Project was the great idea of a wonderful mum (and her friends) in Tania Kerr, daughter of John Seaton MBE, it aims to support the Cerebral Palsy Alliance and Monika’s Doggie Rescue, an organisation that was supportive and beneficial to our own family in the first instance and an ongoing volunteer effort to look after and find homes for furry darlings of all kinds in the second, and its focus was to empower and broaden the horizons of the lovely India Kerr, a wonderful young lady you could not help but fall in love with.

The Dog Project is centred on Indi’s interaction and growth, within herself and within our community. The goal was to have 100 local people and their dogs photographed, interviewed and then to combine these into a book, called 'The Dog Project'.

Indi was born 7 weeks early with mild cerebral palsy, compounded by a brain injury caused through a stroke at birth. However, through her love of all dogs the project not only engaged Indi, it brought her into contact with an amazing array of people and ways to do things - just working with Elle Hall, the Photographer who did all these portraits over the 15 months it took to do all those interviews and take all those images, has created a community within our community itself.

Inspired by a book called 'Canines of New York' India and her mum thought it would be a great idea to do a local version. India did all the interviews and Elle took the photos. Along the way friendships blossomed, the unique characters of every dog was recorded and every waggy tail and their own story presented by Indi.

The book's dedication page reads; 'For the Love of Dogs' - and 'Dedicated to my Grandad John and to Clyde and Enzo - two very naughty puppies'.

The Kerr family, Whale Beach legends, have embraced every challenge along the way and viewed any hiccups as opportunities to learn and find a way of doing things that will work. As they say in this lovely book itself;

Learning & Growth PLUS Love and Happiness – It’s the way life should be!

This week, a few insights on why this will make a great gift for your own dog lovers and be a gift for others in doing so.

Where did India find Stella and Daisy?

We had two lovely dogs before S and D ... Clyde the retriever and Enzo the chihuahua ... they are in our book dedication. We all decided border collies would be great for India's next fur friends... very smart and active and good for companionship. We couldn’t find any at Monika's so we looked for people in country settings whose dogs had a litter that needed rehoming. We weren’t fussed about getting a pure breed or anything like that... smart working collie type dog was the goal. 

What did India enjoy most during her year at Jigsaw*?

Socialising and making friends and probably most importantly feeling a strong sense of belonging . She also learned some valuable office skills. 

The Book, The Dog Project - Community Enrichment Through the Love of Dogs, is not only celebrating - it is raising funds for The Cerebral Palsy Alliance and Monika's Dog Rescue; why was this important to the Kerr family?

India has mild cerebral palsy so that was an easy charity choice and she adores dogs as do we so we felt that a dog shelter was a good choice for some of the funds. 

India has interviewed almost 100 people for the project - what did she enjoy best about doing that?

One of the goals when we got The Dog Project off the ground was to have specific learning objectives for India which would build on her knowledge about her community, teach her what’s involved when conducting interviews to collect information and actively involve her in the process of compiling a book from start to finish. Learning by ‘doing’ is a powerful way to pass on knowledge. It is more meaningful and gives everyone a sense of agency.

100 Dogs! Amazing - and everything from 'The Bondi Whippet', an Instagram influencer, to dogs adopted from Monika's Doggie Rescue - how did you select the 100 in this wonderful book?

When we got going we all decided that any dogs we photographed would be found spontaneously or from word of mouth. We took as much of an organic approach as we could. Walking through dog parks and the shops chatting to people... waiting for the dogs to come to us I suppose. We did actively pursue disabled dogs however given we were trying to embrace the idea of imperfection being as valid as ‘good looking’ and a take me as I truly am type of philosophy. We discouraged people taking their dogs to the groomers before a photo shoot. We wanted the real deal. What’s on the inside counts the most. 

The photographs are just beautiful - how did Elle manage to capture the characters so well and were there any funny episodes in doing so?

The shoots were hilarious. Elle has this dog whispery thing going on and most of the time they just did what she needed... she always had treats and wasn’t afraid to lay on the ground and twist herself into tight spaces!!! Watching Elle rolling around on the ground was probably funnier than the dogs sometimes.. our gym shoot at J Train Brookvale was funny. All the muscle bound fellas and their beloved poochs. Very sweet. 

There are some wonderful local dog 'stars' among the mix - Chilli and Rocky are mates of our own dog - but also some sad stories, such as Peggy, the Great Dane/Dalmatian - has India found out or learnt anything more about the wide would of dogs through doing The Dog Project?

India has learned that when possible, rescuing a homeless dog rather than buying from breeders is a nobler way to go... so many beautiful dogs need homes. She’s also learned a huge amount about different dog breeds and their characteristics. She’s lost dogs so she can empathise with the people that have suffered the loss of their own beloved canine companions.

Do Stella and Daisy have any new Doggie friends now?

Yes absolutely. With all the community engagement we have become friendly with loads of lovely people whom we may not have met had it not been for the book. 

Where are India's, Stella and Daisy's favourite places to go for a walk in Pittwater - and why are these their favourite places?

Their 2 favourites are Careel Bay and Bayview. 

They love swimming so Bayview is great and Careel Bay is close by and allows lots of ball chasing and soccer games under the shade of the Morton bay figs. 

How do people get their own copy of The Dog Project - Community Enrichment Through the Love of Dogs - the perfect Christmas-New Years gift for all who love people and all who love dogs?

Get in touch with me, email: -  Or catch me at a dog park near you!!! 

I’ll alert you on the insta where I’ll be .I’ll be at Bayview Dog Park this Sunday morning at 9am as well. 


The launch of a great new book, The Dog Project - Community Enrichment Through the Love of Dogs' took place at Avalon Bowling Club, on the front green, on Saturday December 5th. There was music, stalls, lots of doggie fun and waggy tails.

This is a project from the heart of the community for a good cause. The book is now for sale with funds being raised supporting the Cerebral Palsy Alliance and Monika's Doggie Rescue.

Learn more through the website: and Instagram at:

* Jigsaw is a social enterprise that trains and transitions people with disability into award wage employment. Find out more at:
Monika's Doggie Rescue volunteers on site at the book launch, with one cutie - already adopted by the lady in red. A J Guesdon photo
A Dog's Life!! - at the Launch of the book The Dog Project.  A J Guesdon photo