Jewelers & Pets: Meet Gigi the Great Dane, Dog Muse & Model for Slane Jewelry

Animals are like family to many in the industry. That’s why Jewelers & Pets is a new column for the Style 360 blog, and will highlight the furry friends of some of industry’s finest and the role they play in their lives. Plus, it’s also a good excuse to link to one of the many animal rescues and charities that exist to help animals in need. Want your pet to be profiled? Connect with me at jheebner@jckonline.com.

For years, Heath Slane’s German Shorthaired Pointer, Hunter, and his best friend Gigi—a rescued female Great Dane belonging to Maki Metzger, Slane’s assistant at Slane Jewelry—were buddies who hung out when their owners did. But since Hunter’s passing in September 2008, Gigi, now almost 8, has become the canine center of attention for the friends, whose group sometimes includes photographer Mandy Schoch. All have long admired Gigi’s regal silhouette, a perfect if unexpected perch for a display of jewels.

“To watch her sit up—with that glorious long neck—reminds me of both Audrey Hepburn and Olive Oyl,” says Slane, who gives dogs first rights to sofa seats in the house. “Gigi is so angular and elegant—just a beautiful dog.”

Metzger and her husband adopted the special needs dog—a nervous, underweight one-and-a-half-year-old pure breed that ran into the bushes when the pair came to meet her—about six years ago from San Marcos, Calif.–based Indian Dane Rescue. “The original owner complained that Gigi didn’t eat, and she’s had health issues since we got her,” says Metzger. Self-proclaimed Aunt Slane remembers another heartbreaking sign of dog dysfunction: “Gigi didn’t even know how to chew on a bone; Hunter had to teach her.”

Hunter Slane and Gigi Metzger

Best friends Hunter Slane, a German Shorthaired Pointer, and Gigi Metzger, a rescued Great Dane

The friends eventually conspired to coax Gigi, a once terrified and abused pup who would hide from strangers and within earshot of children playing, into sitting for some portraits. A sign that their idea might actually work: the normally people-shy pooch was instantly drawn to Schoch, whose niche happens to be pet photography.

Slane figured the shots would simply be a gift to her fur parents, but they turned out to be so powerful and generate such a great response that the New York-City–based jewelry firm—Heath Slane is based in Los Angeles, but her sister and Springer Spaniel lover, Landon Slane, a co-owner, is in the city—might end up using the images in some press materials.

Gigi Metzger sheltering from the world behind a tree

How Gigi coped with her fear of people? Hide in the shrubs.

“We wanted to get a portrait of Gigi that was so authentically Gigi that her mom and dad would recognize her, and we did,” she explains. “We captured who this dog is—her straight face on camera, those ears, and legs everywhere—we were thrilled.”

Not surprisingly, some of the jewelry chosen included ladylike pearls, and long strands and oval motifs that mimic Gigi’s length. And while Slane maintains that styling a nervous-mannered animal is a challenge, the resulting images are the magic of Gigi’s story. “They show the transformation of this beautiful girl,” she says.

Gigi Metzger the Great Dane in Slane Jewelry

Gigi the Great Dane in Slane Jewelry
Art Director: Heath Slane
Stylist: Maki Metzger
Model: Gigi at Mandy Schoch Photography in Los Angeles

Gratuitous dog cuteness: Gigi at the beach