ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — Under bright studio lights and snapping camera shutters, the stars were set for their close-ups. But it wasn’t just Wild hockey players who were the focus, but also their teammates on leashes — unwanted and abandoned dogs, desperate for adoption.

“My goal is to save as many lives as possible and this calendar will allow us to save literally hundreds more lives,” said Rachel Mairose, executive director of Secondhand Hounds dog rescue.

Last season the team had players pose in the first ever Wild Canine calendar. It sold out quickly and raised over $42,000 for charity.

Outside the Wild training locker room, Jared Spurgeon quipped, “Duby said it’s a dream come true to have six puppies hanging out on him.”

He’s referring to goaltender Devan Dubnyk who was photographed with adorable puppies. Other Wild players like Nino Niederreiter, Zach Parise and Mikael Granlund struck up heartwarming poses of their own — their soft sides exposed and soon to benefit Secondhand Hounds.

“My wife’s a huge dog and animal lover, so that’s how we got into it with Secondhand Hounds,” Wild defenseman Spurgeon said.

From Yorkies licking the face of Eric Staal to Matt Dumba in a tug of war with Oreo, the English Bulldog.

All ages, breeds and sizes of dogs will be featured on the calendar.

“I think that’s my favorite part of the whole experience is seeing their connections, so authentic between players and the dogs,” Mairose said.

So win or lose, good game or bad, players — like all dog owners — know that there is a true friend waiting at the other side of the door.

“You come home and they’re always happy to see you no matter what you do in the day or how you play, they treat you the same way,” Spurgeon said.

And soon with the Wilds’ help, there will be a dozen good reasons to save a dog’s life while changing yours.

Last year’s 2500 calendars sold out quickly, so the printing order will be doubled this time around. Money generated will be split between the Minnesota Wild Foundation and Secondhand Hounds.

It is expected the calendars will be ready for sale at the Hockey Lodge in early November – just in time for the holidays.

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