Quick little update: Instagram is where it all began, where Cutie and the Beast became labeled, defined, and shared with people all over the world. I may not be savvy enough to find Pokémon or figure out Snapchat, but Instagram, I'm cool with. So I was pretty darned floored when Bernadette contacted me for an Interview with Instagram. We were subsequently featured on their social media accounts a couple weeks ago. Since Instagram limits the amount of text in a caption, I thought I'd share the interview in it's entirety. They were excellent questions that I think our followers would love to hear about as well.
What do you hope people see when they look at your photos?
I hope that people see respect and kindness when they look at our photos. That is the most important message we try to share. No matter what they are doing, they are always behaving with mindfulness of each other's space and comfort.
How has your/Siena/Buddha's story changed over the past year?
When we first brought 10 week old Buddha home, Siena was only 2. I've heard that dogs have the mental capacities of a 2.5 year old child and perhaps that's why the two bonded so fiercely that first year. Now that Siena is 5 and is going to school with friends of her own, the two have become more independent. They no longer spend every moment together and they each have activities independent of each other. Still, when Siena comes home every afternoon, Buddha is her patient shadow. He's always there if she needs someone to approve of her latest creation or if mom is being the most unfair person in the world, he is there to comfort her.
Who or what inspires you?
I try very hard not to look at other posts from dog/kid feeds. There are a couple reasons why. One of them is that I try to keep the content original and sincere and I don't want to be subconsciously influenced by other accounts, amazing as they may be. I don't want to force a composition because I saw a post that looked interesting. The second reason that I don't often check out other dog/kid feeds is because I often see improper interaction between child and animal - it really bothers me. The last thing I want to do is encourage parents to force young children and dogs together because it looks cute. Kids are easy to read when they are annoyed and upset, most people can recognize the signs. Dogs, people pleasers as they are, usually give subtle signs when they are uncomfortable and are pushed to a limit that can often break. This is when bites occur and parents think it came from nowhere when in actuality their dog was giving stress signals for a long time.
Back to the real question though, I get inspiration from my kiddos! Really, there is nothing that can compare to the honesty that both very young children and dogs exude from their very nature. I just wait and snap a quick photo when they are quietly interacting with each other. I'm also inspired by loving relationships in wildlife - a cat cleaning her kitten, that polar bear rushing to aide her cub when it fell into the pool of water, a hen ruffling a chick under her wing. It sounds terribly corny but as a mom, these honest acts of selfless care for another is what truly inspires me.
What has been your favorite community reaction to your work with Siena and Buddha?
I love love love when the community recognizes and shares the subtle signs of a truly content dog and very careful child. I cherish that message of teaching both your dog and child how to be kind to one another. Siena has never tried to ride Buddha, pull his ears, or hit him. She is not even allowed to pick up our small Chihuahua, a rule which she completely respects and never attempted to break. I believe in a certain method of treating and training both our canine and human kids, and it's been amazing to see our followers share that method and message of kindness and consistency.
What would surprise people to know about you, Siena and/or Buddha?
(I asked Siena this question since I couldn't think of anything)
Siena: "That's he's a Doberman and he's afraid of the vacuum."
(I tried to hand vacuum him once after hearing about it's effectiveness on quickly grabbing excess hairs. He was not amused! Neither was Siena!)