Kids and dogs is the go-to formula for adorable—on Instagram and in general. But there was something particularly special we noticed when we stumbled across Ethaniel's Pit Bull. The feed features sweet, funny photos of the toddler and his best friend and (for all intents and purposes) big brother, Caylao, a rescue Pit Bull. Ethaniel's dad, JP, was kind enough to answer a few questions about life with kids and pets behind the camera.
OLLIE: It's obvious from the photos that Ethaniel and Caylao share a special relationship. Can you describe it for us?
JP: Even before birth, Caylao would hover around my wife, Jessica, when she was pregnant. After Ethaniel came home for the first time, Caylao continued to hover in [his] general area. When he and Ethaniel finally made first contact, Caylao was scared, but curious. That curiosity eventually developed into comfort and companionship. As Ethaniel grew and became more aware (and more mobile!), he would instinctively approach Caylao with the same curiosity. Before we knew it, Ethaniel was regularly approaching Caylao [and] hugging him.
OLLIE: When they are not being adorable on Instagram, what do Ethaniel and Caylao like to do?
JP: Play! Run! Basically, anything and everything that will result in the rest of us having to give chase. Ethaniel just turned two in April, and is at the stage where his curiosity and mobility are running at full tilt while he is awake. Caylao does not hesitate to follow suit, especially when they are in the backyard with regular access to endless leaves and sticks.
OLLIE: Who comes up with the photo ideas for the feed?
JP: It's mostly me, but it's a family effort, regardless. Each shot, depending on how complicated, can easily become an entire family affair to keep the attention of the puppies, to keep Ethaniel's attention, to hold the camera, etc.
OLLIE: It seems like your feed is committed to challenging stereotypes about Pitbulls.
JP: It is, primarily. But we also want to show that, regardless of the breed, it really matters how you treat a dog in the same way it matters how you treat a child (or any human being, for that matter). Every dog has a temperament like every child will. We can understand apprehension of pitbulls (especially Caylao, since he's little larger than average), but we want people to realize [that] a pitbull can be just as naturally loving as the owner allows him to be.
OLLIE: Can you tell us about his adoption story?
JP: We found out about Caylao through the foster agency, Ring Dog Rescue. They rescued him as a puppy when they realized he was in a kill shelter for no other reason beyond being a pitbull. He was barely a year old when we adopted him. He is 7 years old now, and he is absolutely still nothing less than a big, 100+ lb teddy bear for Ethaniel.
OLLIE: Any tips for helping dogs and babies learn to love and respect each other?
JP: Patience. There is absolutely nothing more important than patience. As I stated before, personalities for dogs will be as distinct as they are for children. Some dogs are simply too high energy to be around children in certain situations. Some dogs aren't. Either way, that behavior is not a sign of a dog being deserving of less than the next. Ultimately, it always requires unwavering patience. Like a child, nothing will show a dog your love more than giving him the experience of your genuine time and attention.
Keep up with Ethaniel and Caylao on Instagram!