Viral Cuteness

posted June 15th, 2016 by
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Viral Cuteness – Spreading the love of a boy and his dog

By Anna Holton-Dean

Viral CutenessWhat’s cuter than a baby or a dog?

The answer can only be a baby and a dog.

Photographer Jarod Knoten thought so when he snapped a photo back in 2012 of his 2-month-old son Porter and rescue pooch Pixel, snuggling together.

Knoten was snapping photos of his newborn when Pixel jumped up on the bed and joined him. “Pixel was lying behind Porter, so I propped him up on her chest between her front and back legs,” he says. “After a couple of shots, Porter fell over on top of her front legs, and she pulled her leg out from underneath him and snuggled up with him. Of course, I started firing away.”

Knoten posted the photo to reddit.com (via imgur.com) with the caption, “Just my dog spooning my baby. Nothing to see here.” As the views kept growing, it became apparent he wasn’t the only one who found it adorable.

Since the photo’s original posting to reddit, and an updated posting by Knoten’s wife Claire with an additional photo, the  two photos combined on imgur have collected over 2 million views, reaching viral status. The photos have been featured on numerous sites including Animal Planet, Disney Family, Huffington Post, The Chive, BuzzFeed and the ASPCA.

For all the shares, reposts and love the original photo received, there was criticism and judgment. As with anything on social media, people can and will find something to criticize.

“The photo of Porter and Pixel got as much backlash as it did praise,” Knoten says. “A lot of people complained that we were putting our infant at risk by exposing him to our dog.

“Obviously, we would never put our child in a situation where he could be hurt. We knew when we got Pixel that it wouldn’t be too long before we thought about having children, so we did our research and trained her accordingly.

“We tried to play with her like a child would, playfully tugging on her ears, tail, etc. By the time Porter was born she was unfazed by getting tugged on and was prepared to handle how Porter may interact with her during their supervised interactions when he was very little. Porter turned 2 on Nov. 2, and they are best buds and partners in crime.”

As confirmation of their responsible parenting, Claire’s updated photo posting to reddit, stacked with the original of Porter and Pixel, displays the caption, “She’ll bite they said… 9 months later still only kisses.”

The original photo’s popularity hasn’t waned almost two years later. In February 2014, a representative from National Geo-graphic contacted Knoten about licensing the photo for use in a new book, “67 Reasons Why Cats Are Better Than Dogs.” The publication is a silly, witty take on the “age old battle: cat vs. dog.”

The photo’s caption in the book says, “Without the slightest hesitation, dogs will often abandon their own children for the first interesting looking human baby they come across, as this reprehensible photo demonstrates.”

It’s all in good fun, but truthfully, as far as they know, Pixel didn’t abandon anyone (or any puppies). She was found on a rural road as a small puppy by the Knotens’ friends while they were moving. The couple posted a photo of her on Facebook, looking for someone to take her in.

Already discussing the addition of another dog for a while, Knoten said to his wife, “Let’s go look at her,” to which she replied, “You never go to look at a puppy; you go to pick a puppy up.”

“She was the perfect size and sweet as  can be, but she was in pretty bad shape health-wise,” Knoten says.

Pixel had a range of ailments including mange, an infected tail wound, malnourishment and the “home run” of intestinal parasites, according to the veterinarian. But with a lot of love and a little time, she was on the mend, playing with the Knotens’ older Shih Tzu and making friends at the dog park. “Truly the perfect addition to our family,” Knoten says. 

When the photos went viral, commenters wanted to know Pixel’s breed. Their best guess is a Border Collie mix, “or in our opinion, the best mixed breed ever,” he says.

No stranger to viral photos, Knoten had a previous run with his work making the Internet rounds. Perhaps without even knowing it, you’ve seen Knoten’s “skeptical baby” photo, which he originally posted to his blog in 2011. It quickly turned into a popular meme (i.e., spread from person to person online) with various captions.         

Despite being a professional photo-grapher with a previous viral photo, Knoten says he never thought the photo of Porter and Pixel would be as popular as it has been; he just hoped someone would find it as cute as he did.

Today, 2-year-old Porter and Pixel (4 years) are still best buds who like to get into mis-chief together. One of Porter’s favorite things to do is fill his dump trucks with dog food and deliver it to her. “There’s the occasional sneaking food to the dog from the dinner table as well,” Knoten says.

Porter also recently learned to play fetch with her. They still snuggle, and “I imagine,” Knoten says, “when Porter is sleeping in a big kid bed, we will no longer be sharing our bed with Pixel.”

Undoubtedly, Knoten will capture it, and it will be just as cute as their early snuggle days. Until then, the Internet—and all of us—will be waiting for the photo.

“67 Reasons Why Cats Are Better Than Dogs” can be purchased on amazon.com.

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