The authors of the New York Times bestseller Awkward Family Photos are back with a hilarious tribute to the unbreakable and sometimes uncomfortable bond between people and their pets.
There are few things more rewarding than having a pet. They love us unconditionally, shower us with attention, and because of them, we actually live longer. So, what can possibly be awkward about our animal BFFs? Well . . . nothing. In fact, we’re the awkward ones. We adore our pets, but let’s face it—sometimes L-O-V-E makes us go a little overboard. Like giving them middle names, throwing them elaborate birthday parties, and making them a Christmas sweater to match with the rest of the family. Truth is, what they cherish most is our companionship. And maybe that’s the reason we care about them so much—because for such simple pleasures, they allow us to be as awkward as we want.
A Conversation with New York Times bestselling authors and all-around swell guys Mike Bender and Doug Chernack, the geniuses behind AWKWARD FAMILY PET PHOTOS
Q) Your first book Awkward Family Photos spent sixteen weeks on the New York Times bestseller list and was featured everywhere from People and Maxim to the Today show and Nightline. Did you ever think when you first posted your own embarrassing family portraits to share with friends and family that you would one day be managing an “awkward family empire” complete with calendars, a board game, and greeting-card line?
A) No, it was the furthest thing from our mind. We were just shocked that people were sending in their photos at first and we’re still so appreciative of all the awkward families that contribute to the site.
Q) Speaking of your website, in addition to getting over 15 million impressions per month, Awkwardfamilyphotos.com receives between 100 to 150 photo submissions every day. That’s a lot of photos! What is it that makes people want to send you pictures of their most embarrassing moments?
A) We think that there’s something cathartic about sharing your uncomfortable family moments. After all, the site started with our own family photos and we hope that set the tone.
Q) A little birdie (pun intended) told me that after your site launched in 2009 pet photos quickly became the most popular and most commented upon pictures on the site. So you launched www.awkwardfamilypetphotos.com and the book of the same name will be going on sale November 1. The new book is filled with outrageous photos—how on Earth did you select the final shots that ultimately ended up in the book?
A) Well, our theory has always been that if it surprises us in some way or makes us laugh, then it deserves a spot in the book.
Q) Is it true that one of the photos in AWKWARD FAMILY PET PHOTOS features a girl with her pet skunk? A skunk? Really?! Who are these people and why would they want to immortalize themselves in print forever for the world to see?
A) One thing we’ve learned is that to pet owners, it doesn’t matter what kind of animal they have. Bottom line—they love their pet and they’re proud of it.
Q) Do you guys have pets of your own (please dear lord tell us you don’t have a skunk) or do you get more than enough animal awkwardness in your world from managing the site?
A) We do . . . [Mike has] a sweet-dispositioned rescue dog named Din-Din who’s never lost a staring contest, and [Doug has] a very uniquely shaped goldfish named Porky who has a special relationship with Doug’s son. And believe us, we too are guilty of overindulging them! Just like with Awkward Family Photos, we’re no different from the folks who are submitting photos. J
Q) Based on your experience, which group of pet owners (dog owners, cat people, exotic-pet fanatics) is the most awkward?
A) It’s impossible to say one kind of pet owner is more awkward than another. They’re all awkward in their own glorious ways.
Q) Quick--name your top 3 favorite pet movies of all time!
Any Which Way But Loose
Q) While every pet featured in AWKWARD FAMILY PET PHOTOS is a star in its own right, there are more than a handful of megawatt celebrity pets—many of them with their own uniquely awkward relationship with their humans. Timmy and Lassie; Michael Jackson and Bubbles; Lilo and Stitch; that monkey from The Hangover; Dorothy and Toto; Garfield and John; Bruiser from Legally Blonde . . .the list goes on. Do you guys have a particular celebrity pet favorite, or which famous pet-human relationship stands as the most awkward of all time?
A) Micky Rourke and his Chiuhauhas . . . he’s a boxer w/ tiny dogs. Enough said.
Q) Since it’s all anyone seems to want to talk about these days, we might as well jump on the bandwagon—politics. It’s going to take a pretty solid duo to take down Obama and Bo. Any tips for the GOP challengers when it comes to picking a four-legged running mate?
A) It’s time for them to open their minds to other possibilities . . . as we’ve learned making this book, opossums also make wonderful pets.
Q) Flipping through AWKWARD FAMILY PET PHOTOS is enough to make anyone wish they had a little fluffball of their own to hang out with (and, really, to take awkward pictures of). What advice can you give someone looking to adopt this holiday season?
A) We would encourage everyone to adopt a pet . . . it changes your life in so many positive ways, and you’ll finally have a reason to make that miniature matching outfit.
Q) And since we’re talking about holidays, we have to ask—what is your favorite awkward pet holiday photo featured in the new book and why?
A) “Santa’s Little Helper” . . . quite simply, it’s a work of art.
Q) One of the favorite features of your sites and books is “Behind the Awkwardness,” where contributors explain the scenario behind the awkward photo they are submitting. Do you have a favorite Behind the Awkwardness story that someone has shared with you?
A) We love the story about the dog that would climb onto the roof to wait for its owners to come home. It shows that no matter how awkward we are, our pets will always be devoted to us.