There are so many wonderful canine content creators out there to enjoy. But there are two hot dogs whose incredible acting range stick out among them all: There’s 13-year-old Doxie Din, who started it all (think Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man who launched the MCU) and 3-year-old Puppy Jay, who costars with Doxie Din and also stars in his own videos (think Chris Evans as Captian America, featured in the Avengers movies and his own movies).
Then they have some wonderful humans who produce their consistently high-quality videos and appear alongside with them: Their mom Irina, dad Ilia, and Dmitry, their lead human actor, aka “Good Guy.” Together, they form the DDCU (Doxie Din Cinematic Universe), which results in a stream of inventive, fun, and hilarious videos for us to enjoy on a regular basis. Their talent even earned them a 2023 Webby Award! Make sure to swipe through the bios above and then dig into the interview below.
CP: What inspired you to start creating such fun and imaginative content with your dogs? Did you have previous experience with videography or graphic design?
Humans: Like many great things, it all started as a joke, then continued as a hobby, and now we are where we are! One day, our friend joked that we had more photos of Din on Instagram than our own and suggested we should start his own Instagram account! Now it seems so obvious and doesn’t seem unusual, but all of this happened in the fall of 2016 when it was all still new.
We quickly realized that Instagram was not the platform we needed, and we shifted our focus to YouTube, which remains our main and most beloved platform.
So, we had no experience in design, filmmaking, or social networks when started. Irina is an archaeologist, Ilia is an IT specialist, and Dima joined us in 2018 after completing his medical studies. However, after so many years of practice and learning in filmmaking, it doesn’t matter anymore. We’ve grown and improved through the experience!
CP: I really can’t get enough of your videos, such amazing quality. Love the universality of the ‘silent’ humor, the fun props, funny acting, and imaginative special effects. Can you take us through the process of creating a video?
Humans: Thank you! Each video is unique, and each has its own path. Sometimes you come up with a video on Monday and release it on Sunday, while others are developed for months, and some even for years. Let me tell you about one of my favorite videos, Puppy Jay’s first solo video, “Cast Away: A Puppy’s Fight for Survival!” (I recommend watching it before reading further; there are spoilers!)
Each video starts with an idea that can be summarized in one sentence. Dima suggested this video back in 2019 when we went to Montenegro for the winter for the first time. It sounded like “Din was shipwrecked and uses garbage to survive.” The idea was amazing, but we faced challenges while writing the script, often running into dead ends. So, we postponed this idea many times until it went into our idea bank (currently holding more than 200 ideas for videos, though unfortunately, some may never be shot).
We revisited the concept in 2020, with Puppy Jay now part of the team. We were looking for old ideas that could fit his character, and it fit perfectly! Like a young Tom Hanks, Puppy Jay’s youthfulness and carefree nature turned beach cleanup into a thrilling shipwreck game!
Once the script was complete, we started drawing storyboards. We do not do this for all videos. For simpler ones, we limit ourselves to a list of shots we need. But for special videos like this one, we always create a storyboard! During this process, we also consider the additional equipment required. For example, this video starts with a rotating frame, which was quite challenging to shoot, taking about an hour just for that footage.
We began filming in the spring of 2021 when the sea had warmed up. There were plenty of funny moments during the shoot, but perhaps the funniest was when we brought our own garbage to the beach for the scenes. Passers-by praised us for cleaning up, not realizing that we had brought the garbage ourselves!
For this video, we needed 4 or 5 shooting days, but our sessions are relatively short, rarely lasting more than 1.5 hours, as the dogs get tired and need ample rest after filming.
After that, post-production begins, which can last as long as you want since there’s always room for video improvements. Setting a deadline at this stage is crucial. Typically, it takes 3-4 days for music selection, editing, color grading, and sound effects.
Oh, there’s a lot of text, but I still didn’t reveal everything…
CP: How would you describe Doxie Din, and what makes him special to you? Does he have any funny quirks?
Humans: I don’t know how, but I’m sure Din knows he’s a superstar! He always behaves like this! He is the king in our house. He always acts like the paparazzi cameras are on him, always proud, always handsome!
And quirks… Hmm… For example, if he sleeps very comfortably and doesn’t want to get up to go for a drink, he will start to slurp very loudly so that someone will bring him water and he can drink lol. Like I said, he’s the king.
CP: How about for Puppy Jay?
Humans: Puppy Jay is the complete opposite of Din! We often call them the king and jester duet! Jay is just a little ball of love! He loves everyone. If someone comes to visit us, he is simply bursting with happiness! This often happens in our vlog videos.
Well, at the expense of quirks – he never goes out for a walk until his belly is scratched. You tell him, Jay, it’s time to go for a walk, and he runs to the carpet, falls belly up, and waits for you to scratch. We call it the walking tax lol.
CP: For a behind-the-scenes look, can you share a story (or video) that captures Doxie Din’s personality?
Humans: Din is quite mature now and has changed a lot over the years, although, like I said, he always knew he was a superstar! But I think now this video will best describe him, in which he is afraid to send Puppy Jay to school:
After the appearance of Jay, he also changed a lot. He loves him very much, they always play together, and he is very worried about him. If on a walk, he gets Puppy Jay out of sight, he starts to whine, bark, and look for him everywhere. I think the term mentor best describes him now.
CP: And how about Puppy Jay?
Humans: Puppy Jay plays himself in every video! But I think this video describes it as accurately as possible:
He loves people, always wants to be around them and… He’s very cunning about it! I think if we had real dynamite at home, he would invariably use it to get through the closed door!
CP: Now onto the celebrity pets themselves: Doxie Din, how you met your humans, and what were your puppy years like?
Din: My origin story is quite simple – they just bought me at a kennel. I have quite famous show parents, but I was born with flaws (of course, I won’t talk about them, because I’m a star after all), so there wasn’t a queue of people who wanted to buy me, but then came daddy! I can’t say that I immediately liked him… He doesn’t manage to make a first impression at all! But over time, I realized that I was lucky. If only he didn’t snore at night…
And about puppyhood… Hmm, it was a long time ago, but I remember that I learned and trained a lot! I understood that if I had no chance to become a show dog, then I had to break through to glory in a different way haha!
Jay: I agree! I didn’t like mommy and daddy very much at first either! I even got scared and hid from them under the closet, where they tried to pull me out for 10 or 15 minutes. And btw, Din you know that you also snore at night?
Din: Puppy Jay, don’t forget your NDA…
CP: So Din, what was it being an established A-list actor such as yourself, who then finds themselves appearing alongside a cool young costar?
Din: I did want to add that it was not easy to decide to take in a puppy (and a costar). First of all, I did not know if I would like it or not… In general, I was thinking that this was a bad idea! But when we saw pics and then videos of a month-old baby Jay, who was lying belly up, we all realized that we simply could not live without him! Therefore, if you do not want a puppy to suddenly appear at your house, then do not watch videos with puppies at all, they are so cute that you just cannot resist!
CP: You both have an incredible range as actors and musicians. Is there anything you do to prepare for your roles? Or are you both just naturals?
Din: We are great actors and we don’t need to prepare for roles, but sometimes roles require some hard skills, like limping convincingly or pressing a bell, or pushing a button with your nose, etc. Then, of course, we need preparation for that! We used to train with a coach, but now, after moving, mommy teaches us everything! She’s a great coach, or Puppy Jay and I are too smart and learn everything so easily!
Jay: Yes, I learned how to limp in 3 training days! Now I sometimes limp just to beg for a treat, I do it so convincingly that daddy almost fainted from fear several times already!
Din: I did the same thing when I was younger, I taught you well (paws clapping, tails wagging)
CP: Besides being excellent actors, do either of you have any other special talents? Or do any tricks?
Din: Many dogs count the number of tricks they know, but in our case this is almost impossible. For almost every new video, we come up with some kind of trick, or modify the old one.
Jay: For example, my world-famous paw stamp. I have used it in many videos to show my dissatisfaction or make demands. Now mommy taught me a little more and I learned to scratch objects, for example, I scratched the door to get into the toilet to mommy in the video, the link to which we already gave
Din: The only talent I don’t have is I can’t cook at all…
CP: Lol I’m sure your private chef has that handled. So guys, what’s the naughtiest thing you’ve done? (We promise not to tell your humans)
Din and Jay: We’re already busted…
Din: Once I stole a piece of very tasty salted salmon from the table. But that’s just the beginning of the story… It made me so thirsty that I drank all the water, but I was still thirsty, so I pushed an empty bowl into my parents’ room for them to refill. And then, I wanted to pee lol! And all this happened several times at night…
Jay: And I try to swallow the small parts of the toys! Like fingers or ears. That’s why I only play with toys under the supervision of my parents… Ugh, it’s so boring…
CP: When your life story is turned into a feature film, what celebrities would play each of you and your humans?
Jay: Tom Holland will play me! I’m sure he dreams about it!
Din: A good choice! Hmm… The rest will be a little more difficult! I think Woody Harrelson will play daddy very well, they have a similar vibe. Reese Witherspoon is suitable for the role of mommy, she is just as beautiful and kind. Who will play me… Hmmm. Maybe Adrien Brody? I think we are even quite similar! And he has an amazing deep voice, just like me!
Jay: But you forget about Dima. I think Pedro Pascal will play him great! They have one face for both!
Din: I agree, great cast!
My videos are silent films, taking a modern twist on classic actors who inspire us, such as Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin – even Mr. Bean. If a joke can make you laugh without words, then the whole world can laugh together. It may feel like the world is building more walls than bridges these days. But I know if we can share some joy and humor together, it will help us all positively connect with each other.Doxie Din, on the power of silent comedy
CP: If you were stuck on a deserted island, what are the 5 essential items you’d take?
Din: Firstly, I would take a video camera, because I can shoot a great vlog video for a million views! I would also take a good mattress or a large soft blanket. To pass the time, I would take the collection of Harry Potter books. I can re-read them endlessly! And of course, I would take a toothbrush and toothpaste! Do not forget about oral hygiene, even on a desert island!
Jay: I would take a year’s supply of dog food! Don’t worry Din, I’d share with you! I would also take sunscreen to protect my belly skin when I sunbathe, and… 3 toys! Very cruel that I can’t take all my toys…
CP: When you’re taking time off from starring in such epic videos, what do you do to unwind?
Din: We love to sleep well, especially in the sun! In our apartment now, the sun gets into one room in the morning and into another in the evening, but this is why we have dog beds laid out everywhere so that at any moment we can sleep and take sunbaths!
Jay: And we have a lot of toys! Din usually prefers to play with one toy, the one that was given last, but I pay attention to all of them! I try to play with each one during the day!
When we’re not on screen, we’re just dogs. Very handsome and smart dogs.Doxie Din and Puppy Jay, on what they do in their downtime
CP: If you just won the lottery, what’s the first thing you’d buy or do?
Din: I would buy a big and cozy house in a nice place! I’m a little tired of the constant moving, suitcases, renting apartments, and all that. I would like to find my home.
Jay: Din and I have a favorite toy – a snowman. We even made a video about it – I am constantly afraid that the manufacturing company will stop producing them, so I would just buy this company!
CP: Imagine you both host the talk show Live with Doxie Din and Puppy Jay!, who would be your top three celebrity guests and why?
Din and Jay: Henry Cavill, I have a lot of questions for him about The Witcher series… Perhaps I would offer him a role in my own doggy film adaptation of this book. Then Hans Zimmer! I’m a big fan! It seems to me that artists of such a high level as he and I could reveal a lot to each other. And Hideo Kojima because he’s a genius!
Don’t forget to brush your teeth… And buy bitcoin at $10k and sell at $60k.Doxie Din and Puppy Jay, on advice to give their younger selves
CP: Is there a charity or non-profit organization you’d like to give a shoutout to?
Din: We do not support any organizations; we adhere to the principle of targeted assistance or helping small volunteer groups, where we can be sure that most of the money goes to those in need. Therefore, I believe that everyone should make such decisions independently.
CP: Are there any doggy content creators or influencers you follow that you’d like to give a shoutout to?
Din: I would like to mention my great friends Crusoe Celebrity Dachshund and Harlso the Balancing Hound. They gave me such a big help during the fight for Webby Awards! Now each of us has one Webby! We are pioneers among celebrity dogs and have been in touch with each other for a long time. I love them very much, and I hope that one day we will all meet!
CP: So we’re wondering if any of your videos are “art imitating life” and this video does feel like there’s some truth behind it. Is there a story you can tell that inspired this?
Din: Every story is 20% fiction and 80% your life experience. This is a great video – We need to shoot remake or sequel! (Oh, by the way, during the filming of this video, daddy unfortunately fell down the stairs and injured his heel. It still hurts sometimes.)
Jay: Does my NDA let me talk everything about daddy?
Jay: This is such a true story! Daddy constantly comes to the fridge and wants something to eat! Especially at night. This is why we keep dog food away from the refrigerator!
CP: What was it like winning the Webby Award for Social Animals 2023? (You got our team’s vote!)
Din: This victory means a lot to us, and these are not just words. We are now considering the possibility of obtaining a talent visa and moving to another country (still a top secret location) and this award is our main trump card! It is highly valued. So perhaps this victory was fateful for us, and we still cannot even estimate the scale!
Jay: And the battle for this award was so exciting! It seems to me that our team has never been so focused and passionate about what we do! The competition was very high, and we wanted to win so much!
CP: Have any exciting plans coming up?
Din: We have a lot of things in development right now. Here are the most important ones:
We’re launching localized channels. We have received messages from people who don’t speak English well or at all, saying they have trouble understanding some points in our videos, especially when we use text like “Eviction Notice,” etc. To address this, we are launching a network of localized channels in various languages. Everything will be localized on these channels, including the video track, and the videos will be supplemented with embedded subtitles.
In addition, we are working on writing a script for our new season. This time we would like to make it more horizontal, with more thorough storytelling. We want to have an epic ending with a confrontation with the “Bad Guy,” and finally explain to everyone who he is and why he is following us everywhere…
Jay: We are also preparing a video together with…
Din: Jay, NDA!
CP: For anyone new to the DDCU (Doxie Din Cinematic Universe), what are 5 videos you’d recommend to watch?
Din and Jay: This is a dream question! It was very interesting to make this list, and very difficult at the same time! So here we go:
Pirate’s video “Fish Feed” – This video is an example of how we would like to shoot each video, with a big budget, costumes, scenery, etc. But unfortunately, we can’t afford it yet.
Puppy Jay’s first video “Little Rogue” – Our most viewed video, currently has over 80 million views on YouTube. But it’s probably the hardest video we’ve ever made. We just took baby Jay and before we could shoot anything, we had to teach him how to do it. We shot 5-10 seconds of video a day.
“Always Young and Brave” [Official Music Video] – It was a wild experiment! In this video, everything was new for us – a new genre, a new camera (we filmed it on our RED cinema camera), new actors! Everything was the first time in this video, and we learned so much while filming it!
“Puppy Survives the First Day of School!” – I already gave a link to this video above. It was also an experimental video, but completely different. When shooting this video, we were inspired by the healing anime of the Iyashikei genre, and our task was to transfer this calming and healing effect to our video! And we succeeded! I love this video so much and almost cry every time I watch it.
“Indiana Bones and the Last Mummy” – This Indiana Jones-inspired video is our most underrated! I would like as many people as possible to see this video and understand what archaeologists actually do in real life.
Thanks Din and Jay for taking the time to chat with us with your busy filming schedule! And make sure to follow @doxiedin on Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok. And definitely subscribe to their YouTube channel for the full-length videos!