Sometimes, you rescue a dog. Other times, as Topher Brophy discovered, a dog rescues you.
After suffering a herniated disk two years ago, the always-busy New Yorker was forced to slow down and ease up on his overzealous exercise routine. When not rushing from rugby practice to squash as his body recovered, he realized something was missing.
“I didn’t know it at the time, but I was emotionally suffering,” says Brophy. “I wasn’t in touch with myself, and I wasn’t focusing on the people around me and what they might need. But then I adopted Rosenberg, and it helped me understand myself in leaps and bounds.”
That the two connected isn’t exactly surprising. While many dogs and their humans are said to resemble each other, Brophy and Rosenberg look strikingly — almost eerily — similar. With matching soulful eyes, shaggy brown hair and a certain je ne sais quoi, the pair turned heads when going on walks around the city.
“People kept saying, ‘Oh, you look a lot like your dog,’ which is a strange thing to hear,” says Brophy, who didn’t immediately see the resemblance. “So one day as a joke, we went out and wore the same outfit. The reaction was crazy — kids went nuts. And I realized we could make a lot of people happy.”
A Dynamic Duo is Born
A lot of people, indeed. Since that first fateful outing, Brophy and Rosenberg have amassed more than 93K followers on Instagram. With the help of creative director Chantal Adair, the photographer behind @TheDogStyler, the dynamic duo has portrayed everything from astronauts to Elvis impersonators, cowboys to bartenders. Some of the most hilarious photos are the simplest — when Rosenberg wears a cableknit turtleneck, it’s easy to forget that he is, in fact, a dog.
“It sounds really weird, but sometimes I’m just waiting for him to talk,” Brophy says. “His eyes look human, like he’s ready to speak sometimes.”
According to Brophy, Rosenberg is exactly as relaxed and nonchalant as
he appears on Instagram. Although he’s a typical pup who enjoys a good romp
in the park, he also appreciates a finely-tailored suit and loves being held in his signature pose, propped up in his dad’s arms.
Bringing People Together
While the photos are undeniably humorous, the heart of the project goes beyond goofy costumes. After witnessing the effect Rosenberg has on people from all walks of life, Brophy hopes to inspire others to reach out and make connections.
“Growing up in New York, I’ve always been surrounded by diversity. We’re all different, but we’re all the same, and that’s part of the message we want to spread,” he says. “Whether we’re human or canine, we’re all breathing the same air on this planet and it’s important to understand each other.”
That a dog could have so much to teach us about humanity might seem strange — unless, of course, you’ve had a dog.
“Animals treat you like you treat them — you give them love, they’re going to give it back,” says Brophy. “That’s a really good example for all of us.”
Monica Weymouth is a writer, editor and certified Weird Animal Lady. She lives in Philadelphia with her two rescued Shih Tzus.