Juji isn't actually the size of a house. He just looks that way on Instagram.
The fluffy one-year-old pup from Buffalo, Minn., is now a digital celebrity, with fans in England, Japan and all over the world.
Chris Cline managed to turn his loyal goldendoodle into an international sensation by editing photos to make the dog look as though he's 10 feet tall.
Cline also appears in the whimsical photographs — at just half of the size of his furry friend. It started as a joke more than a year ago, but now it's become Cline's — and Juji's — ticket to fame.
Last week, the TODAY Show picked up the larger-than-life story, featuring Cline's photography on TV. Before the TV segment, "I was getting two or three emails a day," Cline said. "Now, I'm getting 200."
His number of followers on Instagram has skyrocketed from less than 800 last year to almost 65,000 today.
Cline, a graphic designer with an illustration background, never expected to make a living with photography — but Instagram has changed his life in unpredictable ways. The photo-based social media network is where he first met his girlfriend.
He was living in Weyers Cave, Va., at the time, and she was based in Minnesota. They spent six months talking on the phone.
"Finally, we just agreed that we were either going to have to meet, or we were going to have to move on with our lives," Cline said. "I jumped on a bus to come to Minnesota for the weekend, and just never left. That was three years ago."
The pair now lives in Buffalo. Last year, they expanded their household to three when his girlfriend, Christine Ann Fagerlie, brought home Juji.
A photo posted by Chris Cline (@christophercline) on Feb 22, 2016 at 1:15pm PST
The first dog photo Cline edited featured a miniature version of him riding Juji like a horse. It snowballed from there. Now Cline, who works from home, spends hours perfecting each giant-dog scenario he dreams up.
"I go out and take the background shot first, because I need to know what the lighting is supposed to look like," he explains. Then he brings out Juji. For each edit, he takes as many as 60 photos of the dog — some in more ridiculous positions than others.
"Sometimes it's difficult to get the poses, but we've been working together for over a year now on these, so we know each other really well," Cline said. "I know when he's in the mood to work, and when he's not."
Finally, Cline photographs himself. Every finished edit he posts on Instagram started as at least three different pictures, but could contain elements from as many 10. Cline combines them in Photoshop, where he smooths edges and adjusts shadows.
So far, he's featured shots of Juji riding a bike, taking the place of the shark in the "Jaws" poster, towering over him in a lawn chair and leaping through the foggy woods looking like a character from "The NeverEnding Story."
"I keep thinking I'm going to run out of ideas, but I don't, because every day is new," Cline said. The surreal pet project has turned into his full-time job. He edits other people's pets into towering giants for a fee of $50. He's done dogs, cats — and even a snake.
"That one was strange," he said.
The bizarre world of Internet fame has taken some getting used to. A few weeks ago, while out in Stillwater, a woman recognized Juji on the street.
"Oh my god," she said. "I saw you on Instagram!"
Next, the dog groomers recognized Juji when he came in for a trim.
"Then Ashton Kutcher posted my pictures on his Facebook page the other day," Cline said. "That was kind of a big deal to me."
Next, Cline hopes to do a children's book starring his two-story-tall dog. For now, he and Christine Ann are just trying to keep track of all the emails, calls and messages pouring in.
"We keep looking at each other and saying: 'This is weird.'"
Juji, for his part, hasn't let the fame go to his head.
"As long as he gets his treat for taking pictures for an hour, he doesn't care about anything else," Cline said. Juji still likes the same old things — mainly, sticks, and spending time with Cline.
"It's brought us really close together," Cline said. "He's definitely my best buddy."
Meet Juji, Buffalo's biggest dog star
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