“I love you.” Those are the three words that eventually changed a dog owner’s life, not just because that was what he said to his dog, but because that was what his dog said to him. The YouTube video of a 9-year-old Siberian Husky named Mishka howling something that sounds like, “I love you,” has been viewed over 72 million times since Matthew Gardea first uploaded it in February of 2008.
“At first we just howled to get her going, wolf-style. It was a form of communication/bonding between us. Then we noticed after time that she was mimicking us in tone and syllables. We noticed that she was really good at repeating ‘I love you’ and said it to her often. She seems like she is actually expressing affection for us when she says it, odd as that sounds. For years she would say it to us when our friends came over as a party trick, then I decided to put it up on YouTube–and well–the rest is history!” Matthew Gardea told me.
“History,” of course, is his YouTube channel, Gardea23, garnering over 300 thousand subscribers and 295 million video views from Mishka fans that are attracted to what Gardea describes as, “Family friendly, dog-centric entertainment.” “History” is Mishka being tapped to be the “voice” for a Purina commercial that debuted during “The National Dog Show,” being featured on “NBC Nightly News,” and being asked to appear on “Live with Regis and Kelly” and “The Today Show.” Mishka is a veritable YouTube star.
“I’m a big fan of Adam Sandler, and we got to hang out with him in the green room one time. Prior to going on ‘Live with Regis and Kelly,’ Mishka said, ‘I love you,’ to him and he thought she was awesome. He even stopped by after his interview and made a point to say ‘I love that dog!’” Gardea said.
It’s clear that people love Mishka just as much as she loves them, and she has over 262 thousand “likes” on Facebook to prove it. Why are people so drawn to a dog that seems like it’s trying to communicate through human language?
Gardea said, “People communicate with their pets in one way or another; Mishka just takes it to another level. I think seeing a pet that can vocally express how it feels really touches people. Mishka, Moki, and Laika are kind of like virtual pets for the world. Their fans can check in on them through Facebook and YouTube to see what they’re up to. For people who don’t or can’t have dogs, they get to share ours.”
And how did Mishka first come to be a part of the Gardea family, before she became a part of her fans’ families?
“When my wife and I first moved in together, just out of college, we decided that we wanted to get a husky. We stopped by a pet store and fell in love with her. Mishka is both my wife’s and my, first dog. Though we purchased Mishka from a pet store, we would encourage people to adopt from either a shelter or a Siberian Husky rescue program. There are a lot of dogs out there who need good homes. If people do decide to purchase a husky, I would recommend choosing a reputable breeder.”
While Matthew Gardea says that content creation and upkeep for his 4 related YouTube channels and social media pages takes a lot of time and creativity, he still continues to work as a freelance art director. His YouTube empire includes a Gardea family vlog channel, as well as channels for Mishka and his 2 other dogs; Laika, another Siberian Husky, and Moki, a mixed breed likely composed of Jack Russell Terrier and Pit Bull genes that the Gardea family adopted from a Bronx shelter.
Gardea explained the main differences of the dog channels to me: “Each dog’s channel is a different experience due to their individual personalities and abilities. Mishka is the ‘diva’ talking husky. Laika is the young, pretty, silly star following in Mishka’s footsteps. Moki is the silent, wise-cracking, cute one.”
As we in the United States head into the dog days of summer, fans can expect a lot more of Mishka, as well as Moki and Laika. Mishka, after all, has long proven that she is no one-trick pony.
“We have been working with an animation studio for the last 3 months to create a cartoon series for Mishka, Moki, & Laika that will air on YouTube. The characters in the show will directly reflect the personalities of the dogs, with talented voice-over artists giving them voices. Mishka’s voice will actually be done by a very popular YouTuber… you’ll just have to wait to see who it will be! Also, by fan request, we are going to be making Mishka, Moki, & Laika plush dolls,” Gardea said about upcoming projects.
The Mishka Interview
Proud Mishka papa, Matthew Gardea, let me talk with Mishka so that you readers could get the scoop on what it’s like to be Mishka, and also so that you could be enlightened by her profound answers to some of life’s most confounding philosophical questions (Plato and Descartes ain’t got nothin’ on Mishka). Here’s my official and exclusive interview with Mishka, the talking Siberian Husky:
Alan Van: What’s a typical day in your life like?
Mishka: Depends on the day. Some days I’m sunbathing in the backyard watching squirrels and birds. Other days, I’m appearing on TV talk shows or shooting movies at the studio.
Alan: Do you enjoy being a big star?
Mishka: I think the term “big star” is relative.
Alan: What’s the difference between good and evil?
Mishka: Good is better.
Alan: Why is there something rather nothing?
Mishka: What are you talking about?
Alan: What’s the meaning of life?
Alan: If you could give any advice to the readers at this very moment, what would it be?
Mishka: I LOVE YOU. It’s not really advice…but I mean it.
And the most important question of all:
Photography provided by Matthew Gardea