Pups are people, too: Photos show how dogs become family

Helsinki-based photographer Maija Astikainen never had a dog when she was growing up. 

But from her multi-year photo project — of pups sitting pretty like people — you'd think she'd been a dog lover her whole life. 

A dog finds friends among stuffed animals. Maija Astikainen
A dog finds friends among stuffed animals.

Astikaninen started to toy with the idea in 2009. "First, I was shooting dogs and their owners together, but then I changed it to only dogs," she told TODAY.com. "As I found out that it looks actually a bit weird with only the dogs, as if they were the owners of the house or living there themselves."

A dog peeks from around a table. Maija Astikainen
A dog peeks from around a table.

The photographer is fascinated by how people personify animals. "I realized that what is the most interesting point about dogs to me, is that how we kind of misinterpret the things they are doing," she said. "We even sometimes consider them something in between pets and humans. Something like furry babies — animals, but with human qualities." 

Looking at portraits of people — to shed light on "the relationship of people and their pets" and how animals gain so much importance in our lives — helps give Astikainen inspiration. "It happens to me all the time with my cat," she said. "I see the things it does as human gestures and I put human thoughts to it."

A bulldog finds his way into the shower. Maija Astikainen
A bulldog finds his way into the shower.
  • Slideshow Photos

    Maija Astikainen

    Pups are people, too: Photos show how dogs become family

    Helsinki-based photographer Maija Astikainen shoots pups sitting pretty like people in her photo project "One-Dog Policy."

  • Pups are people, too: Photos show how dogs become family

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    Porch pup -

    Helsinki-based photographer Maija Astikainen never had a dog when she was growing up.

    But from her multi-year photo project — of pups sitting pretty like people — you'd think she'd been a dog lover her whole life.

    Maija Astikainen
  • Pups are people, too: Photos show how dogs become family

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    Bathroom bulldog -

    Astikaninen started to toy with the idea in 2009. "First, I was shooting dogs and their owners together, but then I changed it to only dogs," she told TODAY.com.

    Maija Astikainen
  • Pups are people, too: Photos show how dogs become family

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    Unsure about dinner -

    "As I found out that it looks actually a bit weird with only the dogs, as if they were the owners of the house or living there themselves," she said.

    Maija Astikainen
  • Pups are people, too: Photos show how dogs become family

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    Huskies everywhere -

    The photographer is fascinated by how people personify animals.

    Maija Astikainen
  • Pups are people, too: Photos show how dogs become family

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    Lounging around -

    "I realized that what is the most interesting point about dogs to me, is that how we kind of misinterpret the things they are doing," she said.

    Maija Astikainen
  • Pups are people, too: Photos show how dogs become family

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    Gotta get up -

    "We even sometimes consider them something in between pets and humans," she said. "Something like furry babies — animals, but with human qualities."

    Maija Astikainen
  • Pups are people, too: Photos show how dogs become family

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    Man of the house -

    Looking at portraits of people — to shed light on "the relationship of people and their pets" and how animals gain so much importance in our lives — helps give Astikainen inspiration.

    Maija Astikainen
  • Pups are people, too: Photos show how dogs become family

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    Peaking pooch -

    "Some of them are friends' dogs, some of them I found through friends of friends and asking around on Facebook," she said.

    Maija Astikainen
  • Pups are people, too: Photos show how dogs become family

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    Pup pals -

    She finds the dogs through a variety of ways. "Some of them I found randomly when I was walking on the streets and asked the owner if I can photograph them," she said.

    Maija Astikainen
  • Pups are people, too: Photos show how dogs become family

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    Perked up -

    "I'm also having plans of making a book out of it and maybe an exhibition as well," she said. "The plans are quite open."

    Maija Astikainen
  • Pups are people, too: Photos show how dogs become family

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    Nap time -

    "It happens to me all the time with my cat," she said. "I see the things it does as human gestures and I put human thoughts to it."

    Maija Astikainen
  • Pups are people, too: Photos show how dogs become family

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    Fur on fur -

    Astikainen is using the project for her photography masters thesis at Aalto University School of Art, Design and Architecture, but she has other goals in mind, too.

    Maija Astikainen

Astikainen is using the project for her photography masters thesis at Aalto University School of Art, Design and Architecture, but she has other goals in mind, too. "I'm also having plans of making a book out of it and maybe an exhibition as well," she said. "The plans are quite open."

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