Countless pet owners manage to take cheerful photos of their four-legged friends in front of Christmas trees or even on top of Santa’s lap. And then there’s Jasmine Milton, whose husky, Anuko, appeared to want nothing to do with his own holiday photoshoot. Even so, his seeming disinterest made for a series of priceless photographs.
In 2013 Jasmine Milton was suffering from bipolar disorder. At this stage, however, doctors had yet to diagnose her. So, she struggled on her own to deal with the illness, which typically causes mood swings and sometimes abrupt fluctuations in a person’s energy levels.
You see, bipolar disorder can launch a person into a cycle of high energy and good moods. This is what is known as a manic episode. Then, after that period of mania, an individual with the illness may crash into a depressive episode, which is often defined by feelings of despair and sadness.
And in 2013 – when she was just 18 – Milton was in the midst of “a really bad down phase,” as she later put it to the Daily Mail. To make matters worse, Milton “didn’t know [she was] bipolar at the time.” Ignorance of such a condition can potentially be a huge health risk.
That’s because bipolar disorder generally becomes more severe over time without treatment. And its effects may wreak havoc on a person’s professional and personal life, too. For one thing, the condition, if not acknowledged, can make it impossible for a person to work as it may consistently ruin career opportunities.
Unrecognized bipolar disorder often also goes hand in hand with substance abuse, as sufferers search for relief from the highs and lows. And, sadly, another potential consequence is suicide. According to the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, as many as 20 percent of those with bipolar disorder die in this manner – even if they have been diagnosed.
Milton herself tried to take her own life in 2013 after going through her aforementioned rough patch. “I had fallen out with all of my friends,” she told the Daily Mail in 2016. Plus, Milton had apparently failed to impress in a series of important school exams.
Then, after her suicide attempt, Milton landed in the hospital. There, she spoke with another person trying to cope with comparable issues. And this fellow patient suggested that Milton get a dog. A pet, they said, would provide the young woman with many benefits.
Indeed, a 2016 report by researchers from the U.K’s University of Manchester and the University of Southampton seemingly corroborates this patient’s claim. All of their study’s participants dealt with mental illness, yet roughly 50 percent of them found that pets had helped assuage the effects of their respective conditions.
So, four months on from her hospital stay, Milton decided to see for herself. And she ended up bringing home Anuko – a husky whom she would later describe as the “perfect puppy.” She quickly grew close to her dog, too. And, vitally, Milton noticed that she was able to more easily deal with the symptoms of bipolar disorder.
In part, this improvement was down to Milton and Anuko going on long walks together. Furthermore, Milton began socializing with other pet owners. And on Milton and Anuko’s strolls, the young woman noticed something: a lot of people wanted the chance to meet her husky puppy.
“People would cross the other side of the road to come and stroke him when we were out walking,” Milton later recalled to the Daily Mail. But while the outside world admired Anuko, his owner had noted something about her pet’s appearance.
According to Milton, “[Anuko] looks really grumpy.” She added, “But, actually, he is really friendly [and] affectionate.” That moody appearance is simply down to his fur; the dark, defined hair around the husky’s eyebrows makes him look as though he is constantly frowning.
In 2017 Milton also told the Irish Independent that her dog bears a striking resemblance to his father. “He looks a lot like his dad, Roman, who is also quite grumpy, too, and that’s who he gets it from,” she said.
“The black marks around his eyes are a lot of what makes [Anuko appear] uniquely grumpy,” Milton continued. Indeed, the pup’s coloring makes it seem as though he is perpetually displeased. His owner noted, however, that these marks had begun to fade as the dog grew older.
And perhaps down to Anuko’s distinctive appearance, Milton decided to see if her husky would be a hit on Instagram. After all, the social media site had made plenty of other pets famous. But while Anuko eventually garnered a respectable following of about 2,000 people, he didn’t make big waves online – that is, until June 2015.
During that month, Milton posted on Twitter a series of comical pictures of Anuko in the middle of a game of catch. The images showed the pooch’s apparent moment of realization that his owner wasn’t actually going to toss him the ball. And he looked none too pleased.
“I pretended to throw a ball and caught the exact moment my dog realized I had betrayed him,” Milton tweeted, after she had shared the photos. Then the world caught onto her post, and the snaps and accompanying message were ultimately liked and shared thousands of times.
Soon, Milton was fielding calls from across the globe as reporters wanted to know more about her and Anuko. “It was amazing. There were hundreds of people contacting me. It was crazy,” Milton told the Daily Mail.
And as Milton’s story spread, the Instagram account featuring photos of Anuko became more popular, too. The dog’s pictures even began popping up elsewhere on the internet – although this didn’t really surprise his owner.
“[Anuko is] used in loads of memes across all types of subjects. His expressions are just so relatable,” Milton explained The Independent. Thanks to her dog, she also began to make some cash. And people began sending gifts for Milton and her pet pooch to boot.
“For quite a while, I wasn’t asking for money. But then a company told me, ‘You can make money out of this,’ Milton revealed to the Daily Mail when talking about her pet’s new-found fame. “That’s when I had the idea to use [Anuko’s popularity] to bring in cash.” And Milton certainly raked it in to start with, as she earned £5,000 – roughly $6,400 – in only two weeks.
The cash flow came at a great time for Milton as well. At around this point, her dreams for the future had become clearer – as did the fact that she would need money to achieve them. What’s more, Anuko had partly inspired her to change her course of study.
“Before [Anuko] came along, I had no idea what I was doing with my future. I’ve changed my mind a lot, but steadily for a long while now my heart has absolutely been set on becoming a veterinarian,” Milton wrote on Anuko’s Facebook page in June 2018.
Continuing with the post, Milton explained that she had all it would take to succeed in her chosen path. “I love studying. I love biology [and] medicine. And, most importantly, I love animals, and through experience in this field it is absolutely for me,” she concluded.
During this period, Anuko’s internet fame had substantially increased. Milton had amassed nearly 11,000 Instagram followers; her YouTube channel would also go on to earn a staggering two million views, too.
With all of those people watching, Milton was able to raise £20,000 – or about $25,400. Then, after having taken her qualifying exams, she shared her results on GoFundMe. It turned out that she had earned “the highest grade you can possibly get.”
In the meantime, Anuko’s fan base had been growing even larger; in fact, there were now more than 130,000 people following his dedicated Instagram page. And Milton couldn’t be more pleased with her pet’s popularity.
“He is my whole world. He is like my baby,” Milton said of her dog. But the student apparently isn’t the only one to dote on Anuko, since some of his followers have sent the husky toys through an online portal.
Perhaps Anuko’s biggest fan, though, is his adoptive mom, Milton. As she told BuzzFeed in 2015, “I got Anuko shortly after I was treated with having depression. And ever since, Anuko has lifted any downs I’ve ever had.”
“He’s forced me to go out when all I want to do is lay in bed,” Milton continued. She added, “He’s made me laugh when nobody else was able to, and now he’s making the rest of the world laugh. He’s my hero and definitely more than just a pretty face.”
Yet while Anuko himself remained popular, one set of photos of the husky would make further waves across the web. In December 2017 the husky – who was almost four at the time – was the star of a series of images that may on the surface have been intended to spread Christmas cheer.
However, clad in a pair of antlers and a festive scarf, Anuko hardly seemed to be in the holiday spirit. Instead, he appeared less than thrilled about the fact that Milton was taking his photo. And many on the internet could relate to his look of displeasure.
“Anuko is my spirit animal,” one Instagram user wrote while commenting on one of the snaps. Another said that the dog’s facial expression was just like theirs when they had to go to work. And a further fan added of Anuko, “I love this guy… it’s just like me.”
Meanwhile, one individual joked that Anuko had pulled his face because he so disliked the photoshoot setup. They commented, “This is too damn funny. He [looks] like, ‘Okay, you wanna put these antlers on me? I’m just [going to] ruin your pic. Next time, think again.’”
Each image in Anuko’s festive photoshoot garnered more than 11,000 likes apiece. On top of that, the snaps appear to have inspired a series of further photos taken during holidays and special occasions. And in all of these pictures, the pooch looks just as unhappy as he did at Christmastime.
When Milton took a photo of Anuko on his fourth birthday, for example, the pooch appeared suitably grumpy. And the hilarious snapshot acted as somewhat of a juxtaposition to Anuko’s owner’s sweet caption honoring her pet on his big day.
In an accompaniment to the image, Milton wrote, “Happy birthday to the most precious doggo in the whole wide world. You’ve changed my life the last four years, and the best decision I ever made was bringing you home.” This was despite the fact that Anuko’s face appeared comically unenthused in the photo itself.
Then came a snap for Valentine’s Day, which sees Anuko carrying a bouquet of roses in his mouth. Meanwhile, to commemorate St. Patrick’s Day, the husky wore a long ginger beard and a green top hat – lending him a passing resemblance to a grumpy leprechaun.
And all of the holiday-themed photoshoots gave Milton an idea. In early 2018 she announced on Instagram that she would use some of her festive photos in an Anuko calendar for 2019. And given the thousands of likes and comments on the post, it appeared that the dog’s fans loved the idea just as much as his doting owner did.