Instagram sensations, the Pointer Brothers, loved striking a pose together.
You’d swear these two guys came from the same litter, but The Pointer Brothers weren’t actually related. “We adopted Gus at nine months old from a shelter, the day before he was scheduled to be euthanized,” says Steph McCombie. “I found him online and decided to adopt him without meeting him because he was out of time. Travis, meanwhile, was almost ten years old when we adopted him. His previous family could no longer care for him, and we were going foster him for a rescue organization, but we fell in love after about five minutes and decided he should stay!”
Both German short-haired pointers, Gus and Travis bore a striking resemblance to one another and loved modeling with each other before Travis’ recent passing at the end of July (more about that later). “They both have hilarious facial expressions and are so full of personality,” Steph says of the photos. These are just a few reasons why they look so natural together. Another reason is that Steph happens to be a creative shutterbug.
“I always had my camera in their faces,” she laughs. “Travis was a bit nervous of the camera at first, but we worked with lots of treats and eventually he would sit and pose as soon as he saw the camera. I was taking and posting so many photos of them on my personal Instagram that I decided to start one of their own and titled it ifitwags — and it took off! Instagram has featured me a few times on their blog, and ifitwags has also been featured on TV and radio shows, and in newspapers and magazines.” The canine duo also have their own Facebook page, and both sites feature dozens of delightful images of the photogenic pair, drolly modeling everything from Santa hats and beards for the holiday season, to bow ties, hoodies, sunglasses, anoraks and balaclavas.
“I always get inspired by the seasons,” says Steph, who lives with her human and canine family in Vancouver, Canada. “I think because they both had such dignified and serious-looking faces, the funny shoots of them surrounded by props or wearing something amusing is even more charming. They were always up to trying anything and loved ‘working’ for me because they got rewarded.”
Despite their excellent working relationship, the Pointer Brothers had very individual personalities. Still a relative youngster at almost six years old, Gus has a bit of a wild streak, and is smart and active. “He’s an athlete, he lives for being outside, chasing birds, running, swimming and playing,” says Steph. “He’s sensitive and snores really loudly. He dances around with a shoe in his mouth when you come in the door. Travis was a gentleman, a protector, and the best cuddler. He slept in the funniest positions and loved to be buried under the covers. He hated getting wet, and lived for dinnertime. Travis was so in tune with me and my feelings, full of love and a master of bed-hogging. But his nose also had a tendency to get him into places he shouldn’t have gone! Just before we adopted him, he was on a hike with his family and went into a bear’s den. Mama bear was in there with her cubs, and Travis was attacked. He lost some muscle in his back leg and a big part of his stomach.”
Sadly, Travis was diagnosed with cancer at the end of June. “He declined very quickly,” Steph says. “One of my favorite photos shows him and Gus snuggled up on the couch on one of Travis’ ‘down days’. Gus climbed up beside him as if to give him comfort, and they both fell asleep. Travis’ cancer journey taught us to appreciate what we have, and to live for each day. It made our family bond stronger, as we all had to pull together for ‘Travy’. As sad as it was, I am so grateful we got to spend that last month with him and tell him how loved and special he was. Now that he’s gone, the memories I cherish the most are just of Gus and Travis together. They had such an amazing bond.”
When Steph posted the news of Travis’ passing on July 26, she was deluged with messages of condolence from his many fans. “The support has been unbelievable. The love and messages I’ve received turned something sad and awful into something heartwarming. I’ve had ten different people tell me that Travis is the reason they rescued a German short-haired pointer!
“After he passed, my partner Josh and I wanted to do something for dogs in his honor,” Steph continues. “We picked up four shelter dogs in Washington and drove them to a rescue in Vancouver, where they have a better chance of being adopted. We fostered one named Gertie, who has now found a forever home, and are now fostering another German short-haired pointer called Elwin. Fostering is healing our hearts. Opening our home to dogs in need and helping them get ready for their forever families is just what we needed to help us heal.”
Even though Travis is gone, he’ll continue to live on in the hearts of thousands. He and Gus still have a strong Internet presence, thanks to the many photos Steph took of the duo while he was alive, and she continues uploading photos of Gus and her foster dogs. “I usually post photos daily and do special images for holidays,” she says.
When asked what direction she’ll be going in next, Steph indicates she has no intention of scaling back. “I want to bring more awareness to dog rescue. I think the next thing will be a book; I want to make a coffee table book, dedicated to Travis, with proceeds going to dog rescue. I want people to see how amazing rescue dogs are!”