Mariya and Art Valdez live in Cumming, Ga., in a comfortable house with a large, fenced backyard where their huskies Blu and Luna play. Luna is happy doing her own thing, while Blu enjoys being a social media star.
Mariya tells us, “Blu is a 9-year-old pedigree male husky, overflowing with personality. He came into my life as a new puppy and has been making everyone around him laugh ever since. Art and I rescued 5-year-old Luna, also a 100 percent husky, from Clayton County Humane Society in 2016. The two are inseparable. Blu follows Luna around and acts as her protector, behaving like a high-and-mighty older brother.”
One day, in 2019, while Mariya was at work, Blu amused himself by chewing through his dog bed and scattering the stuffing all over the house. When Mariya came home, she raised her voice and asked, “Who did this?” In that moment, she heard something she’d never heard before from Blu. He talked back! His silly howls and high-pitched response led Mariya to record Blu on her iPhone.
Mariya explains, “It was so hilarious I had to capture the moment, and it was hard to be angry at such a goofball. I posted the video on social media to share with friends and family, and the video gained major traction. A viral company reached out, asking if they could help promote the video. Since then, Blu has become known as a zany and very popular ‘back-talker.’ His back-talking personality has gotten him featured on ABC’s ‘Good Morning America,’ MTV’s ‘Ridiculousness,’ the New York Post, Viral Pet Company’s ‘The Dodo’ and ‘Daily Mail Animals,’ and several international networks, including Germany and Japan. His oh-so-serious face has been featured on shirts and socks, and he even gets fan mail!
“Blu is a social being; he loves spending time with other pups. He’s usually well-behaved, but he does get the occasional time-out at doggy daycare, Camp Bow Wow of Alpharetta., when he overdoes his “guarding” of Luna, and is too overbearing. The doggy daycare people can’t believe he’s 9 years old because he still has the wacky personality of a youngster,” Mariya continued.
“Blu loves lying in the sun, which we find very odd for a husky, who you would expect to prefer cold weather. Blu and Luna enjoy checking out the geese at our neighborhood pond and greeting other pups in the hood. When their dog-friends walk by our fence, they give them loud howls to say ‘hello’!”
Blu and Luna both have comfy beds in the Valdez master bedroom, but the huskies prefer to begin bedtime with their owners, who welcome their cuddles. “Blu loves to fall asleep at my feet and Luna sleeps between Art and me, with her head on the pillow, exactly like a human. They quietly migrate to their own beds, about an hour later, once we humans are asleep.
“The pups even have their own ‘husky cantina’ in our house, where they eat their meals and find special treats. Besides his love for being a back-talker, Blu’s favorite activities include playing with his tennis ball, swimming in Lake Lanier, going to doggy camp with Luna, and snuggling with his ‘pawrents.’”
Mariya, a senior marketing director for a Denver-based tech company, was born in Kiev, Ukraine, and Art, of Mexican descent, is from Chicago. Art is an independent realtor with his own brand dedicated to the couple’s love of dogs, www.agentdawg.com.
The couple met in late 2012. “We remained friends until we became ‘official’ in 2015,” Mariya said. “In October of 2019, we tied the knot at Lake Lanier Islands and had an incredible wedding, featuring traditions and music from Ukraine, Mexico and Jewish culture. We wish Blu and Luna could have been with us, but they would have definitely jumped into Lake Lanier.”
“We are expecting our first baby in July. Blu dutifully participated in a social media gender reveal, with pink balloons around his collar to announce that we will have a daughter, and we’re eager to see how he reacts. Once the baby arrives, we wonder if Blu and Luna will prefer the nursery instead of their current sleeping accommodations.”
Blu’s fans are waiting, too. As of early June, Blu had more than 50,000 followers on Instagram: instagram.com/huskynamedblu; more than 64,000 followers and 1.4 million likes on TikTok. One Tik Tok video received 6.3 million views: tiktok.com/@real_huskynamedblu, and 7,000 subscribers on YouTube.
- Chana Shapiro
- Mariya Babaskina Valdez
- Art Valdez
- Clayton County Humane Society
- Pedigreed dogs
- Lake Lanier Islands
- Instagram huskynamedblu
- doggy day care
- Camp Bow Wow
- Good Morning America
- MTV’s Ridiculousness
- Daily Mail Animals
- New York Post
- Viral Pet Company’s The Dodo