Momo is the world’s best hiding dog. In fact, this tricksy Border Collie is so talented at sneaking off and blending in with his surroundings that his owner, Andrew Knapp, has used his stealthy nature as the basis for a book that challenges readers to find Momo in a series of slick photographs. Think of the Where’s Waldo concept, but shot over the duration of a coast-to-coast road trip, and you get the idea.
Celebrating the publication of Find Momo: Coast to Coast, I grabbed Andrew during a pit stop on their current book tour and spoke to him about the original idea behind the project, the psychology powering his canine’s surreptitious moves, and what Momo’s like as a traveling companion.
Dogster: What’s Momo’s backstory?
Andrew Knapp: I got Momo seven years ago as a puppy. He was the cutest little thing. I got him because I wanted a dog who would take a lot of work, and a Border Collie was a good choice for that.
What’s the origin of his name?
It came kinda randomly, there’s not much of an interesting story there — I just thought of it and it sounded right!
So what inspired the Find Momo book and road trip?
It was a series of happy accidents: There was the photogenic dog, there was the iPhone I had in my pocket (and the idea of always having a camera on you all the time was kind of a new thing at the time), and there was Instagram, which was also brand new and allowed me to share my photos of my photogenic dog with the world. Those three things aligned.
Also, Momo would run off all the time when we’re playing with a stick, and he looks back and stares at me from like behind a bush or behind a rock, and he’s waiting for me to throw the stick. So I thought, “Hold on a second, let me take a photo and share the photo.” Because he’s a very obedient dog, I started to place him in places and wait for him to stare at me and figured it would make a really nice gift idea for my nieces and nephews, like a little book for them.
So does Momo seem to know that he’s trying to hide?
I don’t know. I feel like possibly, because he tends to go behind things. I think, ultimately, it’s a sheep herder thing — he’s waiting from afar to do his task. I actually brought him to do some sheep herding a few weeks back in Ohio, and he did a very similar thing where he’d lay down in the grass and watch them and waited. I’m sure the hiding is part of his instinct that’s been bred into him through thousands of years of sheep herding dogs. I think he feels very fulfilled when he’s done his tasks.
For the photos in the book, did you use any treats or inducements to get Momo to hide in certain places? Or was it all natural?
If anything, it’s about toys — he’s very toy and stick driven. He doesn’t care so much about treats as toys — if you show him a ball and a treat, he’ll always go for the ball. Most of the time there’s no toy, it’s just him and me, and I ask him to sit, and he stays in his hiding place until I tell him to leave.
Were there any cases on the road trip where Momo hid and you couldn’t find him yourself?
Yeah, actually, the first few times that’s what happened — that’s part of where the idea for the book came from. He’d do that thing where he’d run off and hide and look back at me and wait for me to throw the stick, but I’d get distracted by something and look away for a second and when I looked back I couldn’t see him. I’d be playing the game in real life!
What’s your favorite hiding place or location in the book?
There’s so many of them! It was an amazing trip, 20,000 miles looking for offbeat attractions, so there’s a lot of special places. I think I really enjoyed being in Grand Central station in New York City, just because there’s so many people and it’s really reminiscent of a Where’s Waldo picture.
What were Momo’s favorite landmarks or attractions?
Well, we had a lot of fun in the White Sands National Monument, which is basically a desert of white sand in New Mexico. We had a lot of fun there — it’s just dunes and white sand, and I grabbed the ball, and we ran around and played. It was sort of hard to find a hiding spot though being that everything was white!
Did Momo attempt to use any famous attractions as a toilet?
Absolutely — I’m sure he’s peed on every landmark in the book!
What’s Momo like as a traveling companion? Does he seem to enjoy it?
Yeah, I’ve always brought him everywhere with me. He’s always by my side when I go anywhere. The yellow van I drive is very old and needs breaks often because it gets overheated, so we stop a lot and take lots of breaks, get out, do our thing as the van cools down and Momo warms up, basically. While we’re driving, he chills out in the back or the passenger seat and sleeps. He knows we’re gonna stop soon and then he’ll get a really good run in.
Most important of all, are there any particular songs Momo likes to listen to in the van?
Cher’s “Believe” is the one. We play that track over and over, and we sing it at the top of our lungs, and Momo sings along, and sometimes he grabs his squeaky ball and squeaks with it. It’s quite hilarious. It’s also annoying because sometimes we’re just laughing and having a good time, and he thinks we’re singing “Believe” and starts the squeaking!
See more amazing photographs of dogs on Dogster:
About Phillip Mlynar: The self-appointed world’s foremost expert on rappers’ cats. When not penning posts on rap music, he can be found building DIY cat towers for his adopted domestic shorthair, Mimosa, and collecting Le Creuset cookware (in red). He has also invented cat sushi, but it’s not quite what you think it is.