Ingo and Napoleon are an incredibly unlikely pair of friends. One comes from a family deeply involved in law enforcement, the other was the smallest and weakest of 7. One could be called “ruthless,” the other wouldn’t (and probably couldn’t) hurt a fly.

Oh, I should probably mention one more thing: Ingo is a Malinois — a type of Belgian shepherd typically used by police — and Napoleon is a 1-year-old Owlet. Maybe I should have led with that…

warmth by Tanja Brandt on

Both animals belong to photographer Tanja Brandt, whose account is filled with pictures of the two fast friends hanging out together, cuddling, even reading. Not sure who is reading to who, but since Napoleon (who Tanja calls “Poldi”) is only one year old, we’re guessing Ingo is doing the storytelling.

Whatever the case, the unlikely pair make for some of the most adorable pictures you’ve ever seen. Instant hits with the 500px community:

Silence by Tanja Brandt on

First daylight by Tanja Brandt on

your back by Tanja Brandt on

We recently caught up with Tanja over email to ask her a few questions about the photos. Always alone with just her animals and camera, she tells us Ingo’s training makes the whole experience much easier:

I am always alone with my animals and my cam. I have no subjects in front of the camera and sometimes, it’s a little bit hard, especially with the Harris Hawks, because I have big lens and have to go far away.

The dog is very very well educated. He is able to do every order by far. Head down, head right, stay, sit, everything… but not so with the birds.

They learned a lot but many times they fly to me. They also know the order “stay,” though. After some photos, they can fly, play, get the ball, give Napoleon some kisses… 😉

Here are a couple of behind the scenes shots of Tanja at work with her Harris Hawks. Apparently the lens is just too tempting of a perch sometimes:





In a way, maybe the relationship between Ingo and Poldi isn’t so outrageous. One is the protector, the other the protected.

Napoleon was the smallest hatchling of 7. All six of his brothers and sisters had hatched, but a couple of days later he still had not, so the breeders almost threw his egg out. But just as they were getting ready to, Poldi cracked open his shell.

Ingo is quite fond of his friend:

I go outside with them together — Napoleon on my hand, Ingo is free running. I do the same with my big Harris Hawks, but they are also free and can fly. Not so with Napoleon. It’s too dangerous. Every cat would kill him, he don’t know hows to live free.

And so, this is why they trust each other. They respect each other and they can read each other. Ingo knows every reactions from the wild birds and if they are angry, he goes another way […] with the wild birds, he is very soft (not with other dogs or something else).

Here are some more photos of the adorable pair:

The ghosts, I called ....... by Tanja Brandt on

same direction by Tanja Brandt on

young by Tanja Brandt on

Schweigen by Tanja Brandt on

Hindernis by Tanja Brandt on

Eyes by Tanja Brandt on

Stärke by Tanja Brandt on

Grenzen by Tanja Brandt on

Wald by Tanja Brandt on

Of course, they don’t always have to pose together…

The ghost of the forest by Tanja Brandt on

Forest-Sun by Tanja Brandt on

We just prefer it when they do…

Seelen by Tanja Brandt on

To browse through all the photos of Ingo and Napoleon, see Ingo hanging out with Tanja’s other wild birds, or just keep up with her incredible work, be sure to give her 500px profile a follow. You can also see more at her website or by following her on Facebook.