That’s the word that comes to mind when I think about @Reagandoodle, the Instagram account that features my labradoodle, Reagan. When I first started it, I had no idea that it would turn into something so big that it would be featured worldwide. At first, it was simply a way to showcase my love of photography and show off my uber cute puppy. It wasn’t until someone asked me why we got Reagan in the first place, that I realized his Instagram account could have a bigger purpose than simply making people smile. As I thought about the answer to the question, I prayed that God would use the account for His purpose. My prayers have been answered in a big way.
We adopted Reagan because of foster children. As I explained in my first book, Reagandoodle and Little Buddy, I was a foster grandparent. My foster grandsons, whom I loved immeasurably, were getting ready to transition from my daughter’s home to their adoptive home. My husband, Eric, and I had been very involved in their lives, and now they were leaving us for their forever home. It was a beautiful but difficult time for our entire family. These two boys were my first foster grandchildren, and their adoption would leave a huge hole in my heart. And so, as silly and cliché as it sounds, Eric and I thought a puppy might help us fill the child-size void we would soon experience.
And yes, Reagan did indeed help. There is nothing quite like puppy therapy to get through a rough time. Reagan’s spunk and playfulness helped us all. He gave me something to focus on (pun intended), loving my camera as much as my camera loved him. We were a match made in heaven. After posting countless photos of Reagan on Facebook, my family suggested an Instagram account for him. I was an Instagram rookie, knowing not a thing about this social networking app, but I was hooked after I viewed some amusing and quirky dog accounts. And so @Reagandoodle premiered in August 2014, when Reagan was six months old. The comments I received made it clear that Reagan was adding joy to many peoples’ days.
When Reagan was 11 months old, a new foster grandson, Little Buddy, entered my life. He was also 11 months old. From the moment they met, Reagan and Little Buddy have been the best of friends. Reagan always brought a smile to Little Buddy’s face and elicited endless giggles. Watching their bond warmed my heart. I began to share glimpses of their special relationship through photos, never clearly displaying Little Buddy’s face for his protection as a child in foster care. The images of Reagan and Little Buddy soon became my most popular posts on Instagram. Comments left on the posts and messages I received indicated that the photos touched hearts and often made people laugh. Eventually, the photos caught the attention of several media outlets and were shared globally, along with our story.
My Instagram account has raised public awareness and focused attention on the needs of children in foster care. The sale of my yearly Reagandoodle calendars gives me the opportunity and privilege to donate all proceeds to enhance the lives of foster children and their families. It was Reagan’s IG fan base that inspired me to write my first book sharing our story, which then led to a second book, Reagandoodle and Little Buddy Welcome Baby. This adorably illustrated children’s book is based on the real-life adventures of Reagan and Little Buddy. The books serve as a great opportunity to give even more to my foster child campaign.
I didn’t know at the time I first started my IG account, but I now know that it was God’s plan all along to use @Reagandoodle’s platform to benefit His children in need and add joy to the lives of hundreds of thousands of people along the way.
How can God use your passions and interests for His purposes? Ask Him and you might be amazed at His answer!
Sandi Swiridoff is the “momager” of @Reagandoodle on Instagram. She and her husband, Eric, have two grown children and one famous fur-son (Reagan, of course). They are also very proud grandparents (one of their grandchildren being Little Buddy!). Besides spending time with her family, Sandi’s greatest joy is using her gift of photography to bring smiles and encouragement to others, while benefiting children in foster care.