By J.M. Brown
Santa Cruz Sentinel
SANTA CRUZ — Toddlers equal cute photos.
Snap a shot of them napping and the cuteness dial goes up a notch.
Toddlers napping with puppies? Well, that qualifies as a whole new level of cuteness.
That’s what Santa Cruz mom Jessica Shyba discovered after posting photos of her 23-month-old son Beau and 8-week-old rescue puppy Theo to her Instagram account and blog, “Momma’s Gone City.”
The photos have garnered international attention on social media, including the Huffington Post, Good Morning America, the Today Show and an exploding Twitter hashtag, #theoandbeau.
Shyba, 34, made an appearance Monday with her two young stars on the TV show “Fox & Friends,” and said she has been approached by the nationally syndicated programs “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” and “The Queen Latifah Show.”
Shyba’s Instagram account has more than 55,000 followers and hundreds of email are piling up in her inbox. News crews visited her home throughout the day Monday.
“I haven’t eaten since yesterday,” Shyba told the Sentinel, explaining how she’s dealing with the attention. “I’m trying to find a connection with it. It doesn’t feel real to me.”
Shyba and husband Justin, Los Gatos natives, moved their family to Santa Cruz in July so he could open a dental practice in Soquel after completing four years of dental school in New York City, where she founded the blog in 2009.
After arriving in Surf City, they visited the Santa Cruz SPCA and adopted Theo on Nov. 4 as a companion for Beau and the couple’s two older children, 5-year-old Zoe and 6-year-old Jack.
The black-and-brown boxer/Labrador retriever/German shepherd mix was abandoned with 10 siblings by their mother in Bakersfield. When the Shybas first eyed Theo, he was lying on top of several siblings in a crate, and the puppy seemed to miss that intimacy after he arrived at his new home.
After having trouble getting him to sleep alone without crying, Shyba blogged that she and her husband decided to let Theo sleep with them. And then the moment it all began: Shyba snapped a photo of Theo sleeping on Beau after the toddler nodded off while being rocked.
Every day since, for nearly two weeks, the puppy has followed Shyba up to bed when it’s Beau’s naptime and snuggles up to the young boy.