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You wouldn’t know it looking at the comedic videos filling Skaya Siberian‘s channel, but her YouTube presence started from a place of loss.
Skaya is a Siberian Husky, and her person, the one responsible for making all her content, goes just by “Skaya’s Mom” online. Back before Skaya entered her life, Skaya’s Mom had her first dog: another Husky named Nova. Nova was the dog that made her fall in love with Huskies, she says, and made her realize that she wanted her next dog after him to be a Husky, too.
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After Nova passed away, Skaya’s Mom took about a year and a half to choose her next dog. She believes that “In a very literal sense, Nova is the one who led me to Skaya,” she says, “as they are actually from the same bloodline.”
When she first met the litter, Skaya’s Mom noticed Skaya kept coming around to her, trying to get her to play. Skaya was the smallest amongst her siblings, but also the toughest, “and the sassiest,” her mom says.
Bringing Skaya home was an easy decision. And then came another important choice: the one to start recording her. Skaya’s Mom had, naturally, taken photos and videos of Nova, but had lost most of them through various computer switches and system crashes. She didn’t have much of him left–and she wasn’t going to let that happen with Skaya.
Skaya’s Mom originally started documenting Skaya on Instagram, but moved to TikTok once its popularity began to surge, and then over to YouTube too. Their videos are peeks into life with Skaya, often when the Husky is at peak sass (aided these days by talking buttons Skaya can press with her paws).
Thanks to the internet’s enthusiasm for Skaya, Skaya’s Mom has been able to make content her full-time job–and keep an ever-growing record of Skaya’s presence in her life.
Check out our chat with her below.
Tubefilter: First, tell us a little about you! Where are you from? What did you get up to before you started a YouTube channel?
Skaya’s Mom: I am known as “Skaya’s Mom” online, the videographer, photographer, editor, manager, assistant and mom to Skaya, the sassy little husky I’m glad to call my family. I’m from Montreal, Canada. I’ve been living in Montreal all my life, but I’ve studied abroad as well. I have a degree in international business from McGill University. I was working in digital communications and marketing before starting TikTok and my YouTube channel.
Tubefilter: How did you and Skaya meet? Had you always wanted a husky? Was she your first one?
Skaya’s Mom: Growing up, I had always loved dogs and especially breeds with more wolf-life appearances, like German Shepherds, Huskies and Malamutes. I would constantly research those types of breeds with the hope of getting one of them someday.
Nova was actually my first dog and was a husky too! Although getting a Siberian Husky as a first dog is typically not recommended since they are one of the most difficult breeds to train (please do your research before adopting any dog), my father grew up with multiple dogs and had the knowledge necessary to help train and raise him. Nova truly made me fall in love with huskies, and it felt inevitable that the next dog I would get would be a husky as well…
Skaya and I met around a year and a half after Nova’s passing. In a very literal sense, Nova is the one who led me to Skaya as they are actually from the same bloodline.
I was in contact with Skaya’s breeder for almost a year before finally getting to see her. I remember meeting her amongst her puppy siblings for the first time…It was such a fun experience to be surrounded by all these cute fluffy puppies running around and playing together. Skaya really stood out amongst her littermates. She was smaller than the others, but was definitely the toughest (and sassiest!). In the end, I truly felt like she chose me and not the other way around; she kept circling back to greet me and play, and I felt an immediate connection. I took her home that day.
Tubefilter: What was the catalyst for you starting to make content? When and why did you decide to launch a YouTube channel and TikTok account?
Skaya’s Mom: The catalyst for it all was the realization of how few pictures and video memories I had of Nova, my previous husky. I regret not having been able to take or keep more pictures and videos of him than I did (since many were lost along the way due to various system crashes) and I didn’t want to make the same mistake twice. When a few of my friends found out I was getting Skaya, it was suggested to me that I make her an Instagram account. I realized then that documenting Skaya’s life online might actually be one way to more assuredly preserve memories of her. So when the day finally came that Skaya entered my life, I started posting about her through daily pictures and videos via Instagram. I enjoyed the process and noticed her account was having steady growth as well, although growth wasn’t exactly the thing on my radar.
Once the pandemic hit and everyone was stuck at home, my work situation changed and I now had more free time than ever. An Instagram friend of mine suggested I try out this new app at the time called TikTok… and so I did. Skaya’s TikTok account grew faster than I could have ever imagined, garnering over 2M followers by the summer of that same year (2020). Seeing that really changed my perspective on the whole social media thing and I decided to try and take things more seriously.
After a few months, I noticed many of Skaya’s followers were asking for longer content so I decided to hop onto YouTube. I started out thinking I would make more educational-type videos… but Skaya’s personality was far too entertaining and took over. To this day, the channel is centered around Skaya’s sassy personality, vocal retorts, and quirky reactions and behavior.
Tubefilter: One thing I’ve noticed that’s really unique about Skaya’s social presence is you do live broadcasts pretty regularly now! What appeals to you about livestreaming? Do you see your audience react well to it?
Skaya’s Mom: I originally used to livestream quite a bit on TikTok as I felt it helped me connect better with my audience than through short clips alone. I ended up bringing that over to YouTube, where we now have weekly live streams every Saturday.
Part of the reason I enjoy livestreaming is because it feels more “real”. You have to remember that many of the videos I post are “make-believe”, with lots of training, rehearsing, script-writing and editing involved. Doing live streams provides people with kind of a raw, behind-the-scenes look into the everyday life of Skaya where I get interact with our audience along the way. It really feels like Skaya and I are having a casual hang out session with friends every weekend. I love the sense of community it builds, and although not all of our subscribers tune in to watch, I know it’s become an important part of the weekly routines of many now.
Tubefilter: What’s your production process like? Do you film every day? What are some of the challenges of working with a canine star?
Skaya’s Mom: I film nearly every day. Much of it is unplanned and based off of Skaya’s daily activities and funny behaviors that I like to catch off the cuff. Some of the clips I catch get turned into Stories for Instagram and YouTube, but some of the ones I find more captivating are turned into Shorts/TikToks.
Of course, I also have structured and set filming sessions with Skaya. I think those are often even more fun for her because she gets tons of treats while we’re filming them! She also gets many frequent breaks whenever she needs, and that could be after only 3 minutes of filming or even after a solid 20.
That’s kind of the reality of working with a dog: the way a filming session goes is very much subject to how that dog is feeling in the moment. Skaya isn’t human so if she’s no longer in the mood to cooperate, I can’t convince her to “just keep going for a few more minutes”. If she’s had enough, that’s it. And she’ll let me know it too by sometimes even throwing her head back as if to pout (which is pretty hilarious to see, honestly). There are also certain shots that you can’t quite capture the way you imagined due to the limitations of what your dog is able/willing to do on that day. You have to be patient and remain cognizant and respectful of how your dog feels, all while accepting that sometimes things won’t get done on time or exactly the way you’d like.
Tubefilter: Do you have a set posting schedule? Do you post equal amounts of content on YouTube and TikTok, or do you change things up between platforms?
Skaya’s Mom: I used to have a stricter posting schedule early on, but I’ve recently gotten looser with when I post for a variety of reasons (some personal, some due to the demands of the editing process itself). I actually ended up starting a separate YouTube Shorts channel at the beginning of 2022 to help relieve some of the pressure off my main channel. Since I can put out short videos at a more frequent rate, our audience gets to have bursts of Skaya through Shorts while I work on long-form videos for the main channel.
I post similar content to both TikTok and my YouTube Shorts channel now, so there are essentially equal amounts of content uploaded to each of the platforms. However, since I do create a fair amount for community posts and stories on YouTube, I do end up posting a little bit more there.
Tubefilter: Is this your full-time job? What else do you get up to outside of making content?
Skaya’s Mom: I’m lucky to be able to say that this is now my full-time job. I never thought it would ever get to this point, and although I don’t know how long this will last, I’m enjoying it while I can. Creating content takes up a huge chunk of my time on a daily basis, but outside of that, I also enjoy playing and writing music, cooking, learning languages, and spending quality time with family and friends… and Skaya, of course!
Tubefilter: Do you remember if there was a particular video that took off and got a lot of views and/or brought a lot of followers to your content?
Skaya’s Mom: My growth on YouTube was pretty consistent and steady for the first few months, but where I really noticed sudden and quite substantial uptick in views and subscribers was when I first introduced Skaya’s talking button videos.
Unlike a lot of videos you see of dogs using talking buttons (buttons with recordable voice messages like, “yes, no, happy, sad,” etc.), Skaya was not using her buttons to string words together to express her thoughts and feelings. Instead, her use of the buttons was designed to underscore the very sassy, vocal retorts for which she is already quite notorious.
Although she does also use some talking buttons to communicate more concrete things in real life (such as “water, walkies, play, treat,” etc.), the talking button videos we make are, in a sense, a more “gamified” use of buttons for entertainment value – and our audience seems to have really fallen in love with that concept. I ended up posting clips of these talking button videos to TikTok as well, and the response in terms of views and growth was just as impressive.
Tubefilter: Was there a moment where you knew you could “make it” on YouTube/TikTok? A moment where you saw how much potential your content has to reach an audience?
Skaya’s Mom: I think it was those talking button videos. Once those took off, all of my other content took off as well because Skaya’s personality would shine through in all of her videos – not just in those with buttons – and I think people were really able to connect with her. Skaya genuinely seems like she’s talking and having full-blown conversations, and that, along with her cute, wolf-like appearance and striking, different coloured eyes, is one of the things I think makes her content so fun and interesting.
I never thought making videos about my dog would lead me to “making it” to the extent that I have on social media. On a daily basis, I see comments from people all over the world telling me how much they love Skaya and our content, and it always astonishes me how extensive her presence has become. More than anything, I’m really touched by the impact Skaya can have on other people’s lives. When I get a message from a viewer saying Skaya has helped them “get through the day” or “brought a smile to their face” amidst a difficult situation they’re going through… that’s when I know that Skaya can make a difference, and hopefully can have a sustained audience for many years to come. It’s truly been a surreal experience so far.
Tubefilter: How have things changed for you personally/professionally since you got on YouTube/TikTok? What’s been your favorite part of making content on these platforms?
Skaya’s Mom: Things haven’t really changed much for me personally since Skaya is the online star and I prefer to take a more behind-the-scenes approach to my role. I have yet to do a face reveal and, as I mentioned before, strictly go by the name “Skaya’s Mom” online. Although I may one day change my mind about continuing to do that, for now it allows me to keep living my life as usual in the public sphere and I thoroughly enjoy that. Besides, the channel is about Skaya, not Skaya’s Mom!
Professionally speaking, things have definitely changed in the sense that online content creation is now what I do as a full-time job. My work schedule is a lot more hectic and all over the place than it was at a more traditional job, but it also comes with its perks.
My favorite part about making content on these platforms has been seeing the positive effect it has had on people. As I said before, I receive messages, hundreds of messages, emails and hand-written letters from individuals who have explained the impact Skaya has had on them, whether they were struggling with a physical ailment, mental health issues, or just the daily grind of life. I never realized how much our silly videos could help brighten people’s day, but as it turns out, they really do make a difference in a lot of lives. Knowing that we’re bringing feel-good joy and relief to this many people is what truly makes it all worth it. At the end of the day, that’s the biggest reason why I keep wanting to push forward and create more content.
Tubefilter: Do you have any exciting plans coming up in the next few months? Let us know!
Skaya’s Mom: I actually have a couple of projects I’ll be working on this year that will definitely keep me very busy in addition to my usual publications… They’re new and different ideas I’d like to test out to bring Skaya even closer to people’s everyday life. The projects are still very much in early initiation and design phases though, so I’ll leave it at that for now!