Documentarian E.J. McLeavey-Fisher first encountered Elias Weiss Friedman, better known to canine lovers in the five boroughs as The Dogist, when Friedman approached him last winter to photograph his six-month-old Maltese Bobby. That encounter led to the lovely short documentary below, which offers a glimpse behind-the-lens into the life of a full-time Instagram canine photographer. "New York is a special place to be a documentarian street blogger," Friedman says. "I can't imagine doing this blog anywhere else. The city has its canine personalities in each of the neighborhoods."

"I'd already been a follower so I knew he had a really great thing going and that it would be super fun to follow him around too," McLeavey-Fisher told us. "But also there was a good NYC-centric story to be told, where dogs live different lives compared to being out in the country with backyards." They shot three days together spread out over the past year (in January, June and September).

Bo, German Shepherd (5 y/o), 12th & 3rd Ave., New York, NY • "He ate everything in our backyard."

A photo posted by The Dogist (@thedogist) on

Razzle, Border Collie (1 y/o), WSP, NYC • Merry Christmas! 🎄

A photo posted by The Dogist (@thedogist) on

Friedman was unemployed when he started the project two years ago; battling his own isolation, he found a unique rapport with his subjects and their owners (carrying a very tantalizing squeeze toy doesn't hurt). "Dogs have opened up a whole world for me that makes me less lonely," he says. He's still baffled by how the project has exploded, especially with no outreach and no advertising: "It's something people want and need."

Quick, Dogue de Bordeaux (2 y/o), 2015 AENC, Orlando, FL • "He's from the Czech Republic."

A photo posted by The Dogist (@thedogist) on

"I'm fascinated by people like Elias who create a career out of thin-air (or in this case, his camera, and Instagram account, and sidewalks full of dogs that we all walk past every day)," McLeavey-Fisher added. "And to see how much he's grown in popularity even in the past year is amazing. He's gone from like 600K followers when we first met to almost 2 million now, plus has a best-selling book too."