It all started with a photo of a young Pug-Boston Terrier mix named Lucy. And it’s become on of the most popular Instagram accounts around for dog lovers.
Dogs of Instagram features photo after adorable photo of man’s best friend. If you’re in need of a daily dose of awww, this dog-filled account is sure to deliver.
You want photos of dogs with goofy faces?
Dogs looking like they’re posing for the cover of a magazine?
Dogs being all kinds of cute and snuggly so that you just want to reach through your phone and smother them with kisses?
Remember this photo of @hugobossthepug?! It's one of the top liked photos of @dogsofinstagram history! ???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????? GUESS WHAT!?!?! Today, @DogsofInstagram turns FOUR! That's right! We've been doing this for four whole years, thanks to you and the tens of THOUSANDS of submissions of your amazingly cute and well-loved dogs! We are humbled by the strength and passion of our community and to celebrate our birthday, we'll be sharing photos – fresh, new content and classic, fan-favorites – all day long! As we say at @DogsofInstagram, enjoy the cuteness! #dogsofinstagram #dogs #dog
While at BarkWorld Expo in Atlanta, Georgia, last week, Ahmed El Shourbagy and his wife, Ashely Paguyo El Shourbagy, discussed the evolution of their highly addictive account, which launched in 2011.
Back then, Instagram was fairly new and Ahmed said he saw it as the perfect platform to share photos of dogs.
“It was the first really visual social media network, and what better way to experience dogs than visually?” Ahmed said. “You can talk about them all you want, but there’s just something about seeing a picture of a dog that really shows their personality.”
So he posted a picture of his own pup, Lucy, who was around 2 years old at the time, and soon the followers came. By the 10th day, he said, the account had reached 1,000 followers. This time last year, it hit the 1 million mark. Today, Dogs of Instagram has 2.3 million followers.
Ahmed, 29, attributes the account’s success to beautiful photography and (duh) adorable dogs.
“Who doesn’t like a good photo and dogs?” he asked.
Apparently, very few people. Aside from their many followers, Ashley, 28, said they receive anywhere from 300 to 500 photo submissions a day of dog owners wanting their precious pooch featured in the feed. And, she added, they can get up to 1,000 submissions when they put out a request for a certain breed.
But when selecting which photos to feature, it comes down to more than just a really nice photo of a really cute dog. The Minneapolis, Minnesota-based couple also takes into consideration the story behind the photo.
Perhaps one of the most memorable stories, Ashley said, was that of Scooter, a seeing eye dog in training. Scooter’s trainer, a woman in Brooklyn, New York, had accidentally signed up for the 1 ½ year training program instead of the 6-month program like she had originally planned to do. By the end of the program, she had grown very attached to the dog, but she knew the dog had a larger purpose to serve in life.
The sister of the woman who was training Scooter submitted the story (and accompanying photo of Scooter standing in front of the Brooklyn Bridge) to Dogs of Instagram, Ashley said. They posted Scooter’s photo — and his story — the day before he was to take his final guide dog test, and it quickly became one of the site’s the most liked posts at the time.
“We got tons of comments, people thanking her for her hard work and just saying it was so amazing that she was willing to do this, so that helped ease the transition,” Ashley said.
For the last 15 months, @ebclosmore and @human_refuse have been raising #ThisIsScooter to one day become a Guide Dog with @GuidingEyes for the Blind. On Sunday, they said their goodbyes as they dropped off their constant companion and family member at the kennels so he can settle into his new home and gear up for his test on Tuesday (tomorrow). Please wish him luck!
With all of the love Dogs of Instagram has received, Ahmed and Ashley said they are always looking for ways to give back. One way is by featuring adoptable senior dogs or a success story of an adopted senior dog every Sunday in the hopes of encouraging senior pet adoption.
SENIOR SUNDAY! "We kindly ask you to take the time to read carefully about 9 year old Blue. He is an A+++ dog who really needs and deserves a forever home. Based off of Blue's amazing temperament and personalty alone, if he was any other breed we think he'd be snatched up from the shelter immediately. If we called him a "Golden Retriever" or a "Labradoodle" or any other well-received breed, Blue would probably not still be lingering at the shelter. Blue is AMAZING with other dogs of all sizes, and he is as gentle as a butterfly with small children. Blue is easygoing, he is a cuddler, and he is an all around rockstar of a dog. But because he is an old pit bull, many people are, unfortunately, hesitant to adopt him. And it's simply unfair for Blue. As his volunteers say, "In short, Blue is kind of a perfect dog. And now he’s sleeping on the hard, cold cement of the shelter floor. We think an A+ dog like Blue deserves to know the comfort of a bed, the comfort of a home, and the love of a person or family in his lifetime! So that’s our mission. Get Blue a bed. We are hoping with your help, somebody who sees Blue for what he is, an absolutely amazing best buddy, will come and give him a comfy place to sleep for the first time in his life. It would just be a shame for a dog like him to never know the comfort and love of a family. He’s already such a gem, I can’t imagine what he would be like if he actually had a someone to love and take care of him. It would be an amazing thing to see." Blue is located in Los Angeles, CA. To adopt Blue, please contact @friendsofeastvalley animal shelter volunteer Dani by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org ASAP. Blue's status is time sensitive," writes @susiesseniordogs.
In addition to the Dogs of Instagram account, Ahmed and Ashley have gone on to open an online pet boutique, Lucy & Co., and have a book, “Dogs of Instagram,” due out September 2016.
“Things move so fast so we don’t know exactly where it’s going but we do know that maintaining our original mission is really important,” Ashley said. “And so, even with Lucy & Co. and this book, we are trying to constantly tie these projects back to the desire to share beautiful photos of dogs and heartwarming tales of the human-dog bond.”
As long as they keep the cute dog photos coming, you won’t hear us complaining.