MUTTerings: Social Media Gone to the Dogs

If I were to guess, I’d say that easily 1,000 of my Facebook friends are dogs. These dogs update their profiles, tell their owners secrets, and often confess to doing naughty things, complete with photos of the dastardly deeds.

Personal Facebook pages max out at 5,000 friends. I hit that a while ago. Someone once called me a “friend hoarder.” I prefer the term “popular,” but I’m willing to put it up for debate. One of my dogs has her own fan page, Pearl the Pound Puppy’s Cookie Crusade, where she consistently tries to get people to post photos of cookies onto her page. Hey, it’s not me – it’s Pearl.

Not a day goes by where I don’t interact on Facebook and Twitter with dogs and other pets. And they interact back. If you would have told me five years ago that I would have dog friends on the internet and that I would enter into full fledged conversations with them, I’d have said you were nuts. But if you’re a dog lover who engages with any kind of social media, this has probably become commonplace in your life too.

I live in a very insular dog-loving world. I do have “outsider” friends, but they don’t understand as much about my life as my dog-people friends. Not by a long shot. I once told an “outsider” friend that I talk to dogs on Facebook and Twitter and his eyes went wide and he said, astonished, “You do what?” I could feel him mentally backing away slowly and checking the surroundings for sharp objects that he could confiscate.

I told him that I also post as my dog. He was incredulous. I don’t know if it seemed insane or like a vast waste of time, perhaps both, but it did clue me in to the fact that most of the world does not do this.

I didn’t tell him that I also frequently troll my fave dogs’ profiles. Among these are Bocker the Labradoodle, Annabelle B. Bear and Bella Starlet Dog. How else am I supposed to know what they are doing?

I started thinking about all of us pretending to be our dogs, talking to each other in “canine speak,” and the more I thought about it, the more it did seem a bit schizophrenic. But at the same time, it creates connections where there wouldn’t be any prior to logging on as Buster or Fifi. Many of the people I consider my best friends in the world are people I met on the Internet because of my dogs.

Why do people post as their dogs? I think it’s because it gives us all a chance to pose different views than we normally would and to look at the world in a different way. It frees us from our own social constraints and allows us to see things from our dogs’ perspectives. Wouldn’t it be nice to spend a moment every day as a free-loving being who didn’t judge? Or, perhaps we do it just because it’s fun. 

This phenomenon has an interesting set of conventions that everyone seems to follow quite naturally, or perhaps it’s a case of doggie see, doggie do. There seem to be six different types of dogs on social media:

1. The Love Sponge: This dog loves everyone, posts cute pictures of other dogs, shares heartrending videos and inspirational sayings, and gives pep talks to his/her friends.

2. Da Bad Speller: Dis doggeh does not kno how to spell many tings and talksz in goggie bebbeh language (thank you, “i Can Has Cheezburger.”) Dis is how Pearl talked be4 she wented to Canine Colleges; nao she talks better.

3. The Stewie: This canine is somewhat like Stewie from Family Guy, the maniacally smart little baby that has the vocabulary of a Harvard professor and the wits of a mad scientist. This dog plots out his/her next naughty adventure and shares funny photos of dogs doing bad things.

4. The Dual Personality: This pooch flip-flops between the owner and the dog – sometimes the owner will respond to your status, and sometimes it’s Fido (you can usually tell because the dog will sign his/her name to the post).

5. The Do-Gooder Dog: This furry friend is into rescue, animal anti-cruelty laws, and justice for animals everywhere. You will see a lot of shelter dog cross-posting on this dog’s page, along with lost dog alerts and news stories about dogs in crisis.

6. The News Hound: This dog re-posts informative articles and videos from around the Internet, everything from veterinary articles to food recalls. It’s always good to be connected to at least one News Hound.

Whatever kind of “dog” you are, I hardily condone this behavior. Posting and engaging in social media as your dog encourages the flow of information and brings us all a little closer – albeit with one degree of separation –140 characters at a time.

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