Social media goes to the dogs (and cats)

January 25, 2016

Allie Carleton created an Instagram account for her corgi named Cheeto, which now has close to 2,000 followers

WICHITA, Kan. ó In this age of technology, almost anything is possible. Drones may soon be delivering Amazon packages, cars are driving themselves and dogs are posting on Instagram.

Thatís right, pets have taken to social media to connect and share their cuteness with the world. For the record, itís not really the pets that are running these accounts; itís their owners.

Pet owners are creating Instagram, Facebook and Twitter accounts for their furry friends in a trend that was boosted by celebrities. Taylor Swift, Miley Cyrus, Cee Lo Green, Ed Sheeran, 50 Cent and Lady Gaga are among the celebs that have created social media accounts for their pets.

These accounts are usually presented as though itís the animal behind the keyboard, speaking in its own voice. The pets post about chasing the mailman, they post selfies and make snide comments about owners taking them to the vet or giving them a bath.

Newman University student Andrea Wheeler, 20, created Facebook and Twitter accounts for her dog, Stymie, a beagle-basset-corgi mix, when she was in high school.

Originally, Wheeler tried out a Facebook app called Dogbook that allowed owners to link their dogís page to the ownersí. However, it lacked the full functionality of a regular Facebook page, and Wheeler said it wasnít as fun.

"So, I went all in and made Stymie his own Facebook account," Wheeler said. "Then when Twitter started becoming popular, I made myself an account, and after a while, I figured Stymie needed one as well."

Wheeler said she realizes the ridiculousness of the whole concept but has too much fun with it to care.

"I just think itís hilarious," she said. "Heís a dog. He doesnít have thumbs or even a need for a social media account, but he has two."

Wheeler said she likes to post comments about what Stymie did that day or some funny comment a dog could make about pop culture. She said one of her favorite things to do is start conversations on the Facebook walls of Stymieís friends or even with herself. Stymie has around 50 friends on Facebook and 27 Twitter followers.

Brittany English, 25, created an Instagram account for her cat, Meatball, about a year ago.

English said sheíd been using the hashtag #meatballtheamazing when posting pictures of her cat and decided to get him an account.

"Meatball is quite the character," said English, of Wichita, Kan. "I feel like more people can enjoy the things he does via social media."

English posts pictures of Meatball sunbathing, scratching his belly or lying around and adds witty captions in his voice. Since joining the web, Meatball has attracted 53 followers. English said she tries to post on his account at least once a week.

English said social media accounts allow pet owners to share their petsí individuality with the world.

"I think weíre in an age where animals are becoming more like family, and weíre becoming increasingly more aware of their unique personalities," English said.

Wichitan Josh Davis, 24, decided to make his dog an Instagram account six months ago. Davis said he noticed most accounts are run by female pet owners, but believes the trend is for anyone who loves their pets.

"I made the account for Roxy, my pit bull, because I thought itíd be funny," Davis said. "Plus, sheís an extremely beautiful pit bull. Got that same look you see in dog calendars."

Davis posts pictures of Roxy in holiday outfits or in everyday doggy clothes with captions about Roxyís life.

Davis said that Roxy has only 43 followers, but still manages to get three times the amount of likes that he does. Although Davis created the profile for fun, he said he gets more out of it than just giggles.

"I get to share the joy and happiness Roxy brings me on a daily basis," Davis said. "I know Iíll have that memory of her when sheís no longer with me."

More than simple fun

BlogPaws, an online company that promotes and encourages pet enthusiasts to blog, post or write about their pets via social media platforms, agrees with Davis that pet social media accounts are more than simple fun.

Carol Bryant, marketing and PR manager at BlogPaws, said that pet accounts are a way for people to make friends, build networks and find like-minded people.

"Pets are members of the family," Bryant said. "Since all members of the family take to social media, it makes sense to have the pets there, too."

Bryant said aside from finding fellow pet enthusiasts, the practice is driven by the overarching concept of humanizing pets.

"Pet pampering is becoming the norm," Bryant said. "With the American Products Association reporting a record-setting spending of more than $60 billion in the pet industry for 2015, having our pets on social media is a natural progression in the mix."

Wichita State University senior Allie Carleton, 21, made an Instagram account for her corgi, Cheeto, and it has gathered quite a following.

"I started the account in May when I got her," Carleton said. "Sheís close to 2,000 followers now."

Carleton said she followed a lot of corgi accounts on Instagram and had fun interacting with the corgi community on the site, so when she got Cheeto, she knew she wanted to create a profile for her.

"Itís a hard life, you know, because Cheeto is more popular than I am," Carleton said. "One time I went to a social gathering and people knew her and not me. People follow her Instagram before they even find mine."

Carleton said she isnít jealous of her corgiís rise to stardom because the account makes her happy, too.

"It makes people smile and gives them something to laugh about," she said.

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SOCIAL MEDIA PETS

Pet name: Stymie

Owner: Andrea Wheeler

Accounts: "Stymie Wheeler" on Facebook, @StymieTheDog on Twitter

Sample posts: "been a pretty successful day so far! woke up, slept some more, went outside, ate some grass, peed on a bush, rolled in poo, barked at a van, ate some more grass, sniffed my mailbox, now im going inside for a little spongebob!"

"my life yesterday: went #psycho and darted upstairs! lol i was so crazy and idk why!"

Pet Name: Meatball (cat)

Owner: Brittany English

Accounts: meatballtheamazing on Instagram

Sample posts: A bio line reads "Donít be jelly of the belly."

Pictures captioned "Donít hate me because Iím beautiful."

"I donít think youíre ready for this belly."

Pet name: Roxy

Owner: Josh Davis

Accounts: pit_bull_queen_ on Instagram,

Sample posts: A bio line reads "Pit bull adopted off the rough streets of kansas. Help my dad share my love with the world! Follow for happy vibes! World champion food begger!"

Pictures of her lying around captioned with, "I created lazy Sunday" or "Just 5 more minutes?!"

"Unless you have food, Iím going back to bed."

Pet name: Cheeto

Owner: Allie Carleton

Account: cheeto_the_corgi on Instagram

Sample posts: "Sorry if Iím hyper Ö Itís #nationalcoffeeday and Iím about to have my fix"

"Hope all my furriends has a great Christmas. I was spoiled. Santa brought me three toys and a new blankie"

"Ran straight for the mud at the dog park. Letís just say Ö Mom wasnít as happy about it as I was."

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