Friday, September 21, 2018

Say hello to the dogs of Instagram, and cats too

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.

Okay it's not really the dogs that are posting. 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 it's 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 dog's page to the owners'. However, it lacked the full functionality of a regular Facebook page, and Wheeler said it wasn't 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 it's hilarious," she said. "He's a dog. He doesn't 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. One of her favorite things to do is start conversations on the Facebook walls of Stymie's friends or even with herself. Stymie has around 50 friends on Facebook and 27 Twitter followers as @StymieTheDog.

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

English said she'd been tagging pictures of her cat with #meatballtheamazing 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. He has attracted more than 60 followers. English said she tries to post as @meatballtheamazing at least once a week.

English said social media allows pet owners to share their pets with the world.

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

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. "She's close to 2,000 followers now."

"It's 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."

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