So far this year, the most famous internet dog is Sisu, the stray Lab mix that kept stealing a purple unicorn from a North Carolina Dollar General.
Whenever a customer entered, the stray would dart into the store and head straight to the toy section. He would grab a purple plush unicorn, and make for the door.
After five attempts at stuffed-animal snatching, Animal Control was called. The officer who showed up was so smitten with Sisu that she bought the toy for the dog.
Sisu went with the officer to the pound, no doubt thinking that anyone who realized the importance of the purple unicorn would be a good friend.
Here's the part that breaks your heart: The shelter people said it was possible the toy reminded him of something he once had at home. He was obviously domesticated — Sisu could sit, he could shake — but now he was on his own.
No one claimed him. Until the story hit the news wires, guaranteeing that someone would adopt the dog. And, of course, Sisu found a "fur-ever" home.
Of course, we're not even halfway through the year, so Sisu may not end up 2021's top internet dog. Your dog could be internet-famous for a day, or an hour, or a fleeting second on someone's Twitter feed.
If you're interested in shooting for stardom for your pup, here are some suggestions:
1. Submit a picture to We Rate Dogs (@dog_rates).
This popular Twitter account, with 9 million followers, rates dogs. This doesn't meant it gives a beloved dog a 5 because it appears to be an indistinguishable member of a popular breed. All dogs get ratings like 14/10. As in, 14 points out of 10.
It tends to showcase dogs that have recovered from medical issues, which seems to be related to the account's partnership with a pet insurance company. No matter. The photos and brief descriptions are endearing and a guaranteed day-brightener.
2. Ask a winsome child to praise your dog.
Another popular Twitter account is I've Pet That Dog, perhaps one of the purest accounts on the internet. It's 12-year-old Gideon's account of all the dogs he's met, and petted. Goofy dogs, happy dogs, and sometimes sad-story dogs:
"I pet Madden. He was rescued in AL from the 2nd-largest dogfighting ring ever. He is sweet and gentle. He looks forward to his twice a day walks. Before he was rescued, he hadn't been outside. His caregiver says despite all Madden went through, he is still trusting and loving."
Gideon has petted 1,209 dogs so far, and has "virtually" petted almost 400 dogs whose owners sent pictures. Perhaps he would virtually pet your pet.
3. Get your dog to talk.
Canine vocalizations are a popular YouTube genre. Searching for "huskies complaining" or "dogs talking" brings up an endless list of annoyed dogs warbling at their owners.
4. Capitalize on a peculiarity.
Instagram abounds with dog accounts, but the most popular are the dogs that are somewhat askew. @Marniethedog, for example, was a Shih Tzu whose head was tilted permanently to the left, and her tongue hung out.
According to the dog's Wikipedia page (yes, of course internet-celebrity dogs have Wikipedia pages), Marnie met many celebrities, including Betty White, and was named the most famous American dog on Instagram by the New Yorker. Before she passed in 2020, she had 1.7 million followers. That means more people followed this dog than live in New Hampshire.
When Marnie died, the odd-dog Instagram mantle passed to Tuna (@Tunameltsmyheart), a "Chiweenie," a Chihuahua Dachshund mix, known for his spectacular overbite. Like all ungainly malformed dogs, Tuna has strange charisma, almost 3 million followers. And a book deal.
This may cause you to look closely at your dog and wonder if it might have some minor defect that causes it no discomfort, but makes people instantly protective and amused.
The dog will have no idea why you're staring so intently. Just as the famous dogs of the internet have no idea they are famous, or what an internet is.
The phrase "lucky dog" comes to mind, doesn't it?