This article originally appeared on VICE ASIA.
During these tough times, it’s hard to find something that's positive online. But many would agree that incredibly cute pets on Instagram are always a reliable source of happiness. Follow one and, before you know it, your Explore page is filled with a Pug eating ice cream or a Shiba Inu smiling with Pikachu.
And then, of course, there are the corgis. Posts of the Welsh breed are arguably the internet’s favourite and rival cat videos in popularity. One dog in particular has been racking up likes during the pandemic.
Meet Gensaku, also known as Gen the Corgi. The 5-year-old dog lives in Japan's Okayama Prefecture with his owner, who goes by the name Chikomaru, and has been on Instagram since 2015. But for some reason, his emoji-like facial expressions resonated with many in recent months and he has since gone viral. Gen now has 143,000 followers as of press time.
Chikomaru said that despite his famous look of shock, Gen is actually quite chill and happy most of the time.
“Most dogs are probably scared of hospitals and trimming salons, but Gen will wiggle his tail even on an examination table. He loves the nurses too," she said. “But strangely, he’s scared of signboards. But that’s a secret.”
Chikomaru said that Gen starts his day just like any dog. He’s up by 4:30 AM and barks to wake up his owners. He falls asleep again 15 minutes later and goes for a walk with Chikomaru at 6 AM. He eats breakfast at 7 AM and goes on another walk for 30 minutes.
Unlike most dogs, however, Gen actually suffers from various illnesses. He regularly experiences epileptic seizures and was diagnosed with prostatic hyperplasia and chronic renal failure, a kidney disease that causes him to be thirsty all the time and urinate more than usual.
“No matter how many pills he takes, it won’t be cured. However, Gen’s doctor told me that with suitable treatment and food, he will be able to have a normal life,” Chikomaru said.
Gen visits a vet clinic frequently during the week, usually at 10 AM, to get IV drips and undergo blood tests. Sometimes, when he’s unwell, he gets injections too. He eats snacks at noon and naps for almost four hours after. He goes for a 20-minute walk at 5 PM, eats dinner with his medicine, and goes for another half-hour walk at 8:30 PM before sleeping at 9:30 PM.
Chikomaru said that while Gen’s life expectancy is shorter than other dogs, she chooses to focus on the quality and not the quantity of the time they spend together. Because of this, they only go for medical treatments that can maintain a good quality of life for Gen.
“I think Gen wants to spend more time going on walks and playing around, but he doesn’t have enough energy like other dogs. The time he spends playing is his time to be adventurous. He is the happiest and shows the biggest smiles at those moments,” Chikomaru said.
And these moments are what end up on Gen’s now-famous Instagram account.
“I take photos of the natural faces he makes while he's out playing. Everything on his Instagram is natural and shows how happy he is.”
Find more photos of Gen, below:
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