"I wanted to show the public about all of the dogs. I wanted to show everybody all of the dogs in the world."
Photo courtesy of I've Pet That Dog!
Two years ago, a seven-year-old dog enthusiast Gideon started a blog to commemorate and document his dog-petting adventures. And so "I've Pet That Dog!" was born. Like most amateur blogs, it trucked along largely unnoticed as the entries piled up, 304 of them in total, all catalogued by dog name and date-of-pet, all featuring a photo of Gideon ecstatically petting them. (Dogs are also searchable by breed, which makes this the only website-specific search bar in history that actually works.)
On April 20, Gideon debuted Twitter and revealed himself to be very, very good at it—in just 180 tweets, he's racked up 29,000 followers thanks to his seemingly simple social media strategy: Dogs are good and we should pet them. No "doggo" slang or other tomfoolery here—he's just posting photos of himself petting dogs and being happy. I talked to the kid (now nine years old) behind the blog. He made my heart sing.
VICE: Why did you start “I’ve Pet That Dog”?
Gideon: Well, there’s a couple of reasons. One, I LOVEEE dogs. Two, I wanted to see how many dogs I could get. And three, I wanted to show the public about all of the dogs. I wanted to show everybody all of the dogs in the world. I don’t think I will ever do that, though.
Are there any famous dogs or dog breeds you aspire to pet?
I do not know any dog breeds that we have not got.
I know you’ve pet more than 300 dogs, so that makes sense! Can you recall which dogs were your favorites?
Yeah! I like Clementine. We got Clementine recently—she was our 300th dog. Yeah, she was all cuddly, she loved jumping around. She was soooo adorable.
How do you find the dogs?
What we do is, we drive around in a car and then when we see a dog we park. Then we get out and say, “Can I pet your dog?” Well, that’s what I say. And sometimes they are like, “What??”
Are people usually excited when you approach them? Have people ever said no thank you?
A few times it did happen—only twice actually. I’m not really surprised. They said, well, they felt weird that a kid was asking. I have to admit, it’s kind of weird for a kid to just come up and say, “Can I get your dog on my website?” I think one of the women said no to the website cause maybe she thinks we’re giving away where she lives or something like that.
You’re in school most of the day right? Is this an after-school thing? How much time do you put into the blog?
I do at least one dog a day.
That’s quite the work ethic.
When did you start writing more in-depth descriptions of these dogs? Your earlier posts are mostly pictures, but now I see you’re writing bits about the interactions.
Well, we started doing that on my Twitter. We just started putting like the little sentences about the dogs. I don’t know why, I think me and my mom just wanted to like, have people know the dog a tiny bit and get some information about the dog.
What led you to start the Twitter?
My mom just thought of the Twitter to give more—how do I say this—to get it more people to visit the website.
Is it exciting to have this much attention?
Yes! Very much so.
Do you have advice for people who want to do something similar?
Uh [long pause], uh [long pause], uh [long pause], well—tr—no, not actually really.
Are there other blogs that inspire you? Or did you just decide to start?
I just decided to. And I was—my mom just told me this and I was kind of upset!—cause when she said it, when we first started the website, she said she thought it would only last for like, I don’t know, two days. And she thought I’d get bored of it?
But you've kept going for two years now. What motivates you to keep it going?
I think it’s because… I just love meeting the dogs. Why I love meeting dogs is because, well, they’re— if they looked exactly alike I don’t think I would’ve done this website. But they look different. Their fur is different colors. Some of them are taller, some are smaller, some don’t like playing with toys, some love playing with toys. It’s all because they’re basically different.
Are there any other animals that you think you’d want to pet? Or are you just sticking to dogs?
I have to admit this, I did pet a chicken, and I posted it on the website. And a goat. [To his mom] didn’t we pet sheep? [Back to me] one chicken and two goats I think.
How did you find the goat?
We went to this place, and there was a tiny park, basically, that was celebrating kind of. And they had a petting zoo basically. And we asked if we could get one of the goats on the website. And how we found the chicken is that we knew somebody who had a chicken, and then we asked if we could put the chicken on the website. And I had a TON of FUN at that place. One of the chickens got loose—there was like a net and we had to catch it with the net, kind of. Well not a net, we were just trying to catch the chicken and the chicken was running around this other person’s yard. And the person was like, “Why the heck is there a chicken in my yard?” It was hilarious.
That’s incredible. I also see that you really love Chihuahuas, and you’ve started a Chihuahua Fan Club. Do you have a favorite Chihuahua you’ve pet?
I can’t remember exact Chihuahuas, sometimes they get—well, I love them. They’re like so cute, you know, and tiny. My friend lives in California—how we know each other is she used to live here—and me and her are starting this Chihuahua Fan Club.
What do you do in the Chihuahua Fan Club?
Not really much. We do Skype calls—we talk on Skype sometimes about Chihuahuas. And we all talk and talk and talk about Chihuahuas!
Now that you have this Twitter account, maybe you can get some more Chihuahua Fan Club members!
That is an AMAZING IDEA. That is like, THE BEST idea I’ve ever heard.
You are very welcome to use that idea—hopefully you get more fans. I am also a Chihuahua fan, so I can be one of your first new members.
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