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For their own good
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Sooner or later, it had to happen: The animal kingdom has infiltrated the Web. Tater-Tots, meet Daisy Doodle Bugg.
By Dalia Wheatt
Published July 5, 2007
Tater-Tots, with the aid of owner Chris Nehr, lists his occupation as "licking himself," not necessarily a turn-off in the dog world.
[Photo courtesy of Chris Nehr]
Since MySpace is "a place for friends" and canine is man's best friend, it was only a matter of time before the social networking site went to the dogs.
Amid the teenyboppers, rock bands and aspiring models on MySpace.com, you can also acquire friends of the four-legged variety.
There's Tater-Tots of New Port Richey, a beagle mix whose theme song is Who Let the Dogs Out. Tots' age, 7, is posted in people years - 49. From his profile we learn that he's a Virgo and a teetotaler whose occupation is "licking myself."
Tater-Tots' top friends are all dogs, with the exception of one cat, MySpace's ubiquitous Tom, and Tots' owner-ghostwriter, Chris Nehr.
It began modestly enough. Nehr, 29, would post photos of Tater-Tots on his MySpace page, but friends and family kept requesting more photos of their furry godson. Nehr got the idea for Tater-Tots' MySpace page after seeing the profile of a friend's cat.
"What a wonderful way for family and friends to see him whenever they wanted, " Nehr wrote in an e-mail to the Times. "Anyone from across the street or across the country could find out what the Tots had been up to these days."
What the Tots has been up to is visiting Fred Howard Park, playing in the yard at Nehr's apartment complex and sporting superhero costumes on Halloween. If Tots could talk, Nehr said he'd express happiness over the new friends he has made online.
"To me, he's my kid. 'Cause I don't see myself having kids, in the near future at least, " said Nehr, who teaches fifth grade at Chasco Elementary in Port Richey. "He's the first dog I've had living on my own."
400 furry friends
There must be something about first pets. Daisy Doodle Bugg, a 10-month-old English bulldog, is the first dog Susan Rodnite of Tampa has had on her own. Rodnite was laid off last winter and started Daisy's profile as a hobby. She now uses the page to keep in touch with her nieces, posting photos of her ever-growing puppy and sending messages on Daisy's behalf.
On MySpace, Daisy Doodle Bugg's body type is listed as 1'-0" with "more to love, " and we learn that her favorite shows are Dog Whisperer and The Sopranos.
Daisy has 400+ friends on MySpace. Rodnite said the page gets about 20 friend requests a week, mostly from other dogs.
"It's actually been kind of helpful, 'cause I've never had a bulldog before, " said Rodnite, 35, now a marketing manager for HSN.
Through MySpace bulletins, dog owners trade tips, post warnings about pet food recalls and solicit breeder information. In addition, entrepreneurs with pet-related businesses create MySpace pages for their dogs as a form of guerilla marketing.
'I'm really not crazy'
Rodnite knows Daisy Doodle Bugg "doesn't really care" about the Internet, but she and countless other pet owners still enjoy updating their animals' online profiles. We asked Dr. Bruce Friesen, associate professor of sociology at the University of Tampa, to explain the trend.
"It's not unusual to think about people personalizing their pets, showing them on MySpace and giving them human attributes, personalities, et cetera, " said Friesen, who has neither a pet nor a MySpace page. "It's just an extension of probably the lack of interconnectedness on a face-to-face basis."
That said, both Tater-Tots' and Daisy Doodle Bugg's top friends include dogs they play with in real life. Said Rodnite, "I'm really not crazy."