Instagram has gone to the dogs. And cats. And critters. Pets like Doug the Pug (@itsdougthepug), Lil BUB (@iamlilbub) and Grumpy Cat (@realgrumpycat) have garnered genuine celebrity statuses thanks to the social media platform, with many accounts boasting follower counts in the mind-blowing multi-millions. And as the mom of @dex_thedapperdog, I recently got to know other local Insta-pets and their parents, who shared the adoption stories, quirks, milestones and more that are making their fur babies #instastars.
DOGS OF CINCY
Established in 2015, this account is an Instagram photo blog that tells the stories behind local pups. Exuding a distinct Humans of New York vibe, Dogs of Cincy is helmed by Jane Sullivan, who snaps pictures of dogs she crosses paths with while exploring her hometown. “When I started out, I didn’t think anyone would talk to me, but so far not one single person with a dog has turned me down,” Sullivan says. “Every dog is amazing and unique and I love telling their stories every day.”
CATS OF CINCY
The alter-ego of — and inspired by — Dogs of Cincy, Cats of Cincy features various felines living in the Queen City. Cat-lover Abby Erwin is the sole moderator of the account. “The idea stemmed from the Dogs of Cincy page,” Erwin says. “I figured if dogs have their own dedicated page in Cincinnati, cats should, too! People in Cincinnati love their cats, and it shows.” Erwin kicked off the account by featuring her own cat, Sammy, who still stars in the page’s profile picture. Post a pic of your own cat with the hashtag #catsofcincy for a chance to be featured.
MOLLIE THE STAND-UP DOG
Fire hydrants. Tree stumps. People. There’s nothing Mollie the hound dog can’t balance on, as evidenced by an Instagram account in which she stands atop myriad humans, objects and things. “We adopted Mollie when she was about 7 months old from a big adoption event organized by the League for Animal Welfare — she came from Brown County Animal Shelter,” says Mollie’s human, Patti Mossey. “We had a rocky start; she had been abused, was fearful of everything and everyone, was super high-energy and not trained at all. It’s kind of amazing how far she has come, because she absolutely loves people and life now. The jumping/balance thing — we knew she loved to jump up on stumps in the woods, and we had a command to send her there: ‘Place.’ As a joke one day, walking in the ’hood, we told her to ‘place’ on a fire hydrant, and she actually did! We were shocked.” Today, Mollie’s Instagram page highlights her “placing” amid a hodgepodge of beloved locales, from the Cincinnati Museum Center to ArtWorks murals to Great American Ball Park.
COOPER THE ONE-EYED CAT
Cooper the cat may only have one eye, but that doesn’t stop him from seeing how good life has become. “He was found in a wood pile near our home by a wonderful lady who captures feral cats to have them spayed and neutered,” says Cooper’s mom, Holly Ross. “She knew I love cats and asked if I wanted him. He immediately crawled onto my shoulder, under my hair, and I went home with him that day.” Cooper’s right eye, however, wasn’t developing properly and was removed when he was just a few months old — a condition Cooper’s veterinarian attributes to a likely case of feline herpes at birth. “Having only one eye has not limited him in any way,” Ross says. “We, of course, think he’s the cutest.”
MERLE (AND FELINE BFF AMOS)
This little pitty has quite the ~lewk~: a crooked face, a lil’ snaggle tooth and a tongue that’s always outside of his mouth. But life wasn’t always good to Merle; he was discovered in the woods by the owner of a veterinary clinic, emaciated and with a severe case of mange. “After the vet clinic did some digging, they found out that he was adopted from the (SPCA) not so long ago and the new owner just didn’t want him anymore,” says Merle’s new mom, Stephanie Norman. The crookedness of his face was most likely caused by blunt force trauma, and although he still takes some time to warm up to new people, he’s making progress in strides. “We try to take him out to places that allow dogs like breweries, bars, restaurant patios (and) Washington Park events to show him that people are not going to hurt him anymore,” Norman says. Merle lives with four other dogs, two cats (including his best friend Amos) and six chickens in Northside.
THE REAL GEORGE MICHAEL
Laura Hughes adopted this suave mix through the League for Animal Welfare, where George Michael — then named Chet — was the only dog who didn’t bark at Hughes when she walked by. “I had to meet him,” she says. “He was surrendered to the shelter because his previous owner was a pet hoarder; apparently George Michael lived with dozens of other animals and his owner was charged with animal neglect.” Today, GM goes to work with his mom on the daily at Over-the-Rhine’s Union Hall. “He loves to steal my coworkers’ office chairs for naps, run around the building greeting visitors and is in a constant search for dropped food on the ground.” His Instagram features him going for walks, sunbathing on sidewalks and generally lounging about. But don’t worry — his mom keeps things rated PG by tastefully blurring out his manhood, should it be visible.
TUX THE TOOTHY PUG MIX
Tux, a pug/Japanese Chin mix, was adopted from local rescue group Stray Animal Adoption Program (SAAP) in October of 2016. “My husband (Kyle Healey) and I were married in October 2015 and I had been requesting a new family member for about a year,” says Tux’s mom, Mandy Shoemaker. “He kept telling me he didn’t want a dog because they were so much responsibility and we work a lot.” One night, a friend from SAAP sent Shoemaker a picture of Tux — and it was love at first sight. “The next day, while Kyle was golfing, I picked up Tux and brought him home, praying we both wouldn’t be left out in the cold. Then I sent Kyle a photo of him sitting on our couch and Kyle texted back that if the dog wasn’t so cute we would both be in trouble.” Shoemaker says Tux has a lot of pug tendencies: an under-bite, a susceptibility to gaseous conditions and a curly tail.
LUCY THE DEAF BOXER
Lucy — full name Lucy Goose — was rescued when she was only eight months old, discovered in the middle of the road after being hit by a car. “Both of Lucy’s front legs were severely injured,” says Lucy’s new mom, Felicia Forsythe. “One was broken, which a rod had to be inserted into, and the other suffers permanent nerve damage, which is why Lucy is often seen wearing a boot — she walks on the side of that paw. Along with those injuries, Lucy was underweight, her collar was almost embedded in her neck and it’s thought she was also physically abused. Miss Lucy Goose is also deaf, but she doesn’t let any of this slow her down.” Lucy now enjoys camping, agility and going on an annual vacation to Florida. “She is so super-spoiled but deserves every second of it,” Forsythe says.
MOZZIE THE MAJESTIC
Such beauty. Mozzie is an Australian shepherd/border collie mix adopted from the League for Animal Welfare. This energetic guy enjoys exploring local parks with his parents and keeping his breeds’ roots alive by herding his feline brothers, Luna and Fat Storm. “I wanted to adopt a dog before I started grad school as a way to manage stress and stay active,” says his owner Rachel Jackson, a doctoral student at the University of Cincinnati working on her masters in educational studies. An avid explorer and outdoorsman, Mozzie’s ’gram says he stands with environmentalists to protect his favorite places to play.