Snarf a slice of Goodfellas sausage-and-steak-stuffed pizza. Cozy up to a cow. Then allow your human to post the salivating and snuggling to Instagram, and wait for the likes to pile up.
It’s a proven formula for Garth the Golden, a Broad Ripple Golden retriever who has amassed more than 137,000 followers on Instagram. A video of him meeting his nephew for the first time racked up more than half a million views. Even his toys have their own hashtags. Among this hound’s accomplishments: filling an online store with Garth-faced goodies ranging from Cinco de Mayo taco socks to a calendar, flip-flops, and frosted beer mug; a top-10 finish in the worldwide 2017 Men’s Health Ultimate Dog Search; and raising more than $1,000 for Wheeler Mission.
To be honest, it doesn’t take much to win Garth’s heart: Grab his Lamb Chop plushie (tagged #LambyBae); supply a spoon for him to lick; or cue up his favorite flick, Homeward Bound (seriously). Or just show up at the Broad Ripple Farmers Market, where Garth is a mainstay on Saturdays from May through November.
But you need not stroke his oh-so-fluffy fur to become a Garth groupie—he has plenty of followers who know him only through his soulful black eyes, soft smile, and wagging tongue. “U DESTROY ME WITH ALL YOUR ADORABLENESS,” panted Dana L. Hunter in one of her frequent comments on his Facebook page. “I CAN’T TAKE IT.” “The beauty is almost painful,” @nat_1205 swooned beneath an Instagram video of a snoozing Garth using one of his human mom’s running shoes as a pillow.
Other than unbridled cuteness, Garth’s “mom”-ager, Salesforce account executive Abby Coons, says he doesn’t have a secret sauce for social media success (though having a champion show-dog dad certainly doesn’t hurt). “We keep it real,” the Garth Brooks superfan says. “We don’t glamorize the posts. We highlight the happy, funny, frustrating moments, and I think people can relate.”
Coons had no aim of making Garth famous when she took him home from Hoosier Heartland Goldens in Frankton, Indiana, in July 2016. She signed him with pet-fluencer magnate The Dog Agency two years ago after the 200 direct messages Garth was getting each day from people and brands looking to collaborate began to get overwhelming. She spends a couple of hours per day managing the account with the help of her husband, Jeremy Coons, a financial advisor.
Her advice for wannabe dog-fluencers? “Don’t try to make your dog famous,” she says. “Just have fun with it. Use your platform to bring a smile to others.”
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