Doug the Pug is king of the internet
HE HAS millions of social media followers, a global following and celebrities clamouring to meet him. His only talent? Being utterly adorable.
Doug the Pug is part of a growing social media trend where pets with personality plus are now celebrities in their own right. He's about to make his print debut with Doug the Pug: King of the Internet.
Owner and manager Leslie Mosier said a global following, book deal and merchandise were the last thing on her mind when she started posting pictures of Doug on her own Instagram. A pug named Doug had always been a dream for Leslie, who finally adopted her pug puppy in college. Doug's social media stardom started as a hobby for Leslie, who made several different accounts before finding the perfect channel.
After eventually attracting national media attention from the likes of TIME, Buzzfeed, Huffington Post and Good Morning America, Leslie took a massive step and quit her full-time PR job to manage Doug. "I was scared, but it felt like a necessary leap that I needed to take, and I'm so happy that I made that decision,” she said.
Doug is just one of dozens of pets who have become global social media stars, from Grumpy Cat's iconic angry stare to Marnie the Dog's lolling tongue.
But finding popularity online is about more than just amassing likes. It's also big business for those who embrace their internet fame. Boo, a pomeranian dubbed the "cutest dog in the world” by Khloe Kardashian, has more than 17 million Facebook fans, a gig with Virgin America and a line of merchandise.
French bulldog Manny, with more than one million Instagram followers, has used his fame for charity, raising hundreds of thousands of dollars through merchandise sales.
Pictures are Doug's selling point and Leslie said getting the perfect shot was a mixture of planning and spontaneity. "We usually get an idea based off a costume or a caption and then we let Doug's personality shine through,” she said.
A winning social media presence isn't just about pictures. Leslie created a distinct personality for Doug in photo captions.
"Some come easily, while others take more thought. We take the captions very seriously and we always know when we've found just the right caption,” Leslie said.
While there's no typical day in the life of Doug, Leslie and her team are always planning the next shoot.
"We are consistently trying to think of new funny photos and videos that we haven't done before. Every day is different, some days are spent travelling to a photo shoot or other days are filled with working from home and Doug sleeping on his doggie bed. It's a lot of work, but it always pays off,” she said.
From thousands of photos, it's impossible for Leslie to pick a favourite. Her favourite shots include travel snaps in New York's Times Square and other cities, as well as colourful photos of the pug with pizza and doughnuts.
For her, the best days with Doug are always when fans meet the much-loved pooch. It's something she still hasn't become used to in their travels together, but Leslie said it remained the highlight of Insta-fame. She said making millions of people smile each day was a rewarding experience.
"We get so many inspiring messages from fans and many opportunities to get to do things that we wouldn't have been able to do otherwise,”she said.
"I love being my own boss, getting to travel, and of course, that I get to hang out with Doug all day every day.''
Doug the Pug: King of the Internet is out this month from Pan MacMillan Australia, who also provided Weekend with a copy for review. RRP $19.99.