Instagram Famous Dog Is A Success Story For Rescues
Education and Advocacy The day he was rescued, Tuna’s owner didn’t know he would become Instagram famous. Now the Chiweenie is sharing his goofy mug while also shedding light on the importance of rescuing pets.
Mediaplanet: Can you recall the first time you saw Tuna? What drew you to him initially and what made you decide to adopt him?
Courtney Dasher: The way I describe it to people is the record stopped when I first laid eyes on him. He was a 4-month-old puppy wearing an oversized sweatshirt, shivering. He appeared to be really insecure and unloved so I decided that I wanted to take him home and love him. He also didn’t have his signature teeth at the time, but he had a very pronounced overbite with flappy gums and I thought he looked like an adorable cartoon character, namely Mr. Burns of the Simpsons.
MP: What made you decide to create a social media account for Tuna?
CD: Funny story is, I didn’t want to have any kind of social media for myself and I’m clueless in this department, or at least I was. I had a year’s worth of photos of Tuna, so I decided to dedicate the account to him but when I created my account in November of 2011, I had no intentions of garnering a large following, at all. Almost immediately, I noticed that people were commenting that he was making them laugh and bringing them joy, and I liked the idea of being a catalyst to change people’s days and uplift their spirits, so I committed to posting a photo a day.
MP: How has Tuna’s rise to fame changed your life?
CD: He’s helped redefine my purpose. It’s become my mission to make people laugh, bring them joy, and hopefully assist in changing the trajectory of a grave or difficult circumstance into one of hope and encouragement through my daily postings of Tuna. The testimonies of people who have written to me, telling me of the difference Tuna makes in their days, has had a profound effect on me and thus, it’s changed my life.
MP: Why do you think people identify with Tuna? What is it that people love so much about him?
CD: I think he pulls at people’s heart strings. He’s adorable all around from his looks to his personality. People can't help but fall in love. I have noticed that his handle, @tunameltsmyheart, is really fitting and appropriate. I think he also challenges people to see true beauty captivates our hearts and not just our eyes and because of that, he helps us all celebrate our differences.
MP: Now that Tuna has this huge platform online, what’s the next step?
CD: The step is to continue bringing people joy and laughter through his platform, but the following step would be to build up our new vertical called, The Traveling Tuna. We travel quite a bit together, along with my husband, so I started a secondary Instagram account called @thetravelingtuna, as well as thetravelingtuna.com where we recommend well-designed, pet-friendly accommodations in the U.S. and U.K. But beyond recommending pet-friendly destinations, I hope this gives us an opportunity to meet more of his amazing followers as well.
MP: How do you decide the messaging for Tuna’s online posts?
CD: I can usually immediately come up with copy for his posts just by looking at what his personality is saying in his photos. I try and keep my captions witty and light-hearted, but sometimes I focus on important causes like raising awareness for animal rescue. Since Tuna is a rescue himself, we try to point a lot back to that; whether it's by raising awareness for animal adoption/foster, or by initiating fundraising campaigns to provide financial support for rescue groups.
MP: What is one thing you wish you could tell someone who plans on owning a pet?
CD: Consider adopting or fostering if you want a pet. Before adopting Tuna, I wasn't informed about the rescue community, and I think there are still a lot of people that don’t realize the benefits of it. I feel honored and humbled that I have been given a platform of influence to reach people that may not know much about the importance of rescue or about the real heroes who actually do the rescuing, not just the people who do the adopting.