Pup of the Week: Memories of Doggyspace and the Paper Princess
It was a dark and stormy night. I stood at the top of the stairs awaiting the Bridge’s newest member. I had never sworn in a dog during a storm before. And never in the dark either. I saw a figure, struggling to climb the stairs. She was paper thin, and several times almost blew away. Then she reached the top. “I am sure you are glad to see me here Foley,” the Paper Princess said.
Princess was her name. When I signed up for Doggyspace in September of 2008 after Daddy read about a social network site for dogs on the Time magazine website Princess was the one who welcomed me. She was a fellow Yorkie and I thought we would be great friends. But we ended up being the bitterest of enemies.
It started out great. We signed up, then went to another site. When we came back we already had 50 friends. That number would triple by the end of the evening. I am not sure of everyone we met that night but we do remember barking with Blazer deep into the night and feeling good that we made a friend.
The first months were wonderful. They are a time so many of us refer to as the golden age of Doggyspace. Sure we might be romanticizing things, there was drama and even some fights but we remember it as a place where we went every night to laugh, to play, to learn the way other dogs trained their humans. We drank sodas and ate ice creams at Otis’ ice cream shop, we sat in the stands, watched the Furminators play, and we had the grandest parties. We were a family, a family of thousands, and nothing was going to drive us apart.
That first month I also found the Moses’ blogs. Just before I joined DS Moses went to the Bridge and his mother Nancy wrote the most beautiful, moving words I had ever read. Everything I have written since has been a pale imitation of the emotion, the honesty, and the pain in those blogs.
As with most families the fights grew worse, and there were arguments, usually Saturday night. DS merged with another site which had many children as members and sometimes children and dogs don’t mix. The fight became more extreme and some members of our playground turned mean. The Princess’ owner began to threaten long standing members while siding with either newer members or those who paid premium memberships. But still it was our home and we were willing to fight for all the good dogs there, members of our family.
And then Tanner got sick and was diagnosed with cancer. His mother was distraught, and one member, who seemed to be in the middle of every fight, made a cruel comment about Tanner and his Mom used the Dad’s name (which was appropriate since he really didn’t own a dog) in the response. The Dad of the phony dog complained and Tanner was suspended from the site. I received an e-mail from Tanner, who was very upset about losing his friends just as his Mom needed them most. I decided to try to make the peace and sent an e-mail to Princess’ Dad Levi asking that either Tanner’s Mom be forgiven, or she at least be allowed on the site until Tanner’s passing because she needed the support. And that is when we got the e-mail that changed Doggyspace forever.
“As you know the rules are laid out clear, and we can not allow this bickering to continue, nor slander. It may be unforchunit for her personaly, however she knew she should not have done that before she even posted it, and we can not make exceptions in this case due to the size of the event.Dont expect it to be the last eather, the entire admin/support team are hunting down anyone that was part of the event on bothsides as its a clear break of the community rules. Its sad to see so many adults act like children.”
And that was the statement that changed so much. I began to contact my closest friends through private messages containing this e-mail. And then I got suspended, which is when we found out that the Princess’ father was reading our private messages.
I created my own blog page and printed the letter in my first blog. Shortly after that, on our own blog page we printed a picture of Princess that we found among common Yorkie pictures on Google proving that Princess was not a real dog. This got us barred forever and led to many original DS members, fed up with the ownership, the reading of messages, the barring of people, the favoring of others, to leave Doggyspace. After Tanner passed to the Bridge many of us created new profiles and put pictures of Tanner all of DS in tribute. The next day the Tanner Brigade was born.
It seemed that we would be two groups. Some managed to keep dual membership, others stayed away from DS. The Paper Princess profile was taken down. Within the year owner Levi sold the company to Simpio Marketing. We rejoined the group a few years ago and made wonderful new friends, caught up with old ones, and enjoyed ourselves a great deal, but, in the glory days, one comment would spun 100 more, and now it spurned a quarter of that. There were other ownership transfers after that, until finally Pet360 bought it, let it rot on the vine, and then ended the site, which put The Paper Princess and me on the top of the Bridge this stormy night.
“So,” I said impatiently, “Doggyspace is gone and you think that grants you permission to join us at the Bridge?”
“Of course,” she said.
I stamped my paw. “Neither you nor your Dad really every understood Doggyspace,” I said. “It wasn’t about computers, or journals, it was about love, friendship and understanding. And there weren’t any profiles. Those were memory pages. Memories of dogs when they were young, stories about them running, playing, swimming and then memories as they slowly aged. Their entire lifetime on a web page. And with some of them the story of slowing down, growing old, illnesses, and the final sad passing. Not a web page, but a life page, and you took it all away.”
“I’m not responsible for any of that,” the Princes said.
“Of course you are,” I snapped. “All you and your owner had to do was step back and let us be but you took away our freedom to bark, you spied on us, and you kicked our friends out. And then you sold us out to companies that had no heart and only wanted money. And that led to the site being sold and sold again until it was finally sold to the greatest evil of all, a pet store! And then shut down because it wasn’t making money, but the funny thing is if anyone ever stopped and asked our parents they would have been happy to pay to keep their memories on line, thousands of dollars a year. You could have made millions. But you never believe in how much parents loved us. They buy us stupid things all the time: Toys we rip apart in seconds, treats we will never eat, clothes we won’t wear, training whistles, anxiety medicines. If they would spend money on all that crap imagine what they would pay for our stories, our pictures, and our lives.”
“I think you are out of order,” the Princess said.
“You’re out of order!” I shouted. “If I was half the dog I used to be I would take a flame thrower to that place, but I’m too damn old, I’m too damn short, I don’t have opposable thumbs.” I took several deep breaths to calm down. “I just wish the humans who made this decision knew….I just wish they knew.”
The Princess was no longer talking. I don’t know it if was the wind, or if she was scared, but she was trembling.
“But the thing that you and your big business friends don’t understand is that nothing is going to split us apart. You may have taken a wrecking ball to our home but we are still together, on Facebook, on Tanner Brigade, wherever there are dogs in needs of prayer, in need of support we are there. You will never keep us apart. Once again, you have failed, and by the way, you’re not getting sworn in here, you’re not real, you never were, and you don’t mean a thing.”
And with that the Paper Princess crumpled up and flew away.
DS might be gone, but the memories, the friendships and the loves will last forever. Nothing is going to rip us apart.