I got up early on a Saturday morning in late May of 2009. It was odd that I had the energy to wake up early since the night before had taken part in what was called the raid on the castle.
A few weeks prior I was banned from the site called Doggyspace. Before this happened I was ready to stay there site forever It was perfect for me. I had a thousand friends. It really was like a big playground. The friendships I had made there meant everything to me. I would fight to the death for my comrades.
One of those friends, Tanner, was growing tired of the increasingly authoritarian rule and unruly members. Our dear friend Hattie had left the site, weary from being bullied by younger, unsupervised pups. Tanner was upset that his group Yellow Labs had been assimilated into another and all the threads and comments wiped out. He complained to the management, who was disguised as a Yorkie named Princess. Her profile picture had been taken from a stock photo site. Her biography fabricated.
Tanner was told it was necessary to eliminate his group. No amount of pleading could change the phony Princess' mind.
A short time later Tanner was diagnosed with cancer. After the discovery, he was accused of using a dog's parents name in a comment. At the time of the infraction, it seemed minor but Tanner received a lifetime ban.
Since I never complained or had a complaint issued against me I assumed I was a Doggyspace member in good standing. I sent a message to the fake Princess explaining that Tanner was going to pass over soon. He knew he had made a mistake but only did so because he was distraught. Certainly, the Princess could understand that Tanner needed all the support of his online friends in his last days If it was not possible that the ban could be overturned maybe it could be delayed until Tanner had passed
I fully expected that Princess would understand and reinstate Tanner's profile because true dogs and their parents have great compassion for pups whose songs is ending. That is what a pet lover would do. Instead, the Princess replied with a statement that shocked, dismayed and amused.
"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."
After reading the response I decided to share it with other members via private message. There were no rules about what could be shared by that method on Doggyspace. We weren't even aware that Big Princess was reading them. We found out when I received a 10-day ban for forwarding the Princess' message to others.
This called for a stupid and futile gesture. I was just the dog to do it. I started the Small Tail blog and published the Princess’ letter. I also exposed the Princess' profile as being a fake. Even though I didn't write a word of this on Doggyspace the thin-skinned, upper-class twit Princess barred me for life. I cannot say I was surprised.
I hoped to keep in touch with my friends via my blog. Then Teddy Bond told me about an unused Ning site. It was like a fully furnished house left vacant. I moved in invited some of my closest friends and we began to party. We even got the elusive Hattie Mae to join.
Then came the fateful Friday night. Earlier in the day, we learned that Tanner would be going to the Bridge within hours. In tribute, we went on Doggyspace, created fake profiles and posted pictures of Tanner on the site where he had been barred. Since the owner fashioned himself a Princess we referred to it as the raid on the castle.
We were all very proud of ourselves. Then the very same cross little dog who got Tanner banned from Doggyspace joined our new site. He lacked the basic kindness gifted to pets and their parents. In an unconscionable act, he criticized Tanner and his mom on the night of his passing. This was the kind of toxic personality we had all left DS to avoid. Our happy home was no longer safe
So there I was on a Saturday morning in May watching another group of friends being ripped apart. Some dog had to do something. I decided that some dog would be me.
I opened Ning and created a new site. I called it a Brigade because the night before we were an army invading a castle. And I named it after the Bridge's newest angel Tanner. Most importantly I made it a site you could only go one if you got an invite.
I had wisely, in anticipation of being banned from Doggyspace, copied the emails of my closest friends. I sent them an invitation to the newly formed Tanner Brigade.
I sent out a couple of dozen invitations. Slowly my friends joined the new site. Baarney, and Tabaatha, known as the Laambis were the first to join. Ashton and Chelsea were next. By the end of the day, dozens of dogs had joined including Hobo, Freddy, and Pepsi, Lilly, Sophie, Paco, Luca and Junior.
Over the coming days and weeks, more friends would join including the effervesant Hattie Mae. A social network site for dogs and their parents, run by them, had never been attempted before. Some scoffed at our motto: “Freedom to Bark!” borrowed from Donna Christopher, one of the earlier adminsators. But we proved them wrong, and ten years later we are still going strong.
The Tanner Brigade constantly changes. Many of the dogs who were big contributors in our first few years, Hattie, Koda, Cassie, Zoe Boe, and Brody, are gone. Others, like Hobo, Lily, Cappy, and Paco have been with us for the entire ten years. We have added new members who have kept us going strong into our tenth year: Geordie, Sabrina, Abby, Rosco, Wild Ones, Tashi and, after Doggyspace folded in 2015, the great Tommy Tunes and Freddy brought their magical profiles to our group.
Ironically, after Doggyspace was sold, we were invited back, and started the site where we made several new friends, who have followed us to Tanner Brigade.
The Tanner Brigade is a mom and pop shop struggling to keep members in the same community where Facebook seems to draw everyone away from smaller sites. While we have a Facebook account and have been a member of Blogville for ten years, this is our home.
I want to thank all the friends we have made for a great ten years. As we step into our second decade we cannot say if we will reach twenty years, but freedom to bark will last forevr.