Twelve years ago, I decided to start an Internet group for dogs, and their loving parents, named after my good friend and fellow rebel Tanner, who had just gone to the Bridge; I figured how hard could it be? Just invite some people, sit back, and do nothing.
Truthfully, that’s pretty much been it. But, there have been times when this grand experiment in dog social media seemed on the brink of failure. I was heartened to see how generous people were when the weasels at Ning began to charge for the service. We have lost many original members and have been lucky enough to have brilliant dogs and devoted parents arrive to keep the site going.
The most challenging part was the beginning. At that time, huge sites were run by tech people with massive servers, and to get dogs and their people to invest time in a new site was a daunting task. We had the words to attract others, but we needed more, namely a catchy catchphrase and graphics. I was blessed to have a friend, Erin, the German Shepherd , fluent in both.
She had a popular blog with easy-to-understand instructions on how to set up pages. At least it was to the average dog. I was puzzled. Luckily, Erin was a dear friend and said that she would do all the graphic work on the site. She also gave free advice to friends about setting up pages. I was the primary administrator, and she was my assistant.
More importantly, Erin allowed me to use her phrase “Freedom to Bark.” One of the biggest complaints that people had of the more bigger sites was that they were censored. We told dogs to bark what they liked and used Erin’s slogan, to sum up our policy.
As the years passed, Erin and her Mom withdrew from social media. When we needed graphic work to spruce up Doggyspace at the Bridge, Erin agreed to leave her mom and help us. She had lived a splendid life but was tired, so our offer came at the right time.
When Erin left, she knew her mom would be in good paws because her birth daughter, Elsa, was part of their pack and had learned everything her human mom needed to survive the wicked world.
This week Erin woke me up and sadly told me we have to go to the Bridge because her daughter, Elsa, was due. She, too, had lived a good life, but her heart and soul were breaking, and she needed to cross over to live again.
The mother and child reunion was beautiful. While it is fun to look up your littermates and birth moms at the Bridge, we don’t have a strong connection, because we were separated, but when a dog keeps one of her pups, it creates the strongest bond in the canine world. When Elsa crossed, they stood on their back legs, hugged, cried, and then licked one another. It was the most touching reunion I had seen in months.
Erin did not stay on social media for long, and Elsa was barely seen there, but the mother and child have an important role in helping dogs and parents set up sites and understand the Internet. If humans look to the sky they will see two bright stars clustered together, and should know it is the unbreakable mother and daughter using the sky as their new site web page making it beautiful and reminding us all to keep barking freely.