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Puggy Smalls was born to be in the spotlight. Viewers just can’t get enough of this photogenic pup. His adorable smushed face and human-like expressions have endeared him to many, in fact, Puggy has over a billion views across social platforms. When this superstar isn’t visiting movie premieres or walking the catwalk at fashion week, he enjoys the simple pleasures of being a dog.
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The Meme That Changed Everything
Nick Ettridge, Puggy’s dad, set up an Instagram account for Puggy when he was just a 10-week-old puppy. At the time, Nick never expected that the account would go viral. He simply used it to share funny pictures of his Pug with friends. However, one post changed everything.
Overnight, a Facebook meme of Puggy blew up, gaining millions of views. “I spent the whole night looking at my phone,” says Nick. That’s when he decided to kick things into high gear. He set up Puggy’s accounts properly and really started thinking about content. Next thing you know, a video of Puggy popping out of a McDonald’s Happy Meal box was all over the internet. It got the attention of roughly a billion people worldwide. “It was crazy. Absolutely mega,” says Nick.
Fast forward to today and Puggy has his own website, blog, merchandise, and even a Wikipedia page. “I can’t believe that we’re having this conversation about my dog,” says Nick. When Puggy’s IG account really started taking off, Nick took on the role of Puggy’s manager full time. Conveniently, Nick’s background is in video production. He joked that “It is sort of an embarrassing question when meeting new people and they ask what I do.” However, he explains that he’s never worked harder. “You’re so motivated for it because it’s for the fans,” says Nick. The content creation never stops and he describes Puggy as the perfect subject.
The Pug Life
Every dog owner is biased toward their pup. However, Puggy is without a doubt an adorable dog. His combination of chill temperament and dashing good looks have made him incredibly popular. According to Nick, Puggy even behaves like a human. He is extremely comfortable in the limelight, due to both training and natural ability. “He has been pretty well trained since he was a pup,” says Nick. He’s also never experienced any pain or negativity, which allows him to gravitate towards people and not be afraid to try something new.
Puggy is also a hard worker. “He waits by my office and sits by the door ready to go to work. He sometimes sits by a camera to let you know that he wants his picture taken,” says Nick. If it’s the weekend and they are not actively posting, Puggy will get grumpy. Sometimes, Nick will have to pretend to take pictures of Puggy just to appease him.
Puggy Smalls changed his dad’s life in more ways than one. Nick even met his partner, Charlie, through Puggy. Charlie is the pet parent of the Instagram-famous dog Pops The Sausage! The two started chatting through their dog’s accounts and planned to collaborate on a shoot together. “It was pretty much to make some cool content and then we got along really, really well. Puggy and Pops were on their first date and as it turned out, so were we,” says Nick. After the shoot, Charlie and Nick went out for pancakes and the rest is history.
Charlie’s marketing background and Nick’s video skills made the two a powerhouse couple, dominating Instagram one dog account at a time. The couple own three dogs: Puggy, Pops, and Pomegranate, who each have their own Instagram handle. The 5 of them are inseparable. “The dogs come everywhere with us. If we go to dinner, we’re not going unless it’s a dog-friendly place,” says Charlie. Nick adds: “We’re very busy and we work very hard. But it doesn’t feel that way when we’ve got each other and these funny dogs running around us.” Nick notes that above all, the time they get to spend together is the best thing in the world.
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Throughout quarantine, Puggy spends his time cheering up others with personalized messages, birthday shout-outs, and virtual high-fives. The platform Cameo allows the pup to send these messages all over the world. Nick and Charlie describe the ability to spread joy through their dogs as “magic.” Nick explained that spreading joy is their purpose for posting. “It is just really nice that people love our dog like we do,” says Charlie. Puggy receives tons responses from fans, many saying that they were having a bad day and he made it so much better. In Charlie and Nick’s opinion, that is the definition of success.