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Hashtag hounds rack up followers with wacky antics

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Tuna, the hound so homely he's irresistible, peeks out from beneath his blanket, baring his row of buck teeth in a slapstick smile for the camera.

Courtney Dasher of Los Angeles rescued the Chihuahua-dachshund mix with the bug eyes, big nose and infamous overbite in 2010. Four years later, the dog dubbed a "Chiweenie" in hashtags had 837,138 followers as of Tuesday night, when he ranked as the most-popular dog on Instagram.

Pet owners are unleashing their pooches on the photo-sharing service, setting up accounts to show Manny the French bulldog sporting spectacles or Tuna poking his schnoz out of a suitcase.

Funny pet photos continue to be a trend on social media. They get plenty of play on Facebook and Twitter, including "muttbombs," where people Photoshop dogs into snapshots of themselves or celebrities. Muttbombs and animal Instagram accounts are so popular that shelters and others use them to promote adoptions or rescue campaigns. These famous pooches also have been featured in shelter public service announcements and swarmed by fans in public.

That's because animal lovers eat up the snapshots of dogs doing the darndest things, giving Manny and Tuna insta-fame on Instagram.

Dasher, who says Tuna resembles Mr. Burns from "The Simpsons," started @tunameltsmyheart in 2011.

"You would never hear me call Tuna ugly," Instagram spokeswoman Liz Shepherd said. "He has unconventional beauty. Some people say Tuna is the best part of their day."

Handsome is the word Dasher uses. "He's so unique, and I love that and everything about him," she said.

For Manny, the dog once rejected by a breeder is now the world's most followed French bulldog on Instagram, with 502,594 people subscribing to @manny_the_frenchie as of Tuesday night. Amber Chavez of Chicago says her dog looks like a cross between a bunny and a piggy, and he is the fourth-most-followed pooch on the social network.

"He was like a first-born child, we couldn't stop photographing him," Chavez said, who set up the account with a friend in 2012. "We wanted to share pictures with family and friends and saw other animals had their own Instagram pages, so we created his very own."

Manny's owners are among the many who use their dog's account to aid animal charities.

Loni Edwards of New York City follows Manny, who has been posed to look like he's sipping a soda and dressed up to resemble hip-hop artist Pharrell. She said silly or cute canine antics put her in a good mood, and there's plenty of that from Manny, who spins on his back legs to a rap song in one short Instagram video.

"I have a thing for Frenchies," Edwards said, explaining why she got Chloe, who has her own page, @chloe_theminifrenchie.

Chavez and Dasher say motivation for their posts comes from their dogs or the fans.

"Every time we turn around, he's doing something cute or funny," Chavez said. Plus, Manny "gets excited when he sees a hoodie or outfit coming his way."

For Dasher, the relationship she has had with Tuna's fans over the years keeps her going.

"Tuna is bringing joy to a global audience, and I enjoy being a catalyst to change someone's day," she said.

Join the discussion

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Rayce June 17 2014 at 1:55 PM

"I've always preferred the company of dogs over any human...they're all about the love. People are all about themselves." Woof!!!

Flag Reply +20 rate up
7 replies
jai.hye June 17 2014 at 1:10 PM

Such beautiful fur babies.....absolutely LOVE these warm and fuzzy pics.

Flag Reply +15 rate up
danyelle.marks June 17 2014 at 3:18 PM

no better friend than a dog.

Flag Reply +15 rate up
2 replies
MICHELLE danyelle.marks June 17 2014 at 3:41 PM

My cats are pretty awesome!

Flag Reply +5 rate up
4 replies
Maureen A. Hechler danyelle.marks June 17 2014 at 9:08 PM

Mine too.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
pgheemskerk June 17 2014 at 12:57 PM

We have a Frenchie name Taz the Tazmanion Devil. Greatest pet we ever owned and so fun.

Flag Reply +9 rate up
1 reply
organize180 pgheemskerk June 17 2014 at 4:49 PM

Frenchies rule! Impossible to be sad around a Frenchie. They are so animated and natural born entertainers. Ours is named Norman and he's a fine fellow

Flag Reply +3 rate up
songbirdgray June 17 2014 at 6:01 PM


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darrin June 17 2014 at 3:10 PM

Whats so damn special, its just a stupid dog!

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11 replies
taurus071 June 17 2014 at 5:58 PM

Too cute!!

Flag Reply +2 rate up
Chickiepoo June 17 2014 at 2:52 PM

There's a LOT of "cuties" out there......unfortunately some of us "parents" are technologically "illiterate"..... We can barely maneuver on Facebook......let alone trying Instagram or Twitter.....LOL !!!

But there's always DOGSTER.....
http://www.dogster.com/dogs/1318860...... (little miss MYA..4 lb. 5 oz. Yorkie-Poo)
http://www.dogster.com/dogs/1318862...... (Maggie....8 lb. poodle)

And being a "parent"....I just gotta 'gush' a minute over my tiny cutie.....Mya.....
Her picture(s) have been in 14 different Huffington Post articles/slideshows and
7 different AOL articles/slideshows and a half dozen other sites...as well as on "youtube"
when she was a "model" in the First Annual Eastern NC Pet Expo "Fashion Show".....(That was FUN).

My other doggie Maggie...an 8 lb dk gray poodle....has a "bite" JUST like Tuna...... Her little bottom teeth stick out just like that......LOL !! She is also in many of the HuffPo and AOL

They are a "trip"....:))

Flag Reply +2 rate up
trinitytcon June 18 2014 at 5:46 PM

Follow @axel_theawesome_englishbulldog for cute & fun pix.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
rosiejul June 17 2014 at 3:56 PM

So cute

Flag Reply +1 rate up
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