Gideon Kidd really loves dogs. And he wants to share that love.
The 9-year-old from Cedar Falls is the canine enthusiast behind the I’ve Pet That Dog Twitter account, which has garnered more than 98,000 followers since launching in April.
The concept behind @IvePetThatDog and an accompanying website is simple: Gideon heads out almost every day, searching for new dogs to pet. He then posts pictures and short stories about the dogs he encounters online.
Asked why he started the project, Gideon didn’t hesitate.
“One, I love all dogs, and two, I want to show the public pictures of dogs, these amazing creatures,” Gideon said. “They’re all different. If they were all the same color, same breed, same size, I don’t think people would love them as much. They all have their own personality.”
His mom, Rachel Braunigan, is an integral part of I’ve Pet That Dog’s success. She drives him around as they search for dogs and usually is the one taking the photos and writing down the dog’s stories.
“I just walk up to people and ask, ‘Hi, can I pet your dog?’ Only a few people do not let us take a picture of a dog and post it on our website,” Gideon said. “Mom writes down the notes. She posts them on the Twitter account. She is like my little helper.”
They started the website in September 2016, far before launching the Twitter account. Twitter is when their dog-petting efforts started going viral; each post can get thousands of likes and hundreds of retweets. Gideon has been interviewed by Iowa Public Radio, People and more, and recently “Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda followed him and liked a photo, to Gideon’s delight.
“It’s very strange. It’s not something we’re used to at all,” Braunigan said of the attention. “We’re slowly adjusting to it. But it’s a lot of fun. The website and the Twitter account has kind of taken on a life of its own.”
The whole thing was Gideon’s idea, she said.
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“He always asked everyone, ‘Can I pet your dog?’ He asked me once if he could take pictures of every dog he met, and said that he wanted to show everyone the pictures. I said, ‘You mean a website?’ And he said, ‘Yes, that’s what I mean.’”
Gideon has been invited to pet some well-known dogs, like a recent trip to pet Drake University’s mascot Griff the Bulldog.
“I like bulldogs because they are so adorable,” Gideon said. “I also like Chihuahuas and St. Bernards. I like Chihuahuas because they’re so tiny and precious. I like St. Bernards because they’re so big. When they’re a puppy, you can’t tell they’re a puppy.”
When he’s not out searching for new dogs to pet, Gideon said he likes giving belly rubs to his own dog, a husky-beagle mix named Walter, as well as playing with his pet gerbils, seeing his friends and playing piano, drums, bells and snare.
He said he has pet more than 380 dogs since he started in 2016. He doesn’t plan to stop anytime soon. His goal?
“A million dogs,” he said.
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