Have Your Dog Dogbook Mine

dogbook.jpg
Have Your Dog Dogbook Mine
Facebook goes to the dogs

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In the late 1980s, NBC's Saturday Night Live introduced viewers to Toonces. The prototypical family cat, Toonces was your everyday domestic feline with one notable exception: Toonces the family cat could drive the family car.

While every skit invariably saw his sojourn conclude Thelma-and- Louise style over a cliff, it was always fun while it lasted. After all, a driving cat? That's almost as ludicrous as a bowling squirrel, a knitting raccoon, or a Commodore 64-savvy dog. Each one, in 1989, worthy of a hearty: "As if." But it's not 1989 anymore.

Times have changed. And with them, societal norms have undergone some jaw-dropping shifts. The big perm has given way to the straightening iron. ("Impossible! Teased bangs are hot!" says my 1989- self.) Instant coffee has been pushed aside by the $5 latte. ("Nonsense! I can get 42 styrofoam cups from one jar!" she says again.) And New York's Toonces, the fictional driving cat has been replaced by Toronto's Annabelle, the real-life e-networking Cockapoo. ("I just don't get it. Now hand me a Tab.")

Last June, with a little help from personal assistants Alexandre and Geoffrey Roche, Annabelle launched Dogbook, an application of the so-addictive-thereshould- be-rehab cyber-vortex of Facebook.

While the Facebook mothership links human friends with friends, and friends of friends, and friends of friends of Kevin Bacon, the canine offshoot links dogs with friends' dogs, and friends of friends' dogs. And friends of friends of Kevin Bacon's dog. ("Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon's Dog" is an oft-played drinking game at doggie daycares today.)

Whether or not the idea of your dog accumulating friends online makes you scoff, what can't be disputed is that likes appear to be attracting likes. Yorkie owners unsure of how to treat an aging dog's poor dental health can befriend other Yorkie owners and engage in some beneficial Q and A, for example. With what is arguably Dogbook's most forward-thinking feature, desperately floundering owners now have the opportunity to post information pertaining to a missing dog‹giving Dogbook the potential to become the canine-kid equivalent to the milk carton.

Just how many members would even see such a posting? The numbers may surprise. While Annabelle might have been the first dog with her furry face on Dogbook, 10 months later, she's certainly not the only one engaging in virtual bum-sniffing at the Web dogpark.

Dogbook today boasts nearly a million members from doghouses dotting the globe; from countries as expected as Canada to countries as who-knew? as Iraq. Proving yet again, that the human/dog relationship continues to gain international momentum.

While some might claim that all the hype is nothing more than a passing fad brought on by a frenzy of stick-bug celebutantes toting purebred runts the size of chandelier earrings, Geoffrey Roche disagrees. According to this prolific adman with a knack for having his finger on the pulse of what's-what, "Even in the last five years, we've seen a shift. We've got empty nesters with disposable income, and we've got younger couples waiting longer to have children. In both instances, the dog becomes a sort of child to the owner. Dogs have become full-fledged family members."

There's no doubt such is the case in the Roche household. Where, we're guessing, Annabelle got her paws on some old SNL re-runs. Realizing that if Toonces could drive a stick, surely he could enter a URL, Annabelle and the Roches have now initiated Catbook, which, let's face it, is an entirely selfless thing for a dog to do. With Catbook now pushing the half-million member mark, Annabelle obviously knew it was time we let cats play with the mouse.

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