If you’re feeling unremitting, politically-induced anxiety, you may want to take a brief break from the constant news updates and spend a few minutes on the internet looking at something a little more, well, fluffy. Indeed, that's one of the reasons why you should follow the WeRateDogs Twitter account; it's full of puppies and puns. It also, however, is full of peaceful protest: This humorous pooch-themed account offers the perfect salve for these difficult days while still imparting a powerful message about remaining active and resisting.
The Twitter account, whose official handle is @dog_rates, features user-submitted dog pictures and videos posted alongside funny captions offering "professional and highly accurate dog ratings." The dogs in the pictures receive a rating of one through 10, and always exceed the scale — I mean, c'mon, they're all so darn cute!
Despite being around since November 2015, however, WeRateDogs has recently gained attention for its liberal political posts, becoming an unlikely hub of Twitter debate. Images of puppy protesters, marching alongside their human pals (which have received some of the highest "official dog ratings" ever) have drawn both critique and praise from its followers.
For what it's worth, in my book, a dog account with political leanings is exactly what we need right now.
Here's a very loving and accepting puppo. Appears to have read her Constitution well. 14/10 would pat head approvingly pic.twitter.com/6ao80wIpV1— WeRateDogs™ (@dog_rates) January 29, 2017
The 20-year-old creator of the account, Matt Nelson, is a student at Campbell University in North Carolina. Nelson started WeRateDogs "as a very bored college freshman" after discovering his special knack for animal humor, he tells Bustle in an email. "I soon found out that any joke I made involving a dog did way better than it should have," Nelson says. Inspired by his four-year-old golden retriever back home, Nelson founded the platform to introduce social media to numerous adorable dogs — all while making people laugh, of course.
While the account was originally focussing on subjective dog vetting and cute pics, WeRateDogs' recent political bent has helped define its mission... and change its viewership. "The mission of WeRateDogs is one that I only recently pinned down," Nelson explains to Bustle. "With all the frightening things happening recently, many saw my account as a beacon of happiness surrounded by utter chaos." A recent response to a political Tweet helped to crystalize the purpose of the account for Nelson, linking what dogs have to do with today's issues:
@dubiousfeline dogs represent unconditional love. I use this account to convince humans they should strive for the same— WeRateDogs™ (@dog_rates) January 29, 2017
WeRateDogs' political posts have received hundreds of thousands of likes and retweets; what's more, the few negative comments have not deterred the account's creator from continuing to fight back and give sound advice. "These posts, due to the attention they receive, reach outside of my normal fanbase. Therefore, they're susceptible to much more negative feedback than usual," Nelson tells Bustle. "I've gotten pretty good at ignoring the truly hateful comments."
1. inhale through your nose— WeRateDogs™ (@dog_rates) January 20, 2017
2. hold for a few seconds
3. exhale slowly through your mouth
4. pet a dog
5. repeat for the next 4 years
Instead, Nelson chooses to view negative comments as conversational openings. "These comments give me the opportunity to further the narrative that WeRateDogs is here to be a positive reinforcement in the ever-increasing insanity that is the social media world," Nelson adds.
For more cute pups and to follow WeRateDogs, check out the account here.