Shibaholics - Shiba Puppy Cam Phenomenon

"It all started with six little puppies."

In early April, 2009, SIRRA was contacted by a person who represented the hundreds of people enchanted by the famous shiba inu puppy cam on the web. They were so taken with shibas and with the couple who ran the web cam that they wanted to thank them. When they asked the puppies' breeders how they could thank them, the breeders replied - donate to shiba rescue!

And so they did. In a little over a month, $8550 has been donated to SIRRA in honor of the couple, known on the web as Mr. and Mrs. SFShiba! The excerpts below were written by four of the "Shibaholics" gift organizers, and tell their story.

***************************************************************

On October 7, 2008, six darling pups were born to two champion Shiba Inus. In order to keep an eye on them while at work, their owners pointed a camera at them, and within days Ustream's Shiba Inu Puppy Cam had taken the internet by storm. Viewership at any one time reached 25,000 across 74 countries! Seven months later, the Shiba Inu Puppy Cam received the People's Voice Webby Award for best viral video. (View the puppy cam at http://www.ustream.tv/channel/shiba-inu-puppy-cam. We are grateful to Ustream for the puppy cam, and for their contribution of $500 to this gift.)

Television and web media cooed over or questioned the puppy cam, baffled by the appeal of six balls of fur that nursed, romped, squealed, wrestled and chewed their way to fame, as they demolished a roomful of beds, toys and pee pads, and then piled two-and-three-deep to sleep. Public radio even wrote them a song! The fans who sat glued for hours laughed, chose favorites and shared puppy antics on the website comment board.

And gradually their anonymous human parents, known to viewers as "Mr. Feet and Mrs. Shoes," became just as beloved as the shiba puppies! Their gentle pup training, and kindness and generosity to their fans endeared them as family to all of us who invaded their home, daily, via the Internet.

I started watching in early November, when the pups were newly weaned, prompted by an online news magazine. Like many, I had never heard of Shiba Inus, but was instantly in love with this beautiful, energetic and loving breed with its highly emotive vocalizations. They were so hilarious, so intelligent, so loyal and sympathetic to one another, and so full of unique personality. Soon there were many copycat puppy cams, but none as fascinating as this, nor displaying such evident loving interaction from human parents. They taught us by example.

Finally, we were all so full and so grateful, that we felt if we didn't give something back soon we would burst! This gift in honor of Mr. and Mrs. SFShiba is from all of the Shibaholics, who sought a way to touch their hearts as much as they have touched ours. Giving to Shiba Inus less fortunate was their request! You can view our card to them at:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/37467500@N06/sets/72157616868948372/show/

Now, not only are the fans of the Shiba Inu Puppy Cam giving generously to Shiba rescue, but some have adopted Shibas from shelters, and others are volunteering their time, talents and resources to help Shiba Inus who have never been as loved as the shiba puppies on the webcam. Plenty to do while we all wait eagerly for the next litter of pups!

*********************************************

Most of us started out as dog lovers, cat lovers, mutt lovers or all-living-thing lovers and now have a new appreciation of the Shiba Inu breed because of Mr. Feet and Mrs. Shoes. They opened their home to us and their love of the puppies and their pets is infectious.

It's hard to explain why folks the world over think so highly of this anonymous couple, but this heartfelt ‘thank you,’ posted by SFShiba upon learning of the gift to SIRRA should give you some idea:

"...to all those who more than generously donated to SIRRA in honor of our pups, we cannot express the wonderful outpouring of support for those Shibas in need and we truly and deeply THANK YOU from the bottom of our hearts. Actually, the words "thank you" seem inferior to the love and kindness your donation will provide those Shibas.

I can honestly say that reading about it has brought a tear to my eye and happiness to my heart that there ARE kind and wonderful animal lovers out there. To all of you, many Shiba kisses!!!"

They invited us into their home (where we still are), they have answered endless questions and requests. We have loved together, cried together, mourned losses together - we have become one giant family of animal lovers. They gave us a caring, loving and safe place to come to as an escape from the real world. We created the world that we wanted to live in - one filled with the utmost respect and love for ALL animals and their well-being. That is what kept us there and still keeps us together today.

***************************************************************************

This has been an experience like no other for me. At the risk of sounding overly dramatic, it was a life-changing experience. Maybe I just need to get out more, I dunno!

There have also been tears. Tears of joy, tears of apprehension over the cam shutting down, tears from the touching stories of fellow Shibaholics that we've met along the way.

And last, but most important....the friendships. I have "met" so many people-- all across the U.S., Canada and even Australia. And I love them all. We have a common bond-- six little puppies, 3 adult dogs, 1 patient cat, and two of the most amazing, incredible, wonderful people who brought us together from all over the world. I am still in awe over the whole experience.

Still can't believe [that] 8 crazy women, relative strangers, scattered across the country, in only a couple of weeks, launched this campaign-- which has grown to well over $8,000.

***************************************************

The gift was and continues to be in honor of Mr. Feet and Mrs. Shoes... but, it all started with six little puppies.

The shiba inu puppy cam had other positive aspects for shiba welfare. It allowed people all over the world to see what "good" breeders are like. Comments on the side of the screen (written by Mr. Feet and Mrs. Shoes) reminded viewers not to buy puppies from a pet store. And Red Young, a very active shiba rescuer in California and SIRRA's treasurer, has created a forum on the Shibaholic's message board featuring an adoptable shelter shiba each week! (The message board is on http://puppycam.yuku.com/topic/394/t/S-O-S-Save-Our-Shibas-Shibas-in-Shelters.html). Rescue is all about contacts, and Red wasted no time making use of hundreds of shiba-smitten people.

SIRRA would like to thank Mr. Feet and Mrs. Shoes, and the “8 crazy women” who organized the "Shibaholics" and led them to such generosity! And thank you too, for the puppy cam - I was a fan as well!

Pam Carlson
President, SIRRA