A miniature schnauzer yips along as his 13-year-old owner sings. On a kitchen floor, a raw piece of pasta is attacked by a furious-looking exotic shorthair. In a muddy field, a majestic white horse rolls around like a puppy. These are just a few examples of the UAE’s burgeoning population of pets on Instagram.
One of the most entertaining, and heavily followed, accounts is @dudeandhisdame. It chronicles the adventures of Dude, a schnauzer with a penchant for tricks and singing, and his 13-year-old owner, Samaira (the dame in the account name). Samaira’s mum, Gitanjali Pareek, says the family knew from the moment they first met him that Dude was special. “As a four-month-old puppy, Dude was extremely sharp, [able to] follow ten different commands. But the most interesting thing was each time my daughters sang, Dude would start singing with them too. He is a thorough entertainer.”
Pareek and family wanted to showcase Dude’s talent, so they set up a social media account for him. “Pets are well-loved all over the world, so it’s no wonder that we see their friendly smiles across Instagram,” says Samer Johnny Jamal, Strategic Partnerships Manager, Middle East and North Africa at Instagram. “Our community loves sharing all kinds of unique, adorable and often times hilarious content of their favourite furry friends.”
Abu Dhabi-based Cara Wilsher says the best thing about her cat Benedict (aka Benny) is his weird and wonderful behaviour. “Video posts of him do particularly well on the platform (@angrybennyuae). The video with the most views is the one of him in the fridge. We cannot leave the fridge, cupboards or washing machine ajar for a second as he will be straight in. A few times we have been panicking, thinking that we’ve lost him only to find him asleep in the washing machine or in amongst the crockery.”
Jamal explains that there are more than 10,000 Instagram accounts in the UAE with a pet emoji in their bio. “With so many pet parents worldwide, the posts are a great way to connect with each other and share tips and tricks on how to nurture their pets and more.”
Noor Al Falasi, an Emirati vet technician at Dubai Equine Hospital, began putting her horse, Tofino, on Instagram in the summer of 2014 as a means of bringing attention to her blog, which reviewed equine products and offered tips to horse owners. However, after Tofino retired to Europe in 2018, she ceased posting and the account began to die down. Then, Novocane the pooch entered her life. “In the middle of 2019 I adopted Novacane from Al Maya adoption (@almayyak9.uae) in Fujairah,” says Al Falasi. “I started by only putting some stories of her now and then, but found people were actually loving her too! So after doing a poll to change the account name or not, we went for @tofinnova to link both my horse and my dog.”
Yasmin Ghanem had already been managing an account for training dogs, a passion of hers. Ghanem says she was taken aback by the response she got when she created a separate account for her four-year-old shepherd named Falco @falcothedutch. “I was overwhelmed with how friendly and loving the dog community on Instagram is. The Insta doggosphere has created such a positive atmosphere where you can also seek advice and tips for anything dog, from training to nutrition to places to go. I have learnt so much from people internationally that I would not have had the privilege to otherwise. Thanks fam!”