published Thursday, May 7th, 2009

Pets connect on social-networking sites, too

Audio clip

Kristen Odom

Doggyspace.com. People Magazine Pets Web site. Pets on Facebook. Has America gone to the dogs?

Dogbook, an application on Facebook created by developer Poolhouse, has about 600,000 active members and more than a million pages. Petster.com boasts pages for myriad animals, including ferrets and chinchillas. Doggysace.com has polls and comments posted as if the animals themselves have been spending time typing proudly away at the keyboard.

Chattanoogan Kristen Odom has created a page on Dogbook for her Great Dane, Luna. According to Ms. Odom, online social networking is how she and her animal-loving friends keep abreast of the activities of one another’s pets.

“It was the thing to do,” she said.

According to Luna’s Dogbook page, her activities include “lounging around on my white chair that mom always puts a blanket on.”

Karen Roach’s goldendoodle, Bentley, is a therapy dog, taken to various medical facilities in town including Memorial Hospital and T.C. Thompson Children’s Hospital.

Ms. Roach is also involved in trying to make Chattanooga a more pet-friendly city by working to promote responsible pet ownership. She created Bentley’s Facebook page to keep cyber wanderers abreast of his therapeutic visits and of fundraising activities.

“He only has a few friends so far,” said Ms. Roach. “It’s pets of friends of ours. We’re into the social thing, so why not let the dog have friends out there too?”

One of Bentley’s online friends is Luna, Ms. Odom’s Great Dane.

“My friends and I are all dog crazy,” she said.

But is “crazy” the operative word? For some, even pet lovers themselves, the notion of online social networking for animals is, well, barking mad.

“The pets won’t communicate, so it would just be the owner. I think that’s probably for someone who is really bored and doesn’t have a life,” said Cassandra Tucker, who said she loves her two dogs.

Others believe that putting pets online has its purposes.

“Maybe you can have play dates, I don’t know,” said Creighton Brown.

Tavis Salazar simply takes a logical stance on the matter.

“There are people out there who love their pets to death,” he said, “but I have a pet, and I wouldn’t do a Facebook page for him. He can’t check it.”

about Holly Leber ...

Holly Leber is a reporter and columnist for the Life section. She has worked at the Times Free Press since March 2008. Holly covers “everything but the kitchen sink" when it comes to features: the arts, young adults, classical music, art, fitness, home, gardening and food. She writes the popular and sometimes-controversial column Love and Other Indoor Sports. Holly calls both New York City and Saratoga Springs, NY home. She earned a bachelor of arts ...

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