More cyber-bullying: the shameful fad of dog-shaming

On the nose: This sad hound looks a little like me — but that’s where the similarity ends!

I wasn’t surprised to see the Prime Minister’s dog, Toto, being cyber-bullied just a day after she appeared on Twitter.

Albo’s sweet little cavoodle had amassed 20,000 followers in about three dog naps — but it wasn’t long before the online trolls and abusers weighed in with their nasty comments.

Now, this is nothing new to a social media icon like myself: I have put up with the anonymous wimps of the ether spearing me during the five years I have been an internet phenomenon, although I can’t quite keep up with Australia’s first dog and her 20,000 followers. As a matter of fact, I have only three.

Or maybe two, now that the Golden Leave-it-There has un-followed me, leaving just The Boss and the Missus, who follow me out of politeness but don’t pay any attention to what I say. Clearly there are legions who deliberately avoid following me but sneak peeks all the time — what else can explain the invective now raining down upon me?

I suppose I should have expected some abuse after my regrettable behaviour in recent weeks but the remarks reflecting on my manhood, in particular, have been deeply hurtful.

They appear to be coming from cat owners, after spurious rumours circulated on feline WhatsApp groups, making totally unfounded allegations against me — allegations which of course I deny.

I learned from The Donald that one must deny everything when in diabolical trouble, even if the whole world saw it. The Boss has a lawyer friend who once told him that denial is always the best option because some people will want to believe it — something Mr Putin understands as well.

In any event, the cyber attacks have taken an ugly turn, with my image being covered in graffiti, or even disfigured — as well as people painting placards to hang around my neck. This is part of what has become the appalling dog-shaming fad — the online humiliation of noble hounds by thoughtless and shallow owners who don’t deserve the affection and loyalty of a dog.

Dog-shaming started several years ago after the people spending their lives online tired of funny cat videos and decided to pick on another animal. Guess who? Their best friends, of course.

These people started drawing placards saying what a particular pooch did (or habitually does) that is supposedly shameful, then posting them online. They ran competitions and it all reached a peak during the COVID-19 lockdowns as dog owners tried to outdo each other with the apparently perverse behaviour of their pets.

I say ‘apparently’ because many have the stale stench of a set-up about them. It’s hard to believe there are dog owners out there who would invent a weird behaviour, blame it on their hapless pup that can’t speak for itself — then have a good laugh about it.

Still, with an owner like that, why wouldn’t you test the boundaries — or better still, try to destroy them?

A common excessive behaviour seems to be shredding furniture around the house, particularly couches, pillows and doonas full of feathers and stuffing. Or pulling all the Christmas presents apart while the humans are asleep. Or bringing in the neighbour’s newspaper, killing dolls and kids’ toys or terrorising another pet in the house — usually the cat.

The Boss should be pleased he has me, a model of admirable behaviour. Apart from the occasional lapse. Woof!