The Jakarta Post
A dog named Spike is one of many four-legged stars making a splash on the popular social media app in Indonesia. Currently he has over 84,000 followers on Instagram, and his account @humblespiker was only created last year. (instagram.com/humblespiker)
Bloggers, influencers and celebrities creating a buzz on Instagram are not always human.
A dog named Spike is one of many four-legged stars making a splash on the popular social media app in Indonesia. Currently he has over 84,000 followers, and his account was only created last year.
Spike’s Instagram handle is @humblespiker, and he is a male Alaskan Malamute that lives with his owner, Ezron, in Jakarta.
Spike became quite famous on social media when Ezron’s friend, actress Irish Bella, posted a picture with Spike on her Instagram account. Dog loving Instagrammers demanded more pictures and since then, Spike’s popularity has taken off.
“Now, I plan to travel with Spike all around Indonesia,” Ezron said. Last month they travelled to Bali. When Ezron finishes his trip around Indonesia with Spike, he plans to introduce the world to him, starting with New Zealand and Japan.
Being a canine influencer on Instagram comes with its perks.
Spike is the ambassador for a dog food brand and for another brand specializing in drone cameras. Ezron is also in negotiations with a major camera brand to be one of their ambassadors this year.
“They reached out to me because I do something different,” says Ezron.
“There are many people in Indonesia who like to travel a lot and shoot beautiful photography. But what is different about me is I do it with a dog.”
Instagram’s influence in Indonesia is rising. From early 2016 to mid-2017, the number of accounts doubled, from around 22 million to more than 45 million.
The popularity of dogs like Spike, and the potential of brand sponsorships, has led to increased interest in owning purebred, “Instagrammable” dogs.
However, not all people are sensible enough to understand that owning a dog comes with great responsibility. As a result, more and more purebred dogs are being abandoned by owners who did not understand how much effort is involved in owning a dog.
“In the past 10 years, you can clearly see that this is happening more. So many people can afford to buy a pedigree dog and are interested in buying them because maybe they see a celebrity or their friend with one. But they do not realize the responsibility that comes with it,” said Karin Frankin, a cofounder of the Jakarta Animal Aid Network.
“They pick a dog based on looks and not on personality, and they don’t think about whether the dog fits their lifestyle,” she added.
In response to Karin, Ezron said people who abandoned their dogs disappointed him, because real dog owners should understand that dogs are part of their families.
Ezron added that he would also use Spike’s Instagram to show people that dogs were not just trophies.
“I want to show them how much love I can give to Spike, and how much love he can give to me,” Ezron said.
Karin thinks that dog owners who also happen to be influencers on social media, like Ezron, have a moral obligation to educate their followers on how much hard work goes into looking after their pet.
“Don’t only show the glamorous side — make it a little educational,” Karin said.
Ezron agrees with Karin’s sentiment that owning a dog, whether purebred or not, is not only about fun and popularity, but also about making sure that they are properly trained and taken care of.
For example, Ezron said, fans might think how fun it was to have a dog like Spike, whose popularity has allowed him to appear in films, such as the upcoming Eiffel… I’m in Love 2, or participating in dog show events, such as the upcoming Championship Dog Show in Ancol this weekend. But they often do not know the sacrifices he has had to make along the way as a responsible dog owner to get Spike to where he is now.
“You can’t just buy a Malamute because they are cute as babies, and then after they grow up, give it away because you can’t handle it,” Ezron said.
“Whatever dog you want, first you have to make a full commitment.
“Everybody says to me ‘How can your dog do that? How can your dog ride a jet ski? How can your dog swim in the sea?’ and so on. I always say to people that my dog can do all of those things because I trained him to.
“There’s no instant trick. You have to take baby steps.”
Allison Hore is an intern at The Jakarta Post.
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