When Billy (9) and Humphrey (4) from Mylabrachildren go out for a walk (“Humphrey, Humphrey, Humphrey!”) they are joined by thousands of people from all across the globe. What is it that has attracted such a tremendous following of over 97,000?
We had the pleasure of meeting Billy and Humphrey, along with their ‘Dogfather’ James, at the National Pet Show and we wanted to get to the bottom of this social media phenomenon.James, tell us a little bit about yourself…
I’m just a regular guy who just love dogs with all his heart. they’re my world, they’re my everything. I don’t have children, so I can put all my love into their lives
Did you grow up with dogs as a child?
I did! We had a family dog, when I was four years old who was called Pepsi. He was quite a special dog… this was back in the day when you could let dogs roam around outside - he used to get on the bus himself and go four stops, on the Routemaster bus, to visit my Auntie. Mostly we’d walk but we took him on the bus once or twice, then he figured out he could get there by himself and quicker on the bus! The neighbours would say to us they saw our dog getting on the bus… "It’s ok," we’d say "he’s going to his Auntie’s!"
Bring us up to date with your Labrafamily…
I’ll start with Scoobie - It was the year 2000 and I watched a guy let a couple of chocolate Labradors out of the back of his car and I’d never seen a chocolate lab before, only yellow and black ones and instantly I thought "I need to get myself a chocolate Labrador"… so I got Scoobie! When he was five, we wanted to get him a friend, so we got Remy. When Scoobie passed away we got Billy, and then we got Humphrey.
So when and how, did MyLabrachildren start?
I was taking hundreds of photographs of the dogs and my phone memory was filling up pretty quickly and somebody said to me, there was something called Instagram, you can put your photos on there and then clear them off your phone. It used to be called: ‘JamesLovesDogs’ but I changed it to MyLabrachildren later. That’s where the Instagram account came from; it was just for me, to put my photos on and it just went from there.
How did your page begin to capture people’s interest?
I think people liked the way I treated my dogs; I take them out for plenty of walks and give them as much love as possible and people seemed to like that… Also, a lot of my followers are in America, where they have quite strict leash laws and they are intrigued that they are allowed off the lead here most of the time… they are pretty well behaved. If I see them do something wrong, I correct them; tell them what they’ve done wrong and I’ll correct them. A lot of people don’t do that. This is why they are able to walk off the lead because I am constantly training them, constantly correcting them; telling them what they are doing wrong, what they are doing right.
There’s a lot of discussion on your feed about dog health, nutrition, training, do you feel that you have become a bit of an authority about such things?
It seems that way lately, yeah. People tend to take my word, they feel it’s right because of the way I live my life with my dogs. I don’t know if it’s right or not… but it seems to work for me!
What do you think are the most important things about owning a dog?
Well, many things! You’ve got to look after their health as much as possible and you’ve got to have as much fun as possible, because these dogs have short lives, ten, twelve years, maybe more. You’ve got to have as much enjoyment as you can while they are here.
Your Instagram following has grown and grown and grown! What is it, do you think, that makes you so popular?
I’ve no idea!! I’m not sure why people follow me. I literally put on Instagram, what we do on a daily basis and people seem to like it. Well, not everybody likes it, but most people do… Maybe the love? The way I treat the dogs and how they live? The way I treat them, y’know? If I can work it out I’ll let you know!
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We loved chatting with James. He helps inspire people have a better relationship with their own dogs. He is a role model extraordinaire! This is arguably, social media at its best. He teaches us, that when we spend more time with those we love, we have a better life.