In the NYC subway (Tuna’s Instagram)
Though Tuna had a rough start in life, being abandoned by his original owner on the side of the road, you could say he’s had smooth sailing recently. The 4-year-old chiweenie pup is not only the star of his very own Internet meme, but has an enormous fan base of 1.1 million Instagram followers anxiously awaiting all of his adventures, as well as an active website. As the owner behind the pup, Courtney Dasher — who rescued Tuna after an adoption event at an L.A. farmer’s market — has a busy travel schedule, maneuvering across the U.S. to do meet-ups and press with tiny Tuna in tow. What’s it like to be an Internet-famous dog’s plus-one? Yahoo Travel found out.
Talk to me about Tuna’s Instagram followers. They seem to come from far and wide. Any plans for a meetup?
Yes. I’d say he has a global following, which is so cool to me! I love that he has people all over the world that adore him. I feel like a lot of his followers come from North America, but he also has a big following in the United Kingdom, Sweden, and Australia. I would love to have a meet up in the U.K. and other countries within Europe in the near future. That would be amazing!
How is Tuna’s temperament outside of the house? Do you two enjoy going to new places together?
Tuna loves going for a ride in the car! It’s literally the highlight of his day. The moment I mention “Wanna go bye-byes in the car?” he enthusiastically hops off the bed, rushes out the door as soon as I open it, and runs back and forth from the gate to me until I scoop him up and head towards the car. He also loves going on an airplane! He will voluntarily hop in his carrier when I tell him we are going to the airport.
All dolled-up at an adoption event (Tunameltsmyheart)
How does it work when you go on a trip together? Do you bring snacks, blankets, emergency pills?
As far as traveling in the car goes, he is overjoyed about it and gets really excited! We usually just run local errands together or go visit friends. When we fly, he is more docile and relaxed. I think he knows that he has to be in his carrier so he just accepts it and sleeps, without any sedatives. Most people are shocked to find out that he was on the plane because he doesn’t make a peep the entire flight. We usually travel back east to visit family in Cleveland, and we have been to New York and Chicago a few times.
Here’s a question from our readers: Is Tuna okay being around crowds of people when traveling? It can be an issue for travelers with pets, especially with rescue dogs. Do you have any advice?
Tuna loves being around people! I have a lot of friends that constantly dote on him, so he feels really comfortable when strangers do the same. However, I know his limits, so if I sense that he needs space, I will explain politely to the person who is loving on him at that moment, and everyone is always so understanding. As far as advice goes, I would just say just to be sensitive on behalf of your pet. If you feel he or she is getting overwhelmed, then put up boundaries for the pet’s sake.
What message do you hope comes across when Tuna shares photos with fans and followers across the globe? I know the concept of the underdog is really close to your heart.
First and foremost, I love hearing how much joy, hope, encouragement, and laughter he brings to his global followers. When I hear personal stories of how he has changed someone’s day or had helped them overcome a challenging situation, it really melts my heart. I also hope that Tuna teaches people about redefining the standard of beauty. While he may be unconventional looking, he is so beautiful, charming, and endearing. I hope he enlightens people that beauty comes in all different packages and that true beauty really radiates from within.
Tuna visits the Instagram offices (Tunameltsmyheart)
Tuna does a lot of work for the shelter dog community. Have you visited any shelters, and do you have any good resources for people who might be looking for a pet?
Since Tuna is a rescue himself, he has really become an ambassador for animal rescue. We try to point everything back to that — whether it’s by raising awareness for animal adoption/fostering in general, or by getting financial support for a particular rescue group or groups. We have been in contact with a bunch of different shelters all over the country, building relationships with them. So many groups, large and small, are doing such great work for the animal community! These people dedicate their lives, time, and resources to these sweet animals and it is so impressive. They really are heroes.
I would highly encourage fostering an animal first if you are considering adoption. It will give you an opportunity to acclimate the dog or cat to your environment, but it will also help out the overcrowded groups/shelters. Plus, it gives the dog or cat an opportunity to be loved on without the shared attention of the other animals in the rescue group. If you are interested in adoption, Petfinder.com is a great resource or just google rescue groups/shelters in your area. If you can’t adopt or foster, I would encourage volunteering or even donating because most rescue groups and shelters are not government supported. They rely on private funding.
At Conrad Hotels during a recent trip to NYC (Tunameltsmyheart)
What’s next for Tuna?
We are actually going on a book tour in early March for the book I recently wrote about Tuna’s life called, Tuna Melts My Heart: The Underdog With The Overbite. We will be visiting New York, New Jersey, Chicago, Austin, Seattle, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. Once all of the details are locked in, I will make an announcement on all of my social channels. I also plan to spend a few months in London in the spring, and I’m making plans to bring him this time around. I’m really excited about that actually! I think he’ll love London as much as I do.
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