There's a new social networking site on the web. Not to worry! It isn't another myspace or facebook. It's better than that. And it's for dogs.
After an invitation-only, private testing phase, Dogpawfile.com officially hit the world-wide web on February 19th. Within the first 48 hours of its grand opening, the site, a stellar successor to the now defunct Dogphoria.com, welcomed close to 100 new members. If you are wondering how dogs can socialize in cyberspace, you obviously aren't a dog lover! With animals, all things are possible. The secret, you see, is in the “pawfile.”
A “pawfile,” a photograph/story about a pet, is the basic means of communication between Dogpawfile members. A member uploads a snapshot of their animal, along with a brief story, and other members post their responses. Once a member has commented on a particular pet's pawfile, the two animals become “friends” in one another's kennels. Pets reward favorite pawfiles with cyber “treats,” and can contact friends privately via “peemail,” the site's email service. Members set up personal pages, post videos and slide shows of their pets, and are eligible to receive daily honors as “Dog of the Day,” or “Top Ten.” Membership is free, and all are invited to submit articles and ideas to the site's online magazine, where they can volunteer to be profiled in a special feature, “Dogpawfile Pawtraits.”
Dogpawfile members exchange ideas, discuss animal issues, and further support online friendships via dogpawfile forums. In addition to a chat room, the forums feature a prayer circle, where members post personal prayer requests, and the more lighthearted “swap meet,” where used pet items are traded, or given away. Everything from doggy fashions to doggy strollers is included in the “swap meet.” A small chihuahua in Wisconsin recently traded a pretty pink dress for an unworn Outward Hound coat that was too big for its owner, an even smaller chi in New Jersey. The pups received “new” clothes, and the owners' forged a new friendship.
One might say that dogpawfile is all about fellowship. The site's moderators welcome opportunities to bring pets together on the net. For example, members are invited to participate in voluntary holiday gift exchanges. This past Christmas, a Yorkie in Mississippi received a doggy sweater from his canine “sweetheart” on the east coast. Recently, members gathered in a chat room for the Dogpawfile Valentine's Ball, which was attended by pups from across the world. Dogpawfile members are everywhere: New Jersey, Wisconsin, Florida, Canada, Indonesia, Spain. Wherever dogs bark, there's a dogpawfile member.
Despite its name, Dogpawfile is not exclusively for dogs. All pets are welcome; there are many cats on the site, and several birds, one of which jokingly refers to himself as a “bird dog.” Humor flourishes at Dogpawfile; the pet's personality (or that of the owner), often lighthearted, is evident through the posted photos and stories. A quick glance at Dogpawfile's roster reveals PecoDee, the mischievous, Elvis-impersonating chihuahua from Minnesota, and Mr. Khan, the handsome Alpha dog from Spain; Spike, the conure that dances to the 1963 song, “Surfin' Bird,” and Twinkle, a poetry-loving canine southern-belle from Mississippi. Countless other pets can be found at Dogpawfile, thanks to the ongoing efforts of the site's founders, Paul and Joanne Alexander, from Alicante, Spain.
“ I decided to set up Dogpawfile because we enjoyed Dogphoria.com so much,” Alexander said. “And when it decided to close, we looked at buying it. We told everyone if the price was right we would save the site for them! We also said that if we couldn't save it, then we would build one so that we all could be together. The pups/people we have met have, over time, become great friends, and we spend more time with them than we do most of our family! The price, however, was way above what we or any other interested party ever imagined! The support we had at the time was fantastic, and we made a promise that we knew we would have to keep!”
After months of hard work, preparation, and anticipation, Dogpawfile is finally up and running. Paul Alexander has high hopes for the site.
“ My vision for the site is not to make the same mistakes that websites can make,” He explained. “And that is to run before they can walk. We need to make Dogpawfile self-sufficient, so that it will be around for many, many years. We have stated all along that we will keep it free for everyone, but we will introduce memberships and advertising. This is the only way for it to survive and grow! We have not done this to make money. Far from it! Our intention is to plow any monies made back into the site. We plan to add an on-line store, also help animal shelters and charities in the future. My wife, Joanne, is dog-mad! If she had her way, we would have forty dogs! She would collect all the strays and bring them home. In the past, she has thought about running kennels, but the idea of running Dogpawfile just seems like fate! We aim to grow the site as large as we can, and spread the Dogpawfile love to as many places as we can!”