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anne_mikolay_120Dogpawfile.com, the popular online social networking site for pets, celebrated its first anniversary on February 19th. Within the first 48 hours of its 2009 debut, Dogpawfile, which promotes itself as an online community where dogs do the talking, welcomed more than one hundred new members. Today, the site boasts 4,000 to 5,000 visitors per month from as many as 34 different countries, and 1,000 canine members from around the world.

Founded by animal lovers Paul and Jo Alexander, Dogpawfile's success is due in large part to its unique  means of communication, the “pawfile,” a photograph and accompanying narrative about a pet. Members upload snapshots, or “pawfiles,” of their animal along with a brief descriptive story, and other members post responses. By assuming “personalities” via the “pawfile,” pets “talk” to one another, and forge strong bonds of friendship between their owners. It is this friendship, coupled with a love of animals, that truly drives the site.

“We wanted Dogpawfile to be a little slice of doggy heaven, and it is,” Alexander, owner of four dogs, said. “So in that respect, it has matched our expectations. We could not have wished for a better community of members.”

There is more to Dogpawfile.com, however, than the “pawfile.” Each day, the site highlights certain “pawfiles” in its top ten, and bestows “Dog of the Day” honors to the most original/cute “pawfile.” There are voluntary holiday gift exchanges among members; “pee-mail,” which is Dogpawfile's version of email; contests to win prizes, such as doggy bandannas, t-shirts, tote bags, or a place in the Dogpawfile annual calendar. Paul Alexander repeatedly reminds Dogpawfile members that the site is for their enjoyment; they have responded enthusiastically to his invitation to become involved in the site's day-to-day activities. Members submit articles, poetry, recipes, and fiction to Dogpawfile Magazine, which routinely profiles members and their related professions/businesses, as well as topics of interest to pet lovers. A member from Wisconsin initiated the “Dogpawfile traveling stocking,” which circulates among the site's roster. When a member receives the stocking, he/she keeps the treat or gift inside, replaces it with something new, and sends the stocking off to its next destination. A member from Georgia arranged a fund-raising doggy “garage sale,” and sold doggy fashions to raise money for the site's monthly operating fees. Similarly, a “Christmas in July” fund-raiser offered ornaments hand-crafted by a member in New Jersey.

Paul Alexander

While Dogpawfile membership is primarily canine, the site is open to all pets. Several cats and birds are among the ranks. Whether kitty, pup, or feathered friend, the animals' personalities emerge through their “pawfiles.” PecoDee, for example, a black and white chihuahua from Minnesota, has emerged the site's resident comedian, while Hamish, an adventurous shitzu from Canada, has assumed an Indiana Jones persona. Miss Millie LaRue, a yorkie from Georgia, and Twinkle Starr, a shorkie from Mississippi, are resident southern belles, while Saje, an American Staffordshire pit bull terrier in Maryland, and Mr. Khan, a German Shepherd in Spain, are two of the site's gentle giants.

Paul Alexander hopes the site will expand.

“Our original expectation was to have around twice as many members as we have today,” he said. “So as you can see, we still have some way to go. We want to spread the Dogpawfile love to as many dogs and owners as possible. We love having new friends to share all our doggy related pictures and stories with!”

To join the pet-loving fun, log onto www.Dogpawfile.com. It's a charming place to visit, and once there, you might just want to stay!