11 Fun Facts About Internet Superstar Marnie the Dog

Who has millions of fans, her own app, and just became an author? Marnie the Dog, of course. In what may be our first-ever interview with a dog, the canine celeb and her owner talked about her transition from stray to superstar.* 

1. MARNIE WASN’T ALWAYS MARNIE.

Shirley Braha first found the future dog star in a Connecticut animal shelter. The then-10-year-old shih tzu was in bad shape, with a clouded gray eye, matted fur, and rotting teeth. The adoption paperwork listed the dog’s name as “Stinky,” for the substantial odor emanating from her infected mouth. But Braha saw through Stinky’s stench to the wonderful dog inside. She took Stinky home, got her cleaned up, and brought her to the vet for antibiotics and oral surgery. Stinky’s stink disappeared, as did the cloudiness in her eye, and the elderly little dog developed a spring in her step. As Stinky vanished, Marnie emerged.

2. SHE’S PERFECTLY HEALTHY.

People often worry that Marnie’s trademark head tilt and lolling tongue are symptoms of a stroke, but they’re just part of the awesome Marnie package, says Braha. On top of her other initial issues, Marnie had a condition called vestibular syndrome that left her with a permanently cocked head. And the tongue? It’s just really long, Braha says. For a 13-year-old lady, Marnie’s doing just fine.

3. MARNIE IS A FULL-TIME JOB.

Braha became unemployed not long after she brought Marnie home. That was OK with her, she tells us: more time to spend with Marnie, who hates being left alone. “When bae leaves me alone for 5 minutes it is the worst thing in the history of the world,” Marnie explains. 

Braha brought the charismatic little dog everywhere she went, and soon New York was buzzing about Marnie the Dog. Marnie’s Instagram account started accumulating followers, and Buzzfeed ran a story titled “You Need Marnie the Dog in Your Life Right Now.” Her following grew, and grew, and grew. Before long, Braha was printing Marnie calendars and signing endorsement deals.

4. SHE’S THE MOST FAMOUS RESCUE DOG ON INSTAGRAM.

Her head tilt, floppy tongue, huge eyes, and silly captions have earned her nearly 2 million followers on Instagram. At last count, a six-second video of Marnie waddling through a drugstore has been viewed more than 66 million times. The host of the Reply All podcast compared Marnie to Bill Murray. “There’s a class of celebrity who transcends celebrity and becomes an icon,” he said in an episode about Internet-famous dogs. Marnie says she's come to terms with her new status: “If people want 2 sit around watching videos of me, I’m fine with that.” 

5. EVERYBODY WANTS TO MEET HER.

Marnie’s indescribable magnetism dazzles even the glitterati. A picture with Marnie has become a badge of hipness for celebrities like Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran, and Miley Cyrus. Marnie and James Franco had a legendary selfie-off. Jonah Hill is a fan, as are Betty White, Laverne Cox, and even Larry King

6. SHE’S AN AUTHOR.

The hotly anticipated Marnie the Dog: I’m a Book hits shelves today. The book features classic Marnie photos and captions, along with some never-before-seen images. Advance praise for the book is glowing: “Wow I’m a book haha lol,” reads Marnie’s blurb on the back. 

7. SHE LOVES MEETING HER FANS.

Marnie is a social butterfly. She attends hotel openings and private parties for her fans, and, if you move quickly, you can even win a date with her at a charity auction. But she and Braha are also happy to meet people on the street, too. “u gotta go out and socialize,” notes Marnie. 

8. SHE ALSO LOVES THE FEELING OF CARPET UNDER HER PAWS.

When asked about how she spends her precious downtime, Marnie tells us that she loves smelling grass, partying, sleeping, and prancing around on rugs. “Personally my favorite day would involve an extremely long carpeted hallway 4 speed-walking,” she says. 

9. SHE’S AN APP.

Are your pictures suffering for a lack of Marnie? There’s an app for that. For $0.99, the Marnie Pro App will insert Marnie’s magical mug into any digital photo.

10. SHE’S A GOURMET.

Marnie’s got a sophisticated palate, and has been hand-served by renowned chef Jean-Georges. She also likes eating off the floor. Favorite foods include broccoli, watermelon, pizza, and bagels. Candy, however, is beneath her. “I smelled gummy bears once,” she says. “It's not a food.”

11. SHE’S JUST ONE OF MILLIONS OF ADOPTABLE OLDER DOGS.

Puppies get all the love, but older dogs make wonderful pets. They’re calmer and often house-trained, Braha says. “You could save a dog who is lonely and terrified in a shelter, possibly facing death, and give it a wonderful second life,” she says. Over the past three years, Marnie has become the light of Braha’s days, and the feeling is mutual. “Older dogs from shelters are so grateful when they get rescued,” Braha says. “They love you like crazy for it.”

 

 *Yes, we are aware that dogs can’t talk. But this is Marnie. Suspend your disbelief.

All photos are courtesy of @marniethedog.

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Whale Sharks Can Live for More Than a Century, Study Finds
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Some whale sharks alive today have been swimming around since the Gilded Age. The animals—the largest fish in the ocean—can live as long as 130 years, according to a new study in the journal Marine and Freshwater Research. To give you an idea of how long that is, in 1888, Grover Cleveland was finishing up his first presidential term, Thomas Edison had just started selling his first light bulbs, and the U.S. only had 38 states.

To determine whale sharks' longevity, researchers from the Nova Southeastern University in Florida and the Maldives Whale Shark Research Program tracked male sharks around South Ari Atoll in the Maldives over the course of 10 years, calculating their sizes as they came back to the area over and over again. The scientists identified sharks that returned to the atoll every few years by their distinctive spot patterns, estimating their body lengths with lasers, tape, and visually to try to get the most accurate idea of their sizes.

Using these measurements and data on whale shark growth patterns, the researchers were able to determine that male whale sharks tend to reach maturity around 25 years old and live until they’re about 130 years old. During those decades, they reach an average length of 61.7 feet—about as long as a bowling lane.

While whale sharks are known as gentle giants, they’re difficult to study, and scientists still don’t know a ton about them. They’re considered endangered, making any information we can gather about them important. And this is the first time scientists have been able to accurately measure live, swimming whale sharks.

“Up to now, such aging and growth research has required obtaining vertebrae from dead whale sharks and counting growth rings, analogous to counting tree rings, to determine age,” first author Cameron Perry said in a press statement. ”Our work shows that we can obtain age and growth information without relying on dead sharks captured in fisheries. That is a big deal.”

Though whale sharks appear to be quite long-lived, their lifespan is short compared to the Greenland shark's—in 2016, researchers reported they may live for 400 years. 

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Animal Welfare Groups Are Building a Database of Every Cat in Washington, D.C.
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There are a lot of cats in Washington, D.C. They live in parks, backyards, side streets, and people's homes. Exactly how many there are is the question a new conservation project wants to answer. DC Cat Count, a collaboration between Humane Rescue Alliance, the Humane Society, PetSmart Charities, and the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, aims to tally every cat in the city—even house pets, The New York Times reports.

Cities tend to support thriving feral cat populations, and that's a problem for animal conservationists. If a feline is born and grows up without human contact, it will never be a suitable house cat. The only options animal control officials have are to euthanize strays or trap and sterilize them, and release them back where they were found. If neither action is taken, it's the smaller animals that belong in the wild who suffer. Cats are invasive predators, and each year they kill billions of birds in the U.S. alone.

Before animal welfare experts and wildlife scientists can tackle this problem, they need to understand how big it is. Over the next three years, DC Cat Count will use various methods to track D.C.'s cats and build a feline database for the city. Sixty outdoor camera traps will capture images of passing cats, relying on infrared technology to sense them most of the time.

Citizens are being asked to help as well. An app is currently being developed that will allow users to snap photos of any cats they see, including their own pets. The team also plans to study the different ways these cats interact with their environments, like how much time pets spend indoors versus outdoors, for example. The initiative has a $1.5 million budget to spend on collecting data.

By the end of the project, the team hopes to have the tools both conservationists and animal welfare groups need to better control the local cat population.

Lisa LaFontaine, president and CEO of the Humane Rescue Alliance, said in a statement, “The reality is that those in the fields of welfare, ecology, conservation, and sheltering have a common long-term goal of fewer free-roaming cats on the landscape. This joint effort will provide scientific management programs to help achieve that goal, locally and nationally."

[h/t The New York Times]

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