CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa – We first met Gideon Kidd in 2018 at Drake University’s Beautiful Bulldog Contest.
At the time he was 9 years old. Griff was the 361st dog he had pet, and Gideon’s “I’ve Pet That Dog” account on Twitter had a whopping 91,000 followers.
Fast forward two years and nearly 380,000 people are following along as Gideon has pet more than 1,200 dogs.
“Something like that,” says Gideon, who isn’t focused on the total number.
This spring, the coronavirus pandemic forced the young canine lover to switch gears.
“Me and my mom were thinking about like what are we going to do? We can’t pet any more dogs,” said Gideon.
Now, instead of “I’ve Pet That Dog,” Gideon and his mom Rachel Braunigan share “I Would Love to Pet That Dog” posts.
“People send us pictures and like a page about their dog,” said Gideon. “And we pick and choose the dogs that we like best and then we post them. We just go into our backyard and choose a place and we grab a picture and take a few pictures with it and choose one. When we’re back inside, we write up the dogs and we post it.”
“We get thousands,” says Braunigan. “I’m just really proud of him, of his dedication and how much time and energy he puts into it. He does the dog write ups all on his own.”
While Gideon loves all dogs, he does have his favorites. Chihuahuas are the most likely to be featured on his accounts. But the now 11-year-old also likes pups with unique stories.
“There’s this one dog that I virtually pet called Ripley and he’s blind. So he had this really cool mechanism on his head and it had this bar so that he can’t bump into things,” exclaimed Gideon. “It was really cool!”
Another way into his heart is a sense of style.
“Personally, I love dogs in clothes,” adds Gideon. “It’s just so adorable. Like a bow tie or a costume or a party hat. Something like that is amazing.”
While Gideon misses being able to cuddle canines, this backup plan is still bringing joy.
“It’s something that’s a little bit of normalcy in all of this, and it’s happiness, I think, for all of us,” says Braunigan.
The positive posts might be more important now than ever before.
“Yeah, I think so,” said Gideon. “It’ll cheer people up.”
The pre-teen petting expert is even sharing his skills with others by creating a “Pet That Dog” handbook for making four-legged friends.
“The dos and don’ts for kids who like dogs and like famous dogs in history,” explained Gideon. “There’s a personality quiz of what dog you would be, if you were a dog.”
“One of the things I think is the coolest is a tracker so that kids can keep track of all the dogs they have met and write their own notes in about each dog,” said Braunigan. “I think that’s kind of neat.”
And perhaps dogs can help bring other families together during these uncertain times.
“They’re just such amazing creatures,” said Gideon. “They’re friendly, they love to play, they cuddle, and everyone is just really unique.”
“It’s been an incredible adventure for our family,” said the proud mom. “We are so grateful for this experience. I think we’re going to remember it forever.”
The “Pet That Dog!” handbook comes out in October. You can pre-order it now HERE.