We Rate Dogs—the Best “Inside Joke” in Dogdom

I’m a pretty big Luddite when it comes to Twitter and Instagram, which means I miss out on a LOT of really fun, exciting, moving content relating to dogs and cats. I had always figured I was already so overwhelmed receiving weighty content about pets (books, studies, doctors, experts, philosophers, behaviorists) that I really couldn’t afford the time to fool around looking at fun pictures about them. Boy was I wrong!

I was introduced to WeRateDogs and decided to invite the creator of it, Matt Nelson, on my NPR radio show DOG TALK (and Kitties, Too!) after I got a peek at his sly and subtle work — photos of dogs with captivating Twitter-length captions. I discovered I was the very last one to the “party” of his Instagram sensation, which he created on a lark and took off like a rocket. Thousands of people read and comment on every posted dog — all of which are rated above the top number of 10, which seems baffling until you get the point, which is that ALL dogs rate above the highest number on a rating scale! It’s only a matter of how much higher.

WeRateDogs sounded pretty peculiar on the face of it. I had never heard of an internet “rating system” for dogs but it sounded kind of utilitarian. Was it like rating front-loading clothes washers on Consumer Reports? Then I found out it was tongue in cheek—that Matt Nelson chooses among thousands of photos of dogs to pick just one a day, and then he writes a pithy caption for, which can take him hours (like a Haiku poem might). My interview of Matt uncovered the amazingly random story behind his success, which grew out of his creative urge to write and has become bigger than he could have imagined. Following WeRateDogs is a guilty pleasure now — and one I hope everyone embraces in these times of political strife and social stress — a way to share the joy of dog love.

In addition, here are two special little morale-boosters from WeRateDogs — their year-end compilations of the Best of the Best. I rate them 45 out of 10… on a 1 to 10 scale!

The Dogs of 2016

And the Dogs of 2017

—Tracie Hotchner
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