Marnie, Celebrity Shih Tzu, No More

The tale of Marnie the Shih Tzu and the rise of the senior dog influencer.

Marnie was a celebrity at 18 on Instagram thanks to her lolling tongue, stilted gait and amusing expressions. Her owner Shirley Braha adopted Marnie in 2012 from a Connecticut shelter. Marnie had a curious looking face and she quickly endeared herself to her adopter. This helped her gain about 1.8 million followers on the photo sharing social media platform. She in turn became a symbol for providing much needed attention to the plight of older dogs. She scored a book deal and posed with a myriad of celebrities like Tina Fey, Selena Gomez and Katy Perry. Marnie failed to attend the World Dog Awards in 2014 and it became headline news.

Marnie finds her human.

According to her dog parent, Ms. Braha, Marnie enjoyed the attention immensely. She would apparently happily play with large groups of people. Ms. Braha believed her dog was a natural at posing for the camera and had the kind of photogenic star power that captured the imagination of millions. Ms. Braha initially spotted her online in Connecticut. She was a smelly dog and her original rescuers nicknamed her “Stinky”. Braha immediately fell in love and adopted her, naming her after the famous singer Marnie Stern.

Marnie became an object of curiosity almost immediately. She had rotting teeth, smelly fur and an absurdly long tongue. Ms. Braha got her teeth fixed at the nearest dental studio. After her makeover, Braha took her all over New York, including the set of MTV where Braha worked as a producer.

Rise of Marnie.

Ms. Braha lost her job at MTV in 2014 . After leaving, Braha focussed even more attention on Marnie and began by posting photos on her Instagram. It wasn’t long before she went viral. She was even declared the “most famous American dog” by The New Yorker. Her fame allowed people to imagine the idea of adopting an older dog.

The Senior Dog Influencer.

Marnie’s passing in 2018 was met with collective grief from her parent and Marnie’s fans. Ms. Braha, in a message to the fans, wrote, “I’m amazed that the sweet little hot mess of a pup that I picked up from a shelter at age 11, who at first didn’t seem like she would be around very long at all, has managed to inspire others to adopt senior dogs. When I hear from people that Marnie has made them adopt their senior dogs, it’s truly the most beautiful legacy she and I could hope to leave in this world.”

An old dog should not have to go viral to be worthy of love and care. But Marnie’s rise to the top resulted in a bigger conversation around adopting senior dogs. Senior dogs deserve their due, and Marnie served as a powerful lesson in finding the beauty in the unconventional.

Did you know?

At VOSD, we don’t charge a fee for the surrender of an older dog. So spread the word about the work we do!

Care for an older dog, you won’t regret it.

Marnie’s story should serve as a helpful reminder that all dogs deserve care and love. It is important to be able to provide that kind of attention to any dog you want to help as well. Find out what you can do through VOSD’s many campaigns, here.