Many dogs are thrilled to spend more time with their humans in quarantine. But not all pets are excited by the idea of lockdown.
Big Poppa is a 3-year-old English bulldog who desperately misses the days when he accompanied his owner, 38-year-old costume designer Rashida Ellis, to her work on film and TV sets around Atlanta. The friendly pup loved playing with the actors and studio crew he met on these assignments, and working from home just hasn’t offered the same level of excitement.
“The sad thing is we have to social-distance even him,” Ellis told Buzzfeed News. “When he’s inside, he just walks out to the patio looking for people. He’s sleeping more. He’s a little sluggish. I can tell he’s not as happy and excited as he usually is. He’s probably tired of just me playing with him.”
Now Big Poppa spends most of his days staring mournfully from their apartment balcony, from where he can see kids playing in the grassy courtyard below. Before the pandemic, the dog loved playing with these kids, too. In fact, it was the only thing he enjoyed more than hanging out with actors on studio sets. “He loves children and then other dogs and then adults,” Ellis said. “In that order.”
Now Pop’s owner, who is working on her designs from home, does all she can to cheer up her depressed pooch, who is clearly missing the days before the coronavirus forced everybody indoors. “When he’s in his sad mood, I always say, ‘Cheer up, Popsicle!’ — I call him Popsicle — ‘I want you to be happy!'” Ellis said.
One day, the designer was working in her apartment-turned-office when she heard the lonely pup trying to communicate with his friends down below. “He kept making noises to get their attention, but we’re six stories up and they can’t hear him,” she said. “I was like, Oh my god, he’s really sad.”
Big Poppa has been so sad today, I think he miss playing with the kids in the building. He just watches them from the patio pic.twitter.com/gVooqvZ5oI
— Rae Elle (@RaeElle) April 22, 2020
Ellis snapped a picture of the mopey dog and posted it on Twitter, where it quickly went viral. “Big Poppa has been so sad today,” Ellis captioned the photo. “I think he miss playing with the kids in the building. He just watches them from the patio.”
Before long, “Big Poppa” had grown into a globally trending topic, because who doesn’t feel blue after weeks of quarantine? As cabin fever grows, many of us identify with the dog’s growing sense of isolation. Like Big Poppa, we miss our friends and our family. We’re also dreaming about the good ol’ days.
“I think when people look at that photo, we can all relate right now. We can’t do the things that we used to do, we can’t hang out with our friends,” said Ellis. “I think it just happened to be this dog — and not only is he so sad and cute and you want everything to change for him, but you want everything to change for yourself, too, because we’re all in this situation.”
J. Swanson is a writer, traveler, and animal-enthusiast based in Seattle, an appropriately pet-crazed city where dog or cat ownership even outweighs the number of kids. When the weather permits, she likes to get outside and explore the rest of the Pacific Northwest, always with a coffee in hand.
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