R.I.P. Grumpy Cat & Lil Bub

I remember the days where people turned their nose up at folks who had Instagram accounts for their pets—nowadays, it’s pretty normal. While every pet owner wants to catapult their pup to Doug the Pug levels of fame, most will settle for a couple thousands followers and a P.O. box that receives a toy here and a treat there. There are the rare occasions that animals break the mold: just look at the late Grumpy Cat, born out of a meme and now memorialized on boardwalk t-shirts everywhere.

You see, one of the benefits of social media accounts for pets is that it creates a time capsule of sorts that’s captures a pet’s best memories, moments and features one-of-a-kind pictures. With typically large, niche followings, the followers of these accounts almost feel like they share ownership of the pet, as they’re along for the ride throughout the best and worst moments of a pet’s life. Buster chewed up his “indestructible” toy in five minutes? Instagram must see the damage he inflicted. Spot cuddled with his new baby sister? Video, please!

However, that time capsule—and, unfortunately, the rest of this blog post—takes a morbid turn as the reality of pets’ life spans come into play. In an ideal world, our pets would be with us our entire lives and there’d be no heartbreak. In the case of petfluencers, that heartbreak is magnified 100 or even 1000 times as people across the globe mourn the loss of an animal they didn’t really know.

On the other hand, that shared grief creates a community of support for the grieving owner from a series of people who have experienced similar heartbreaks, offering to lend support any way they can. It’s nearly impossible to get through a hard time on your own, and receiving comfort from thousands of strangers who shared the love you had is incomparable.

So I’d say yes, there is a happy ending in the journey of petfluencers—though it benefits the owner more than the pet. Nothing compares to a close-knit group of people who share the same love or passion and support each other through thick or thin.