Pippin, the dog who became the profile photo and brand icon for WeRateDogs, one of the internet’s most beloved and wholesome social media accounts, has died.
The owner of WeRateDogs, Matt Nelson, 22, announced the news to the world Friday, giving Pippin an official rating of 15/10.
“Pippin passed away this week due to complications of old age, but he’ll live on with every post,” he wrote.
Nelson, who told BuzzFeed News he’s been in touch with Pippin’s owner since starting his dog-tribute social media accounts in 2015, said he received a message from the owner letting him know of Pippin’s death.
“It’s such a weird relationship. He wasn’t my dog but he meant so much to my entire online community,” Nelson said of Pippin.
In 2015, Nelson came across Pippin’s headshot, featuring the dog with a stunned expression, when he was looking for a photo of a dog who would encapsulate his vision for the handle @dog_rates.
He said he simply typed “funny dog” into Google Images, and as soon as he saw the photo of Pippin, he said, “This is it.”
“That stare is just majestic, and I knew it was the right pic as soon as I saw it,” he said.
The photo at the time was part of an iStock collection, which Nelson bought the licensing rights to use. But when WeRateDogs started taking off, Pippin’s owners got in touch with him, and a special relationship blossomed.
Pippin’s owner told Nelson at the time that it was his dad who wanted professional photos taken of Pippin, who was 2 or 3 years old when the picture was taken.
“I’ve been on-and-off in contact with Pippin’s owner, and they’ve been such good sports about it,” he said of their lending their pup’s image to promote his business. (Pippin’s owner didn’t immediately respond to an interview request.)
WeRateDogs has since exploded into one of the most popular accounts online, boasting 7.5 million Twitter followers and more than 700,000 Instagram fans.
Nelson estimates the number of times Pippin’s photo has been seen is in the tens of billions, since it’s linked to all of WeRateDogs’ tweets, Instagram posts, promotions, etc.
He said he’s grateful he got to know the iconic dog at all, and thankful how generous Pippin’s owner has been over the years.
“It’s crazy to think that one picture has turned into so much,” he said. “I’m just thankful the family has been so welcoming and such good sports to allow one picture to be turned into a brand.”
People online paid tribute to their fallen hero after Nelson shared the news of his death.
“We are cursed to outlive the embodiments of love,” wrote user Daniel Simmons.
RIP Pippin, the goodest of dogs.