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Birthday Dog is the nickname given to Riley, a bichon frise/poodle mix dog, after a photo of him sitting in a human-like pose at a kitchen table on his birthday was shared on Reddit in February 2010. The dog is known for his unique facial expression that makes him appear to be under the influence.
The photo was taken by California resident Maureen Ravelo, Riley’s owner, in February 2010. She posted it on her personal Facebook account where her friend, John Lipari saw it. He posted the photo to Reddit on February 23rd, 2010, where it received 6,112 upvotes and 3,326 points overall. Many of the comments pointed out the dog’s smile and half-shut eyes, which made the animal appear to be under the influence of marijuana.
The original photo was reposted on Buzzfeed the same day. Later in 2010, it appeared on People Magazine Pets, Metro, and the Huffington Post. On March 5th, 2010, series of photoshopped images featuring Riley were posted to Buzzfeed as well as humor site Heavy.
On April 8th, The Today Show brought Ravelo and Riley on the show squashing the rumor that the dog was under the influence of any drugs. Their visit to NYC was covered by Ravelo’s local NBC station in the Bay Area.
In December 2010, entertainment site UGO named Birthday Dog one of the best memes of 2010. Photos of Riley continue to be posted on Tumblr with the tag “birthday dog.” There is also a Facebook fan page, a Memegenerator and two Quickmeme pages for Riley.
Riley’s Second Birthday
On January 15th, 2011, Ravelo posted a photo of Riley’s second birthday on Reddit, mirroring his original photograph. This image was reposted on the Daily Mail and Buzzfeed. As of April 2012, Ravelo occasionally posts photographs of Riley on her personal Tumblr and Flickr.
Though “birthday dog” is a fairly common search phrase, search began to pick up in February 2010, peaking in April of that year.
The Huffington Post –
People Pets – Say Treat! Smiling Dog Becomes an Internet Sensation