COMMENTARY BY JONATHAN DAMATO
What is Dogspotting?
From the official Dogspotting Facebook page:
1. A sport and lifestyle of spotting random dogs.
2. Classifying the nature of the spot according to the rule set.
3. Assigning a score or sharing the spot online for peer scoring.
The story of a good spot.
The dog seemed to have the most sense out of all of us on that hot April day in Vero Beach. The annual Hibiscus Festival was in full swing, and food trucks and crafts were abundant.
Unfortunately, so was the heat and humidity, with no breeze to speak of. And if it was uncomfortable for humans, could you imagine being covered in fur? Sure, the puddle was hard to explain, seeing as it had not rained for hours. But the pavement was hot, and that filthy, mysterious water so cool.
Dog, puddle, dogspotter. Do you believe in destiny? I do.
It may be easy for most to brush off the significance of these events. A hot dog, seeking relief in an obvious place. So what?
Oh, if only we could shrug off our insecurities, be more like this noble beast, and bathe in the cool, dirty waters of spiritual autonomy, free from the oppression of “good” judgement and “common” sense.
However, all of that is beside the point. It was an exceptionally good spot in a city where such occurrences are rare. While the new dog park is proof that Vero Beach doesn’t hate your dog, true dogspotters know that dog parks are off limits.
While all dogspotters should know the rules, the elite do not let these rules confine them, they allow the rules to inspire them. They aspire to net the best spots, to photograph the coolest canines.
In Vero, we make do with what we have.
Which is primarily photos like this:
It isn’t terrible. And there are plenty like it, it’s true. This spot will net you a point, maybe two, if people are feeling especially charitable, but it won’t generate the likes you’ll need to be noticed in this community.
Another example common in Vero Beach:
This is an example of doing the best with what you’ve been given. Notice the regal bearing, the J.J. Abrams-like lens flare. The conspicuous “Platinum” written in shining letters. Is that the dog’s name? Who knows? Someone who knows anything about trucks, I would wager. Unfortunately, however glorious the photo may be, on a technical level it’s unremarkable.
Dogspotters need more. Deserve more.
So, perhaps you now can begin to understand that heady feeling of serendipity that washed over my wife and I on that fateful day when, not long after making that glorious puddledog spot, we looked up to see something…wonderful:
“MVP wizard fort!” Reid Paskiewicz, admin at the Dogspotting Facebook commented.
“+1 dogfort.” said Riley Dant
“This is the best. Every dog should have a fort.” Added Frances Mary
The comments, likes, and points rolled in. To a dogspotter, the recognition of other spotters is everything. Points are the point.
The layperson’s first response, when confronted by the miraculous, is to attempt to rationalize it. Compartmentalize it. Deny its magic.
To be a dogspotter is to stand strong in the face of existential terror. The dogspotter must accept the moment. One does not stop to ask questions like “How did that dog build that fort?”, or “Why is that dog’s gaze so world weary? What does it know?” Spotters simply look into the face of dog and make the spot.
The dog didn’t build the fort, by the way. Otherwise this article would be about the amazing dog with thumbs. What a scoop!
Who spots dogs?
So, you may be wondering just who these dogspotters are. What drives a person to take photos, write little stories, or sketch out random dogs they see throughout their day, only to then spend their nights assigning points to the spots of others, all based on a mysterious, ever-shifting rubric?
While each member’s personal reasons may differ, community is a big part of it. Dogspotting may, in fact, be the only good reason to still be on Facebook, if you’re willing to believe a BuzzFeed article. There’s no denying that being in dogspotting on Facebook will fill up your news feed with pictures of dogs. And if you don’t find that appealing, well, you’re probably a sociopath.
Now you probably want to learn where dogspotting started. Well, that makes it pretty obvious that you didn’t read the rules I linked to earlier, because it’s right there:
As I mentioned earlier, it is pretty big on Facebook. It’s also on tumblr, whatever that is. Twitter too, if that’s still a thing. Fun fact: dogspotting is pretty much the official sport of Australia, which sounds weird until you really take a moment to think about Australia. I have found this site to be super-helpful. But if you see anything like this, you’ve gone too far. Now, let’s take a look at some of the other hottest spots of 2015 so far. Feel free to take out a pen and a piece of paper and keep score wherever you are. When you are finished, put your finished score sheet in an envelope, and put the envelope under your pillow. Tonight, you shall dream of nothing but dogs.
Some of 2015’s hottest spots so far:
Introducing the new sport of kings.
Forget falconry, for dogspotting is surely the new sport of kings. And unlike training birds of prey to bring us sparrow and squirrel carcasses, dogspotting is something anyone can do with minimal training and safety equipment! Try it for yourself the next time you see a random dog out in the world. You don’t even need a camera, just take a few notes, just like Ace-Ahio Gordon Grant Wagstaff did:
If you’re someone who isn’t lucky enough to be able to spot dogs in your day to day life, well, all the more reason to join! You’ll soon be up to your eyeballs in photos and written descriptions of random dogs, which everyone knows is an important part of well-rounded spiritual existence. Don’t you want to be a healthy, attractive individual? Spot dogs.