Thankfully, no pandemic can stop Gideon Kidd from sharing his love of dogs.

By Austin Cannon
September 03, 2020
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Courtesy of Rachel Braunigan

For Gideon Kidd, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic meant getting creative. 

The 12-year-old living in Cedar Falls, Iowa, is behind the truly excellent @IvePetThatDog Twitter account. There, he posts pictures of the dogs he’s met and pet along with a short biography and a few fun facts. The account is immensely popular with more than 383,000 followers. 

But when the pandemic arrived in the United States back in March, meeting dogs in person was no longer a good idea. So he and his mom, Rachel Braunigan, asked people to send in photos of their dogs. Predictably, they received thousands of submissions. 

Gideon’s tweets changed. Instead of a photo of him and a dog, the posts now include a photo of him holding a photo of the dog he wishes he could pet. That way he can share the pup’s stories while still staying safe.

According to his website, he’s “virtually” pet 228 dogs. (Over four years, he’s pet more than 1,100 dogs in person.) They include Leila, the blind basset hound; Maggie, the pit bull mix who needed home; and Henderson, the goldendoodle working as a diabetic alert dog

While Gideon undoubtedly still brings joy to his social media followers, posing with photos is hardly the same as meeting the dogs. Sadly, he’ll probably be petting dogs virtually for the foreseeable future. (If you’d like to submit your dog, you can send a photo via Twitter or Facebook.)

“I really miss it. I miss being able to pet the pup and doing everything—playing with him or her sometimes and having fun,” he says.  

I’ve Pet That Dog: the Book

Even as the pandemic rolls on, there is something to look forward to: Pet That Dog! A Handbook for Making Four-Legged Friends, written by Gideon and Braunigan, comes out in October.

“For my entire life, I’ve loved books, and I just thought it would be awesome to have a book of my own that I could say, ‘Hey, this is my book,’” Gideon says. 

Courtesy of Rachel Braunigan

The book features tips for meeting, petting, and taking care of dogs along with fun facts and spotlights on famous dogs in history, including Bosco, the dog mayor. The book also includes a “Dog Tracker,” a checklist kids can consult when they meet new dogs and a place to take notes like Gideon does, Braunigan says. 

“It has tons and tons of types of dogs, and then it also has extra dogs you can look for like a super-fluffy dog or a dog wearing clothes,” Gideon says.

The book will come out just after the four-year anniversary of the I’ve Pet That Dog project. You can order it here.