Jerk’s One-on-One with the Guy Who Makes a Living Rating Dogs

In case you’ve ever wondered what it takes to become a “dog curator.”

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John Ricci has the job we could only hope to land after graduation. He manages a 3.6 million-follower Twitter account that rates dogs. Yep, he rates dogs… for a living. The self-proclaimed “dog curator,” wakes up every morning to hundreds of photo submissions of adorable puppers to select from. 13/10 would really h*cken like to have his life.    

For those uncultured folk, We Rate Dogs is a viral Twitter thread that takes humorous or simply adorable photos of dogs and blesses them with witty captions, topped off with a 1 to 10 rating (spoiler: the dogs almost always break the scale).  To offer a visual, a heartwarming photo of a boxer wrapped in a blanket accompanies the caption: “This is Max. He greatly puppreciates you covering him pup. Was getting quite chilly living a snoodless life. 12/10 would snug so well.” 

The creator and brains behind the captions, Matt Nelson, was just two months into his sophomore year at Campbell University when he launched the Twitter page, figuring anyone with a soul would probably appreciate absurdist dog jokes. As predicted, the page was very well received and grew more popular by the day. Social media marketer and University of Pennsylvania graduate John Ricci, who had launched a couple parody accounts of his own, stumbled across We Rate Dogs when it was still on it’s first (four) legs.  

“I reached out to Matt Nelson and just said ‘hey man I’m a big fan of the account, I was wondering what kind of plans you had in work’ because at the time he only had about 220,000 followers” Ricci told Jerk. “He called me back a week or two later and was very serious about selling it, because for someone in school it’s a huge time commitment, which I help out with. Later that night he gave me the password and we just started doing it. It’s sort of a dark time in the world with everything going on and this is just an awesome way for people to get simple, pure entertainment.” 

Now, the page racks up 10,000 followers daily and 300 to 500 photo submissions from people eager to give their puppers their fifteen minutes of viral fame. Ricci sifts through these submissions and picks the top 20 to 30 photos to send to Nelson, who choses his favorite two to caption and publish on the page that day. In addition to the role of “dog curator,” Ricci manages all corporate sponsorship associated with the page.   

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“At this point I can predict what Matt will say about certain photos,” Ricci said. “It should be somewhat high quality; a good before and after shot of the dog changing facial expressions always does well and if it doesn’t even look like a dog Matt will make up some funny name to call it.”  

In the boom of the dog joke culture, an Internet language has emerged in describing particular behaviors or qualities of dogs. Ricci gave us a crash course on the vernacular. 

“A mlem is an act of extending and retracting one’s tongue in a casual manner, perhaps to aquire a substance around the mouth or even on the tongue itself. Not to be confused with a blep, a mlem is more dynamic and can occur multiple times over the standard duration of a blep,” explained Ricci. “One of the funniest posts we did asked if the dog featured in the photo was doing a mlem or a blep and people just got into a full fledged debate over it in the comments.” 

20170930_130811 To become well versed in this new lingo and the dog jokes craze, be sure to follow We Rate Dogs on Twitter, or order a copy of their coffee table book to entertain your guests. The book, “#WeRateDogs: The Most Adorable and Hilarious Pups You’ve Ever Seen” has already sold over 10,000 copies. If you still can’t get enough, peruse their website for merchandise, including their new line that sports the slogan “I miss my dog,” which speaks to about 12/10 college students.   

Gillian Farrugia
About Gillian Farrugia (6 Articles)
Gillian Farrugia is a freshman print and online journalism major in Newhouse from small town Connecticut. Her go-to pump up song is “Send Me on My Way” by Rusted Root and can almost always be found with a stash of licorice. Her choice hobbies include stopping to pet dogs and watching Buzzfeed Tasty videos with no intent of ever actually making the dish.

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