A heckin’ bamboozle: the rise of Trinity College Doggos

There is a new force in Trinity: bigger than many societies, and with a repository of dog pictures to boot, Trinity College Doggos has had an auspicious start

Do a study buddy.

Do a study buddy.

[Somebody tags their friend]

Do a study buddy.

It’s the May Bank Holiday Monday, and a meme has been shared in a Trinity students’ group on Facebook. A bespectacled French bulldog pores over a textbook, wondering “Heck. How do?”. People are instructed to “comment ‘do a study buddy’ to pass all finals”. And comment they do.

194 almost identical comments eventually show up beneath the meme – decent engagement for any post, not least one in a student group with a membership of 3,000. Of course, this isn’t any Facebook group. This is Trinity College Doggos.

Trinity College Doggos (TCD) has been enjoying an inexorable rise through the College community in recent months, helped along by the traditional exam season phenomenon of students sitting at their laptops for 12 hours a day, desperately seeking strategies to avoid doing work. And the floof has multiplied, so to speak. Data analysed by group founder Cian Rynne shows that the group had 4 of its 5 best-ever days in terms of engagement in the last week of April, as procrastination in the lead-up to the big annual quiz reached fever pitch.

The group, filled with pictures of members’ own dogs and videos or memes from elsewhere, now boasts north of 3,300 members. That’s more than the Phil, the Hist, VDP or the Cumann Gaelach (probably, take it on trust). There are more dog enthusiasts in the group than there are plans in the Provost’s head for commercialising the very air we breathe. Daily statements of “what a good pupper” from appreciative members outnumber statements of “what a well-reasoned, balanced, carefully non-committal emission from The Editorial Board” by a ratio of 100:1. TCDoggos is the real deal.

What’s more, the group is around 90% Trinity students, the kind of student space that the Kieran McNultys of this world could only dismiss off-hand as being overly idealistic. Founded last December by Cian Rynne, a third-year Human Genetics student, it was inspired by similar online shenanigans elsewhere. In Oxford, as an alternative to the “constant political discussions they were always having”, the Open Dogsford group was formed as a “wholesome alternative”. Rynne reckoned that “anything that Oxford can do, we can do better”.

The group is but one manifestation of the rapidly growing obsession that online culture has with all things canine. Large-scale, international Facebook groups like Cool Dog Group and Dogspotting lay claim to hundreds of thousands of members. The number of meme pages, and pages dedicated purely to cute and lovable pictures, grows by the hour. Twitter profiles such as WeRateDogs aid in making dog culture more ubiquitous and accessible than the internet’s previous, nefariously weird fascination with cats, ever was.

And of course, it’s all helping to change the very way we talk about dogs, into something like what people imagine dogs themselves might think. You thought the domesticated descendants of wolves could be designated as either dogs or puppies, and that’s it? Please acquaint yourself with doggos, puppers, pupperinos, floofs, boofers, clouds, corgos, thicc bois, long doggos and more beside. DoggoLingo is taking over. Rynne estimates that his own newsfeed is 90% dogs at this point, a welcome relief from the negativity and cynicism that can often seem to overwhelm contemporary social media.

Zooming back in from the big floofer of international doggo worship to the noble pupperino that is Trinity College Doggos, times are booming. Exam season has allowed the group to scale new peaks, but Rynne says it’s been relatively steady since the beginning: “it constantly grows by about one or two hundred every couple of weeks”. After 50,000 ‘likes’ on posts, and 10,000 comments, he is surprised at how few people (about 10) have ever had to be banned. After a lack of people’s own dogs being put in the group in the early days, it has now morphed such that there are plenty sightings of Trinity doggos themselves, along with sightings of floofs and pupperinos from around Dublin and beyond.

Which way it goes from here is less than certain, though “up” would probably be a decent guess. Rynne, Crown Prince of the Goodly Floof that he is, has been mulling a few things over. For example, the idea of transforming the page into the anchor point for a new society has been mooted, but “the process of actually making a society is actually quite complicated”. How would they make sure that a Doggo society actually helped animals, especially considering that dogs are banned on campus?

Either way Rynne envisions the motherlode of new members to arrive in Freshers’ Week, when “the freshers are in just joining everything. I plan for a big recruitment drive around then”. From there, he says, “obviously I’ll use the power and influence that comes with the page to propel me towards being SU President”. Don’t bet against it. He seems receptive to an active campaign for himself to be granted a place in the Trinity Twenty, a verbal representation of Trinity’s greasy pole.

Whatever the outcome, the main hope is that it retains its “Trinity” identity, says Rynne. “There’s no whole group that connects all Trinity students together. It’s more than just a dog group, like.” A bold claim perhaps, but one we can all hope proves to be true.

Do a study buddy.