For freshman Mallorie Sievert, coming to Elon meant moving a couple hundred miles away from her two beloved golden retrievers, who always made her happy and reduced her stress. Sievert grew up with dogs, and being away from her companions for the first time this academic year was difficult. After an acting class workshop that discussed what could make her happier, Sievert had an idea: she was going to meet more dogs on campus.
Sievert spotted a goldendoodle puppy at College Coffee and snapped a picture, sending it to her friends. The enthusiastic responses she received motivated her to create a private Snapchat story about dogs around Elon’s campus.
“I had it as a private Snapchat story for a day or two, and it just kept growing, and people kept texting me being like, ‘Can you add me to the private story?’” Sievert said. “Then, a couple people swiped up, and they were like, ‘You should make this into an Instagram.’”
Following encouragement from dog-lovers on and off campus, Sievert transitioned from Snapchat to Instagram and posted her first featured dog, Carly the corgi, on March 4.
The Dogs of Elon Instagram features dogs seen around campus by Sievert and fellow students who send their own photos to the account to be posted under the PAWparazzi story highlight. Captions introduce each dog, and at the end every dog earns an enthusiastic 13 out of 10 rating from Sievert.
“I have a superpower where I can spot dogs from absurdly far distances,” Sievert said. “I’ll be sitting in the dining hall, and I’ll be like, ‘Look there’s a dog,’ and I’ll point out the window across a field and there’s a dog walking by.”
Sievert said she is surprised by how much Dogs of Elon has grown and how excited other students are about the page. In the month since Sievert launched Dogs of Elon on Instagram, the account has amassed over 500 followers. Sievert said she never anticipated such a response and said she regularly receives messages from students saying they saw her post and dropped everything to go pet the dog. Sievert includes the locations of the dogs on campus, and seeking out the pets has offered a reprieve from homework for many students.
According to Sievert, running the Dogs of Elon Instagram has made her more confident. She is often seen sprinting across campus to take photos and is not shy about asking owners if she can meet their dogs.
“I originally did it too because I want to pet more dogs,” Sievert said. “Other people probably want to pet more dogs. I’ll tell people where the dogs are.”
Freshman Matt Newberry created the logo for the Instagram page. Newberry was included in the private Snapchat story where Sievert originally posted the photos, and he encouraged her to make the Instagram. He said he loves the joy he experiences when a new photo appears on his Instagram feed.
“I just love dogs, and so Mallorie and I would bond over dogs,” Newberry said. “I was hyping her up, and I was like, ‘Yes, put me on that [Snapchat] story so fast.’”
In addition to regular posts, the Instagram features four permanent story highlights: meetups!, PAWparazzi!, doggos!, and ADOPTABLE!.
“ADOPTABLE!” promotes dogs available for adoption who are visiting Elon’s campus through the Dog Day Out program with Burlington Animal Services.
The first day Sievert took a shelter dog to campus, she said other students asked her to send them the information about the program. The Instagram story allowed her to put all of the information in one place where students can easily find it. Newberry — who has also participated in the program — created an infographic for a class project about how to take part in the Dog Day Out Program.
Newberry said he wanted his infographic to have a purpose in addition to earning him a grade.
“I was trying to figure out something that I cared about, and I was like, ‘Oh let me do one about the Dog Day Out program because nobody really knows about how that works,’” Newberry said.
The Dog Day Out program allows participants to take a shelter dog out with them for one day, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. Sievert discovered the program in October 2020 while researching how to volunteer at an animal shelter.
Newberry said he recommends students take pictures of their day with the dog for the shelter to post on Facebook with information about how the dog behaved. These positive reviews can help the dog get adopted.
“Every dog that I’ve seen that me or my friends take out is either now in foster or adopted,” Newberry said, “So I think it definitely does help when people get to see someone’s review of the dog in a way.”
Sievert and Newberry both recommend the Dog Day Out program to all Elon students for a “wholesome and fun” day.
To participate in the Dog Day Out program, email firstname.lastname@example.org with your name and status as an Elon student. Include the date you would like to take out a dog and few dogs from the website you are interested in.