A 1955 publicity shot of Lassie with child actor Tommy Rettig, who starred in the Lassie TV show.
A 1955 publicity shot of Lassie with child actor Tommy Rettig, who starred in the Lassie TV show. PHOTO CONTRIBUTED

Lassie vs the animals of Instagram

I HAVE a new follower on Instagram called Mila the Bird - a blue and white budgerigar whose bio reads: "I am Mila. I love strawberries. I love my toys."

Mila is part of the #animalsofinstagram menagerie that has found fame and celebrity on social media.

Gone are the days when animal celebrities like Lassie, Flipper and Skippy needed an agent, film crew and blockbuster budget to achieve fame and fortune.

Today your pet can become an overnight success if you have a smartphone and know how to use a hashtag. As well as budgies, the #animalsofinstagram hashtag will reveal chameleons, horses, dogs, cats, bunnies, mice - even magpies and hedgehogs - who have their own social media accounts.

My favourites are @penguinthemagpie, a tame magpie that will play dead to have its belly scratched; @annie_the_ pig_Tokyo who has her own fake grass mat in her Tokyo apartment and @Ernest_Hedgingway, a persnickety hedgehog with a love for antiques, books and sleeping.

While there's no denying Lassie's enduring fame - after all, she won an Emmy and has her own Hollywood star - that kind of celebrity took decades of daring rescue missions to achieve.

Compare that to Maddie the animal shelter rescued coon hound of @thiswildidea Instagram fame who, by virtue of looking cute and sitting and standing on stuff, has amassed 656,000 followers, a book deal and her own phone app in three years.

Bite that, Lassie. So, what are you waiting for? Grab your phone and get snapping. Your pet pooch could be the next big thing.

Megan Kinninment blogs the offbeat at http://www.seekerofthelostarts.com

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