Article By: Lisa Wood
Photos By: Facebook UPS Dogs
Sometimes hearing about what’s right in the world is just what the soul needs.
That’s what Sean McCarren found out when he started UPS Dogs. He didn’t know it then, but something as simple as showing the dogs he encounters on his daily route would change from a personal hobby to a viral Internet phenomenon.
Sean has worked for UPS for 17 years. A dog lover and owner of three prized pooches himself (2 chihuahuas and a border collie), Sean realized how many dogs he encountered during the course of his work day. He didn’t just see them as he drove by – they lived at the residences and small businesses, where he dropped off packages. These dogs were sociable, recognizing him when he showed up with a delivery and greeting him at the door. Sean realized that the animals on his route were just as friendly as his human customers.
Sean started to bring treats for the dogs on his route, spending his own money to buy things they would like. As he dropped off a package to a person, the dogs would come greet him as well. Sometimes they would even enter the truck to get the treat they became used to getting, and Sean obliged with a smile. The animals continue to bring great joy to him as he travels along his route, reminding him that the world is a multi-faceted thing indeed.
And then he got an idea.
Sean had been taking pictures of his encounters with the animals on his route and made a point of sharing them with his friends and family. Pretty soon his phone was filled with images of adorable dogs greeting him during his day. He wanted to share those pictures and brighten other people’s days too. His hope was that the pictures would impact other people the same way they did him. That’s how UPS Dogs came to life.
Five years ago, Sean started a Facebook page sharing pictures of the dogs on his route. Pretty soon UPS drivers and other contributors from all over the world began posting their pictures to the page. All of the pictures reflect character and kindness, but some of them are downright amazing. For example, the Great Dane standing on his hind legs to give the UPS driver a kiss in California (and measuring a head taller than); the picture-perfect Huskie with amazing ice blue eyes waiting patiently at the driver’s door in New York; six excited pups meeting their UPS driver at the door in Massachusetts; and a puppy relaxing in a smiling driver’s arms in Maryland. There are countless images like this on this Facebook page, and the pictures keep coming in. But dogs aren’t the only critters that get in on the act. There are pictures of cats giving UPS drivers love, a baby goat being cradled in a UPS driver’s arms, pigs getting in on the action, and there is even a picture of a deer licking a UPS driver in West Virginia. Yes, you read that correctly! While Sean’s route is local, including Martinsburg, WV, UPS Dogs has contributors from Germany, Spain, Canada, and several states within the United States including California, Oregon, Maine, Louisiana, West Virginia, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina, and Delaware.
The Facebook page doesn’t only show pictures of dogs and their UPS drivers. There are personal stories shared there as well. They speak of the relationships the drivers formed with the dogs on their route. Sometimes the posts reflect tributes to dogs that have passed away. Amazingly, there was a story posted about a UPS driver who adopted a dog on her route when the dog’s family died. The drivers are interested in the animals that they meet in a very real and tangible way. In a specific instance, one driver found out that a dog on his route was allergic to grain, so he bought grain-free biscuits, so the dog could still get a treat. The tenderness shown toward these animals within the UPS driver community and the Facebook audience that frequents the page alike is refreshing and heartwarming.
For years, the UPS Dogs page had been a haven for dog enthusiasts and fellow UPS drivers with similar stories, gathering interest here and there, but only topping 18,000 likes over the five-year span. Then one day the page went viral. A meme of a smiling Pitbull sitting in a UPS truck sparked the beginning of UPS Dogs becoming a household name. Word got around that there was a Facebook page with pictures of cute dogs socializing with UPS drivers and people flocked to see the charming pooches. Since the meme circulated around the world, UPS Dogs has gained over 837,000 likes and just under 900,000 followers.
Sean is humbled by the response. Since the meme came out and introduced UPS Dogs to the world in a significant way in mid-October 2017, he has been interviewed dozens of times by national news publications like Buzzfeed, Huffington Post, and People.com. Even Milkbone caught wind of what Sean was doing and donated tasty dogs treats to the cause. Sean is largely a one man show, fielding emails and doing most of the posting on his own. The sudden popularity was surprising to him as it also meant more submissions. That’s the beauty of the work Sean does – the positivity keeps pouring in.
When asked why he thinks people have gravitated to UPS Dogs in such great numbers, Sean said, “Everybody loves dogs, but I think the big thing is that if you look on the page, there’s not one negative thing.” The dog owners have not had a problem with their animals being posted on the page. They understand the joy that their jubilant faces bring. Viewers continue to like and comment on posts on a daily basis. There are comments about the dogs themselves, the kindness the UPS drivers are showing the animals, and to Sean himself for creating such an uplifting community for dog lovers to bond.
Put plainly, the pictures bring joy.
UPS Dogs is an effort that runs independently of UPS the company, though the latter acknowledges the positive presence it has on the Internet. Sending pictures and sharing stories is completely voluntary. That is telling, considering that so many UPS employees from all over the world feel compelled to share something about the four-legged friends the encounter on their route. Animal lovers from all walks of life agree that UPS Dogs is a unique place where dogs and the inherent joy they bring can be appreciated.
Sean expects to continue putting pictures of the dogs and their UPS drivers up for as long as people enjoy them. While he may not recognize what he is doing as a service for the people, many of his followers think that is exactly what UPS Dogs is. Sean has created a community where people can celebrate animals, commiserate about their furry friends, and meet other likeminded individuals. UPS Dogs is something special and the people that visit the Facebook page for their daily dog picture fix, the customers that are serviced, and the dogs they meet along their route want to make sure Sean knows it.
UPS Dogs maintains and thriving community on Facebook and has expanded its internet footprint to Instagram and Twitter. Join the fun at Facebook.com/upsdogs, Instagram.com/upsdogs, and @UPS Dogs on Twitter.