EDMONTON — She’s a bear coat Shar-Pei and she’s taken the Internet by storm. Tonkey is just four months old, but the Edmonton pup has already become a social media celebrity, skyrocketing to fame through her Instagram account.
“She just has this face that makes you question whether she’s a puppy, whether she’s a Muppet, we don’t know. Is she a dog? So we just kind of wanted to share her with the world,” said Christine Park, Tonkey’s owner.
“After learning that bear coat Shar-Peis were always the last to go, they weren’t that desirable… We just kind of wanted to put her in the spotlight and put her out there for Shar-Pei lovers to know that, ‘Hey, these guys are really cute too.'”
Park and her partner Dave took Tonkey home in mid-May after searching for a little sister for their other fur baby, a Collie cross named Maxi. As soon as they saw Tonkey they knew she was the one.
“We went to go see the litter and she just stood out from all of them, just her personality. I think we have some video of her when she was just six weeks all and she’s just acting all silly and being all cute,” said Park.
Park started Tonkey’s Instagram account 10 weeks ago. From pictures with Maxi to videos of Tonkey running up the stairs, @bearcoat_tonkey showcases the daily happenings of the cute, cuddly Shar Pei.
“Tonkey is very silly, very curious, very fearless. She’s very friendly and loves to meet new people, but can’t do anything without her sister Maxi, always has to be by Maxi,” said Park.
And clearly Tonkey was desirable to some because she’s since racked up more than 232,000 followers. And it doesn’t stop there. From interviews with BuzzFeed and The Today Show, to appearances on local television and radio stations, Tonkey and her owners have found themselves in a bit of a media whirlwind.
“It was completely unexpected,” Park said. “But at the same time we’re thrilled and we’re happy that people love her as much as we do.
“We live a really quiet life and she’s got her sister, Maxi, and they have no idea what’s going on. They’re not aware, but for Dave and I certainly. We’re having a lot of fun talking to new people we’re meeting on the Internet.”
Park says she doesn’t plan to do too much more with Tonkey’s new-found stardom, but they are considering making a photo book or children’s book out of Tonkey’s photos.