9-year-old asks strangers if he can pet their dog, and Twitter is loving the responses

“They usually look very surprised. A car suddenly pulls over and out jumps a kid running after them? But most of the time, people are very nice."
June 16, 2018 4:14 pm Last Updated: June 16, 2018 4:14 pm

If you’ve spent enough time browsing the internet, you know that it’s not always a pleasant place. There are trolls, clickbait, and some stuff that’s just straight up weird.

But if you’re ever feeling lost or confused on the web, there’s at least one innocent place—a site of pure goodness that gives you exactly what it promises.

It’s an entire Twitter page of a 9-year-old boy petting dogs.

I’ve Pet That Dog” is a project started by 9-year-old Gideon Kidd from Cedar Falls, Iowa. While it started as a website in 2016, the wholesome project really took off when he started a Twitter account last month.

The project is something like a cross between Humans of New York and WeRateDogs™: in each post Gideon shares a photo of himself being affectionate with a different dog, and gives each a little bio with their name and interests.

“I love dogs,” he told Today. “I want people to see that these dogs are great animals.”

While I’ve Pet That Dog started as a website, it really took off when Gideon’s mother, Rachel Braunigan, started a Twitter account last month.

The account already has over 55,000 followers. It’s not hard to see why it’s resonated with the internet.

“It’s simple and it’s sweet. It’s obviously a child that’s doing this,” Braunigan said. “There’s no ulterior motive, there’s no gimmick. Here’s the dog I met, here’s a little bit about that dog, look at my picture. That’s it.”

Her son offered a simpler explanation:

“I think people like dogs,” Gideon told People.

According to his site’s FAQ page, Gideon has a 12-year-old dog of his own, named Walter, along with two gerbils and three cats. His favorite dog breed is the Chihuahua.

He’s already shared his affection with a whopping 317 dogs, and has no plans on slowing down.

He told Today he plans to pet “at least 1 million dogs,” although he’s already reached all the dogs in his hometown.

Gideon and his mother never pass up an opportunity to touch a dog for their blog, even if it means running up to strangers.

“They usually look very surprised,” Braunigan said. “A car suddenly pulls over and out jumps a kid running after them? But most of the time, people are very nice.

Touching a dog is an art form that Gideon has perfected, and even offered up some advice in a Buzzfeed article.

“First, you walk up to the caregiver and ask, ‘Can I please pet your dog?’” he wrote.

“If they say yes, don’t just start petting the dog. Walk slowly, stick your hand under their nose and let them sniff you. Then you can pet the dog.”

Gideon told People that he hopes to become an animal rescuer when he grows up. His mother says that while his project has taken off online, her son isn’t doing it for the fame—just the love of dogs.

“I never thought it would be anywhere near this big. It’s pretty incredible,” Braunigan told Today. “Gideon’s excited about it, but I don’t think he understands the scope of it.”