So I, like seemingly every other compulsive Internet user, have become semi-obsessed with the Shiba Inu Puppy Cam. I don’t remember which website first sent me there—countless sites have linked to it—but watching the live feed of six roly-poly puppies playing and wrestling and napping in their cozy little crate is now my favorite means of relieving stress or lifting a bad mood or simply killing a minute or two.
I’m not a dog person. My extended family has adopted only cats for generations, and when a bona fide dog-lover married into the clan, the introduction of a lively labrador retriever* was an adjustment for us all. Of course I dearly love Kristen, my wonderful cousin-in-law, and Piper, her friendly dog, but seeing how much attention Kristen and Jamie must lavish on Piper makes me appreciate my two delightfully low-maintenance cats and their comparatively aloof charms. Suffice it to say that my being enthralled by Puppy Cam is not about my wanting a puppy of my very own.
The puppies are damn cute, though, with their oversized heads and squashed snouts, big black eyes and stubby little legs. They’re fuzzy all over, like animate stuffed animals, and they sometimes sleep on their backs with their paws sticking up in the air. Sleep, in fact, often catches them at their cutest. Their yipping, rough-and-tumble play is fun to watch, but when they exhaust themselves and collapse in one big puppy heap, their little legs indistinguishable in the jumble, the sight is almost unbearably adorable.
Occasionally a pair of human legs will walk into frame and the static shot will zoom out to capture the world beyond the crate: a playpen fenced inside some anonymous living room, a few food dishes, guest appearances from the Legs and the puppies’ tolerant mother. At first such clues to the puppies’ identity intrigued me—where do they live? who is filming them and why?—but now I’ve come to resent the intrusions.
Part of the magic of Puppy Cam is the way the tight, contextless shot of the small den envelops you in its coziness. If you watch long enough, the snug security the puppies feel there begins to affect you, too. Inside the crate, with no cues of place and time, there is only warmth and nipping affection. It’s an intoxicatingly small world, and since you can’t leave it, can’t see into the offscreen abyss, you exist there, too. For a few illustory moments, it can be just you and the puppies in a state of innocent intimacy, perfect safety, fuzzy bliss. You are one with the puppies, and you are home.
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*I initially described Piper, erroneously, as a golden retriever. I really don’t know my dogs. Sorry, Piper!