Two years before Marnie the Dog would be seen hobnobbing with Tina Fey, Jonah Hill and James Franco, she was just a friendly dog waiting to be adopted.
When the Shih Tzu found a forever home in 2012, with owner Shirley Braha, neither of them could have expected she’d quickly become an Instagram celebrity.
“She’s like a little person, but even more special,” Braha said of Marnie, who she guesses is between 10 and 12 years old. “She’s like a furry little angel, and she’s just content being in everyone’s arms.”
Marnie’s uniquely adorable appearance is partly attributable to her health: She survived vestibular syndrome, whose residual effects include a tilted head. Add the fact that she has a long tongue, and you have a one-of-a-kind dog who makes for some fantastic photos.
But Braha says the dog is always in good spirits: “Basically, the only thing she doesn’t like doing is being left home alone, doing nothing. She loves to go out. … It’s actually really inspiring. It’s like, she loves life, and seeing different things, and I love doing that with her. I think we’re the perfect team.”
Braha was so taken with her pet that she launched an Instagram page for the pup in February. Just a few months after she started spreading photos of her dog on social media, the Shih Tzu went viral, as BuzzFeed, Instagram and Reddit discovered the magic of Marnie.
“I never imagined that she would become as wildly popular as she is now,” Braha says. “I mean, you’re posting these pictures, and people liked them, but it was no big deal at first. … But in the last two months, she’s gone from 100,000 to [almost 500,000] followers.”
And Marnie has quite a few A-list fans — here are 10 of our favorite shots from her star-studded Instagram:
One of Marnie’s first celebrity encounters was with comedian Hannibal Buress, who bonded with the pup at last year’s South By Southwest festival, where Braha was working on a series for MTV. “There was one day I wasn’t shooting, so I thought I’d bring Marnie out with me, so she wasn’t sad and alone at the hotel,” she remembers. “We were hanging out for a while with Hannibal Buress, and I snapped the pic for fun.”
“I never thought I’d meet Marnie the dog, but today we got some morning coffee,” James Franco wrote last week, after Instagram staffers arranged a photo shoot for him to meet Marnie.
Luckily, Braha was more than prepared for the meeting: “I have like a little box of props that I have saved up for Marnie,” she says. “I had these little Mexican hats from when I shot a Mexican hat dance video with Marnie, so I just put some of them in a bag, and then I was just showing James all of them, and he was just like, ‘OK, let’s do the tiny hats!’”
Singer Demi Lovato recently invited Marnie backstage for one of her New York City appearances. “We actually got an email from [her] team, like, ‘Demi wants to hang out with you backstage,’ and we got to hang out with her in her green room,” Braha recalls. “She was so nice.”
Fellow pop star Joe Jonas reached out to Marnie after celebrating National Doughnut Day. “Joe Jonas found a picture of Marnie on Instagram — the one with the doughnuts — and he liked it, and he posted it to his Instagram,” Braha says. “And then I commented on it, ‘Oh, this is me!’ And then he messaged me on Instagram, saying he wanted to meet up. Then when we got invited to the Demi Lovato concert, he was going to be there, so, we took a picture there.”
Marnie was lucky to meet “The Tonight Show’s” own Questlove during a recent trip to Los Angeles, where they went to promote a fundraiser for a dog adoption center. “I went there to talk about it, two days before the actual event, and Questlove just happened to be there,” Braha says.
Marnie hung out with Tina Fey at — where else? — 30 Rock. While visiting the building to meet with Jimmy Fallon’s staff, they had a serendipitious run-in in the lobby. “I looked to my right, and all of a sudden, there’s Tina Fey!” Braha remembers. “What are the chances? It was like the one time I was at 30 Rock. Bam! Tina Fey. So, I felt shy asking her, but I was like, ‘She’s standing right next to me. I have to ask.’ So, I was really nervous, and I was like, ‘Uh, can you take a picture with my dog?’ And I got it.”
“Broad City” stars Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer had been filming their Comedy Central series near Braha’s home, and Marnie caught their eye. “I hung out there for a little bit, and the crew really fell in love with Marnie,” Braha says. “And I said, ‘Well, if Abbi and Ilana want to take a picture after [they film the scene], I would love that.’ So, after they wrapped up shooting, they took a pic.”
“Girls” star Lena Dunham didn’t recognize Marnie as a social media celebrity. “She was filming in the West Village, and I was walking my dog, and I knew that they were filming, and she was walking towards me, and she sees me holding Marnie, and she starts screeching, ‘Oh, my God! That is the cutest dog I’ve ever seen!’” Braha says. “She was just amazed at how cute this dog was.”
Like Dunham, Jonah Hill also was stopped in his tracks by Marnie’s mug. “I was just walking my dog in SoHo, and some guy just shouted, ‘Oh, my God, that dog is so cute!’” Braha recalls. “And I looked, and I thought, ‘This might or might not be Jonah Hill, but I will let this man touch my dog.’ We started talking, and I was like, ‘OK, this is definitely Jonah Hill,’ and I asked him if I could take a picture, and he was more than happy to do it.”
As someone who’s been known to stick out her tongue on occasion, Miley Cyrus gravitated toward Marnie. “She had a small after-party, and I got in through a friend of a friend,” Braha says. “She saw Marnie’s head poking out of my bag, and the rest is history.”
Braha said she hopes Marnie inspires more people to adopt older dogs.
“Statistically, older dogs have a much tougher time getting adopted than puppies, but older dogs are just as sweet, if not sweeter,” Braha added. “If you get an older dog in a shelter, they’re so appreciative that someone was willing to take them in their old age, and take care of them.”