You would think that sudden international fame and adulation might go to a dog’s head, but not Jenny the stroller-pushing pug from Portland, Ore. The little doggie became, quite literally, an overnight internet sensation after her human parents Ellen and Mark Zessin posted a YouTube video of her pushing her toy pug babies in a pink stroller past the city’s landmarks.
The video, which was intended as a note-from-home from the Zessins to their son Steve, a graduate student in video game programming at the University of Central Florida, attracted 50,000 viewers in its first day on YouTube. Soon the Zessins were taking calls from ABC, NBC, FOX, The Late Show with David Letterman, and a local news program that’s made Jenny its mascot in billboards around her hometown. Next came mentions in the New York Daily News, the London Telegraph and on personal blogs around the world.
Despite the attention, the Zessins tell PEOPLE Pets that little Jenny, who celebrates her first birthday in October, has remained the same sweet pug she always was. “She’s just the most loving, amazing, playful dog,” Ellen, an artist and illustrator, tells us. “She’s very human-like. She’s kind of like a little person.”
Though Jenny herself was unable to come to the phone during our interview – she might have been tending to her Twitter page – Ellen wants fans to know a few of Jenny’s favorite things:
Jenny’s favorite color? “Pink. Everything she has is pink. The pink stroller, the pink parasol. She just looks so right with it. We have three sons so she’s our little girl.”
Jenny’s favorite food? “Cooked chicken. She just loves it!”
Hobbies? “She likes to go to the beach and body surf.”
Next up for Jenny? An action film! In a new clip, still being produced, Jenny and the Puglets, her duo of stuffed animals, tour the Oregon coast. (See pictures from the video, including Jenny standing on her pink body board, here.)
Ellen says she’s thrilled that her dog has an outlet for all her canine energy. “Jenny was always so active right from the start,” she tells PEOPLE Pets. “She just has a real knack for things. She’s very smart and very exuberant.”
So Jenny’s agility is not the result of special classes and rigorous training? “She did go to one obedience class,” Ellen says, laughing, “But she did very poorly. The truth is, she was always jumping up and being scolded for it. So I thought it would be fun to teach her a trick where she could jump up and do something fun. I just gave her some pieces of chicken at first to encourage her.” (See Jenny at 8 months old being trained by Ellen in this early video.)
“Now whenever she sees the stroller, she goes up to it and starts pushing it.” It helps, too, that Jenny is a ham. “She really does love the camera,” Ellen tells us.
Ellen has been inspired so much by Jenny and the effect she has had on people all over the world that she’s begun work on a children’s book about the pug, which she will illustrate.
“Some people watch the video and laugh, other people cry,” she says. “There’s just something about it. There’s something about Jenny. She’s magical.”
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