By Josh Saunders
An adorable ‘goofy’ looking dog is breaking the internet thanks to his unusual looks and love for costumes – drawing a barking mad two million followers.
Tuna, an eight-year-old chihuahua-dachshund-mix, has been melting hearts online due to his less than conventional appearance, caused by an exaggerated overbite, recessed jaw and wrinkly neck.
He was rescued from a Farmers Market in Los Angeles in 2010, by owner Courtney Dasher, 37, of Cleveland, Ohio, who initially intended to foster him.
But she quickly fell in love and after starting an Instagram account for him, the peculiar-looking pup others started to follow him.
She dressed Tuna in adorable costumes ranging from a ‘tuna sub sandwich’ to Cleopatra, a lion, Star Wars character Yoda and more.
Since then he’s gone onto internet fame and three-years-ago even led owner Courtney to meet future husband Ian Patterson, 28, while in London.
The family hope seeing Tuna online will encourage others to adopt and not shop, as well as giving a chance to dogs with special needs.
Mother-of-one, Courtney, said: “Tuna is very unconventional looking, his features are unique, there is something about his face and expression that gives people comic relief.
“They get a laugh and he bring them joy, I think he also has the ability to pull more at people’s heartstrings as he looks different to other animals.
“Tuna challenges people to recognise true beauty captivates our hearts not just our eyes.
“At first there is normally a judgement about how he is ‘ugly’ and people say cruel things like, ‘He should be thrown off a class as he wasn’t cute’
“But now I rarely get those commented and he is celebrated online, people find him adorable, they laugh and enjoy seeing his posts.
“There are so many people that are cast aside because they are not conventional but people need to give these dogs, like Tuna, a chance.
“Almost every time I take him out in public he is recognised, I will overhear them say ‘he looks like Tuna’, when I stop it will genuinely freak them out.
“I often get approached by people at the airport or if we’re eating in a restaurant on the patio some people will be bold enough to ask if it’s Tuna and ot have a photo.
“It’s such a joyful experience they are in shock and get really excited.”
Courtney recalls when she first saw Tuna and her determination to take him home due to being the underdog.
She added: “It was a special moment when I saw him, he wasn’t like all of the other puppies jumping at the cage to get attention, he looked so unwanted.
“He was shivering and appeared to be really unloved, he was the underdog with an underbite. I’ve always championed the underdog.
“I thought I would foster him for a while, but I fell in love and he joined the family, he’s such a sweet, sweet dog. I call him my ‘fur-st born.’”
Courtney started an Instagram page for Tuna in 2011 and after one image gaining traction a year later, he’s shot to fame exploding online.
This would allow his other to write a book, and also launch an annual calendar showcasing his most popular pictures and costumes.
“We annually produce a calendar, we included a Cleopatra costume, Lion photo, and more.
“I think it’s the expressions he pulls that make the photos.
“He has been a mermaid for Halloween, I normally try to dress him in something related to his name.
“One year he was a tuna sub sandwich another time he was a spicy tuna roll, so this time he was ‘tuna of the sea’.
“He’s a little boy, all mischievous with a pride about him and then at times he can also be a cantankerous old man in his 80s.”
Drawing attention ‘almost everywhere’ he goes, Tuna hopes to show others the importance of animal rescue.
Courtney added: “Since Tuna is the epitome of the underdog, most people advocate for him and adore him for his endearing qualities.
“His loyal followers embrace his physical differences, have fallen in love with his charm and connect to his message – that true beauty comes in all forms and radiates from within.”
For more information visit: www.tunameltsmyheart.com .