Breaking News
More () »

Maine's own 'Dog named Stella' still making people smile online

Stella and her partner in mischief, Mabel, have a combined following of 1.5 million on their social media platforms. The videos are sure to make you laugh out loud.

FREEPORT, Maine — Almost eight years after going becoming an online sensation, Maine's own 'Dog named Stella' is still growing her following on social media and making people smile.

The yellow lab is best known for jumping into piles of leaves and demolishing snowmen and sticks in her backyard in Freeport. Each moment is captured on camera by her owner, Jody Hartman.

In fact, the videos are so popular that Hartman has taken on the role of Stella's social media manager and video editor full-time. It's a decision that came shortly after the first video of the yellow lab went viral back in summer 2008.

"She does this behavior where while she's running, she drops her legs and sort of drags her legs across the ground, and I just thought it looked funny. So, I filmed it a couple of times, and I didn't think much of it, didn't even post it," Hartman said. "Then, a couple days later, I said, 'Maybe I'll try to just see what happens if I put this on Youtube. I didn't really have any followers on Youtube at all. Nothing really happened."

However, that all changed when Hartman shared the video on Reddit a couple of days later. He said he remembered going to get his haircut right after he posted the video, and by the end of his appointment, his phone was blowing up.

"My phone won't stop ringing, and I don't know what's going on," Hartman said. "I check my email and realize that this video went viral as soon as I posted it on Reddit. It got like 5 million views within three hours. And then it became the number one video in the world on Youtube and it stayed there for three days."

Stella has been an internet sensation ever since and goes by the handle @dognamedstella. Her following on all of her social media platforms combined is roughly 1.5 million. Now, she even has a partner in mischief named Mabel. Or, unstable Mabel as her friends like to call her.

There is no fancy equipment. Hartman uses his iPhone and basic editing software to create the videos. However, he said the process is a lot harder than it looks, and being able to separate his life from his work can be tough. 

Another challenge is getting enough eyes on a video to make it go viral. Hartman said the algorithms and success rates are very unpredictable. And every time he thinks he has it figured out, he's proven wrong.

"I tell people this all the time. I'll work hard on a video, and it will be all creative. And it may not grab your attention right off the bat, but I'll be really proud of it and I'll put a lot of work into it, and it won't do that well," Hartman said. "Then, I'll post a video of, like, Stella eating a carrot in slow motion, and I will get like 10 million views. You just never know. It's really bizarre."

Bizarre, sure. But it's working.

Hartman said the comments and messages he receives about the videos shared online remind him Stella and Mabel are making a difference in people's lives. He's heard from kindergarten teachers to people who are sick or in the hospital about the impact they've had.

"People are really coming here every single day to just get joy and it's really affecting people everywhere," Hartman said. "That's what keeps us going, for sure, because you can get burnt out on social media. But that's what keeps us going."

That joy doesn't seem to be going anywhere, anytime soon.

"Stella is 10 years old. I think she's got a lot of time and a lot of energy left," Hartman said. "I think I'll [continue to] make dog videos, I don't see any end to it really."

More NEWS CENTER Maine stories

Before You Leave, Check This Out