Jason Hardesty has a serious case of puppy love.
Hardesty says he first took photos of some pooches when he got assigned a new route about two years ago.
“I just saw a really cute dog and asked a customer if I can take a picture of their dog,” he told TODAY.
From there, the idea blossomed and he created the #pupsofjay hashtag. Hardesty, who’s been driving for UPS for seven years, remains modest about his account.
“I’m not trying to go anywhere with it. It’s just a fun hobby,” he said.
Jami Attenberg, a novelist who owns a puggle named Sid, is one of the people who lives on Hardesty’s route. It was one of her tweets, posted on Wednesday, that helped spark awareness of Hardesty and his hashtag.
“I have extremely important news and it is this: my sweet UPS guy has a hashtag of all the dogs in the neighborhood,” she wrote, along with a link to the #pupsofjay Instagram page.
Attenberg said she learned about the page when Hardesty mentioned it to her when they bumped into each other while she was out with Sid.
“I am genuinely delighted that my tweet introduced so many people to something that made them so happy,” she said in an email to TODAY.
Plan for When You’re Not There. Make sure your pets are provided for during those long hours when you’re away. Dr. Becker suggests technological options. “DOGTV has stimulation and relaxation channels, and there are apps that control contraptions that talk to your pet, or dispense treats. Pheromone sprays can also reduce anxiety, creating that kumbaya atmosphere.” And, of course, daycare and dog walkers are a great way to enrich your pet’s day. “Know someone who wants exercise? Maybe they’ll walk your dog.”
While news of the account has spread, Hardesty doesn’t let the hobby overshadow his actual job.
“I discipline myself to only take photos on Friday nights,” he said, noting he does so because that’s the start of the weekend. He also keeps it to one day a week in order to make sure his Instagram page doesn’t get overrun with our four-legged friends. “I don’t want it to be a dog account,” he said.
Attenberg thinks Hardesty’s endeavor is wholesome entertainment that we all need.
“There’s a lot of garbage on the internet — people can be made so anxious by it — so it was nice to offer some relief for the day,” she said.
“We deserve some simple pleasures. Also it was a reminder that the people we interact with every day in small ways can actually have a big impact on our life. I loved seeing how many of my neighbors came out on social media talking about how much they (and their dogs) loved him and how he makes their day.”
Kathie Lee Gifford talks about her dogs' unconditional love
INTERESTING FACT ABOUT YOUR PET: Nearly 80 million U.S. households have a pet, and 42 percent of those households have more than one, according to a 2015-2016 survey by the APPA. There are 77.8 million pet dogs in the U.S. and 85.8 million pet cats.