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About

Birthday Dog is the nickname given to Riley, a bichon frise/poodle mix dog, after a photo of him sitting in a human-like pose at a kitchen table on his birthday was shared on Reddit in February 2010. The dog is known for his unique facial expression that makes him appear to be under the influence.

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Origin

The photo was taken by California resident Maureen Ravelo[3], Riley's owner, in February 2010. She posted it on her personal Facebook account where her friend, John Lipari[1] saw it. He posted the photo to Reddit[2] on February 23rd, 2010, where it received 6,112 upvotes and 3,326 points overall. Many of the comments pointed out the dog's smile and half-shut eyes, which made the animal appear to be under the influence of marijuana.

Spread

The original photo was reposted on Buzzfeed[8] the same day. Later in 2010, it appeared on People Magazine Pets[11], Metro[12], and the Huffington Post.[10] On March 5th, 2010, series of photoshopped images featuring Riley were posted to Buzzfeed[9] as well as humor site Heavy.[7]

On April 8th, The Today Show brought Ravelo and Riley on the show squashing the rumor that the dog was under the influence of any drugs. Their visit to NYC was covered by Ravelo's local NBC station[13] in the Bay Area.

In December 2010, entertainment site UGO[14] named Birthday Dog one of the best memes of 2010. Photos of Riley continue to be posted on Tumblr with the tag "birthday dog."[17] There is also a Facebook fan page[21], Memegenerator[18] and two Quickmeme[19][20] pages for Riley.

Riley's Second Birthday

On January 15th, 2011, Ravelo posted a photo of Riley's second birthday on Reddit[6], mirroring his original photograph. This image was reposted on the Daily Mail[15] and Buzzfeed.[16] As of April 2012, Ravelo occasionally posts photographs of Riley on her personal Tumblr[4] and Flickr.[5]

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Usage in North Korean Propaganda

In early July 2015, North Korea's state-run news agency Korean Central Television (KCTV) aired a special episode of Today's World, a current affairs talk show program wherein a panel of pundits offer their commentaries on international news stories with a heavy slant against the United States and South Korean governments, titled "Dissecting the State of Human Rights in the U.S." In one particular segment of the program, the original photograph of Riley the Birthday Dog is shown on screen as a typical example of extravagant and lavish lifestyles sought after by Americans, set in juxtaposition to the panelists describing the widening wealth gap and issues of poverty and homelessness across the country. On July 2nd, the video recording of the segment surfaced on Voice of Korea's YouTube channel (shown below).

On the following day, the English-language North Korean news-monitoring site NK News[22] reported on KCTV's misappropriation of Riley's photograph in an article, along with a commentary from the director of NK Intellectuals Solidarity Kim Heung-kwang, who added that the gaffe is yet another "hilarious" episode illustrating the hardship of North Korean TV producers when it comes to acquiring a specific file, image or video, especially without proper access to the Internet. In the coming days, the news story was picked up by a number of major English-language news publications, including the Washington Post[23], The Guardian[25] and Mashable[24], among others.

Examples

Search Interest

While "birthday dog" is a fairly generic search phrase, online interest in the meme began to pick up in February 2010, peaking in April that same year.

External References

[1] Reddit – neoneo185's profile

[2] Reddit – Epic dog. It was his birthday.

[3] Twitter – @maureenravelo

[4] Tumblr – Ravelo's posts tagged "Riley"

[5] Flickr – Riley (a.k.a. "Birthday Dog")

[6] Reddit – Riley turns 2 – he gets treats AND a cupcake wtf?!

[7] Heavy – Top 10 Stoned Birthday Dog Photoshops

[8] Buzzfeed via Wayback Machine –
Stoner Dog Celebrates Birthday

[9] Buzzfeed – Birthday Dog is Stoked

[10] The Huffington Post –

[11] People Pets – Say Treat! Smiling Dog Becomes an Internet Sensation

[12] Metro via Wayback Machine – Smiley Riley, the dog with a human grin

[13] NBC Bay Area – Riley the Smiling Dog Paints the Town in New York

[14] UGO via Wayback Machine – Internet Memes of 2010 That Still Make Us LOL

[15] Daily Mail – Cheese! Riley the smiley dog celebrates his second birthday with a toothy grin and a cupcake

[16] Buzzfeed via Wayback Machine – Stoner Dog Celebrates His Second Birthday

[17] Tumblr – Posts tagged "birthday dog"

[18] Memegenerator via Wayback Machine – Stoned Birthday Dog

[19] Quickmeme – Birthday Dog

[20] Quickmeme – Stoned Birthday Dog

[21] Facebook – Birthday Dog

[22] NK News – N.Korean media uses ‘birthday dog’ meme to make point

[23] The Washington Post – North Korea says this smiling dog eating a birthday cake is what’s wrong with America

[24] Mashable – The stoner 'birthday dog' meme shows up in North Korean propaganda

[25] The Guardian – 'Riley the birthday dog' used by North Korea as evidence of western decadence



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