Crime was the focus of a Tuesday meet-and-greet held by Baltimore State’s Attorney candidate Thiru Vignarajah, but in a photo of the meeting posted on social media, it was one man’s intimate exchange with his dog that stole the show.
The Canton resident and his two-and-a-half-year-old Vizsla, Bruce, went viral after Baltimore Sun reporter Justin Fenton reposted a picture of Vignarajah speaking to a crowd in Johnson’s home. In the back, Johnson can be seen cradling Bruce in his lap, looking intently at the pup’s face. The tweet received more than 18,000 likes and over 4,000 retweets.
Social media users were amused with the photo, which was originally posted on Vignarajah’s Twitter page.
“I seriously need to know more,” tweeted one user.
“He’s aghast at the crime in the neighbourhood [sic],” tweeted another, and one user simply tweeted a picture of “Scooby Doo” character Shaggy holding his spooked-out cartoon canine Scooby-Doo.
Johnson, 30, said he was just trying to keep the peace while Vignarajah was speaking. Bruce had become restless.
“My dog was becoming quite impatient with no one playing with him, and I was worried he was going to start barking or whining loudly,” said Johnson, founder of husband resource app Remindher.
“He was going around to everybody here with different toys,” which was Bruce’s strategy in hopes of figuring out which toy would fit which new friend, Johnson said. But the owner, knowing that Bruce is a “loud player,” decided to distract him.
“I called him over and picked him up and pet him” — a method that gets Bruce to be “relatively calm and quiet,” he said.
“I was trying to keep the attention on Thiru rather than my dog,” but on social media, he said, it was the opposite of what happened.
Wednesday morning at work, Johnson learned he had gone viral. The CEO of Call Box, where Johnson also works, tagged him in an internal board posting, he said.
“He saw me in that picture, and he tried to figure out what’s going on,” said Johnson, adding that everyone started having questions about why he was holding the dog and why he had those people in his home. His boss was also surprised with how positive the comments were.
“Twitter can be such a nasty place. … Most of the comments are positive,” he said.
“We were very glad to have Thiru over, and now extra happy this silly photo is bringing a whole lot more attention to his campaign,” said Johnson.
“A lot of times I feel lucky to have Bruce,” he said, adding that Bruce often serves as “a bit of a deterrent” in his neighborhood, which has experienced muggings and robberies.
“It’s funny that as we’re talking about crime, my dog is now involved in that story.”
And there’s good news for Bruce. According to Vignarajah’s spokeswoman Sarah Frisch, the canine has been promoted to “director of PAWlicy for the campaign.”
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