The journalists at BuzzFeed News are proud to bring you trustworthy and relevant reporting about the coronavirus. To help keep this news free, become a member and sign up for our newsletter, Outbreak Today.
Rashida Ellis is a 38-year-old costume designer based in Atlanta. Although she’s not currently making outfits for TV and movies because of film production being halted in Georgia amid the coronavirus outbreak, she’s been busy working from home making clothes to sell online.
She hasn’t been alone at home, though. Keeping her company in her apartment is her 3-year-old English bulldog, Pop.
But Pop, like all of us, is having a rough (ruff?) time in quarantine.
“The sad thing is we have to social-distance even him,” Ellis told BuzzFeed News. “When he’s inside, he just walks out to the patio looking for people. He’s sleeping more. He’s a little sluggish. I can tell he’s not as happy and excited as he usually is. He’s probably tired of just me playing with him.”
Pop, you see, is a social creature. When Ellis takes him to film sets, he just wanders about alone, receiving pets from actors in their trailers like the good dog that he is.
But his favorite activity in the whole world is playing with the children in Ellis’s building, whether it be wrestling in the grass or jumping on a skateboard.
“He loves children and then other dogs and then adults,” Ellis said. “In that order.”
Separated from his friends, all Pop can do is mope. “When he’s in his sad mood,” said Ellis, “I always say, ‘Cheer up, Popsicle!’ — I call him Popsicle — ‘I want you to be happy!'”
As she was working on Tuesday afternoon, Ellis noticed Pop on the patio staring down at a pair of young brothers playing in the courtyard.
“He kept making noises to get their attention, but we’re six stories up and they can’t hear him,” she said. “I was like, Oh my god, he’s really sad.“
Ellis snapped a picture of Pop looking absolutely crestfallen and depressed. When she shared it on Twitter, it immediately went viral.
Ellis’s tweet was liked and retweeted tens of thousands of times, and “Big Poppa” soon became a top trending topic in the US.
“Normally, I’ll post a picture of Pop and two people will like it,” she said. “And now it’s everyone in every different country!”
Indeed, people were falling hard for Pop — including Game of Thrones star Maisie Williams.
They hated that the world had done this to him.
And they shared pictures of their own sad quarantine pups to let Pop know he wasn’t alone.
Ellen DeGeneres and others urged the world to obey the quarantine rules now so that Big Poppa can go back to being with his friends soon.
Ellis said she’s been overwhelmed by all the love for her pooch. But she thinks she knows why the picture has found such a huge audience.
“I think when people look at that photo, we can all relate right now. We can’t do the things that we used to do, we can’t hang out with our friends,” she said. “I think it just happened to be this dog — and not only is he so sad and cute and you want everything to change for him, but you want everything to change for yourself, too, because we’re all in this situation.”
Big Poppa, we love you and we will get through this together.