ATLANTA — Hunched over, looking defeated and forlorn, just wanting to go outside and play - a three-year-old English bulldog in Atlanta unexpectedly became the national face of the quarantine Wednesday.
His owner, Atlanta costume designer Rashida Ellis, tweeted out the picture last night, and tweeted out a simple, heartrending message:
"Big Poppa has been so sad today, I think he miss playing with the kids in the building. He just watches them from the patio."
Makes you wanna cheer him up, right? Well, it turns out it made everyone wanna cheer him up.
"Big Poppa" - his real name is Pop - was one of the top trending topics on Twitter for the entire U.S. for much of Wednesday afternoon. Ellis' original post has gotten more than 400,000 likes, and been noticed by the likes of "Game of Thrones" star Maisie Williams - "not being dramatic but I would literally die for big poppa," she wrote - to Ellen. Ellen!
"The crazy thing is I didn't even notice Ellen," Ellis told 11Alive. "I didn't even see Ellen until someone else commented under her post and they kept, like, tagging me, and I was like, 'Okay guys I'm gonna respond to all of Pop's things,' and I was like, 'Oh! It's Ellen!' That's how crazy it's been."
The message that the picture seems to convey, articulated by Ellen and others, and which has resonated so widely is a simple one: Let's all stick with it, together, so that we might go back outside sooner.
If not for you - surely, then, for Big Poppa.
"I would have never guessed that my dog would be the face of the quarantine," Ellis said. "But I get why people are relating to it. We're all going through this right now. He's cute, but he's also sad, he misses his friends - and I'm like, 'I'm the same way! I miss my friends!' And then his little rolls, I think just sent people into emotional overload."
Pop is a "very social dog," Ellis explained, and now, under quarantine, "it's just me and him."
"So it's like, 'Oh God. He can see everyone (from the balcony), he can see his friends if they come outside, sometimes a kid or so will be on the courtyard or another dog. So he watches like literally almost all day long," Ellis said.
She said maintaining social distance has been hard for Pop - they went to pick up food from their favorite restaurant, Papi's in Midtown, and were able to waive across the street to her friend and her friend's son, who sometimes babysit the bulldog.
He wanted to say, "hi," real bad.
Big Poppa, Atlanta's most famous dog
But, she says - even with some things opening back up Friday here in Georgia - she and Pop will continue to stay at home.
"We're gonna just continue to do what we've been doing, staying at home, flattening the curve," she said. "For us, Atlanta, I think we've done at least a good job of staying in, so, hopefully a lot of us continue to do that."
As for how Pop will take advantage of his newfound fame?
"I had some requests of people asking for their birthday - if I can write a sign and put it in front of Pop so he can do birthday shout outs," Ellis said, laughing. "And I was like, 'You know what, I can do that. I can do that. So we're gonna start with Pop giving out his free birthday shout outs for whoever needs them and we'll see from there."