7 years, 579 dogs: One photographer's labor of leashes

Jan. 31, 2012 at 12:00 PM ET

Jon Sung /
Dog 573: Did we just assume house elves became free everywhere after the last Harry Potter, or did rich wizards still manage to hang onto theirs? It's been a while since I've read the books, people.

On Jan. 31, 2005, Jon Sung launched Dogblog, where he posts photos of dogs in his San Francisco neighborhood on a leashes tied to poles, patiently waiting for their owners, complete with his own commentary on their internal "thoughts" and personalities.

Today, 7 years later, Sung has posted a total of 579 photos on the blog (now on Tumblr), and has no intention of stopping anytime soon. The 32-year-old freelance advertising copywriter, musician, and self-described ''minor baron of the internet'' was psyched to let us post some of his photos (shot with a point-and-shoot digital and his smartphone) and tell us about a hobby that has turned into just a little bit of an obsession.

Jon Sung /
The first photo.

When and why did you start this project? I used to live in the Noe Valley district of San Francisco, where a lot of people tend to walk around with their dogs; when they see a store they want to go inside, they just tie their dog to a parking meter and go inside (though this behavior isn't limited to the Noe Valley, it was the first time I encountered it). Something about the dogs and the looks on their faces struck me as hilarious, so I just started taking their pictures with the digital camera I had on me most of the time. These pictures went into a folder on my computer called "Pictures of Forlorn Dogs," which I kept for my own amusement. After a while, it occurred to me that people might want to see these and laugh at them, too, so I put them up on the internet in a series of extremely crudely constructed hand-coded HTML pages. After I'd gotten to about 100 dogs, maintaining the links between each page got to be tiresome, so I switched to Blogger, and later to Tumblr. Wait, this got off-track. I started doing it because I thought these dogs were the funniest thing I'd ever seen, and put them up on the internet both to share the hilarity and find out if anyone else was seeing what I was seeing.

Jon Sung /
Dog 142: This is probably definitely the harness talking, but don't you think if you put some goofy fake reindeer antlers on him, you'd essentially have the dog from that Seuss Grinch book?

Do you own a dog? I don't personally own a dog; the realities of city living make this a tough prospect for me, but I've had occasional housemates who've owned dogs, and that's been good enough. Growing up, I had a German shepherd named Mac who was mostly an outdoor dog, but cemented my love of large, furry dogs with triangular ears.

Jon Sung /
Dog 153: I know it's hard to see 'cause he's all one color, but check out the forlorn look on this dude's face. He doesn't even know what a fashion statement he's making with that red collar, because he's too busy cueing up the most emo album ever made on his mental stereo.
Jon Sung /
Dog 424: I'm not saying we're done pointing fingers at each other over the global economic situation, but Professor Ephraim Mercury Jackladder Maresdamn here is pretty sure he should have been consulted when this whole thing first started to go sideways down the wheelspout, if you know what he means.
Jon Sung /
Dog 456: "Look, the assignment was really quite simple. Three pages, double-spaced, ten-point font, and no tricks with the margins. Did you even do the reading? No. No, I'm afraid extra credit will be out of the question this time around."

Have you ever seen a dog who perhaps was abandoned or who didn’t look well taken care of? I've never encountered an ill-treated dog here in San Francisco. I did see one once with one of those cage-like muzzles around his snout, whose need became obvious when I paused to consider taking his photo and he lunged at me, barking angrily. The Hannibal Lecter of dogs, or at least Hannibal in a bad mood.

Jon Sung /
Dog 571: If there are any countries that are enemies with us right now, our best bet is to send this guy over as a first step toward establishing diplomatic relations.

You’ve been doing this for 7 years now – did you ever imagine you would do it this long, and do you ever plan to stop? I'm positive I never intended to maintain it this long, but I'm not sure I had a clear end date in mind when I began, either. I think I underestimated the comedy potential of dogs: You can see an evolution of a sort in my commentary style from the start to where it is now, which I can't really explain. Dogs will never stop being hilarious, I think is the key takeaway.

Jon Sung /
Dog 574: If you're throwing a party and you want to make sure your guests don't miss the turn on their way to your estate, don't just put some balloons on a post and call it a day. Leave your butler there, too, so he can answer any questions with the dry sparkling wit for which you hired him in the first damn place.


Do you have a favorite dog ever? It's really hard to identify a favorite dog in my frankly somewhat daunting archive, but I can tell you that I get extra excited when I see a Welsh corgi tied up to something. The corgi is hands-down the funniest dog currently in existence; I think it has something to do with their disproportionately tiny legs and constant doggy grins.

Jon Sung /
Dog 570: Corgi owners, you're on notice: the rest of us all wonder what it's like to have one of these. Specifically, we wonder what it's like to get home at the end of a long workday and see him come barrelling up to you on his tiny, tiny legs, barking with excitement and wagging his entire ridiculous body. You don't have to tell us it's great. We're imagining it on our own.
Finch Linden /
The man behind the blog, Jon Sung. He describes his simple mission at the bottom of his Tumblr: "As I walk around San Francisco, I encounter dogs tied to things, take their pictures, and offer them up to the world with whatever commentary springs to mind. Enjoy."
Jon Sung /
The most recent entry, dated Jan. 25, 2012 is Dog 579: It pays to remember that there definitely exists a point past which "one more drink" becomes a terrible, terrible idea.

See all of Dogblog's photos here. (Warning: Some of the captions contain some profanity, so just be forewarned!)

We're looking for your adorable mutts. Send us your photos and they may be posted in Animal Tracks.

This was posted by TODAY.com supervising producer Susan Houriet, who doesn't own a dog but loves looking at photos of them all day.