Pets & Animals

Student sets up Twitter account @OliverBarkBark that tweets every time dog barks

Twitter has gone to the dogs.

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University of Virginia student Henry Conklin has created a Twitter account that he says tweets every time his dog, Oliver Twitch, barks.

Tom Conklin
A student at the University of Virginia, Henry Conklin says he's created a computer program that tweets every time his dog, Oliver, barks.

"My dog Oliver has always been quite vocal, and recently I decided that his thoughts and comments needed to be shared with the world," reads the introduction to Conklin's related blog post, published Monday. "Thus the @OliverBarkBark project was born."

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Henry Conklin
Henry Conklin describes his dog Oliver as "very curious, he always seems to be trying to understand what's in front of him."

Studying mathematics and computer science as a UVA sophomore this fall, the 19-year-old student told TODAY.com via email that he began brainstorming "ridiculous things to connect to the Internet" after a chat he had with his father.

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"I thought of connecting Oliver to Twitter because he's always seemed very interested in what you say to him; he will maintain eye contact as long as you talk to him and I thought it would be great if he started trying to talk back," he wrote in his email.

Using a Raspberry Pi mini-computer, a Wi-Fi connection and a microphone, Conklin blogged that he'd created a "system that automatically detected, filtered, and published each and every one of Oliver’s deafening vocalizations." In addition to filtering out unrelated "junk" noises that aren't dog utterances, Conklin refined his equipment to detect differences between a "bark," a "woof" and a "ruff."

With 275 followers as of early Wednesday evening, Oliver's Twitter account first posted an update June 25, when it offered a simple, yet resounding, "Bark!"

Although other tweets were issued July 3 and July 7, the account got much livelier this weekend, when a string of woofs, barks and ruffs started to be unleashed on a more regular basis. Conklin offered this explanation to TODAY.com: "I made the account back at the end of June, but he just started live tweeting this Sunday."

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Oliver seemed particularly chatty Wednesday, when the dog reportedly said, among other things, "Woof bark. Ruff ruff. Woof. Ruff. Bark. Woof! Bark!"

Conklin announced future plans to incorporate a "bark-to-text translator that will likely produce similar results but be more accurate to Oliver’s actual voice," he wrote in his blog post.

A photo posted by Tom Conklin (@gravyboot) on

In response to those who may wonder if Conklin's manually tweeting barks and woofs, he's published the computer code that he says proves Oliver's the one doing all the talking. In addition, he told TODAY.com, "I'm going back to school soon and waking up to bark at the mailman at 7:30 for Twitter would be too much effort."

Oliver looks tough but he's a big softy. He likes a fort during a thunder storm.

A photo posted by Tom Conklin (@gravyboot) on

The funniest part of putting this all together, he told TODAY.com, was figuring out which accounts @OliverBarkBark should follow. "My sister and I decided on things like the Postal Service, something involving tennis, and various famous cat-related accounts," Conklin added.

Conklin's father, Tom, has been getting a kick out of this social-media experiment.

Tom Conklin
"Woof woof!" Henry Conklin's dog, Oliver Twitch, reportedly said Aug. 19. "Woof ruff ruff."

"Henry has ridiculous programming skills that he likes to direct towards the ridiculous," Tom told TODAY.com via email. "He tells me that Oliver will be making stock picks soon as well."

Follow TODAY.com writer Chris Serico on Twitter.

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