Watching videos of this Maine dog jumping into a big leaf pile is a good way to start the weekend
Perhaps you’ve seen it in your Twitter feed or Facebook stream, a brief respite from the constant breaking-news cycle and fraught political commentary: a video of a yellow labrador retriever racing from the back of a station wagon and diving straight into a massive pile of leaves.
Her name is Stella. She’s 5 years old. And she’s from Maine.
The short clip of Stella has resonated with people across the country this week, racking up millions of views online for both its simplicity and goofy charm, her owner said. It was even on the TODAY show.
“I think that there’s a couple of reasons” it’s going viral, said Jody Hartman, Stella’s owner. “People just love watching a happy dog. I also think these days, with such a terrible political environment and so much negativity, it takes people out of that — it’s a little escapism.”
In the 38-second video, Stella is seen charging full speed from the back of the vehicle, leaping into the leaf pile, and disappearing completely.
It was shared Thursday by Clint Falin, a user on Twitter, quickly melting the hearts of the many who watched it.
“This has literally saved my day,” one person responded to the video, which was viewed 7.8 million times from Falin’s account.
Hartman hears that a lot.
“I get messages, nonstop, from people saying that, ‘This made my day, this made me happy,’ ” he said. “This one has the simplicity and cuteness and fun a lot of viral videos have. And the seasonal aspect of it too.”
Stella is obsessed with leaves, her owner said. And similar videos of the dog running around in the family’s yard serve as proof.
One recent clip shows Stella wearing butterfly wings and pouncing into the massive leaf pile, which Hartman has dubbed “Mount St. Stelens,” before getting consumed by the fall debris.
Another, also taken this week, shows a content Stella hiding in the pile, nothing but her head (it blends in with the leaves) sticking out.
“She doesn’t always jump in with such force,” Hartman said. “A lot of the times she grabs a toy and just goes in. That’s her happy place.”
This isn’t Stella’s first time entertaining people on the Internet.
Hartman, who grew up in Maine but lived in Boston for several years doing marketing for the New England Patriots, has made something of a business out of hanging with his four-legged friend. He runs Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube accounts, called “Dog Named Stella,” where he “doguments” her escapades.
Hartman, who has a background in video production, said it all started back in 2014, when he uploaded a montage video of Stella running across the lawn and then dragging her back legs behind her before lying down. The video, called “Stella’s Dog Brakes,” has been viewed more than 7.9 million times.
“I posted that video, and when I posted it, it blew up completely unexpectedly,” Hartman said. “That’s when I was like ‘whoa.’ I couldn’t believe the popularity and how fast it had happened.”
From there, the Stella-branded content grew, with one particular video tugging at the heartstrings of the dog’s fanbase.
In 2016, Hartman created a short documentary about the bond shared between his son, Luke, who was born with clubfoot, and Stella, who has bionic knees after having them replaced.
“They both had surgeries, and I documented their entire struggle together,” Hartman said, “and how they helped each other.”
These days — especially given the fall season — Hartman is mostly sharing clips of Stella’s leaf obsession. But soon, she’ll have to say goodbye to her pile because winter is coming.
“We have way too many leaves in my yard,” Hartman said. “I have to get rid of them.”
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SOUND ON 🍁🍂 Stella fun fact 1: she has bionic knees from bilateral TPLO surgery Stella not so fun fact: She’s more prone to arthritis Stella fun fact 2: She eats @happyhempies Joint Support chews every day (morning to be exact), cause she’s got super important, arthritis-free Stella things to do Stellapproved ingredients include: glucosamine, chondritin, hemp oil #keepbeingyou #happyhempies #dognamedstella