Confession: I follow a lot of dogs on Instagram. I guess it’s not so much a confession as it is a simple description who I am: the type of person who’d rather peruse pictures of strangers’ dogs than of my own friends and family.
this dog literally failed every single test thrown at him to become a service dog and i am scream laughing. but imho he’s still a very very good boy. pic.twitter.com/fGdiUbmw5o
— kim. (@KimmyMonte) February 25, 2020
For people like me, there are plenty of famous internet dogs from which to choose. Mostly they fall into a few basic categories. There are dogs that think they’re people and enjoy (tolerate?) playing dress up, like Menswear dog, ugly-cute dogs like Marnie and Tuna, unconventionally cute dogs like Norbert and Boo (RIP), your giant fluffers a la ChowderTheBearDog and Elvis Barksley (RIP, Elvis Barksley, long live Elvis Barksley Jr.), and all manner of chonks, snausages, and good bois.
Then there’s Mister Bubz, an internet dog who seems to belong to a category all his own: the misanthropic dog. Sure, you could call him a canine Grumpy Cat, but Grumpy Cat only looks grumpy. Mister Bubz shot to kind-of fame in August 2018, thanks to a video in which a man kisses Mister Bubz and says he loves him, while Bubz growls and hisses. Bubz then notices the woman behind the camera and seems to go into a trance-like state. She says “I caught you,” and Bubz snarls at her.
I don’t think it’s too hyperbolic to say that it’s unlike any internet dog video I’ve seen (and friends, I’ve seen a lot). Mister Bubz is cute, sure, but also a brilliant comedic actor.
The man, it turns out (known on Mister Bubz’ instagram page as “Garbageman”) is James, the roommate of Lizze Gordon (“motherwife”), an LA filmmaker who adopted Mister Bubz from a friend earlier that year. Gordon wishes to clarify that James, who lives with Gordon and her fianceé, is not her boyfriend, as previously reported. “Buzzfeed published that he was my boyfriend,” Gordon said. “And that’s been hurting his game out in these streets. Which does make me feel very respected, I have to say.”
So allow us to correct the record here.
I had so many questions for Gordon. Mostly about Mister Bubz’ family dynamic (Mister Bubz inspires one to invent backstories to explain him, that’s part of his appeal), but also what it’s like owning an internet dog in an analog world. Mister Bubz employs a team of lawyers. Mister Bubz has met Ozzy Osbourne and Jenny McCarthy.
Of course, it’s not all fun and games. A few months back, a dog I follow (a phrase that is its own joke but also true), the aforementioned Elvis Barksley, got sick and died at the age of four. It’s a pretty big bummer to have dog death in your feed but if you’re going to share in the ups you can share in the downs too, I suppose. Then a few days after that, Barksley’s mom posted a picture of the dog’s dead body. Apparently some of her followers had accused her of faking the dog’s death (no, I do not know why someone would do this either) leading her to take this step. It’s a strange world we’ve built for ourselves, isn’t it?
I wanted to know more about navigating this world, and about the psychological underpinnings of the internet’s favorite dog misanthrope. I reached out to Lizze Gordon and she was happy to elaborate.
So when Mister Bubz first went viral, was that the YouTube video or was that from Instagram?
It was just an Instagram video that I posted on my story, and then my friend James, who’s the guy in the videos, he posted it on his timeline because we had it for a while and his family just thought it was so funny and he kept asking me to send him the link over and over. He posted it and then our girlfriend who has some followers on Instagram posted it and then it went viral. I made the Mister Bubz Instagram after he went viral.
So when did you get him? How old is he?
He’s five now. I got him from a friend of mine who’s a 20-year-old girl. She took him from her old roommate who couldn’t have a dog anymore and she was going to have him in this apartment and it just didn’t seem like a good situation to me. So she had him for two nights and then I was like, are you sure you want the responsibility of a dog? Because that’s a forever choice. You can’t just have a dog for a year. She said, “No, you’re right, I can’t do it.” I was actually in the middle of a really shitty business meeting that day — I wound up just packing up my stuff and being like, “I don’t think this is going to work out,” and going and picking him up. That was on March 25th, 2018. I only remember the day because of the meeting.
What was the meeting about?
I direct and I write things and I was in a meeting to direct this web series that was independently produced and financed by this crazy woman. She was talking about the budget and how she was going to pay people, and I knew the rate that she was offering was an illegal rate. It was well below minimum wage, so I bailed.
So he wasn’t a puppy at that point.
No, he was three.
So then did you and Garbage Man live together at that point?
Yeah, we’ve been living together for a few years and I brought Bubz home and Garbage Man actually has a French bulldog, Jelly, and he had had this Boston terrier that passed away a year and a half before I got Bubz. So I’ve just been trying to bring another dog home because our French bulldog seems sad like she missed her buddy, and he and my fiancée both vetoed a bunch of pups that I tried to bring in. When it came down to Bubz, this girl was going to take him to a shelter and I couldn’t sit with that. So I just went and picked him up and brought him home. The whole conversation with the boys was like, “Lizze, this is James’s dog. When we move out of the house together, James takes Bubz,” all this stuff. I was actually calling Bubz Ernest at the time. His slave name was Coco. That’s his dead name. So when he came in I named him Ernest Beelzebub Homokay because that’s my fiancee’s last name. My fiancee actually was just like, “He looks like a little Bubz, like a little Mister Bubz.” Mister Bubz is what wound up sticking so that’s his name now.
Was there a Bubz person he was named after?
We actually have this really weird friend that we call Baby KY, but Baby KY is this short man who’s very stout. He’s a 30-year-old man in a 14-year-old Olympian gymnast’s body. We call him Bubz and Bubz reminds us of him to some degree. So that’s where that originated.
And then what was he like (the dog)?
He’s just a weirdo. At first, he really wouldn’t come out of his crate unless I was home, and if I left he was just in his crate doing sneaky, weird things and he took to me instantly and would not leave my side, was cuddled up with me, had to have physical contact at all times. We really realized quickly that he was my dog and not James’s dog.
Does Bubz not like James or is it all for show? Where does his crotchetiness come from?
It’s really weird. So at first we just noticed, like I said, Bubz wanted to be physically on my body at all times. I write a lot from home so Bubz can sit on me while I have my laptop in my lap and I’m working. We noticed that if anybody came into the room, and it doesn’t matter who they are, male, female, if they acknowledge me even with no words but just a smile and a wave, Bubz would do that thing. He would just go grrrrr from nowhere, just instantly.
Then we have this ongoing joke where it’s just like, “Hi, Bubaz”, and waving from the corner of the room and he would just get livid. Like, “Don’t talk to my mom!” So that’s really where it started. James loves all animals and he’s really good with all of them. Cats, birds, lizards, snakes, whatever. It’s very odd, but also very sweet. But he loves Bubz and Bubz definitely loves him too. My fiancee actually, every time Bubz is a dick, he’s like, “It’s only because you’re here.” I guess when I’m not there Bubz is very sweet.
So in the video you say, “I caught you!” Was that because you caught Bubz not growling at him and then he started growling when he noticed you?
Oh no, that’s just a line from Scary Movie. God, I don’t even remember the actors’ names, but there’s a scene where they’re in a movie theater and this woman’s just being really loud in the movie theater and she’s also pirating it with a camcorder and someone’s telling her to shut the fuck up and she won’t acknowledge it. Then she turns the camera on him and she goes, “Yeah, I got you. I got you on camera.” So I was just saying that line, because Bubz acknowledged the video was happening and he stopped growling for a moment. He’ll be popping off and then I’ll pull the camera out and he’ll pretend like he’s normal. You’re not fooling anybody. I see you. We all see you.
So is his growling, is it all for show? I can’t tell if it’s a genuine threat to bite or not.
I don’t think it’s a genuine threat because he does it for everything. When he wants his food, he does that. He’ll run through the house — in fact he’s doing it right now and I’m outside and nobody else was in the house. I just heard him yelp from inside, just barking. He’s mad because I’m not in there. He’s a loud boy. If it’s not a growl, it’s a little bit of a howl or just barking and he’ll nip at your shoes when he wants food.
What do you know about his breed?
We think he’s Chihuahua and Wiener dog, but he looks a lot like a possum to me.
Did you ever picture yourself running a viral dog Instagram account?
No. It’s very weird. It’s super LA and it’s… I don’t know, pretty funny. But yeah, no. I mean I always knew Bubz was special. I didn’t know it’d be like this, but yeah.
Do you guys meet with other famous Instagram dogs?
We haven’t met with other Instagram dogs. I talked to… Do you know who Tuna is?
Which one is that again?
Tuna is that hideous overbite, scraggly toothed Chihuahua. I think he’s cute but the best way to describe him is hideous. But we’ve only met people. We met with Ozzy Osborne, Jenny McCarthy, and I’ll do individual walks with fans, but I won’t take him into a meet-and-greet situation because I don’t want him to get overwhelmed and scared.
Did you follow other Instagram dogs before this?
Yeah. We all love dogs. We joke about the only things that we follow online are famous French Bulldogs. And we’re huge Grumpy Cat fans in the house. My friend’s a YouTuber and he met Doug the Pug in a collab meet up or whatever situation. He was like, “Doug the Pug is so well behaved and Mister Bubz is kind of an asshole.” It’s just like, “Whatever.”
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The rhythmic clanging of your specie’s utensils tolls the end of gaiety! All are to know that the time for frivolous acts has concluded! Your trash kisses are simply disgusting in these times of severity, Garbageman!! Unhand me you buffoon, for it is time for me to FEAST!!!
Yeah, seems unfair.
The other funny thing is he’ll make fun of me too because James and I are both writers and that’s our main focus. We don’t really do the Instagram thing, it just came upon us. But I’m working on a TV show and the showrunner was like, “Can we write a Bubz storyline?” It was just like, “Sure.” My friend who’s the YouTuber likes to make fun of me. He says stuff like, “Yeah, Doug the Pug’s parents thought they were musicians before Doug came into their life.”
What crazy stuff have you experienced because of running his Instagram account? I feel like dog Instagram accounts bring out a lot of crazy people.
There was one instance where we posted a video and we had the TV on in the background and at the time we didn’t remember what movie we were watching, but the movie in the background said, “If it was a white person I wouldn’t have even cared.” We didn’t hear it but somebody else heard it, and then we started dealing with this onslaught of the cancel culture and people calling us racist and all this, and we’re like, “There’s no way that we were watching anything that was even remotely racist in the house.” And this is going on like crazy, just a bunch of comments coming in. Like, “Explain yourselves, explain yourselves.” James actually saw it before I did and they were going to try and keep it a secret because I get more affected by that stuff than they do.
Then I saw it and we just spent three days googling the quote, trying to figure out what movie it came from, thinking about what kind of shit we could have been watching? Then a fan out of the blue just posted, “That’s from 22 Jump Street. That’s Jonah Hill’s character saying some crazy shit. They’re not racist.” But it is the scariest thing.
Then another time I took Bubz to the grocery store and had him in the grocery cart and just as we were leaving, the security guard told me to take the dog out of the cart. The video ends there, but before that happened, our friend Baby KY jokingly said off-camera, “Oh, he’s a service dog.” We just cut the video and I took Bubz out of the crate and I respected the security guard because I’m not an asshole. But just that one line of KY saying “he’s a service dog” in jest turned into everybody who has a service dog and the service dog community reaching out with crazy death threats. Like, “We’ll stomp your dog. You people are the worst. This is a felony offense.” “How dare you impersonate a service dog,” All this crazy stuff.
They thought it was like service dog stolen valor?
It’s a whole thing and I got too obsessed with it, but there’s this one Instagram page that has very few followers — I mean like 15,000 so it’s not nothing — and their whole thing is just about taking pictures from other people’s Instagram feeds of their dogs in public places where they feel like they shouldn’t be, and then just vilifying them and sending their followers to their pages to put hate on their pages. Because they feel like if a non-service dog is in a public space, it compromises the safety and integrity of their service dog, which I get. But this is also just so batshit crazy.
What other things have you guys had to do based on having a famous dog now that you never expected?
He has a team of attorneys.
His trademark team also represents Britney Spears, which I think is pretty sick, and he has merchandise that we sell. I’ll be on set and randomly I’ll be recognized by somebody as Mister Bubz’s mom and then I find myself getting growled at by the gaffer. The director is pulling me aside and being like, “Oh my God, are you that dog’s mom?” It’s just like, “Yeah, but I’m not really great at the job you hired me for today so I’d rather you just forget I was here.” Going to Ozzy Osborne’s house was definitely the sickest, craziest thing.
How did that come about?
It was Ozzy’s 70th birthday and we just got a message on Bubz’s account from his daughter, Amy. It was this long thing and at first we were like, “Is this even real?” Because she was like, “Hey, it’s the daughter of the real Dark Prince. For his 70th birthday we want Mister Bubz like to come and finally settle the conversation about who is the one true Dark Prince,” or something like that. We were just like, “What? Is this real? Are you guys luring us to Hancock Park and then you’re going to murder us and steal our dog?” Then it wound up being us and Ozzy Osborne and his immediate family in his study at his house to surprise him on his 70th birthday.
So it’s just you and the family?
It was during the day. So first it’s just the family and they bring us in. Then Sharon brought Ozzy in and he didn’t know we were going to be there and he just went, “Is that the little dog?” Then he just wanted to growl at Mister Bubz. So Ozzy sat down… When we do meet and greets like this, I have James hold Bubz because I know if I’m holding him he’s going to be more aggressive and I can’t afford to pay for whatever happens to Ozzy Osborne so we tried to make it the safest possible scenario. So James is holding Bubz and Ozzy’s just growling in his face and Bubz is just looking at him like, “What the fuck is this?” He just growled at Bubz for 10 minutes, was really nice to us, took a picture with us in front of their Christmas tree and then he shuffled off. And Sharon was super sweet and talked to us for a little while, and then we just hear out of the corner of this mansion, Ozzy shouting, “Sharon!” and I was like, “I’m going to die.”
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In this thoroughfare there is only one way to pay the toll, Trash Boy! And that is with a pound of your rotten flesh! You are never to be allowed free passage in my presence!! Let my growls be the ultimate warning for all who wish to explore my domicile, it shan’t be WITHOUT PROPER PENANCE!!!
So is Bubz insured?
He’s not insured but he is trademarked and copywritten.
Do you think your background in film and entertainment helps you figure out how to find all those people?
My entertainment attorney connected us to Bubz’s people, so that’s the only capacity. But other than that, this is a whole different world and… I don’t know. It’s very interesting because it’s a huge opportunity because people love him and I love him and it’s really fun for the three of us to work creatively on the character that is Mister Bubz. But at the same time it’s more of a hobby than the forefront.