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Four-legged Friends Connect Online at Dogster

Teenagers have online cliques at MySpace; students star in Facebook; LinkedIn is an Internet networking stage for professionals; and dogs and their human counterparts run with the pack at Dogster.

San Francisco-based Dogster is a flourishing social-networking website for canines, referred to as "animal companions" instead of "pets" in the politically correct City by the Bay.

Among the furry friends featured on the website is Annie, an 11-month-old female beagle from the US state of Tennessee. Annie loves carrots, belongs to a group called "Beagles R Us" and is humbly described as "nice with large ears." Her roster of friends includes Tank, a Shar Pei in South Africa; a New York City golden retriever named Copper, and Beanie, a poodle living in Malaysia. Annie has a blog, an online journal, to share her thoughts and adventures with friends. She is among more than 290,000 dogs worldwide with Internet personas portrayed in profile pages on Dogster.

Felines have a kindred website, Catster, which is purring along with more than 121,000 members. Dogster founder Ted Rheingold credits the birth of the pooch-oriented website in January of 2004 to a simple observation.

"I realized there was nowhere to make a webpage for your dog, or more importantly, there was nowhere to share photos and stories about your dog," Rheingold told AFP. "You could see photos online, but you couldn't see their names -- who's this dog, what's this dog's favorite treat, or what's this dog's character."

Dogster and Catster communities have grown to more than 500,000 members, and quickly extended beyond US borders. Countries with the most active members are Australia, Britain, Canada, the Philippines, Singapore and the United States. And a few other facts give a picture of its success.

In May alone, the company made more than 250,000 dollars (186,000 euros), had a healthy 22 million page views for both sites, and now h
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