Bunny the Talking Dog is a sheepadoodle who has amassed millions of followers on TikTok with videos of herself allegedly using buttons to communicate with her owner Alexis Devine (similar to Soundboard Dog).
On July 29th, 2019, the Instagram account @what_about_bunny published its first post, a picture of Bunny in a litter of puppies. They captioned the post, “Yesterday was my birthday! 7/28/2019. Yup. Watch out world.” The post received more than 230 likes in less than two years (shown below).
In November 2019, the account began featuring training videos with Bunny. For example, a post from November 10th features what appears to be the buttons that are prominent in the dog’s viral videos (shown below, left). The post received more than 12,000 views and 315 likes in less than one year (shown below, left).
The following year, on March 14th, 2020, @what_about_bunny published a video of Bunny apparently using buttons to say, “Mom, I love you.” The post received more than 8,000 views and 480 likes in less than one year (shown below, right).
On May 30th, 2020, the @what_about_bunny posted their first TikTok video. The post received more than 3.5 million views, 707,000 reactions and 3,100 comments in less than one year (shown below).
That day, @what_about_bunny posted one of the account’s most popular posts in which Bunny asks to go “outside.” The post received more than 12 million views, 2.3 million reactions and 9,000 comments in less than one year (shown below, left).
Throughout the year, the account continued to post videos of Bunny pressing the buttons (examples below).
Several media outlets have reported on Bunny, including BuzzFeed, The Tab, Mashable and more.
On September 20th, 2020, YouTuber The Rewired Soul published a video entitled “Debunking the Viral Talking Dog of TikTok.” In the video, the host shows how other talking animal hoaxes worked in the past. Accompanying the video, they published an essay on the subject, writing:
As humans, we make the mistake of lumping many animals together, but the reality is that they all have different capabilities based on the nuances of their evolution. We need to remember that the brain of a gorilla is much closer to the brain of a human than a dog’s brain is to a gorilla.
So, is Alexis lying to us? Is this all a setup to go viral?
Personally, I like to give people the benefit of the doubt, so I don’t think Alexis is playing an elaborate hoax on all of us. I choose to believe that much like [other “talking” animals], Alexis may not realize that she’s giving Bunny cues that give the appearance that Bunny can talk.
Without doing a proper experiment, it’d be hard to prove my theory, so, I thought we could just discuss what a proper experiment would look like.