Several months ago, I found out about this little Chiweenie on Instagram. When I first saw him I was shocked at his appearance. I have never seen a dog with such a pronounced overbite. But there was something about his big eyes and open expression that resonated with me. Apparently I'm not alone. His Instagram account has over 2 million followers. But, why?
Why do I and so many others, feel compelled to return to this little guy? For me, he represents the innocent underdog. He looks like the cards were stacked against him. In human childhood terms, he wouldn't be the first kid picked to play dodgeball. So what is Tuna's story?
According Tuna's owner, Courtney Dasher, she adopted Tuna from a rescuer that found him on the side of the road. Initially, Courtney intended to foster Tuna, but she fell in love with him along the way. She admits her own family asked why she chose such a "funny looking dog". Others on social media were less kind. Over time, however, hearts changed and Tuna grew to have a massive following. What is it about Tuna that changes hearts?
In my college studies, I was introduced to an incredible book, The Writer's Journey by Christopher Vogler. The book was based on Joseph Campbell's work, The Hero's Journey. If you love storytelling and aren't familiar with these books, be warned, they will change you. One of the concepts discussed in the book is an audience's fascination with the reluctant hero. In life, we are rarely thrust into comfortable situations where all of our skills come to bear at just the right time and we resolutely defend all that is good against the tyranny of evil to the applause of the dependant masses with trumpets blaring celebratory praise. That is true, right?
More times than not, we are navigating uncharted waters, with piecemeal skills, wondering who is with us or against us, seeking treasure against the will of some immutable force. When I look at Tuna, this is what I see, and his expression is asking me, "So, are you with me or against me?"