Sid wants to be your new mayor, Austin.
If elected, the smooshy-eyed, butter-colored, basset-beagle-corgi-Lab mix known to more than 60,000 followers on Instagram as MyRegalBeagle promises to encourage the adoption of rescue animals, build awareness of no-kill shelters and promote things like dog walks and bacon.
Sure, we know there’s no official election to the office of dog mayor. Sid hopes to change that, and he wouldn’t be the first politician in the country to drink from a toilet.
San Francisco proclaimed a Chihuahua mix named Frida as mayor for a day last November. Stubbs the Cat, who once fell into a restaurant fryer that fortunately was switched off and cool, has served as honorary mayor of Talkeetna, Alaska, since 1997. Lajitas in West Texas has had a goat for a mayor.
“Austin needs a dog mayor. It’s the most dog-friendly city in the United States,” says Alex Hopes, Sid’s human.
Even Austin’s human mayor, Steve Adler, seems open to the idea of sharing his title with a mutt.
“Austin is a city that takes care of all of its residents, including our four-legged friends, so it’s natural for us to have an official dog mayor,” Adler said when asked about Sid’s chances. “But before we elect Sid, we’ll need to know his plan to keep Austin no-kill.”
As dog mayor, Sid vows to remind dog owners to pick up after their pets. He’d encourage dog-friendly businesses and push for more water bowls on sidewalks. He also hopes to lead a community dog walk.
“I want to have him be the voice of good,” Hopes says. “I feel he could really be the mascot for Austin.”
You may have seen Sid before. Besides Instagram, the mellow dog with a drowsy gaze and oversized paws has 46,000 followers on Vine and 50,000 followers on Facebook. He’s a regular at Zilker Park, and even appears briefly on a nationally televised commercial for Domino’s Pizza.
Hopes, who was living and attending college in Omaha, Nebraska, bought Sid for $50 on a whim in late 2010. He’d never had a dog, but tucked the six-week-old puppy into his coat and picked up supplies at a pet store. He started training the dog himself, with remarkable results.
“I’d tell him to sit and stay and I’d walk two city blocks away and he’d sit until I told him to come,” Hopes says.
Hopes, 27, moved with Sid to Austin in 2012 with no job lined up. He waited tables at Bess Bistro for eight months, then quit his job and purchased a camera he says he couldn’t afford. He learned how to use it, then started doing social media and marketing. Six months later, he had nine clients.
Hopes also grew obsessed with photographing Sid and quickly learned the pup made a very un-doglike model. He took photos and videos of Sid wearing sunglasses, politely holding a gooey wedge of pizza in his mouth, wearing a crown of red grapes on his head, perched on a mailbox and more, and, in 2012, created an Instagram account with the handle @MyRegalBeagle.
Sid seems impossibly well-behaved, posing with cheeseburgers, corn dogs, apples and kolaches between his lips and never eating any of it unless Hopes gives him the OK — but he’s not always as obedient with other people. He once ate 28 pizza rolls left unattended by Hopes’ roommate. Another time, he ate a doughnut burger from Gourdough’s.
Sid is neutered, and his hobbies include hiking, swimming, climbing, chasing his ball and sleeping. He lives in South Austin.
Hopes jokes that he’s living in Sid’s shadow. Sid is recognized during almost daily forays to Zilker Park and on streets all over Austin. A video of Sid with a slice of pizza dangling from his lips has gotten 50 million views from around the world.
But Sid’s story almost ended on a dark road one night in spring 2014.
Hopes had sold most of his belongings and made plans to move with Sid to Croatia, where he hoped to make a living doing marketing, photography and social media. He was busy loading his car late one night to move in with a friend for his last few weeks in Texas when he noticed Sid was missing.
He ran down the street, fearing the worst. That’s when he found Sid, crumpled and bleeding, in the middle of Cesar Chavez Street. A passerby gave him a ride to an emergency vet clinic, where vets told Hopes that Sid had broken four ribs, punctured his lungs, cut his spleen and herniated his diaphragm. They were unsure if he would survive.
Hopes was devastated, and didn’t know how he could afford Sid’s treatment. He turned to social media, where Sid’s followers rallied, donating about $10,000 to pay the vet bills. They also sent cookies to the vet staff. Sid, with a photo of Hopes taped within eyesight of his hospital kennel, pulled through.
Hopes gave up the idea of moving to Croatia. Instead, when Sid recovered enough, the two hit the road on an eight-month road trip. Sid hiked and swam and climbed and posed on fence posts. They explored West Texas, White Sands, Big Sur, San Francisco, Tahoe, Yosemite, Red Woods, Crater Lake, Portland, Seattle, Vancouver and Banff, fueling their joint love of adventure. When the two returned to Austin in February, the trip became the basis of a book called “Sidventures.”
But now Sid is ready to start his next big project, Hopes says. He’ll promote his mayoral campaign at the Sustainable Food Center’s Doggone it to Summer event on Oct. 31, where he’ll help judge the costume contest.
He’s looking for a running mate, too. Dogs can apply for the post by uploading a photo at austindogmayor.com.
And stay tuned. We hear a kibble-eating opponent may be scheming a slander campaign against Sid.
Need more Sid in your life? Follow him on Instagram at @myregalbeagle or read Alex Hopes’ blog at alexhopes.com/blog/sidventures.