For a while it felt as if there were more of us in our family.
We had been gatecrashed, seduced, bewitched - call it what you will - by a playful band of dogs; pugs to be precise.
First there was Pablo (thoroughly adorable) and then along came Stanley and Winston (unbearably cute).
This heart-melting trio neither belonged to nor lived with us but could be conjured up at the tap of a keyboard via their own social media channel.
Facilitating pets with an online following and supplying content to their legions of fans is all part of the package of modern pet ownership for many.
Almost a quarter of pet parents have created social media accounts for their furry friends, according to one survey of 2,000 cat and dog owners.
The research, from pet insurance provider ManyPets, found that more than a third of people with social media accounts for their pets set up the profiles to show off their beloved animals to the rest of the world.
And 89 per cent of owners said their pets have more followers than they do on social media, with the average cat or dog racking up 925 admirers each.
So perhaps there was an inevitability about how this would evolve into something larger - and more profitable - for some.
How much can a petfluencer earn?
Becoming a pet influencer or ‘petfluencer’ can be a big part of being a pet owner these days and the potential to monetise Fido’s popularity is huge.
“Creating a pet influencer channel is a fantastic way to share your furry friends with the world,” said Layla Flaherty, director & pet detective from the animal modelling and influencer agency, Urban Paws UK. “However, it can also be a lucrative business venture.
“We at Urban Paws UK have many petfluencers on our books, some of whom can earn thousands of pounds with every post, review, or story. It all depends on the size of their social media following.
“For example, some of our “micro” influencers, who have between 10,000 and 50,000 followers, can make between £200 - £1,000 per post. Those in the “macro” category (between 50,000 and 1m) will earn much more and if you’re a “mega” influencer (1m plus), then you’re looking at major financial earnings and bookings from only the highest-profile brand collaborations.”
A survey by Asda Money with 3,000 UK cat and dog owners completed last year found that 40 per cent of those who responded saying they follow social media pet accounts buy from brands recommended by other pet influencers.
It also revealed that of those in the UK who had set up some sort of social media account dedicated solely to their pets, 29 per cent had done so with the aim of trying to break into the pet influencer world.
Forty percent of Brits admitted to liking their dog more than their children - most of the time
That dogs hold a special place in the nation’s heart is undeniable - as is the affectionate place many occupy within the family.
They are revered as ‘man’s best friend’ but who knew this would stretch as far as usurping his offspring’s coveted crown of ‘favourite child’?
Forty percent of Brits admitted to liking their dog more than their children - most of the time - in one survey.
The research by greeting card marketplace, thortful, revealed 90 per cent said their dog is part of the family.
Given the film star exposure of some pets, it comes as no surprise that many seem to be living the Hollywood lifestyle, with 29 per cent of people saying their pets are the most pampered in the house, and 10 percent claiming they live a lifestyle the Kardashians would envy, Asda Money found.
They are also enjoying treats and gifts as well as attention.
According to the ManyPets research, almost half of owners said they spoil their dogs and mogs once a week or more with toys, deli snacks and new bedding.
Pets are benefitting from birthday parties and presents - many costing more than owners spend on some of their loved ones.
And 66 per cent consider their pet to be one of their best friends.
“It’s evident that pets are the nation’s pride and joy,” said Steven Mendel, CEO and co-founder of ManyPets. “Whether we’re showing them off on social media or throwing them a birthday party, our four legged-friends deserve the best.”
To find out how to keep your dog's mind in good shape, visit: https://www.yorkshireeveningpost.co.uk/lifestyle/how-to-keep-your-dogs-mind-in-good-shape-3606583