Crusoe the celebrity dachshund is most famous for his whimsical wardrobe of imaginative outfits.[dropcap]C[/dropcap]rusoe lives up to his name. The charming little dachshund is a true adventurer, and his exploits have attracted thousands of devoted fans on social media and beyond. But he’s best known for his wardrobe. Crusoe owns a vast array of cute and creative costumes for every occasion, and he models them with fl air and aplomb, bringing smiles and laughter to his many online admirers.
Before Crusoe came into Ryan Beauchesne’s life, the Ottawa, Canada resident always thought of himself as a “big dog person”, so a dachshund wasn’t on his list of favorite breeds. But his girlfriend, Laurence Dionne, changed his mind. “She had been asking for a dachshund for a couple of years,” says Ryan. “I finally agreed on the condition I could name him. I just had a feeling he’d be an adventurer, so I called him Crusoe!”
While Crusoe was purchased from a breeder, Ryan and Laurence say that their next dog will be a rescue. “We’ve learned a lot about the world of dogs since getting him, and feel that rescuing is one of the best gifts you can give,” says Ryan. But that doesn’t mean Crusoe hasn’t been the love of the couple’s lives since they first took him home to the Quebec chalet they were living in at the time.
“It was January, so it was cold and snowy,” says Ryan, adding that the wintry rural setting gave Crusoe his first real taste of the great outdoors. “He was trained to go to out in those sorts of conditions, but we had to make him wear coats to stay warm, which is what ‘acclimatized’ him to wearing costumes so readily.” Crusoe rose to the challenge, and adapted to his new life with zest, developing a love for long walks and fishing expeditions. “He has a ton of character packed into one little body!”
The couple soon discovered that Crusoe was photogenic as well as adventurous, so they set up a blog about his life and exploits (celebritydachshund.com), and started coming up with all kinds of fun costume ideas for him.
“We did it just for fun, as a way to document his expeditions, comical personality, and our love for the little guy,” explains Ryan. “We were surprised to see that people actually read and enjoyed the blog.” Before long, the couple was introducing Crusoe to the world through Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and more recently, Instagram. “Crusoe was also one of the fi rst dogs to be featured on Vine, which represents our largest fan count of about 250,000 – we have some pretty great videos of Crusoe. Facebook, Instagram and Vine are really our core networks for anyone looking to join ‘Cru’s Crew’, as the fans have come to call it.”
It’s easy to see from his photos why Crusoe is so popular. His costumes run the gamut of styles and statements, from ship’s captain to scuba diver, chef to firefighter, “Batdog” to Wile E. Coyote. He also has special outfits for fi hing, hunting, pool parties and holidays. Thanks in large part to his extensive wardrobe, Crusoe’s appeal has continued to spread, with one of his most recent adventures being a trip to New York City with Ryan and Laurence to sign a book deal. Due out in the fall of 2015, the coffee table book will feature a collection of new stories, photos and even recipes by “Chef Crusoe”.
On the topic of food, Crusoe eats a high quality diet made from fresh, locally-sourced ingredients. “For awhile, he was losing a bit of hair on his chest, and we learned that dietary allergies can sometimes cause that,” says Ryan. “When we switched him to the new food, his sexy chest hair grew back almost right away! We’re also very picky about what treats to give him.” Crusoe also enjoys some relaxing alternative therapies. “I give him regular massages when and as he demands them, and he has also tried an acupressure massage, which he loved! And since his ‘mom’ and I both work from home, we’re lucky to be able to give him several long walks during the day.”
Along with his upcoming book and growing social media presence, Crusoe has inspired a line of merchandise. “We have Crusoe coffee mugs and ‘pawtographed’ photos in our online store, and we sell calendars every year,” says Ryan. “The proceeds are mainly used to pay our website expenses and cover Crusoe’s travel arrangements (so we can produce more content), but we also donate a percentage to our local Canadian Dachshund Rescue (CDR). Every few months, we’ll run a bigger campaign, such a specific Crusoe costume t-shirt design, through the crowdfunded apparel site, Teespring. We always donate a portion of the proceeds to something related to each campaign; for example, we gave 10% of the funds raised by our Doxie Brigade Firefighters campaign to the International Association of Fire Fighters.
“We’ve also been lucky enough to win a few rewards for our efforts, such as Best Active Living Blog from the Petties (Dogtime’s Pet Blog Awards), and Best Dog on Vine by BarkPost’s Barkies Awards,” Ryan continues. “Each won us $1,000 to donate to a rescue of our choice – we selected CDR.” Given Crusoe’s fame, it’s not surprising that he has become aware of his star status – and as his “managers” and “assistants”, Ryan and Laurence do their best to pamper him and cater to his wants. “He really does think he’s a celebrity,” Ryan laughs. “His needs come first, and he gets impatient with us if we don’t comply. He’ll scratch at his bed for us to tuck him in; he’ll sit for hours in front of the cupboard containing his squeaky balls until we give him one; he gets insulted if he doesn’t have a spot at the dinner table; he tells us when it’s okay to go to bed; he always leads our expeditions, and is picky about when he wants to be cuddled. He has even been known to scratch at a patch of sunshine on the wall, as if to say, ‘Move that sun down here so I can enjoy it!’
“For some people, that may sound crazy, but it’s what makes Crusoe who is he, and it’s why we love him,” muses Ryan. “We like to think that with every story we write, photo we take or video we create, we capture his personality. We think that’s what people really enjoy the most about Crusoe.”
Ann Brightman is Managing Editor for Animal Wellness Magazine and Integrative Veterinary Care Journal. A lifelong animal lover, she has also been a writer and editor for over 25 years. Ann is a member of the Professional Writers Association of Canada and is also a Tai Chi instructor.