WAXAHACHIE — Meet Dixie, the newest social media star.
“I think it’s hilarious that my dog has more followers on an account that I thought people wouldn’t even follow,” laughed Marissa Hooper, Dixie’s owner and a 2014 Waxahachie High School graduate. “Honestly, the reason we did it in the first place was to joke around and get a laugh out of it, and I get so many responses from people who are like, ‘This was hilarious! This made me laugh!’ It’s really fun just knowing people are around the world where Dixie is just making them laugh.”
Currently at 32,000 shares, over 75,000 Twitter likes, and more than 20,000 followers on Instagram, the long-con prank finally paid off with the world laughing at Hooper’s ingenuity.
“I thought it was funny because I tweet about Dixie all the time because my friends know me, and they pick on me all the time and say, ‘You and that stupid dog. You’re always posting pictures of that dog,’” Hooper teased.
What started as an innocent conversation between Hooper and her sister, Cristina, quickly took a turn of action, unfolding in summer 2016.
“My sister and I were sitting at home in the living room, and my parents were gone,” Hooper explained her empty-nesting parents. “We were looking around the house, and my sister said to me, ‘Do you think since we’re both gone for college and jobs and not home anymore, do you think that mom and dad look at all our pictures when they miss us? Do you think they’d even notice if we’d move this stuff around?’”
“So I looked around, and I was like, ‘I don’t know, actually,’” she admitted. “I felt like if we moved stuff, they would notice but I wondered if we changed out some of the pictures if they’d realize that they were different.”
Behold, the rise of Dixie.
With comedy at the peak of the social media, Hooper devised a hilarious portrait that included dressing up her 2-pound Chihuahua and posing in recreations of those fond memories.
“So I started to put Dixie into little outfits and recreate family photos close enough that when you first walked by you didn’t really notice it unless you really looked at the picture,” Hooper explained.
“The first two I switched out were pictures of my grandmother and my sister’s kindergarten picture,” she chuckled at the quickly flipped photos. “Then I left to go back to school and waited a couple of days.”
Two weeks rolled by as a text message alert from Hooper’s mother gave her the reaction she had been waiting for.
“One day I got a group text with my sister and my dad, and my mom texted us saying, ‘I don’t know which one of you is moving around my pictures, but it needs to stop,’” Hooper giggled.
“Well, I guess she had company over, and they were walking through the house, and she was showing off the pictures and noticed the picture that isn’t our family anymore – it’s the dog,” she emphasized the comical moment. “So she started freaking out because she didn’t want the company to think that’s what she does in her spare time. So it just makes me laugh thinking of her trying to awkwardly hide these dog pictures without anybody trying to see them.”
As Hooper described her mother to be “particular with how clean the house is,” she admired the timing of moment as the scene unfolded.
“So my sister and I were talking about how funny it was that mom had to handle these pictures when she was going through the shelves, moving things around, and has this picture of Dixie in her hand and doesn’t even realize that it’s not what it’s supposed to be,” Hooper teased.
“And my dad thought it was really funny and he actually wanted this a lot too, so we gave him a heads-up and were like, ‘Hey, don’t say anything.’ Because he noticed it before my mom did and we were there one day saying, ‘Don’t tell mom. Don’t tell mom.’ And he was like, ‘Okay, we’ll let her figure it out,’” she recalled.
As the first joke died down, Hooper struck again with a second prank on June 17, 2017.
“My parents were gone to a dinner with some of their friends, and I switched a few pictures out with Dixie and thought, ‘Okay, I’ll do this graduation picture, this would be a good one,’” Hooper recounted.
Quickly recreating the image on her phone with Dixie more than willing to participate, Hooper received another text message two days later.
“I was out with some friends, and I get this text message from my mom, and I was like, ‘Uh-oh, I know what this is about,’” Hooper joked. “And I guess she figured out it was me, from a process of elimination, and that’s where that tweet came from.”
Posting the comparison photo of the original with the adapted version that night, Hooper didn’t expect the attention that soon followed the next morning.
“I went to bed, and it had like about 50 retweets on it, and then the next day it had like 400,” Hooper recalled. “And by Monday morning my phone was so slow, I thought, ‘What is going on?’ And my Twitter had this massive icon on it, and it completely blew up with thousands of retweets, and I was like, ‘Oh my gosh! Is this from my tweet?’”
Share after share, the dress-up canine caught the attention of news outlets across the states.
From Huffington Post to Inside Edition, Teen Vogue, The Dodo, Buzzfeed, and more, Hooper and her dog were instant hits.
“The attention has been weird,” Hooper acknowledged. “It’s something I didn’t think was going to be really big and I had people commenting saying, ‘What’s Dixie’s Instagram? What’s her account?’ And I was like, ‘The dog doesn’t have an account,’”
As Dixie’s popularity rose, Hooper created a separate account dedicated to her dog’s fashion explorations, which collected an unprecedented amount of fame.
“By the end of Monday (June 19) we had like 300 followers, and now we’re at like 15,000 followers,” Hooper recalled her last login. “It’s weird to see our family pet all over everything.”
“My neighbor even called me and said, ‘Can you tell me why one of my best friends just showed me a picture of your dog?’ And she was like, ‘One of my friends said — look there’s Dixie.’ And she told her ‘I know who Dixie is, how do you know who Dixie is?’ It was really funny because she [her neighbor] had no idea.”
Though the prank is climbing the ladder of an online trend, Hooper plans to continue the pranks while also finishing college at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas.
“I’m excited about graduation, but I’m planning to go to dental school, so that’s four more years after that, so one thing at a time,” Hooper told of her senior year.
“I’m pretty convinced my mom’s looking for it now,” she recognized. “There are no new pranks right now, but I will definitely post about them because I just think it’s funny.
“And my sister and I did this kind of thing to mom and dad all the time, and this one just blew up to where everyone just happened to think it was really funny,” she included.
As for their newfound fame, Hooper goes on to say that there will be merchandise of Dixie coming soon with more photoshoots on the horizon.
“We’re hoping to put some of that [merchandise] up within the next couple of days, so we’ll see how that goes, but other than that I do plan on doing some more recreations,” Hooper acknowledged. “But it might be a little while before I can get those up without my mom suspecting anything.”
“I just think it’s really great that Dixie is making people laugh,” she concluded.
To follow Marissa Hooper on Twitter, find her at @mhooper_2014 or to view Dixie’s Instagram profile, find her at @pix_of_dixie
Chelsea Groomer, @ChelseaGroomer