Dog-gone, the internet is a funny thing: you can be eccentric talent on Australian tabloid TV one minute, a global multi-media phenomenon the next.

This week’s Wankley Award goes to the media frenzy around Ray Graham — better known as Dog Man, Barking Dog Man or Psycho Dog Man. His hound dog impression made him an overnight celebrity, from You Tube and Facebook to CNN. There’s even a range of t-shirts baring his moniker. Opportunistic entrepreneurs strike while the dog is hot.

It all started innocently enough: a story from A Current Affair about dogs allegedly terrorising his street. “Yesterday morning I came out into the front yard and the dogs were across the road, and as soon as they saw me they came bounding over,” he told the program.

And then it happened — a truly remarkable, truly memorable impression of the barking dogs, as his wife subtly leaned out of his way. The clip got posted on Twitter and madly retweeted with the hashtag #dogman. “Nearly wet myself,” tweeted one user; “Am hyperventilating from LOLs,” tweeted another. “What’s the expression – barking mad?” said NSW opposition leader Barry O’Farrell.

The internet virus had taken hold. One clip of Dog Man posted on You Tube, titled ‘Psycho Dog Man on ACA (Better Version)’ (because it loops the barking episode for maximum hilarity), has 216,461 views. It also made it onto the College Humor website. Then came the You Tube remixes, like the mash-up of the Baha Men’s Who Let the Dogs Out?, the Sparta remix with Dog Man and the This is Sparta meme, and a Bassline remix sure to be popular in dance halls around the world. His Facebook group — Psycho Dog Man — has more than 5,000 fans.

A Current Affair, never above milking every last drop from a popular yarn, went back to the family home the next day for a follow-up piece, having him bark once again for the cameras. The report even featured t-shirts of the Dog Man, in the honourable tradition of internet memes who have little option to profit from their new-found notoriety than by selling apparel.

Even CNN did a story on the Australian man who barked like a dog and became an internet sensation. It compared his bark to other clips of newsmakers imitating dogs or bears, concluding that Dog Man’s bark was much more realistic and terrifying. For extra scientific accuracy, the reporter took a tape recorder to the park and played Dog Man’s dulcet tones to other dogs, who cowered away in fear. Seriously.

Australian news outlets have been quick to report on the phenomenon as well: the Herald Sun, the Sydney Morning Herald and Ninemsn were all prominently featuring Dog Man yesterday. Because there’s nothing else happening in the world…

Peter Fray

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