updated 11/26/2008 AT 10:51 AM ET
•originally published 11/14/2008 AT 12:00 AM ET
When a San Francisco couple set up a Webcam to watch over their dog’s six puppies, they had no idea the box full of pups would become an international Internet sensation – and workplace distraction.
The couple put the live video feed on Ustream.TV, where some tech gurus spotted it and passed it along to friends. Now people around the world have tuned in 3 million times to watch the Shiba Inu pups nurse, wrestle and doze.
“We’ve received a number of emails from people who are in hospitals battling various diseases who have told us that they look to the Shiba Inu Puppy Cam as a way to liven up their spirits,” says the puppies’ caretaker and videographer, who asked to remain anonymous.
This is the first litter for the pups’ mom, Kika, who wanders in and out of the puppies’ crate to play with the family’s other dogs. The human parents have rushed home twice to retrieve the now 5-week-old puppies when they left the box.
The puppies’ popularity also surprised John Ham, the CEO of Ustream.TV and an Iraq war vet, who started the service so soldiers could talk with their extended families.
“The number one thing internally we’ve come to is that they’re cute,” says Ham, who has the puppy cam playing on a wide screen in the Ustream.TV office.
Many viewers want to buy the puppies, but they’re all already spoken for.
“All puppies are cute. Do your research on the breed to make sure that it is the right fit for your lifestyle and personality,” the dog’s owner advises. “Remember, this is a commitment for life so don’t take these steps lightly.”
More about the Puppies
BREED: Shiba Inu, a Japanese breed known for being reserved with strangers but loyal to family
AGE: About five weeks, born Oct. 7
Girls: Autumn (purple collar), Ayumi (yellow collar), Amaya (red collar)
Boys: Aki (green collar), Akoni (black collar), Ando (blue collar)
VIEWERS: 3 million tune-ins – adding up to 1.2 million hours
TIP: Let the video play in the background and listen for when the puppies whimper – that’s a signal they may start to play or eat.