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Photo: abcnews.com

Internet mysteries have a way of baffling millions within minutes. After all, the beauty of the interweb is that any type of breaking information can reach people around the world simultaneously, right? – even if that information is false. I’m sure you’ll be pleased to know that the first great internet mystery of the year has successfully been solved.

The dog pictured below, Bounce, was dropped off at doggy daycare last week in Nashville, Tennessee. According to an employee of The Dog Spot, Ryan Horn, Bounce’s owner checked her into the daycare program last Monday. Horn proceeded to take a picture of the fluffy little girl and sent it to a few friends via text message telling them that someone had brought a bear cub to doggy daycare.

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Apparently one friend didn’t get the joke, as he posted the photo to Imgur and Reddit, and the post took off like wildfire. Hundreds of people jumped into a debate about whether the dog, a Pomeranian mix, was actually a dog or a bear. The photo had over 1 million hits on Imgur within the first 24 hours.

Bear Dog
Photo: abcnews.com

The dog’s owner, Elizabeth Maguyon, is 19 years old and studies chemical and bio-molecular engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology. She was in Tennessee on vacation with her family when she checked Bounce into The Dog Spot. Maguyon got similar responses from strangers on the street while walking her dog around downtown Nashville as well.

She said that numerous people stopped her on the street and asked to take pictures of Bounce. They even asked Maguyon whether she was a bear or a dog. In a strange coincidence, Maguyon said she joked with her family about the dog becoming famous without any of them knowing because of all the people taking pictures of her.

Little did they know, it would only be a few days before Bounce’s photos swept the internet. Maguyon says that the dog doesn’t just look like a bear, but she acts like one too – sleeping all time. Her mother even refers to the dog as Paddington, after the popular bear from a series of children’s books.

Bear Dog
Photo: abcnews.com

There is a serious resemblance between this dog and a bear cub, but it still baffles me that so many people entered this debate and Bounce became an internet sensation in just a few hours. I’m not sure why it was so surprising to me, as selective dog breeding has led to a number of unique breeds popping up over the last few decades, and dog owners are always looking for ways to make their pet stand out from the crowd.

There are more recognized purebred dogs now than ever before. In fact, two new breeds were just recognized by the American Kennel Club last week. American Hairless Terriers and Sloughis are now both recognized by the prestigious club.

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Because of all of this selective breeding, canines now have a greater genetic diversity than any other species on the planet. Primarily, these breeding practices were developed to satisfy working requirements. Breeders wanted to offer bigger, strong and faster canines.

After the inception of dog shows the focus of breeding shifted more toward aesthetics. There are still certain breeds, like Labradors, that are bred for working requirements. Hunting dogs are the most common, but most working dogs are bred for their specific purpose too.

Breeds such as hairless breeds and teacup breeds are becoming popular for their unique look. Owners want a dog that will stand out at the dog park. If they cannot afford a unique breed, they will often turn to unique clothing, accessories and even extreme grooming to get a distinctive look.