Joe Casey of Beacon Hill first realized his dog was famous when he and a friend were on a ski trip in Alaska, of all places.
“He says to me ‘look up,’ and there, above baggage claim, was a picture of Acorn Street, and my dog, Callie,’’ he said. “She’s got to be one of the most photographed dogs in the world.’’
If you’ve been to Acorn Street on Beacon Hill, chances are good you found the most beautiful, picturesque golden retriever sitting outside, just waiting for a photo and some love.
That dog, Callie, passed away over the weekend.
Callie’s owners, Joe and Kristin Casey, told Boston.com it’s still unclear why the nine-year-old dog passed in her sleep.
“She wasn’t going to let us know she was anything but healthy, happy, and spirited. She wasn’t going to let us down,’’ Kristin Casey said.
While Callie was adored by her owners, she found a wider audience with the people of the city – and beyond, as Joe Casey learned on that trip to Alaska. Acorn Street is an endlessly Instagrammed Boston location, and Callie’s quiet, sweet presence made her a part of the scenery and the experience.
“I was sitting outside two years ago with Callie, feeding the birds, and a guy walks down the street,’’ Kristin Casey said. “He asked me ‘Is that your dog?’ and I said yes, and he asked ‘Are you on Instagram?’ I had an account, but he told me to ‘go to @IGersBoston because your dog is all over Instagram.’’’
She said the first picture she saw had 1,700 likes.
“I was like ‘My dog’s an Instagram sensation,’’’ she said. “I was also told to look at #acornstreet, and, sure enough, every fifth photo seemed to be a picture of Callie.’’
Photos of Callie are plastered all over the social media app, and after learning of her passing, Brian McWilliams, founder and curator of @IGBoston invited the Instagram community to post photos of the picturesque pup with the hashtag #CallieRIP.
“Callie added a friendly, ‘human’ element to Acorn Street,’’ said McWilliams. “I wouldn’t say she wagged her tail for every tourist who came by to take a photo or to pet her. But she patiently put up with us, and the street just won’t be the same without her low-key presence.’’
“It’s very touching, I have a whole new respect for social media,’’ said Kristin Casey. “Of course she touched our lives, but when you see this dog had some sort of impact – she had her own community, and something she was doing outside of her own family.’’
And Callie seemed to relish the role, according to her owner.
“She knew she had this responsibility to be outside,’’ said Kristin Casey. “Every time I came home, and opened the door, she’d push her way outside to get to her spot and her people… She wanted to be outside so badly she’d sit behind the door, you’d have to push her out the way.’’
But despite her Instagram fame, Callie was a regular family dog.
“I’m going to miss her love and affection for every single one of family members, going to miss her in bed with me. When she wasn’t outside, she’d want to be by our side,’’ said Kristin Casey.
Even on walks, Callie had a certain way of brightening peoples’ days.
“We’d go down to the Charles Street Starbucks and she’d nudge my hand until I gave her my wallet to hold in her mouth,’’ Kristin Casey said. “Everybody we’d pass would either smile or say something like ‘so darned cute.’’’
When they got to Starbucks, Callie would drop the wallet, wait outside, and demand to carry it again on their walk home, Kristin Casey said.
Now, nine Calla lilies – one for every year of her life – and a photo of the prized pooch take Callie’s spot on the Acorn Street porch, so Callie’s adoring admirers can still see her.
“She just made people smile,’ Kristin said. “She had a way of connecting with people some humans can’t figure out.’’