Highland Park beagles spread joy, become local Nextdoor sensations | Pittsburgh City Paper

Highland Park beagles spread joy, become local Nextdoor sensations

click to enlarge Highland Park beagles spread joy, become local Nextdoor sensations
CP Photo: Jared Wickerham
Maurice Brown with his beagles, Duke and Lucky
Duke and Lucky Brown might be the best-known beagles in Highland Park. If neighbors don’t know them IRL from their five daily walks with their human caretaker, the gregarious born-and-raised Highland Parker Maurice Brown, they will likely recognize the pair as the Dynamic Duo, the hyper-local Nextdoor pet sensation.

Every day for about the last three years, Brown, 55, has posted pictures of Duke and Lucky, who he calls “the boys,” on Nextdoor, a popular neighborhood-based social media network. Brown pairs the photos with a short blurb providing some context, illuminating what he imagines the dogs are thinking, encouraging social distancing and masking, or simply spreading positivity. He calls these posts “The Dynamic Duo Daily,” and people absolutely love them.

“Maurice and the Dynamic Duo are pretty much the only reason I login!” writes Quelcy Kogel of Polish Hill on a recent post.

Both dogs are sweet and friendly. Duke, 10, is older and slower, but Brown says he’s comfortable approaching anyone and behaves well off-leash. In many pictures, Duke has a stony look that Brown calls “regal.” Lucky, 5, is more outgoing and energetic, according to Brown. Lucky “looks like he's laughing all the time,” he says, and “Duke’s more thoughtful.”

“I always wanted a beagle because I always wanted a Snoopy,” Brown tells Pittsburgh City Paper in a recent interview at the Highland Park fountain, referring to Charlie Brown’s loveable cartoon pal.

In 2014, his desire materialized in the form of Duke. The dog is named for the Duke Blue Devils basketball team (Brown says he’s been a fan since 1984), but Duke’s name was Cole when he saw him for the first time on Midwest Beagle Rescue, Education, & Welfare’s website.

“Their vetting process is what really got me into them,” Brown says of Midwest BREW, explaining that it’s “almost like adopting a child.”

Once he passed a background check and met Duke, Brown says the connection was “instant.” Around 2016, Brown started posting pictures of the beagle on Nextdoor and says he was pleasantly surprised that people seemed into it.

“There’s people like me out there that love their pets,” Brown remembers thinking, and those people became his audience. Duke and Brown’s internet presence didn’t really get going, though, until Lucky joined the family in 2017.

“We have a lot of negativity in the world,” Brown says, explaining why he feels it’s so important for him to keep the Dynamic Duo posts light and positive.

“I focus on my boys, and I see how it makes other people happy. So, why would I post anything negative if [the boys] are positive?” he asks.

In addition to keeping it positive, it’s important to Brown to respond to the people who comment or otherwise engage with the Duo’s posts. He says if someone can take the time to reach out to him, he can take the time to respond.

“They’re taking a small part of their day to look at pictures of my boys and say something nice,” he says, so to acknowledge them is the least he can do.

Unquestionably, Brown’s neighbors and people from other parts of the city appreciate Brown and the Dynamic Duo. Brown was recently selected to be part of the inaugural Nextdoor 100, a collection of 100 Nextdoor users nationwide who were chosen by a panel of judges after being nominated for theirpositive contribution to their neighborhoods.

Brown insists he’s never skipped a daily post in the three years since he began the project, but neighbors fret if the algorithm happens to hide one of his posts, thinking something might be wrong with the Duo or their dad. Brown, at the suggestion of a neighbor, recently created a public Nextdoor group where he posts his Dynamic Duo content. It currently has 189 members.

Brown says people often recognize him and the Dynamic Duo when they are out walking, which still surprises him.

“They'll stop. They'll drive, and they'll honk their horn and they'll say, ‘Is that the Dynamic Duo?’ And some people have pulled over, they've gotten out” to pet the boys and take pictures with them, Brown says.

“People say, ‘Wow, it's helped me get through this, and I love them and they're positive’ … And that's just them being them,” Brown explains. “We’re always in the neighborhood. We live here, so we just walk around.”
The Dynamic Duo. tinyurl.com/PghDynamicDuo

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