If you’ve ever dreamed of being Instagram-famous you could do worse than take a leaf out of little Toby McFarlane’s book. Always camera ready and preened to perfection, the Parson Russell Terrier is, paws down, the hottest dog on the block – and 35,000 followers would tend to agree.
Toby, who is around seven years old, was found on a beach in West Lothian when he was just a puppy. Scared, skinny and shivering, he was taken in by owner Hayleigh McFarlane’s mum and was soon a firm fixture in the family. He gained confidence quickly and was soon ruling the roost.
Hayleigh, 24, started documenting Toby’s life online when she was studying photography at West Lothian College three years ago. She is a skilled snapper and every captivating picture bursts with colour and shows off her expert composition.
The page, Life with Toby, now has fans from as far away as America and Slovenia. Every Christmas Hayleigh sends cards adorned with snaps of Toby to friends from far-flung corners she has made contact with via the page.
The care home worker from Blackridge, West Lothian, is besotted with the pooch and couldn’t imagine life without him. She said: “He’s like my shadow and means the world to me. He’s such a dork and so hyper. Considering what he’s been through he loves everyone and isn’t afraid of anything. It amazes me how friendly and happy he is.”
Now Toby is always pup-arazzi ready and laps up attention wherever he goes. He has even been recognised on the street by fans who follow him on social media.
“People love him,” Hayleigh said. “One woman we bumped into even told me that she had always wanted to meet him.”
There’s nothing fur-ocious about the black, tan and white terrier who gets excited when the postman knocks because he thinks all the deliveries are addressed to him.
But the adorable pooch isn’t the only picture perfect pet in Hayleigh’s pack, she is the proud owner of two cats who feature on their own Instagram page, Otis and Bandit.
One of Toby’s favourite pastimes is to curl up with fur-ever friend Bandit for a nap on what Hayleigh has coined “snuggle Sundays”. Toby is full of beans and play fights with the cats at every opportunity. Hayleigh never gets a moment’s peace but secretly likes it that way.
With the growth of followers has come the opportunity for collaborations with pet accessories companies as well as with BarkBox, a monthly subscription box filled with doggy treats.
Hayleigh hopes that one day she can travel the world with Toby in tow. She already organises meet-ups for dog-mad friends and regularly attends dog-themed festivals and social events and wants Toby’s page to grow even bigger.
She said: “Toby loves getting his photo taken. As soon as I reach for my camera he comes running. He’s so excited. If he could speak he would say: ‘I’m ready mum’.”