Ethics Dunces: “Social Influencers” Dan And Nikki Phillippi, And, Come To Think Of It, Anyone Who Follows Them, And, Come To Think Of It, Anyone Who Follows ANY “Social Influencers”

But I digress, though I will continue that digression later, and maybe in an upcoming post.

Dan And Nikki Phillippi are “YouTubers,” meaning that have monetized successive facile and smarmy videos via Instagram and have made a million dollars out of it. Read about them here: if you see anything that suggests to you an IQ over 110 or any special expertise or wisdom, let me know. Nikki’s YouTube bio reads, “WELL HELLO! My name is Nikki. I used to make videos growing up just to show them to my family…now I make them and upload them to YouTube. HAHA I love all things girly, acting, singing, dancing AND helping people be the best they can be! I hope you feel inspired and happy when you watch my videos and I invite you to join me on my weird and crazy journey through life! LOL”

As far as I’m concerned, ending a bio with “LOL” is signature significance for someone I wouldn’t allow to influence me to come in out of the rain.

Dan and Nikki just put down their dog, a nine-year-old Bull terrier named Bowser, recently, and, since this is how they live, they monetized it with a video. [ Full disclosure: There’s a fair chance that our rescue dog Spuds is part Bull Terrier] They had previously been “sharing” about their new baby, Logan, now 1. The baby apparently grabbed at some of Bowser’s food, and the dog nipped him. Logan was not badly hurt, but they killed the dog anyway.

Bowser had apparently had a few aggressive incidents in the past, but that’s irrelevant: anyone who allows a baby or toddler to be in close proximity with their dog (or any dog) is 100% responsible if there is an episode like this. Moreover, any dog might react badly when a child tries to take away its food. In fact, you must not allow children and dogs to have food near each other.

In fact, I might react badly if a child tries to take away MY food…

I will never forget being across a table at a cast party where a guest’s toddler was reaching for food at a buffet table. The host’s Husky was right next to little girl, watching the food and eying her, and just as I started to warn the parent, the dog suddenly chomped down on the kid’s face as she put a cookie into her mouth. There was blood everywhere. The owner of the dog said that the pet had never bitten anyone, ever. I believed her, but the dog, the food and the child should not have been in the same place. Guess who paid the price.

This was not the dog’s fault, and Bowser probably wasn’t at fault either. Ann Althouse, a dog enthusiast, wrote today, “I just wanted to say that this couple did the right thing in putting the dog down.” I don’t know how she can say that. The incident was their fault, not the dog’s. Since no dog should be put in the position Bowser was, it was their obligation to make sure he was never put in that situation again, that’s all, and that their son was always supervised in interacting with the dog going forward. Their attitude, clearly, was “better be safe than sorry.” If that was their thinking, then they should have “re-homed” Bowser before the baby arrived. There is always a risk. Do these “social influencers” bother to check the web that is their livelihood? The warnings about dogs and babies are everywhere.

I have sad experience with this issue. When my son was 8, his beloved Bassett Hound, Chief, attacked him for no reason at all. In his year with us, Chief had had some strange episodes when he became disoriented and clamped down on my arm or my wife’s—his eyes rolled back in his head, and it was clearly some kind of fit. He loved Grant, and we never imagined this would happen with my son. But it did: Chief woke up when Grant sat down next to him on the sofa, and went after him. It was our first Jack Russell Terrier, Dickens, who saved the day, bounding into the room, leaping on Chief’s back like Rin Tin Tin and fighting the larger dog off my son. Then Chief snapped out of it; it was like he didn’t know what had happened. I took him out to the back yard, where he leaned against me and wimpered for a long time. Then I started crying. I have never seen an animal so clearly trying to say, “I’m sorry!” I’m getting upset now as I write this…

We had to put him down; the vet confirmed that the breed occasionally has this strange problem, and when one does, nothing can be done.

But that wasn’t what happened with Bowser, who sounds like a typical high-spirited Bull Terrier. As is the case so often, the dog had to die because the owners were irresponsible.

There is a silver lining here: the episode may have pulled the metaphorical wool from over the eyes of the fools who looked to this couple for “life tips.” Several have commented on how the Phillippi’s first instinct after putting down their dog was to get a video up to profit from it, and social media—Live by social media, die by social media!—is flaming these “influencers.”


“Social influencers” are one of the more horrible unforeseen consequences of the video age, cynical, venal, mostly shallow people who exploit the insecurity and vulnerability of the lower end of the intelligence and competence spectrum to wield power they neither deserve nor can handle responsibly, while becoming rich in the process.

And sometimes, they get their dogs killed.

15 thoughts on “Ethics Dunces: “Social Influencers” Dan And Nikki Phillippi, And, Come To Think Of It, Anyone Who Follows Them, And, Come To Think Of It, Anyone Who Follows ANY “Social Influencers”

  1. Those monetized influencers are starting to show up at pop culture conventions to hawk their autographs and photo ops. The teens pack the place and stand in long lines to meet them. It’s insane.

  2. I would have never known about them if you hadn’t written about this incident. I don’t follow anybody. Unless you count reading this blog and the comments following someone. However, I mainly read the posts and comments here because of the content of the posts and the quality of the comments.

  3. For the life of me I cannot fathom why anyone would feel the need to euthanize an animal unless the animal is incurably sick or injured. I just read where a woman jogger was attacked by a mother bear who came between her and her cub. They killed both the mother bear and the cub. For what? These animals are behaving normally. It is we who are violating their space and it is we who should be able to process that information and translate it into appropriate behavior on our part. What makes us believe that we as humans who have the ability to reason and comprehend complex issues are never at fault when an animal harms us. Who are we to say that only the animal must suffer the consequences of our own stupidity or ignorance.

    There is a giant chasm that separates incurably vicious dogs from dogs that nip from time to time. I am not going to blame people for making mistakes but there are alternatives to euthanasia. It may take some time and effort to find the animal a suitable quality environment in which the animal can live safely, but it is ethical thing to do. I am not a PETA nut but I believe that once we take dominion over an animal it becomes our responsibility to do what is in the interest of the animal and not specifically what is in our interest.

  4. Man, this one hit me hard.
    I was just telling some friends that my old dog would have turned sixteen today (put her down a couple of years ago – on my birthday – because she developed a very aggressive form of bone cancer).
    Dogs give us the greatest love and deepest sadness, and I wouldn’t trade that for the world.

  5. I used to make videos growing up just to show them to my family…now I make them and upload them to YouTube. HAHA

    Haha. I used to do impressions of entire Ed Sullivan Shows for my parents and brother in the kitchen as we finished dinner. (“We have a really big shoe tonight. Really big.”) But I got over it.

  6. The influencers set the dog up for this. Right along with house-breaking, you have to get the dog — puppy — not be aggressive about their food. when you feed the dog, pet them, scratch their ears, etc so they become accustomed to being touched while eating. Also pick up the food bowl several times during the meal, again getting them used to this happening. {If its an adopted grown animal, a stout glove would be useful.) Most shelters test for this… they have a plastic hand on a stick to mess with the food, to see how the dog reacts. Our heroes here most likely don’t have time for such plebeian activities, even though the process could make for some useful videos. Sure beats making a video of killing your dog…

    • Absolutely correct. Guarding behavior can be very dangerous, and should ideally be trained out when the dog is a puppy. A dog trainer should have been able to help eliminate this behavior through training, assuming the dog isn’t otherwise vicious. That should have been done before they had a baby. It is a step they could have taken before putting the dog down.

      My dog was trained from the time she was a puppy not to exhibit guarding behavior, and she will let you take food right out of her mouth without batting an eye. If I could figure out how to make her stop bringing leaves, little sticks and acorns into the house I wouldn’t need to take things out of her mouth, but that is a whole other training scenario. She likes being chased and has figured out how to incentivize me to do so: grab something she isn’t supposed to have before coming in the house from the yard. Whoops.

  7. My current dog, a miniature Schnauzer, was given up by its prior owner after she became pregnant and didn’t want a new baby and a dog. The dog was a blessing for my late wife who loved all animals except birds, even though she had a pet turkey as a child. At the time we adopted our first child we had a cat, an English Springer Spaniel, and a German Shepherd. The cat stayed away and the dogs and children were taught how to behave. The spaniel acted like a huge stuffed toy and the shepherd would have likely killed anyone who tried to harm the children or take their food. The current dog, Boozer, is getting old and I am dreading the time I have to once again make that hard decision. The cat he often shares a bed with will probably miss him too.

  8. What an awful story. I will share mine as an alternative.

    In 2018, our son and daughter-in-law gave birth to their first child, an absolutely adorable little girl. Eight months later, she managed to crawl into the master bedroom and somehow startle/upset/scare their twelve-year-old shar-pei/whippet mix, who bit back in return. It was not a bad bite, just barely enough to break the skin. But the decision was made to remove the dog from the house.

    Our son contacted his friends (he lives in the Phoenix area) to see if anyone would take Bailey – none of them could. Putting her in a Craigslist ad was fraught with peril, as many dogs are collected as bait dogs in dog-fighting rings – a horrific and intolerable end for a really good dog. So our son called us and asked if we could possibly take her.

    I had never owned a pet in my fifty years of life, and my first response to my wife was absolutely not. Rather than get upset with me, she suggested I think about it and pray about it. If the answer was still “no”, we would tell our son and he would have to put Bailey down. I prayed about it and thought about it. We had known Bailey on and off since our son had rescued her ten years prior, and she was always a good dog and well-behaved. She loved to be petted and wagged her tail in the cutest circle when she was excited.

    I couldn’t bear to see her put down, so I relented. We were planning to visit them anyway, so we drove from central Iowa and, in April 2019, brought her home to Iowa. Bailey has been an absolute joy to have. She immediately adapted to her new environment, was incredibly happy and content, and quickly became something of a celebrity in the neighborhood, stopping on her walks to let all kinds of children love on her and pet her. Her first winter with actual snow saw her prancing in the snow, filled with wonder. When we sold our house this last fall and moved to an apartment, she again made the move completely without issue (except for two accidents, one of which was our fault).

    Bailey is now fourteen and liver issues are starting to creep into the picture. She is otherwise happy and healthy, but she has outlived the average lifespans of both her breeds, and the vet said the liver numbers could indicate she has four to six good months left. We are starting construction on what will be our retirement home – they just dug the hole last week and the builder estimates four to five months to completion. We actually started construction a little early, hoping that we could take Bailey down there a couple of times before her time is up.

    I thank the Lord every day for that dog. She has been a fantastic addition to the home. We could never EVER replace her – in fact, we don’t plan to. Our son has thanked us several times for “re-rescuing” Bailey and we are so happy with her.

    Don and Nikki Phillippi are cruel for putting their dog down. They are lazy for apparently not pursuing other options as our son did. And they have selfishly denied someone else the opportunity to have a story and an experience like ours.

    Shame on them! They should have no influence over anything social.

      • Jack, that’s an incredible honor and I am humbled, given the level of feedback in this forum. Thank you.

        Three years ago, if someone would have told me I was going to have a dog, I would have said something negative about his/her sanity. When I think of all the times we visited our son and I was somewhat annoyed by Bailey’s desire for friendship and a pet, I’m awash in guilt. I now give her pets all the time!

        As I type, we are lying in a hotel in New Mexico, heading back home from a week at the kids’ place in Phoenix. Before I pulled out my laptop and read your piece on Dan and Nikki, we talked about how we missed Bailey and were excited to see her again. The people at the boarding place just love her, too. It’s remarkable how actually owning a pet has transformed my perspective from three years ago. Thanks again, and thank you for the pets you have rescued. You have a very good idea of how we feel.

  9. Those people are monsters. My brother and I were told to never bother Fritz, our daschund, when he was eating. Our dad grew up around animals on a subsistence farm in West Virginia, so he knew about animals and made clear to us that animals needed to be respected. They weren’t low grade humans, they were animals and acted accordingly. If Fritz has ever snapped at us, we’d probably get in trouble because it would have likely indicated we’d somehow failed to respect his “dogness.” Not that our dad would have had us put down, but Fritz would definitely have been givien the benefit of the doubt, unlike my brother and I.

    Mrs. OB and I are done with dogs after forty years of dogs, not including our childhood dogs. As you get older, it gets terribly difficult to have to put them down when they get old and feeble. No mas.

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