The video appeared Monday on TikTok: a terrier happily wagging its tail as it rides a rocking, coin-operated horse in front of Santa Maria's La Bonita Carniceria while its owner does a little dance to the backdrop of The Ronettes song, "Be My Baby."
As of Wednesday, the video had gone viral, with at least 7.3 million views, capturing the heart of the internet at a time when people, perhaps, needed it the most.
Whitney Azevedo-Ramirez, 31, of Santa Maria recorded the moment Jan. 16 while the car in which she was riding stopped at a nearby intersection.
"We were driving by at the stoplight and I just happened to see him," Azevedo-Ramirez said. "I'm a total animal freak. I have two dogs of my own that are my babies."
Azevedo-Ramirez, a stay-at-home mom who has two French bulldogs she also considers her children, held on to the video for more than a week. Going by the handle of "Frenchielife805," Azevedo-Ramirez created her TikTok account in December and has posted just under three dozen videos, mostly of her French bulldogs, which have several thousand views each.
"I didn't expect anything to come of it," Azevedo-Ramirez said, expressing shock at the response to her latest video.
Her post was so popular that Azevedo-Ramirez was contacted by ViralHog, an internet media company, which purchased the video's rights and offered Azevedo-Ramirez 50% of all earnings generated. Azevedo-Ramirez attached The Ronettes song to her video.
"Once it started going viral, somebody was going to find out who he is," Azevedo-Ramirez said.
The man in the viral video is 53-year-old Guillermo Hernandez with Chiquilina, the 10-year-old female terrier mix he's had since she was a puppy. Originally from Michoacan, Hernandez moved to Santa Maria in 1985 and worked throughout the state in the construction industry for several years until he became disabled from working on the job.
Hernandez is often seen around the city riding his bicycle with Chiquilina on his head but spends much of his day hanging out in the back of the La Bonita parking lot with friends.
"He loves his dog; it's like his family," said Consuelo Valle, La Bonita's owner, who saw the viral video. "She's always riding on his shoulder and carries her in his wagon, buys her popsicles, candy and ice cream. He talks to her, asking what kind of popsicles she wants."
Hernandez had no idea what TikTok — a video service — was but was pleased the video made people happy.
"She is my doctor, my baby, my therapist," Hernandez said. "I love her more than my life."
Both Azevedo-Ramirez and Valle said they were uplifted by the video. Valle, who owns dogs of her own, including a Chihuahua, now wants to take better care of her dogs.
"The way he's happy with his dog, we can all be that happy in many different ways," Valle said.
Azevedo-Ramirez doesn't quite know why her video went viral, citing possible reasons as the pandemic, current events or people's love of pet videos.
"It just made me happy seeing other people love their animals like I do," Azevedo-Ramirez said. "I practically wanted to cry when I was taking the video. People just wanted to see something make them smile."
23 stories explaining the Central Coast's history, landscape, and traditions from Judith Dale
Judith Dale has written several columns highlighting the culture, geography and history of the Central Coast. Get better acquainted with our beautiful slice of California with this collection of her work.
Recently we had relatives visiting from Kansas. Due to COVID-19, rather than doing the usual "touristy" things such as eating out, wine tastin…
Santa Catalina Island (usually called just Catalina) is the third largest of the California Channel Islands — only Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa a…
Originally, I was only going to write about the five islands in the Channel Islands National Park. However, some military personnel stationed …
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So far we are good in Santa Barbara County, but until the first major rain, we are still in danger as our last major fires were during the months of November (Cave Fire) and December (Thomas Fire).
With over 4 million acres having burned so far this year in California, we have not had any major fires in Santa Barbara County. But with all the hot weather we have had and no rain in months, we are still in danger.
Due to arson or carelessness, 430,088 acres and 701 structures burned in these fires spanning 22 years.
We have the perfect setting for fires: thousands of acres of wilderness with rugged terrain and few roads; rainy winter weather that allows grass and brush to grow, followed by months of hot, dry weather; prevailing winds as well as sundowner winds; and people, who are the cause of most fires.
This new Space Force opens the way for Vandenberg to become a spaceport that can launch not only military missiles and satellites, but private and commercial projects as well.
La Purisima Mission is the 11th of the 21 missions founded in California.
At one time, Hollister and his partners, the Dibblee Brothers, owned all the land between Refugio Beach and Point Conception. They owned all the land grants around Point Concepcion, the Ortega family’s Refugio Grant, the La Purisima Mission lands and the San Julian Ranch.
What do Foxen Canyon Road in Los Olivos, the community of Sisquoc, the American army capturing the Santa Barbara Presidio in 1846, an elementary school and the Foxen Vineyard and Winery all have in common?
Las Cruses was a small community that no longer exists, but it has an important history.
The forest contributes nearly $103.4 million annual revenue to local businesses who gain from people visiting from all over the nation to hike, bike and camp in our mountains.
We often overlook and take for granted the importance of the river to our past development and more importantly to our future development and quality of life.
This is the bookend article to looking back at Buellton during the decade of the 1920s. This article looks at the establishment of Solvang during that same time.
Judith Dale discusses the two major events in the 1920s that set the groundwork for what the city of Buellton is today.
Judith Dale looks back to 1920, offering a timeline of progress the U.S. has made over the last 100 years. In most areas such as life expectancy, industry, technology, and position in the world, the U.S. has come a long way. However, many of the social/cultural challenges the country faced in the 1920s, are still with us today.
This month marks the 215th year anniversary of the Old Mission Santa Inés, established in September of 1804. The mission was officially named …