YouTube’s Arf, who did not want to be named for this article, loves Gabe the Dog.
"Gabe is far and above my favorite meme," he told The Verge on the phone. "Usually you like a meme for a week and then it becomes so oversaturated that everyone kind of moves on to the next thing. But I still enjoy Gabe."
Gabe is a miniature American Eskimo dog owned by YouTube user gravycp. In January 2013, gravycp uploaded a short video of Gabe barking. The footage itself never went viral though it was used in dozens of song remixes, some of which accrued up to half a million views. By meme standards, Gabe was far from a success. Gabe was a blip.
But Arf is giving Gabe a second life. Three years after Gabe’s 15 seconds of fame, Arf is making videos that splice Arf with pop culture.
Arf’s grew up making skateboarding videos with his friends, and now has a day job in advertising. He learned animation as a way to expand his professional skill set, only to discover the talent could help him in the Gabe revival.
here comes the gabe revival
Arf says he made his first Gabe video for a friend who was going through a hard time, but people started subscribing to his account and asking for more Gabe videos, so he supplied them. The original Gabe remixes just chop up gravycp’s footage and mess with the pacing, but Arf’s more recent videos integrate Gabe into the theme songs for beloved classic movies, as well as some of his favorite ‘80s songs.
Each video is about 30 seconds long, about as long as anyone would want to listen to Gabe barking.
They’re sweet, silly visual jokes that prove the best way to make something truly funny and enjoyable is to stick to what you like. Arf says he only makes videos of songs he really loves: "All the songs are based on films and shows are films and shows that I kind of grew up with and really like. The ‘80s music ones are songs that are kind of a guilty pleasure of mine. It’s just a matter of having that song stuck in your head."
My favorite is "Jurassic Bork," which recasts Jurassic Park’s dinosaurs — that once inspired such awe in Laura Dern & Co. — as colossal barking Gabes. A close runner-up is "Physical Borks," which remixes Olivia Newton-John’s "Physical" with Gabe barks and barking Gabe-shaped pectoral muscles. It’s all nonsense of the best kind.
Now, Arf is just worried that he’ll kill the meme he’s loved for so long. "What’s made Gabe endure is that it’s been a bit of a slow burn. The dog never really hit the same level as Doge. It probably will become oversaturated, I’m already wondering if I’m overdoing it with these videos..."
In three months, his YouTube channel has accrued over 14,000 subscribers, and his most popular video (a remix of the original Ghostbusters theme) has over 340,000 views. He attributes the success to Facebook and Reddit. And recently, a French newspaper reached out to him for an interview. This is, in theory, just the beginning of Gabe’s return.
Perhaps death is the true metric of a meme’s success. In which case, Arf and every viewer may finally be giving Gabe — the meme, not the dog — the rest it so rightfully deserves.