Saturday, September 25, 2010

R.I.P., Rufus, First Dog of the Internet Revolution

Today I will be attending a memorial service for a dog. A very important dog, at least in the history of the Internet revolution of the 1990s in Seattle. Yet while would not have been the same place--and probably could not have launched each successive store--without the help of Rufus, Rufus was not a spotlight hog. He preferred to trot around in the background, very low to the ground.

Let me explain. Rufus's mom and dad were Susan and Eric Benson, the lead editorial and development strategists, respectively, of Amazon in its very earliest days, hired away by Jeff Bezos from Netscape. (Susan, it should be disclosed, was my boss at Amazon, and remains to this day one of the best bosses I have ever had, in any job, anywhere.)

Susan and Eric don't have children, but they had Rufus, a self-contained and contented Corgi -- for 15+ years. And Rufus was a constant around the office at Amazon, back in the cruddy old Columbia Building where we were all making history at all hours of the night.

Tradition had it that with each new store "launch"--I worked on the DVD/Video store, which launched in Fall 1998--it was Rufus whose paw "hit the button" at midnight to make the store go live. I'm sure there are photos of these moments in history--I hope today we'll get to see a few.

For a long time, Rufus's likeness was even sprinkled throughout the site, a helpful dog cartoon who'd appear in your shopping pipeline or on your suggested products pages. I'm certain there are still some Easter egg pages with Cartoon Rufus on them (send links if you have them).

Sweet old Rufus died several months ago, and in a few days he would have been 16. So today a bunch of FORs (Friends of Rufus) will be gathering at the Bensons--Jen & Liffy, Neil and Rose, Manine, Barrie and more--to celebrate the life of Rufus, the amazing experience of working with Rufus's mom and dad, and the good old days of the Web.

When a Corgi could launch a whole new website.

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