Bryan Reisberg can’t go a day without hearing someone yell, “Is that Maxine?” They’re referring to his internet-famous corgi who explores the streets of New York City with him—while stopping for the occasional starstruck selfie—riding in the backpack Reisberg designed and named after her.
The Maxine One was born of necessity when the Metro Transit Authority banned dogs from riding the subway in 2016 unless “enclosed in a container.” New Yorkers got creative, trying everything from designer purses to large shopping bags with cut-out paw holes to avoid a pricy fine.
Determined to keep bringing Max to work with him, Reisberg started brainstorming ways to keep her comfortable on their daily commute. A regular tote bag didn’t evenly disperse her weight, and she fell out of the first backpack he tried. “I knew I could do this better,” says Reisberg, who then began developing his own pet backpack to give other pet parents a safer solution.
Using Maxine’s devoted social media following to nudge open a few doors, Reisberg and his wife, Alex, found a manufacturer who could help bring their vision to life and got to work building prototypes. It was important to them to include features they hadn’t found in other products: thicker fabric and sturdy handles to ensure all the pressure isn’t put on the shoulder straps when hoisting pets into place, neck support for pups who doze off on their way home from a long day at the office, even a tail port.
“It’s different,” explains Reisberg, who notes the backpack is also great for dogs with mobility issues. “I’m not trying to make the same thing that somebody else is making.”
When the Maxine One made its debut, it sold out in just four minutes and demand has remained high. Reisberg hopes to expand to accommodate more sizes in the future.
“I didn’t see a pot of gold, that’s not why I did this,” Reisberg says. “Every day is surreal and weird, and we feel so fortunate. Every day, we pinch ourselves.”
While many content creators on social media gauge success by their follower count (Max recently reached 1 million on Instagram) or celebrity interactions (Ed Sheeran is a fan), Reisberg loves hearing from people who are making memories with their pets. One woman shared a story about her sick pup who was able to take one last amazing hike with their family before dying just a few days later.
“That one always gets me,” says Reisberg.
Maxine’s Instagram (@madmax_fluffyroad) is flooded with messages from people across the country taking their dogs on epic adventures in their new Little Chonk backpack—by train, scooter and motorcycle, to beaches and mountaintops and everywhere in between.
“I used to think the best feeling in the world was telling a good joke or getting a good laugh,” says Reisberg. “But even better is getting messages like, ‘you changed my life.’ That’s crazy.”
Some of our staffers share their favorite spots to explore with their furry friends—and what they don’t leave home without!