Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov is used to getting recognized by hockey fans. But in recent months, he’s been stopped on the streets of Philadelphia for another reason — one that is adorable, fluffy, and far less agile on the ice.
Provorov’s girlfriend, Madison Fairhurst, created the accounts earlier this summer to share cute photos and videos with friends and family, as well as with Provorov, who has been training in his native Russia since early July. The couple said they’ve been shocked to see how quickly Drake has gone viral, with fan mail coming in from all over the world and some of his TikToks getting more than a million views.
“It started with a lot of the Flyers fans loving that Ivan got a dog,” Fairhurst said in a recent video interview, with Drake perched on her lap in an orange Flyers bandanna — until he got bored a few minutes later and took to playing on the floor instead.
“Everyone loves cute puppies. And then he really just grew into his personality, and I think people can really connect with that.”
Drake — whose name was inspired partly by the rapper and partly by Center City’s Drake building — is among the latest viral pet stars to grace social media platforms, where users are hungry for adorable animal content.
There’s a lot of competition for the attention of dog lovers, but Fairhurst said she thinks what sets Drake apart is his expressiveness — the way he looks like he is smiling when he is happy and side-eyes his parents when he’s mad. It certainly doesn’t hurt, either, that his dad is a professional athlete, who still has more than double the Instagram followers of his pup (though Drake’s roughly 200,000 TikTok followers blow Provorov’s social media presence away), and that Drake has already started working with brands.
Yes, like all Instagram users canine and otherwise, Drake’s account showcases the highlights of his life — snoozing with dad on the floor and eating doggy ice cream — but he’s not afraid to share the low moments, too, like having to put on his harness or to stay in the crate for longer than he’d like.
He even documented a couple outings with his dad at the Virtua Center Flyers Skate Zone, the team’s Voorhees practice facility, and displayed his growing confidence on the ice.
“The first time, he was a little bit scared of the noise and the sound of the skates and the blades,” said Provorov, joining the interview from Russia. “But I think by the third time he went, he was running all over the place. He was chasing the puck. He was chasing me.”
“He’s so furry and so fluffy, so he really enjoys the cold,” Provorov added. “I played with him while he was on the ice. And then a few times I picked him up and skated with him, holding him, and kind of let him slide all over the ice.”
Drake hasn’t skated with any of Provorov’s teammates yet, though the couple plan to bring the dog to the rink once the season approaches.
But for now, Drake is keeping his mom company and splitting time between the couple’s Philadelphia apartment and a family home in Belmar, where the pup enjoys long walks on the beach and has recently tried stand-up paddle boarding.
Once a week, he also attends puppy obedience school, which Fairhurst said usually contains more lessons for her than for him. Last week, he was working on not jumping up and putting his paws on the table, she said.
Drake can’t wait to be reunited with his dad next month. In fact, for Fairhurst, the bond that has developed between Drake and Provorov has surprised her most, especially considering it took two years for her to convince Provorov it was the right time for a puppy.
“He’s awesome,” Provorov said. “I always loved dogs but, you know, a lot of times with the schedule and travel and currently living in the city in the apartment, [I was] thinking it wasn’t the right time or it wasn’t the best idea. But once we got him, we kind of settled in, and had the time to play around and go for walks, take him on the ice, or even run around the apartment … After that, it was all fun times and great moments.”
Someday, Drake will get a sibling, Fairhurst said, but not soon. For now, the spotlight is all Drake’s, and fans can expect the same volume of adorable content as he grows up.
“I think people have become really invested in logging on” to his accounts, Fairhurst said. “I talk to people all over the world, Fiji England. People everywhere have really fallen in love with this dog. It’s really cool.”