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LIANE HANSEN, host:

You probably don't need our help to find ways to pass the time on the Internet. But there is an online distraction that can at least lift your spirits. A California couple has set up a site that's become a global Internet craze. Their hook? Puppies. Martina Castro reports.

MARTINA CASTRO: The other day, I was trying to get some work done and was feeling a little low. I caught my best friend online, and she said that she had just the cure for me. She sent me a link, and I clicked on it to find...

(Soundbite of video)

Unidentified Woman: Well, hello there hup hup.

CASTRO: Puppies. Six of the most adorable puppies you can imagine playing with each other and with their various stuffed animals and making the cutest puppy noises. They instantly cheered me up.

And it looks like I'm not alone. In the past couple of months, millions of people have discovered this live web cam and are totally hooked. A San Francisco couple set the web cam up to watch their shiba inu puppies while they were at work. But now, people all over the world are tuning in to watch the puppies on ustream.tv. That's the site that hosts the web cam. Ustream user Chicago Nikki posted this comment to the owners, quote, "I am so thankful to you for hours of peace and happiness." Even CNN picked up on it.

(Soundbite of CNN news)

Unidentified Woman: Who needs a first dog when you can watch six puppies - they are shiba inus, Japanese breed...

CASTRO: And they make a heck of a first impression.

(Soundbite of puppy whining)

Ms. LEAH MANLY: I know you don't even understand. I mean, maybe it's just my biological clock, right? But I want one so bad.

CASTRO: That's Leah Manly(ph). I found her on her laptop at a cafe in my neighborhood, and I couldn't resist showing her the puppy cam.

Describe to me what you're watching.

Ms. MANLY: Heaven. I'm watching little furry things in heaven. I want one. Yeah, I'll watch this all day.

CASTRO: But at another cafe down the road, I met software engineer Demi LaBelle(ph). And well, he didn't really get it.

Mr. DEMI LABELLE: I don't know what I should be thinking. Like, what you leave out in your - like in the background and like use your time watching puppies?

CASTRO: Don't you think they're cute?

Mr. LABELLE: Well, no, they're not that cute, actually, but they could be cuter.

CASTRO: OK. So, I guess it's not for everybody, and these specific puppies will soon be off to their new homes. But another batch of shiba inus was born recently, and they already have their very own web cam.

(Soundbite of puppy whining)

CASTRO: For NPR News, I'm Martina Castro.

HANSEN: You have one more week to check out the shiba inu puppy cam before the puppies are off to their new homes. Go to our website, npr.org, for the link to it and other puppy cams. And be aware that the owners sometimes turn off the web cam when they take the puppies out to play. This is NPR News.

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