Bored as I’ve become with the whole “bucket list” concept — for humans and dogs — I couldn’t help but being impressed with Subaru’s Impreza ad.
Subaru turns to dogs for its advertising more than any car maker — and continues to put out better ones than any car maker, even as other companies begin to catch on to the power pooches have in marketing.
This one reminded me of the year-long trip and Ace took across America five years ago, We didn’t called it a bucket list, preferring to have the fun we had before our bones got too creaky, and before one or both of us was on death’s doorstep.
(We called it Travels with Ace. It never turned into a published book, but you can read almost all of it here.)
This ad (extended version) for the 2016 Impreza tells the story of a man and his aging dog having one last journey and completing a “bucket list” of treats for the dog.
Those include a brand new show to chew on, an unauthorized dip in a motel pool, a bone for the dog’s 14th birthday, reuniting with an ex-lover and more — all with Willie Nelson singing in the background.
The tag line: “It’s not just the miles in life; it’s what you make of them.”
Carmichael Lynch, the advertising agency, cast an 11-year-old rescue dog named Monkey in the lead role.
Willie Nelson, an avid animal rights activist, gave the agency permission to use the song — “I’ve Loved You All Over the World” — at a reduced rate.
Subaru launched the spot last July.
You can find more of our “Woof in Advertising” posts — looking at how dogs are used in marketing — here.
If you were built like a bowling ball, you too might have a propensity for rolling.
Bulldogs sure seem to.
Sophie was just a two-month old pup when her owners noted how much she liked rolling, caught it on camera and posted it on YouTube. It would turn out to be the first in a series of rolling Sophie videos.
“Usually she just throws herself onto her back and rolls around but the first few times she did it she happened to be on a sloping hill … I just set her down to go potty and as you see in the video, she threw herself down on the ground and rolled down the hill,” her owner wrote in a YouTube post.
“I picked her up, terrified that she had ‘fallen’ down this hill but I put her back down and she just did it again and again, 4 more times with such gusto we realized she was just having a ball! We were a bit afraid that she had ‘issues’ but she’s perfectly fine. We contacted the breeder and it turns out Sophie’s mother did the same thing.”
More recently, another rolling bulldog debuted on the Internet and quickly went viral:
So what’s behind it?
One plausible theory could be, in addition to seeming to enjoy the activity, they may be scratching some itches.
Given how humans have shaped the breed, an English Bulldog — with its short legs, short neck, and non-existent snout — isn’t able to reach too many parts of its body with its paws or mouth.
Human manipulation of the breed has led to far more severe, and less laughable, problems than that, including having heads so large most have to be born through C-sections. But they’ve adapted to the shape we’ve given them — at least in this regard.
They let the ground be their back scratcher. They roll over and squirm around on their backs — even though getting in and out of that position is sometimes a struggle.
To cope with that, they find a good hill, allow momentum do its job, and let the good times roll.
One abused dog comforted another this week at a veterinary clinic in South Carolina, and this saintly image of their meeting is one for the scrapbook.
Sammie, on the table, is a three to four-month old puppy who has dragged behind a car, shot in the head and spray painted.
He was dropped off at a shelter by a woman who claimed he was a stray and said she had brought him there “because he wouldn’t die,” according to Rescue Dogs Rock NYC.
While that’s still a possibility, Sammie, a boxer mix, is being treated for a bullet hole in his head and two seriously injured legs, one of which he may end up losing. He underwent three hours of surgery on Tuesday.
Earlier this week, another dog at the clinic, a border collie named Simon, found his way into the room where Sammie was, and offered what — to human eyes — appears to be some comfort.
Simon also was a victim of some abuse and neglect, and is currently being treated for mange.
Both were rescued from shelters in South Carolina, and ended up at the same vet in Columbia, thanks to the efforts of Rescue Dogs Rock NYC.
You can read more about Sammie’s story on the organization’s Facebook page.
Contributions to help pay for Sammie’s continuing medical care can be made through a YouCaring page set up by Rescue Dogs Rock.
Rescue Dogs Rock is a not for profit animal rescue founded in 2015 whose mission is to raise awareness of the plight of homeless animals — both those in shelters and those who are strays.
Take a decent idea, give it a cute name, and there’s no telling how far — in the age of the Internet — it might go.
Paw-ternity leave, not an entirely new concept, is drawing some major attention this week — the root of which, best I can figure, was a story in London’s Daily Mirror.
To read the headlines that one story has spawned in the echo chamber that is the Internet you’d think giving employees paid time off when they get a new dog was an idea that was sweeping the nation, if not the globe.
Not quite — though we wouldn’t mind if it did.
The Mirror story mentions two companies in the UK — one of them being Mars Petcare, which provides 10 hours of paid leave for employees with new pets, the other being a small British tech support company whose owner offers up to three weeks of paid leave when employees bring a new pet home.
“Pets are like babies nowadays so why shouldn’t staff have some time off when they arrive?” said Greg Buchanan, who owns Manchester-based IT company BitSol Solutions. “The first few weeks of a dog moving to a new home is a really important time, especially (with) puppies.”
“I don’t have kids myself but I do have dogs and I understand how much they mean to people,” he added.
In an interview with USA Today, Buchanan said he took a week off from work to help a new puppy get settled in his home.
“We got a puppy from a rescue home and we realized it needed to be looked after properly, so I took a week off to ensure it was welcomed into the home, and to set boundaries for the dogs. You know, ‘You can’t chew the couch’ and ‘You can’t jump on the television,’ things like that. And it went from there, and my dog is now better for it,” says Buchanan.
After that, he began offering employees paid leaves when they got a new pet. He says the policy has helped improve office morale.
The Mirror article also cites a survey by pet insurance provider Petplan that found almost one in 20 new pet owners in the UK has taken paw-ternity leave.
“The rise in new pet owners taking paw-ternity leave indicates that people recognize the importance of settling in new pets with the right support and care,” said Petplan’s Isabella von Mesterhazy. “The early days of a kitten or puppy’s life are a vital part of the pet’s early development – especially for them to become a proper part of the family.”
Even though this may be more marketing than science, we can’t help but like the results of this experiment in Australia.
Researchers, in an experiment funded by Pedigree, found that not only do our heart rates lower when we and our pets are together (as everybody knows by now), but they begin to mirror one another.
True, only three dogs and owners were involved in the study. True, the main interest of the company that sponsored it is to sell dog food. And true, what’s new about their findings — how closely the heart rates align — is probably of more poetic than practical use.
But still … It’s good to have a little science (if it can be called that) confirm our feelings of being in sync with our dogs.
In the experiment, three Australian dog owners separated, and then reunited with their pet in a staged but homey setting to see what kind of effect they had on each other’s heart rate.
Both dogs and owners were equipped with heart monitors.
“There was a really strong coherence in the heart rate pattern of both the owner and dog. Upon being reunited within the first minute, each heart rhythm became almost directly aligned and we saw a reduction straight away,” Mia Cobb, canine scientist and demonstration co-conductor told The Huffington Post Australia.
“This project is a really good illustration of what most owners experience every night when they come home from work and are reunited with their companion,” she added.
Here’s another special report from your favorite worry wart.
No sooner do I bemoan one high-tech invention for dog owners than another comes rolling along, equally worth fretting about.
This one is a 3-inch remotely controlled orange ball, with a high-def camera inside, that you can watch and listen to on your cell phone.
Its makers boast it will “usher in the future of human-pet interaction.”
Let’s hope not.
It’s called PlayDate, now in the Indygogoing stage, and like many other contraptions hitting the market, it’s designed to make all the time your dog spends alone more bearable for him, and more entertaining and guilt-free for you.
The problem I have with that, as I’ve stated before, is how it lets dog owners shrug off the responsibility of dog ownership and diminishes the bond between dog and owner.
What I fret about is that the “future of human-pet interactions” could be long-distance, computer-assisted, virtual and heartless — exactly opposite of what dogs need, and exactly opposite of the reasons for having a dog in the first place.
A Manhattan inventor has come up with what the New York Post called “the next big thing for man’s best friend.”
Company co-founder Kevin Li says he got the idea for PlayDate after adopting his Rhodesian ridgeback-Lab mix, Hulk, three years ago.
“Looking at his sad face every time I left for work, I realized he … needed more time with his best friend.”
So Li (and we hope he worked from home at least a little bit) invented a ball for Hulk to play with — one he could control remotely, issue commands through, observe his dog through, and make squeak.
An adjunct computer-science professor at Columbia, Li described the $249 gadget as “Fitbit meets iPhone localization.”
He has already raised more than $200,000 on Indiegogo and has sold out of pre-orders.
With the rechargable ball, a pet owner can watch and listen to their pet, take photos, and record video, all from their iOS or Android device.
A stabilized camera inside provides real-time HD images. And a clear, replaceable outer shell protects the inner workings while allowing the camera — slobber aside — to see out clearly.
There are just three simple steps, its makers say: Download the free app, connect to wi-fi and “usher in the future of human-pet interaction.”
Sorry, but talk like that scares me, as do a few other things.
The shell of the ball is made of a strong, chew-resistant polycarbonate, designed to withstand rambunctious play, according to its makers.
I hope that has been well tested, because I’d prefer not to think about what swallowing a little camera and a lithium polymer battery might do to a dog (or cat).
In the world of pet products, many a toy marketed as indestructible has proved otherwise.
Even PlayDate’s makers are saying that part might take some fine tuning:
“As we put PlayDate’s smart ball in front of more dogs and cats, we may discover the need to make aspects of its design more robust; any pet owner will tell you there’s no such thing as an indestructible toy. We have purposefully designed features like the replaceable outer shell with this in mind. Additional design changes may be required as we perform more testing.”
And what, I wonder, will be the effect of communicating with — and issuing orders to — your dog via an orange ball? Seeing an orange ball wandering around the house on its own, and hearing a disembodied voice come from it would, at the very least, be confusing, I’d think.
I’m all for keeping a dog active, engaged and feeling loved when the owner is away. But it’s a mistake to assume that technology can make up for failing to give your dog adequate attention.
And — needless to say — one shouldn’t get a dog in the first place if one is unwilling or unable to give him or her their time.
Face-time, I mean, with no cameras, or wi-fi, or remote controls involved.
Before we usher human-pet interaction “into the future,” it might be wise to question whether we really need to take that trip.
Didn’t we pretty much have it down just fine already — most of us, anyway?
He goes by the nickname “Wolfdog.” Lives in Alabama’s great outdoors. And he spends most of his time, along with his dog, Bandit, picking trash — copious amounts of trash — out of the waterways.
It’s not a job. He doesn’t get paid. He says he does it out of his love for the planet and its wildlife.
“I’m not asking anybody for anything. I’m not a charity case. I ain’t a bum. I’m not a mooch,” says 55-year-old Cliff Skees. “But I do care about the environment. I care about wildlife. I care about human beings, but human beings, they take one look at me and they say, ‘Well, he’s just a piece of trash, you know.’
“Maybe I am. But then again, maybe I ain’t. I can look myself in the mirror and say I’m trying.”
We’ll go so far — despite the hard times he’s gone through in life — to cast a vote for “ain’t.”
And to point out that, most likely, a lot of those people who see him as “trash” are the same ones who so casually discard it, cluttering the waterways around Mobile, Alabama.
Skees is an unpolished gem, first discovered four years ago by Ben Raines, an environmental reporter for the Mobile Press-Register.
At the time, Skees was living the woods and was commonly seen with Bandit, gathering garbage from the shores from a canoe with these words painted on the side, “Be a critter, please don’t litter.”
Raines wrote a story back then about the man and his mission. He followed along as Skees — and Bandit, too — scooped up trash from the water and returned it to their base, where 140 bags full of garbage, stacked and numbered, sat.
“It was a startling sight, and a testament to just how trashy we Alabamians are, for even with that much trash picked up, so much more remained along the river banks,” Raines wrote.
Recently, Raines ran into him again — and found out that, while Skees’ mission remained the same, his situation has improved somewhat. You can read that second story here.
After the first story appeared, someone donated a pontoon boat to Skees, and he turned it into his base of operations.
Raines happened upon Wolfdog and Bandit again last week at a boat ramp on Chickasabouge Creek.
“They both looked prosperous and had a certain spring in their collective step. I immediately had the feeling some good fortune had come their way,” Raines wrote.
“Mr. Ben!” Wolfdog shouted, “You’ve got to see my rig. Things are different these days.”
Wolfdog then showed off the houseboat he had fashioned from the pontoon boat — one complete with solar panels, an electric motor, and other features that he fashioned out of recycled materials and some “backwoods hillbilly ingenuity.”
“The woodwork is top notch. Glossy marine varnish shines from every surface. There’s a bed, a table, a propane stove and several small windows. The framing for the insulated walls is aluminum, to better resist rotting. Everywhere you look, the craftsmanship is meticulous,” Raines reported.
An anonymous donor gave Skees the old 1979 pontoon boat after the first article appeared, apparently to support his one-man cleanup mission.
While friends donated items to the houseboat project, Skees receives no support for his efforts to keep the waterways clean — except that which Bandit supplies. When they are out in the canoe, Bandit will leap off to collect cups and plastic bottles in his mouth.
Wolfdog says he hopes to set a Guinness World Record for picking up trash, and he still dreams of finding some support from the local environmental groups.
“I can’t get nobody to help me. That’s what breaks my heart the worst. I can’t even get a thank you,” Wolfdog said. “I think they look at me and they see trash…
“I won’t give up. Get discouraged sometimes. But my best work, the best of my work, don’t come nowhere close to what I leave behind … There’s just no comparison. No comparison. Not nowhere close.”
Skees says it was on his first canoe ride that he fell in love with the solace of canoeing.
That trip is also when, seeing trash in the water, cleaning it up began his calling.
“For certain for sure,” he said. “There aren’t enough words in my vocabulary to talk about it.”
If you are interested in helping Wolfdog and Bandit with their mission, contact Raines at firstname.lastname@example.org.