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Dog Show Severs Ties with Pedigree
A little too much sad reality

I don’t feed my dog Pedigree dog food, but I am a huge fan of their ads. I know the company is pushing product, but I admire all the time, attention and high-production effort they give to promoting the adoption of shelter dogs and celebrating mixed-breed pups. Some of their ads are funny and celebratory; others make me weep in my cups (above).

On Friday, the Associated Press reported that the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show had ended its long-running relationship with Pedigree as a show sponsor. According to several stories, dog show honchos felt the adoption/shelter message and associated images of sad-eyed shelter dogs was too big of a bummer, a little too much reality.

The real bummer is the American Kennel Club’s disconnect from the problem of too many homeless dogs and outrageous euthanasia rates. The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show doesn’t happen in a vacuum even if organizers might want to pretend it does—and kicking Pedigree to the curb only highlights that reality.

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
“Like My Dog”
Song Sings Dog’s Praises

Billy Currington’s song “Like My Dog” expresses what most of us have felt at one time or another. When the country singer sings, “I want you to love me like my dog does,” it’s easy to relate to his desire for unconditional love and uncomplicated relationships. Though he’s been accused of misogyny and unrealistic expectations, I enjoy the song from a more light-hearted perspective.

Just for fun, check out this video with the whole song and let us know if you’ve ever shared his sentiments.

 

 

 

 

News: Guest Posts
Super Bowl Ads Review: Four Paws Down

Call me a cur-mudgeon, but I think that this year’s Super Bowl commercials featuring canines, well, went to the dogs. They were derivative at best, poorly conceived in the great midsection and downright cruel at their worst.  

The obvious winner was the “Here, We Go” spot for Bud Light, featuring a scruffy little Terrier mix “rescue dog.” He tirelessly fetches beer at a party—by the bottle, the six-pack and even the keg. There was a brief, nonspecific pitch to “Help Rescue Dogs” on a Styrofoam cooler at the end. Thanks for that, Buds, but beer-retrievers-as-men’s-best-friends have been done to death—by Goldens, Border Collies and others. Too bad that this was, by far, the best we got. 

VW weighed-in with a portly pup who is inspired to get in shape, alone, by the image of a passing sedan. When the dog later triumphs by fitting through a formerly too-narrow dog door, the payoff is that he gets to … chase the car??! As I watched him dash, pell-mell after the fleeing auto, I cringed at the prospect of the first cross street. 

What, do you suppose, is the one thing dogs do that gets them killed by cars, most often? The Fahrvergnügen folks need to usetheirnoggins. 

It gets worse. Skechers featured a Bulldog wearing its sneakers—to win a dog race? Granted that there’s some humor in a built-for-comfort breed acting against type, but dog racing is a pastime so inhumane that it’s banned in many states. At least they might’ve included a shoe box touting the good folks at greyhound rescue!

Nothing, however, even approaches the remarkably stupid Doritos dog spot. In it, a brindle Great Dane who has killed and buried the family cat buys his moronic owner’s silence with a bag of corn chips. The even bigger two-legged idiots were the company flacks who chose this ad from hundreds of entries in a contest. 

Was Michael Vick (his possible rehabilitation notwithstanding) unavailable to them?

News: Guest Posts
Super Bowl Pitch-Pups
Love ‘em or leave ‘em?

Last week, we blogged about the teaser for Volkswagen’s Super Bowl 46 ad, which featured a chorus of dogs barking “The Imperial March” from Star Wars. A continuation of 2011’s Super Bowl theme, “The Bark Side” was essentially an ad for an ad, and it has logged more than 11 million hits online.

On Wednesday, the carmaker released the actual game day ad, which stars a beautiful dog namd Bolt. Does it live up to the hype?

Is he wearing a canine fat-suit at the start? Keeping dogs fit and active is definitely on message for us here at Bark.

Two other dog-themed commercials are in the mix this year—so far. One, a spot for Suzuki, lands four lovely sled dogs comfortably in a Kizashi—where they groove to hip-hop as they cross the snowy tundra.

Dogs are usually an excellent addition to most commercial messages. According to a story in Media Life Magazine, ads with animals outperformed ads featuring celebrities by 14 percent during last year’s Super Bowl, and among the most effective ads during the 2011 game was a Doritos spot featuring a surprisingly strong Pug. 

But building a pitch around a dog can also be a risky proposition. A teaser for Skechers’ Super Bowl contender—a sneakers-wearing French Bulldog on a Greyhound race track—has garnered justifiable criticism for celebrating the cruel sport of dog racing.

I’ll be watching for the full Skechers commercial (ugh!) and more pups in ads this Sunday night, let me know what you think.

News: Guest Posts
Are Dogs Who Play Tough in Films Overlooked?
Martin Scorcese challenges the first-ever Golden Collar Awards

The people have spoken: Following a campaign led by Martin Scorsese, a Doberman named Blackie is in the running to be named “Best Dog in a Theatrical Film” at the first-ever Golden Collar Awards.

According to Dog News Daily, the sponsor of the awards, hundreds of Dobie devotees wrote to support Blackie after The Los Angeles Times published an op-ed by Scorsese. The Oscar-winning director wrote on Sunday that Blackie was unfairly overlooked by the nominating committee for her work in Hugo.

The director’s tongue-in-cheek piece suggested that Blackie was snubbed because of the Doberman’s imposing looks: “enormous and handsome,” as opposed to twice-nominated Uggie, a compact and cute Jack Russell Terrier. Scorsese also notes Blackie’s brave choice to portray an unlikable, mean guard dog, where Uggie played it safe as a lovable pet in Water for Elephants and The Artist. (We’re not sure why the conversation doesn’t include this year’s other breakout thespian, a Jack Russell named Arthur, who played Cosmo in Beginners.)

Blackie’s fans descended on Dog News’ Facebook page and, according to the site, posted more than 500 comments in less than 24 hours. Scorsese appeared on ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live on Tuesday to speak out again for Blackie. By Wednesday, Blackie was officially on the list of nominations.

The Golden Collars ceremony will be held on Feb. 13 at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Hotel in L.A., complete with a red carpet entrance. Organizers are hoping Blackie will attend—perhaps with Scorsese on the other end of the leash.

News: Guest Posts
A Peek at “The Bark Side”
Ingredients for a viral Super Bowl ad: Dogs and Star Wars

Dogs are to viral Super Bowl ads as wheels are to a bicycle. That is, essential. (Think: Doritos and Bud Light.) And early promo for Volkswagen’s 2012 Super Bowl ad looks to proves the point.

Taking off from last year’s Star Wars-inspired commercial (an adorable Darth Vadar wannabe tries to use the force on everything from a sandwich to his dog), Volkswagen released a teaser on Wednesday for this year’s Super Bowl commercial that features a chorus of dogs barking the “Imperial March.”

I love it, especially the scruffy Chewbacca growl. It’s almost enough to make me watch the Super Bowl—but not quite, since I know I’ll be able to watch and re-watch it at my leisure on YouTube.

Captivated by the Greyhound who steals the show in the last few seconds? Read about the creative Oregonian who conjured the Imperial Walker costume last Halloween.

 

News: Guest Posts
Three Dog Night at the Golden Globes
Hollywood Foreign Press Association loves Cosmo, Uggie and Snowy

Scene-chewing pups basked in the limelight during last night’s Golden Globes Awards. And, we have to say, we saw it coming at Bark. First, Best Supporting Actor winner Christopher Plummer gave a gracious nod to his canine costar, “my favorite Cosmo the dog,” from the lovely Michael Mills’ film Beginners, which Bark praised for its realistic portrayal of how we live with dogs.

Second, and even more high-profile, was the stage appearance of Uggie (another Jack Russell), who stole the show from his fellow Artist costars, when the silent picture stars took Best Comedy or Musical. Check out our interview with Uggie's owner/trainer Sarah Clifford in the current issue. (If you don’t believe me, watch the acceptance speech video.)

Another Bark favorite The Adventures of Tintin—based on a Belgian comic book series that featured a spunky co-pilot named Snowy—captured the prize for Best Animated Film.

We’ll be looking for more dog magic at the Oscars.

News: Guest Posts
Shelter Dog PSA’s That Make Us Smile [Videos]
There’s more than one way to inspire adoption

We’ve all seen the ads before: Chain-link fencing, sad eyes, heart-tugging music, a plea for help. Television commercials for animal shelters are incredibly effective at pulling the heartstrings—sometimes, so much that they’re hard to watch.

In recent years, though, some shelters and rescue groups are trying a different tack: humor.

The plight of homeless pets isn’t a light subject, of course, but new ads by organizations like The Shelter Pet Project and Best Friends Animal Society accentuate the positive. Instead of showing misery and helplessness, ads like these highlight the many happy—and extremely cute—outcomes of animal adoption.

They also point out what animal-adopters already know: Most shelter animals are wonderful pets that have simply found themselves in a bad situation. (Like Harvey.)

Here are a few examples of the new, cheerier breed of rescue commercials. Tell us what you think and/or point us to your favorites.

From petsaddlife.org (aka, PAL), two “dogs” discuss one of their favorite pastimes in an ad encouraging owners to find a pal for their pet:

While the American Pet Project Products Association, which backs PAL, has a vested interest in increased more pets in the home—we can’t argue with the cause.

A Beagle boy, newly in a home, marvels at his human’s funny habits in a Shelter Pet Project commercial:

The Shelter Pet Project is a public service campaign created by the Humane Society of the United States, Maddie’s Fund and The Ad Council in 2009 to encourage adoption. (Find more examples on The Project website.)

In this reimagined traffic stop, Los Angeles Animal Services shows us what life would be like if everyone loved you like your dog does:

Pups are home for the holidays in this sweet spot from Best Friends Animal Society:

Edie Brickell contributes a cute tune to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals’ light-hearted spot, including cheeky lyrics like, “If you’ve got/A little grass/Get off your a#$/Adopt a dog!”

Finally, the Valley Humane Society in Pleasanton, Calif., plays on the idea of dating sites and singleton’s looking for a lasting connection:

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Dogs in Geek Culture
Does this top 10 work for you?

A friend sent me a “Top 10 dogs in ‘geek’ culture” list. (In many circles, “geek” and “cool” are practically synonymous.) The friend who sent me this knows I always that Doc Brown’s dog in Back to the Future was named Einstein, and I was pleased to see that he made the list.

It was also entertaining to see that Superman’s dog Krypto made the list. Krypto was introduced in the 1950s comics, though Superman has no dog in some movies and TV shows.

The rest of the dogs on the list are not a big part of my geek world. I liked Scooby Doo as a kid, but have not carried a profound interest in him into adulthood. To be fair, I had always found the phrase “Rut roh” to be comical, but I’ve recently learned that this phrase is wrongly attributed to Scooby Doo, and is actually the catchphrase of Astro from the Jetsons. Perhaps Astro should be on this list.

Who do you think is missing from a proper list of dogs in geek culture, whatever that means?

News: Guest Posts
Our First-Ever Dogging the Hound Award
To Gail Collins for never letting Romney off the hook

For some achievements in life, there are established awards. For others, awards must be created—inspired by an accomplishment. And so it is with New York Times columnist Gail Collins and her relentless mission not to let Mitt Romney off the hook for his massively ill-fated decision to put his Irish Setter, Seamus, in a crate and tie the crate to the roof of the family car for an eight-hour drive to Ontario.

Yes, it’s been reported. Plenty for some. But not for Collins. The episode is shorthand for Romney, a key to understanding the man. Where’s his empathy? His reason? Was he just too cheap to hire a dog-sitter?

She hit it most recently in her November 30 conversation with David Brooks. They surveyed the Republican field, and Brooks segued to the Massachusetts governor:

David: That gives us a chance to talk about Romney and his weaknesses, which are glaring.

Gail: Dog on the roof of the car. Dog on the roof of the car.

I’m thrilled she brings it up every chance she gets, even goes out of her way to flag it. According to a Collins watcher on Tumblr, the columnist has mentioned Seamus’s sad story 23 times since she first wrote about it. A key to her fixation can be found in the last line of that story, “… every time Mitt Romney walks on stage, a sodden Irish setter is going to flash before my eyes.” And ours—if she has her way.

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