Not What the Advertiser Intended

It’s the second time I’ve heard the radio ad. This time I listened, because I thought the two “characters” were talking about a child. The woman said “[Man’s name], I’m worried about Buddy. He’s been gone for hours.” Is it a public service announcement about missing kids, drug abuse, an ad for a car-tracker so the parents can find the teen?

No. It’s about a GPS tag and app so you can find out where your dog is while he’s out roaming!

Arrrrrgh. I’m going to assume that the dog in the commercial is not 1. a farm dog on a large acreage or 2. a pocket dog that likes to hide under or behind things for hours and sleep (as cats are inclined to do). In which case the ad is for a device to allow irresponsible dog owners to feel like they are being good people by “giving your dog the freedom he enjoys” yet still knowing where the dog is so they can go get him if they need to or want to. Something tells me the people dealing with the free-roaming dog don’t share the owners’ happy glow. Oh, and you can program an invisible fence, so if the dog goes past a certain point, your phone alerts and you can go find him.

As I recall, people tried selling similar for kids. It was pointed out that what the parent can use to track the child, someone else can also use, and the gizmo never really took off. That, and cell-phones became cheap and common, and seemed like a safer and more useful tool for finding one’s progeny. When I grew up in Omaha, it was a phone tree of parents that called the next parent down the creek, reporting on the passage of our herd. Eventually, an adult would intercept us and we’d go home for supper, if we hadn’t already broken into smaller groups and started for home on our own.

The commercial is supposed to show the user of the dog-tracker as a good, responsible person who cares for his or her pet. The dog gets to exercise and “have fun” while the owner knows where the dog is at all times. The tracker is a positive good, benefiting dog and owner.

Instead, my response was to snarl about irresponsible people who let large dogs roam and possibly get into trouble, and who can’t be bothered to take the dogs for exercise. I know, some people live in big cities without dog-walking spaces. All the more reason not to let your canine out on the loose. The commercial comes across as a bad thing, discouraging proper pet care. I’m biased. I do not like to see any dog or house cat roaming loose without an owner in sight, especially large dogs. Small dogs nip and can dig. Large dogs can do serious harm to a person without meaning to. Both sizes get run over by cars, causing a lot of emotional pain, and physical pain to the dog if it survives. I’m all for dogs going to dog parks, or walking and jogging on leashes in the company of their owners.

The ad reminds me of a number of others that struck the opposite of the intended cord with listeners or viewers. Good intention, bad execution.


19 thoughts on “Not What the Advertiser Intended

  1. If it’s any consolation, the product is likely worthless.
    Our nonverbal/autistic munchkin was stuck in the escape/explore mode for a while about two years ago. And my wife thought something like this would help when I inevitably forgot to turn on the door alarms.
    It could be linked to only one device, had a range of maybe 50 feet, and the signal would be stopped by nearly anything (including leaves).

  2. *Incoherent snarl of rage.* I’ve dealt with too many aggressive dogs that their owners thought were sweet and cuddly. And maybe they were… to their owners. To everyone else they were an active menace.

  3. IMO The larger the dog, the more it needs a large fenced-in yard.

    And yes, small dogs are allowed to be too aggressive.

  4. Automatic mental recasting.
    “Husband, I’m worried about Buddy. He’s been gone for hours.”
    “Wife, I told you to keep him in the yard. In fact, I locked the gates.”
    “You’re an idiot, husband! Buddy needs to roam free!”
    “Well, have you checked the tracker to see where he is?”
    “Oh, I used to obsessively follow him in order to satisfy my helicopter parent tendencies without actually doing any work or showing any real responsibility, but then I got bored, just like I got tired of having to walk the dog. And tired of picking up his poop. When are you going to clean up the yard, husband?”
    “I’ll get to it. Where does the app show Buddy?”
    “It better not be the dog pound again! Those interfering busybodies have no right to keep picking up my sweet Buddy! And how dare they try to cite me for letting him roam free with the space he needs!”
    “That’s why I told you to leave him in the yard.”
    “You don’t understand!” *checks app* “Huh. Buddy’s been over by Major Interstate for six hours now! He hasn’t moved since this morning… husband, he may have found a way to shed the tracker!”
    “Why don’t you go look, and if he’s not there, check the pound?”
    “Why do I have to do all the work around here?”
    “Because he’s your dog. You insisted on getting him, over my objections.”
    “Won’t you be the man of the house for once, and go do the work?”
    “I got him from the pound last time. Your turn.”
    “But… I’ll need your help to catch him!”
    “No you won’t. You told me all you have to do is shake the treat bag, and he comes running. Unlike me. You’ll be better off if I’m not there.”
    “But… well… I…”
    “Remember, after the last time, I told you. If he’s at the pound one more time, I’m leaving him.”
    “You are such a beast! Fine! I don’t need your help; I’m going to get him myself!” *stomp**stomp*slam*
    Husband checks app, and shakes his head. “You were a good dog, Buddy. Sorry you had such a shit owner as my wife.*

  5. Dorothy, very much so. At least you mentioned major road, and not the strip mall with a Chinese restaurant.

    I can still handle large, friendly dogs that are excited and forget training. Medium to large unfriendly dogs are a Problem or a Danger, and the “9mm solution” whispers to me; ah, no, better not. Both are human problems for the owner to fix.

    New neighbors have a medium size rescue that was a Problem with fear/threat demonstrations. Got introduced to me properly on a leash. Calm words, authority posture, and some good scenting moved me to friendly in dog’s view. Dog is still skittish but not a Problem. Problem seems to be the wife being constantly on edge, and transmitting her attitude to the dog as fear.

  6. Points of information:

    Giant-sized dogs, that are not puppies, enjoy exercise but… um… they are totally okay being lazy. They enjoy quick bursts of High Intensity Interval Training, which they provide themselves if you have a small fenced area for running around like idjits. But they are also okay with a nice walk morning and evening, and nothing but bathroom breaks the rest of the day. They are totally okay with adapting to sedentary human lifestyles, as well as active human lifestyles. And if you don’t make life too boring, they can make their own fun without being destructive. Giant dogs are low energy for as much of the day as they can get with. They like finding themselves a den, but they don’t really _need_ one, because they have a lot less need to den up for security.

    You never let Irish wolfhounds out running the world all alone, though. (As opposed to being unleashed but under control, with their people and/or other hounds, in eyeshot and within hearing.) It’s not a super-good idea to leave them outside alone in a fenced area for a long time, because they get lonely and bored, and will make their own entertainment. But if you let a wolfhound stray around the world without business… well, that dog is going to do whatever he feels like, without any plan, and he’ll probably do the sighthound thing of fixing on interesting goals and forgetting safety. Which is why a lot of sighthounds who know about looking both ways will get smeared by cars if running loose without a person. Also, not normally a danger to humans (unless they turn and run, and even then the dog will probably be playing if he’s well socialized, but a young bloodhound “playing” with a young kid is a bit hard on the kid who doesn’t stand still, and therefore gets knocked down before getting licked). But sighthounds will definitely attack or kill certain kinds of animals, unless trained otherwise, if said animal strikes them as being prey. And the modern home use sighthound probably hasn’t been trained to hunt some things and not others, so a small horse might look delicious.

    Obviously you change a dog’s feeding regimen, according to the work you’re asking them to do. You don’t want your dog to get fat. But even breeds of dog that _can_ stay out for hours and run around for miles, do not necessarily _have_ to.

    OTOH, the high energy medium-sized dogs and the working dogs and the territorial dogs… they are the ones who need more time outside exercising, and preferably with their people. (Especially the territorial ones, who can be dangerous if they’re not accompanied or on a fenced human territory.)

  7. I have zero sympathy for dog owners who let their dogs roam. When I was a kid, the family had a medium sized cocker spaniel mix. Blackie was a runner, if you weren’t careful, opening the front door resulted in a black streak out the door followed by a couple of laps around the block at a dead run where upon he’d come home with a self-satisfied expression. Once that was understood, the protocol for answering the door involved grabbing Blackie’s collar, clipping a leash on him, then opening the door. We were working on training the puppy out of him regarding his running, but he died of distemper before we were able to do so. Yes, it’s not always possible to keep a dog at home, but to not make the effort is not fair to either the neighbors or the dog.

  8. To me, letting your dog do whatever it wants (especially a large dog) is like letting your teenager do whatever he/she wants, and can be just as destructive.
    Ignoring reality always leads to trouble.
    Having said that, even living on acreage as we do, we have trouble with our dog – we can’t leave her outside when we’re gone for more than a few hours because she clearly roams a long way. Once she came home freshly groomed… which was worrisome…

  9. After having to clean up the aftermath of a dog attack on the sheep grazing the paddocks at our local Pony Club I am fully of your opinion about dogs wandering unsupervised. A mobile tracker app is no substitute for a proper walk with a real-paying-attention-to-my-dog human who is fully responsible – and don’t get me started about the dog walkers who think its “funny” when their uncontrolled pooch chases a rider on a horse or a pony on the same trail. The karma bus can’t come soon enough for those jokers.

    • My riding master and I had to deal with dogs that the owners let roam. We’d warned the owners, but to no avail. So when they attacked the horses and alpacas, we had to shoot the dogs. I wish we had not been forced to take that step, but we had no choice.

      • Not an action we can take here – on a private farming property, the farmer may shoot to kill, but in public-access spaces and 10-acre-block-land no guns allowed. I used to carry a hunting whip with a long thong and use that when needed.

        • I was in that situation once when hiking – no firearms allowed, on foot, and pursued by a pack of feral dogs. I discovered that I can climb a cliff face when I have sufficient adrenaline in my system. That was also *coughcough* years ago and I’d prefer not to repeat the experiment!

  10. Maybe the ad writers DID intend the confusion, to grab attention and appeal to “pet parents”.

    I leave the invective to others; I have to run.

  11. I used to make money shooting ‘feral’ dogs and cats. If they are running loose, even with a collar, they are potentially a danger to a segment of the population, either through bites, allergies, or attacks, regardless of size.

  12. > “Not What the Advertiser Intended”

    There was a car insurance ad that played on the radio, before I gave up on radio.

    [airhead female voice] “Oh! I backed through the garage door *again!*”
    [fruity assertive male voice] “Not to worry! We’ll take care of everything!”

    Since my rates had recently gone up 25% for no perceptible reason, I saw red every time that ad played. Which was about every ten minutes…

    • I remember a number of auto insurance commercials that were like that. They involved a group of idiots backing their cars into statues, taking “short cuts” through the brush over cliffs, etc. I think the message the company was going for was, “No matter what happens, it’s covered.” The message I got was, “Hey, you could be in the same risk pool as THESE people…”

  13. Tech will never be good enough to fix the problems of humans who reject the responsibilities they assume. Trying to do so is an error on the part of the technology designer.

    Not a fan of free roaming dogs.

    • Tech wii never replace personal responsibility. Neither will politics. People who believe that everything is poitical never learn.

  14. > “Not What the Advertiser Intended”

    A long long time ago, when the “super ads for the Super Bowl” craze was just starting, there was a Super Bowl ad that featured cowboys driving a herd of cats across the open range. It has become one of the most-remembered “Super Bowl ads” in the history of the genre. Everyone I’ve ever spoken to who saw it remembers the “herding cats ad.” However, almost no one can remember the name of the company that ran the ad.

    This, it is generally agreed, is Not A Good Thing from the company’s point of view.

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