Bowl ads with dogs both hit and miss

Pete Keesling

Ah, Super Bowl weekend. Let the parties begin! More importantly, let those television commercials begin! Last year, a pug with a passion for Doritos made the top 10 list for commercial success, along with a group of dogs throwing a party and serving Bud Light. This year, we’ll have rottweilers and Doritos, and a chorus of dogs with Volkswagens. All designed to make us laugh while we go out and buy their brand.

But there’s also some controversy brewing this week about an ad that Skechers has produced. It features a french bulldog in Skecher shoes at a greyhound race track. The message is their shoes can make anybody (or at least a little bulldog) faster. Greyhound advocates are furious. They believe the images in this commercial legitimize the the sport of greyhound racing, where hundreds of these dogs are exploited and abused. Mistreatment of racing dogs is well-documented. Often, they’re poorly housed, poorly fed and severely mistreated as they train to race. Dogs that don’t win races are often just discarded, left to survive on their own unless they end up in a shelter. Little has been done to correct this. Instead, most people look the other way, giving tacit approval of the abuse.

I’ll take sides with the greyhounders here. Whoever produced this advertisement showed poor judgement at the very least. On its surface, it shows callous disregard for the plight of both greyhounds and whippets. I hope Skechers pulls this ad. If they do, they’ll show a compassionate side that just might give them the positive publicity they want. Let’s hope they do the right thing.

Meanwhile, the Super Bowl of dog shows is nearly here. The 136th Westminster Kennel Club dog show from Madison Square Garden will be held Feb. 13 and 14. There’s going to be 2,000 dogs representing 185 different breeds competing for top honors. This includes six new breeds recently recognized by the American Kennel Club. Try pronouncing some of these names; the Entlebucher mountain dog, the Norwegian Lundehund, the American English coonhound, the Finnish Lapphund, the Cesky terrier and the Xoloitzcuintli, previously known as the Mexican Hairless. I’ll bet none of your neighbors has one of these dogs in the backyard!

You can watch the show on television (USA Network and CNBC will cover the competition). Maybe your pooch will want to join you on the couch to view the proceedings. See if you can pick any of the winners in the preliminary rounds. Will a hound take top honors this year? Or will it be a terrier or a working breed? Whoever it is, there’s sure to be a lot of excitement.

And now for this week’s very appropriate question.


Our dog loves to watch TV with us. My friends say I’m crazy, but I know for a fact. Mort watches TV and one of his favorites shows is football (he’ll be there while we watch the big game this weekend). Is this unusual? Do other dogs watch television? Or is Mort a special dog?


Actually, lots of cats and dogs sit in front of the tube and watch what’s on the screen. It really does look like they’re entertained by whatever’s “on the air.” But scientists tell us that their fascination with television is not quite what you think.

First, dogs and cats have eyes that are different than ours. Their vision, including focal distance, doesn’t work the same as their human counterparts. More important, they process visual objects differently. While you and I follow that long pass into the endzone, Mort is probably focusing on something different. To him, a lot of things are happening on that screen and some of it is a blur as the camera pans down the field to the receiver at the other end. In short, he probably focuses on something entirely different than what you see.

So does Mort like to watch TV with you? Of course. Do other dogs and cats do the same? You bet. Are you crazy to think that Mort is a very special dog? Absolutely not! Enjoy the game and your time with your furry friend.

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