Who Let the Dogs In? Man’s Best Friend Gains Entree and Influence

Lately canines have been getting the attention and red carpet treatment they deserve. No longer stay-at-home dogs, they now accompany their owners to venues such as banks (right), hotels, ballparks, and even the alter. They have certainly earned their reward, since they play a role in many aspects of humans’ lives, including serving in the military, as seeing-eye dogs, companions and as conversation starters for singles.

Dog owners represent a sizable and devoted audience, and their spending has been relatively recession-proof. Thirty-nine percent of U.S. households own at least one dog, and if people with an affinity for dogs are included, that number is far higher.

Madison Avenue and Hollywood have long featured dogs based on their enormous popularity, and now other industries have followed suit. Here are ten examples of dogs’ increased exposure, ranging from media, entertainment and travel to sports and politics.

  • Madison Avenue often chooses dogs for its high profile ads, such as the Volkswagen spot called “The Bark Side” starring a canine chorus that aired during this year’s Super Bowl.
  • Hollywood celebrated Uggie, the Jack Russell terrier who nearly stole the show at the Oscars this year based on his performance in The Artist.
  • Silicon Valley companies are known for allowing dogs on their campuses. DogPatch Labs is a startup incubator, and new site MatchPuppy.com find play dates for dogs and their owners.
  • In social media some dogs have a voice with their own Twitter accounts. Among YouTube’s most popular videos are those with canines (including nearly 17 million views for VW’s ad)
  • Jonah Peretti, founder of BuzzFeed, readily acknowledges that dog related content (especially beagles) generated much of his site’s traffic. (Huffington Post is better known for cat videos)
  • Jill Abramson, executive editor of The New York Times, wrote “The Puppy Diaries” about her dog Scout around the same time she assumed her new leadership role.
  • The Oakland Athletics hosted dogs at their baseball stadium on July 19, and 718 dogs attended with their owners. (They may also have played a role in breaking the Yankees’ winning streak)
  • Hotels, especially luxury and upscale properties, such as Ritz Carlton and Loews, have long welcomed dogs, and other resorts have also opened their doors and their spas to canine guests.
  • A dog wedding, or ‘puptials’ on July 12 set a new Guinness world record for extravagance and raised $158,000 for the Humane Society of New York. Guests included 250 people and 50 dogs.
  • Dogs make news on the world stage. Mitt Romney’s dog being exiled to the roof of his car during a family vacation drew the ire of dog lovers nationwide. In contrast, Queen Elizabeth’s corgis appeared by her side in the James Bond spoof during the Olympics’ opening ceremony.

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