Wednesday, November 5, 2014

A "Commercial" Thanksgiving, Starring...Bungee!

Editor’s note: About a year ago, I sold a plain fawn puppy dog (“Tonka”) from my last litter to Kate Connick, who already had a neat assortment of dogs, including “Bungee,” the big white boxer with the fawn eye patch pictured below. Kate is a real dog person, and her dogs are not only beautifully trained, but also participate in her very athletic lifestyle in the tiny village of Ardsley, New York – hiking, swimming, herding, you name it! As befits such well-trained canines, they also participate in photo-shoots for magazines, TV shows and commercials and are all-round fantastic ambassadors for our breed. Below is Kate’s account of Bungee’s latest “commercial” endeavor. 

A “Commercial” Thanksgiving,

Bungee was at it again with another shoot yesterday.  This one for a brand of chewy dog treats. The company ad reps saw Bungee on John Oliver’s show & said, "Ooo, he's our dog!"  The shoot was at somebody's house that had been rented for the purpose – not a studio.  Two photographers took stills and video all day.  They told me that the theme of the product is related to dogs being regular dogs, so Bungee was basically supposed to misbehave throughout.  The material they got is intended for a social media promotion.  I think the idea was to show what a dog goes through at Thanksgiving.

The photographers loved Bungee.  They were also shooting a Berger Picard who has the look of a cuddly family dog, but was apparently more business-like and less touchy-feely than Bungee. The Berger was their "main" dog, because of his really adorable appearance.  (They might have been using him for a TV commercial, but I'm not sure.) Beautiful dog!    

The funny thing is that various cast members (and the homeowner) kept coming over and cuddling with Bungee and telling me how much they liked him.  It figures! I think the expectation is that a muppety-looking dog like the Berger should be a big stuffed animal, and a formidable-looking boxer should be a thug, so Bungee was a pleasant surprise for them (but not for boxer owners, of course).  "Bungee is soooo sweet.  THIS is the kind of dog I should have!  But...I guess that takes a lot of training, huh?"  I tell people how much exercise he gets, and they look sort of confused – mountain hiking, swimming, sheep herding?  He comes by those muscles honestly!  That being said, he really IS a sweet, mellow boxer. We were there all day, and they took tons of footage.  I think Bungee was more tired than when we climbed mountains in July & September!  He was limp by the time we got home last night.

First thing in the morning, the photographers wanted shots of him running towards the camera.  That was easy and he enjoyed it.  Simple stay & recall, over and over and over, in the backyard.  My sister Peggy, who came along to help when more than two hands were needed, said they commented on how fast he was.  They also wanted him nosing the camera lens, which was a slobbery mess, but they seemed happy about that.  I can’t imagine how they could’ve gotten anything they could use – Bungee was sliming their Canon lenses in a big way.

Next, they wanted him playing with a football (piece of cake).  They brought out two little kids who had completely ignored the dog inside.  The first thing the kids announced was how they hate football (and they didn't seem too into dogs, either). But it didn't take long before they were hysterically laughing and chasing Bungee as he ran around in circles, teasing them with the football he'd stolen from them.  He was really sweet with them.  Bungee would lie down, let them take the ball, and then attack the ball with gusto when they threw it.  I'm sure they got some good shots of that stuff.  The football looked pretty war-torn by the time we were done. The photographers also wanted him to paw at the back door to let himself in, but Bungee is kind of polite, so he wasn't going for it initially.  He quickly got the idea, though, and ultimately was throwing himself at the door and blasting it open, so the photogs got just what they wanted.

We moved to the front yard.  The kids threw leaves at his head, buried him in leaves, and continued to be silly.  Truth be told, Bungee looked pretty miserable; he wasn't exactly loving that part.  Even so, he was a good sport.  In the afternoon, other outdoor shots in the front yard had even more kids playing with him with a small, orange ball.  They were throwing it, often straight up in the air, and he'd run laps around them before lying down and waiting for them to take it and throw it again.  They got some shots of kids petting him, too, although the kids were all a bit intimidated by his size and strength.  Amusingly, the women who owned the house fell in love with Bungee.  She said she's not a "dog person," but was totally smitten.  She kept inviting her friends over to meet him.

The photographers also took a couple of shots of him eating their product.  Lots of spit and slobber.  They liked his drooliness.  I was surprised that they didn't take more shots like that, but they only got a couple of snapshots on the front porch of one woman feeding him treats.  I think the dog treats were made of chicken, but I'm not sure – they may have been promoting turkey treats for Thanksgiving?  I was too focused on the dog to pay much attention. 

There were also shots of kids walking him down the sidewalk themselves, and they got the entire "Thanksgiving family" together on the front porch for a family photo type of situation, in which the dog is supposed to misbehave.  Bungee was supposed to not sit still politely, so I'd call him out of the photo, they'd call him back and try to position him, and I'll call him out again. 

Indoors, they had Bungee rummaging through shoes left by the front door.  He sat awkwardly in a little girl's lap while she tried to see over him to watch the TV.  He sat in the kitchen, ostensibly looking up at a grocery bag with the treats in it, but that was hard, because his eyes tend to be glued to me.  I think they might have gotten some shots of him looking over his shoulder with streams of drool coming down instead.  He does a good "woe is me; I'm a starving orphan" face. Then the photographers had Bungee sitting by the Thanksgiving turkey while it was being carved, staring at the turkey and drooling.  Photographer: "Drool is crucial here." 

Another indoor scenario had an arm throwing a coat on a bed where other coats were lying.  Bungee was supposed to jump up and lie on the coats.  The bed was the highest bed I'd ever seen!  He'd jump up and lie down easily (Bungee loves comfort).  So then they asked if he could turn a circle like dogs do before they lie down.  Uh... okay?  So I'd have him jump up, spin in a circle, lie down, and drop his chin.  I have no idea if it looks authentic, but he's a really good sport about doing what I ask of him.

I think (?) that's pretty much everything.  The photographers were taking shots of him all day, and Bungee was enjoying being petted and fussed-over.  The very last thing they did was for their own amusement.  He gave one of the (two, young, blonde, female) photographers his trademark "hug" (paws over her shoulders, licking her face), and the other photographer said, "Wait! Wait!  I need to get that!  It's so cute." 

Anyway, they seemed really happy with the big guy.  He was an angel.  This was at a regular house, so we were working outside with no leash or fence, near an active sidewalk and (quiet) road, with neighbors and dogs and other distractions.  He's a good guy.  I think having a chance to play with a bunch of sugared up kids was just one big party for Bungee. 

Today, Bungee is sound asleep with Tonka lying next to him, snuggled up to his back. 


  1. Virgina... Please link the photos and commercial when it is published. This story was very entertaining.

    1. Will do, Tami. Kate has sent me copies of several other ads and photo shoots that feature her boxers -- the top photo of Bungee is from the John Oliver show. He was "playing" Justice Kennedy. :-)

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