By Susan Murphy
I saw an internet dog food ad the other day announcing the manufacturer’s “Exciting New Kibble!” This could be terrific, a landmark moment in the history of canine cuisine…that is, if you’re a dog looking for a change. Yes, there must be dogs out there who have been counting the days until the producer launched this new formula, but what about the dogs who were happy with the kibble just the way it was, those trusted family companions whose tails will droop when they discover that their tried and true kibble got the old heave-ho?
It’s a New Coke moment to be sure. I’m guessing the company tested this new recipe, probably assembled a special doggie panel to participate in a blind taste test. It wouldn’t be that hard to set up, dogs not being accomplished readers and all. My dog Buster Joe used to come running every time he heard the can opener, but I never saw him peer at the label to see whether the day’s offering was chicken or beef. He liked them both. He wasn’t all that crazy about liver, but then, who is?
I’m not sure Buster Joe would have been excited about any kind of kibble. He wasn’t big on foods that were crunchy, unless you count popcorn and Cheerios. Maybe that’s the secret to this new formula. Maybe instead of the standard carnivore flavors the company went the junk food route, covertly added a little Oil of Cheetos or Essence of Things You Might Pull Out of the Trash Can. Inject a few vitamins and minerals on the sly and you’d have a true pet/pet owner, win/win combo. That would be exciting, genius in fact.
I have no idea if that’s the direction the company’s taken. I wasn’t asked to be part of the test panel. Now that I think about it, I wonder how many dogs they did poll to determine this change. Not being a doggie scientist, I have no idea if there’s a specific number of dogs required to constitute a reliable representative sampling. Does it have to be a true crossbreed population or can you slide by with a pack of professional TV dogs already trained to careen around the kitchen corner and snarf down whatever is in the advertiser’s bowl?
And just how excited did the test dogs get? Did some lab-coated assistant stand there with a clipboard recording the amount of tail wagging elicited with each comparative bite? “On a scale from one to ten woofs, how likely would you be to choose this brand again?” And what kind of kibble did they use as a control group, some day old discount dog food pulled from the back of someone’s garage? I guess what I’m saying is, what choices did the dogs have? Unless you’re a tutu-clad Chihuahua riding around in Paris Hilton’s purse, you don’t get to go shopping anyway. You have to eat what’s put in front of you, exciting or not. That’s a dog’s life.
I don’t know why I’m getting so worked up about this. I don’t even have a dog anymore. Poor Freeway and Buster Joe have gone to the Great Doggie Beyond where I’m sure there are Cheerios and Cheetos galore. Their vitamin and mineral days are over. But, some part of me still feels the need to speak up for my canine brothers and sisters, give voice to the questions they might ask if they could.
Like I said, this new kibble might be a real canine taste breakthrough. If your dog rushes forward and wolfs it all down, tail on high-wag, I’d say it’s a winner. If he gives it a perfunctory sniff and runs off to see if someone’s left the lid off the trash can, you can file the effort under inflated advertising. Exciting new kibble? We’ll see. New Coke was a bust.