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Dogster Interviews Jude Waddy, Former NFL Star Turned Dog Toy Inventor

Julia Szabo  |  Feb 29th 2012


Jude Waddy, retired linebacker for the Green Pay Packers, Denver Broncos, and San Diego Chargers, is handsome enough to have worked as a professional model in New York City, where he now lives. But what makes himan MVP— and truly beautiful — to Dogster readers is his commitment to enriching the lives of dogs who too often become so bored by a lack of physical activity that they become depressed or, worse, tear up the furnitureand wind up abandoned or surrendered at animal shelters. Jude was inspired to invent the PhysiPet, a truly ingenious toy for active, strong, tenacious dogs of all sizes. Read on to learn more about his invention, and how it’s improving dogs’ lives. Please describe your invention, the PhysiPet. What is the concept and how exactly does it work? My PhysiPet is an enrichment device for all pets and some exotics. It works by the owner attaching their pets favorite toy or treat-dispensing toy to the PhysiPet to encourage interaction. It keeps the pets physically active and mentally stimulated in small spaces or large backyards. The PhysiPet has a tug-of-war action, but nonaggressive tug of war. The base is hollow and can be used as a storage area for treats and unused toys, but this feature also serves to increase the overall weight of the PhysiPet, creating a tougher workout! It’s very thoughtful of you to invent a toy especially designed to entertain big, strong dogs and keep them busy. What was your inspiration? My Moms dog Lexxy, a German Shepherd,inspired me to create the PhysiPet. My Mom is a retired lieutenant colonel in the Air Force and works at the Veterans Hospital, so she could not always giveLexxy the amount of physical stimulation she needed. I could wrestle with Lexxy when I visit, but my Mom cannot. So I needed to find a way to physically and mentally stimulate this brilliant dog. I then considered other pet owners, and the number of pets abandoned at shelters because of destructive and boredom issues some of them develop.Since the initial protoype,I have redesigned the PhysiPet unit to have a better center of gravity and to make it easier to assemble and disassemble. When and how did you come up with the idea? I needed a way to attach a toy, treat, or stick (in Lexxys case) to a device that could play with a pet on its own. A higher level of interactive toy for pets. The strength and size of the pet can vary, so a customizable device was the first priority. How long did it take between the genesis of your idea and the completion of a working prototype? I came up with the idea in 2005, and a year later had a modelmaker create the prototype in January 2006. I was playing football in Canada at the time, and was considering retirement. Can a performance plaything like the PhysiPet actually improve and enrich a dog’s quality of life? Exactly how and why? Yes! It will enrich any pets life because it offers a stimulating game or task to accomplish. The PhysiPet will also keep your pet’s toys confined to a specific play area (so no more lost balls under the sofa) and will increase the lifespan of the toys. Attaching toys to the PhysiPet doesnt allow the pet to consistently work on a chew toy, and significantly decreases the likelihood of pieces of toys being ripped away or eaten, which is a serious hazard. Can you tell us about a dog — or a couple of different dogs — whose lives were measurably improved by the PhysiPet? I received an e-mail from a couple in NC. Their puppy, Ilsa, is an Eskimo/Yorkie mix at 4 years old. They mentioned how the PhysiPet saves them from her biting and chewing them; she absolutely loves it. She thrashes and pulls until she cant anymore, then she is more relaxed and social because of the expenditure of her pent-up energy. Another story is of Sharon Tarlino. She has a service dog named ChuckWagon, aYellow Labrador,and he needed to strengthen his pull to better aid her in her daily tasks. Sharon used the PhysiPet to gain strength, because she cannot perform that task for him. Their lives are enriched because ChuckWagon can better aid Sharon, and now has a toy that he can use for play in ways Sharon cannot. As a professional athlete, can you relate to dogs’ natural athleticism? Yes! Like athletes, dogs have a wide range of talents, some more focused than others — like herding dogs, or dogs that can find specific items with their heightened senses. I have been watching the agility contests and long jump contests that have become really popular. Have you ever tossed a football for a dog to catch? Yes, with Lexxy, who’s now seven. She destroyed the football, so now we just kick it and she catches and thrashes it. But we also attach it to the PhysiPet to let Lexxy tug and pull on it at her leisure. Do you feel a special connection to big, strong, athletic dogs that perhaps not all pet toy manufacturers share? How does this give you and your product an advantage? I feel a great connection with all dogs, but big dogs often get less exercise than smaller dogs if they live in urban cities. I think I have identified a missing element in the pet industry that can be used in the home or at doggie daycare facilities. I know this gives me a huge advantage in the industry, and due to my personal experiences I will continue to create adaptations to the unit to further customize it for an even largerrange of pets and their people. Can playing with the PhysiPet actually help make shelter dogs more eligible to potential adopters? I think so! Many new pet owners do not realize that their personal property could be destroyed, not becauseanimals are evil, butbecause of boredom, separation anxiety, or lack of physical and mental stimulation. The PhysiPet is a great stand-in for your TV, floor, or shoes. For those hard-to-adopt pets, such as the bully breeds,PhysiPet could be the toy that would help them get adopted a bit better, to allow some assurance that the adopter’sproperty will not be destroyed. Please tell us about your commitment to lending a helping paw to shelter dogs, and your plans to use PhysiPet to raise awareness of adoptable dogs and help them become more easily adoptable. I have been thinking of a way to use the fact that I was a professional athlete to extend some help to the shelter pets. I would like to enlist the assistance of current and former NFLers to find a way to use the PhysiPet to encourage new owners to adopt! Even if we cannot use the PhysiPet to help, I know the athletes themselves can help with their celebrity and $$$, so we just have to find a way to help. What animal shelters are you working with or hoping to work with? I am working with the Washington Animal Rescue League in DC, the Humane Society of New York, Bide-a-wee, and North Shore Animal League here in New York. What’s your earliest dog memory? Did you have a dog growing up or more recently? I remember a dog escorting me and my mom to her car when I was very young. The dog didnt want to go home with us, it just guarded us till we got into our car. My childhood dog Frisky, a Shetland Sheepdog, lived to 15 years. Have you ever had a dog as a workout or running partner? Have you ever gone running or done yoga with a dog, and what was that like? Are dogs good fitness motivators? I havent consistently run with dogs, but sometimes with Lexxy. I havent done dog yoga myself, but they can be great workout partners, and they can motivate pet parents to get moving and go for long walks. I encourage my mom to go on long walks with Lexxy. Its a bonding ritual that all pet owners should incorporate in their regimen, and it’s great for human heart health. Do you have a dog now — or any plans to adopt one? I do not have a dog here in Brooklyn — I dont even have a girlfriend! I will adopt a dog once I get the PhysiPet firmly in the market and can spend more time at home than traveling and running trade shows. Its a one-man team for now! Any plans to enlist cooperation from your fellow professional athletes to help spread the word about how PhysiPet can enrich dogs’ lives? Oh, that is the primary goal! I would love the help from my fellow athletes.