I don’t drink and I don’t have a driver’s license, which means that I don’t pay much attention either to beer ads or “don’t drink and drive” PSAs, even when they go viral. That’s why it originally fell to Michael Leaverton to write about this Budweiser ad about a dog waiting for his owner to come home while out on a drunk. (Also, because he found it first.)
But I am a little bit of a media geek, which means that I’m often more interested in people’s response to items in the public eye than the original things themselves. While the ad struck me as trite and manipulative, this commentary in The Los Angeles Times did bring up a question: Does having a pet mean that you give up having a life?
Michael Hiltzik didn’t like the ad, which I can understand. However, he has different objections to it than I did. His point more toward animal cruelty. The headline of the column asks, “What kind of jerk leaves his dog home alone all night?” In the text, his questions about the ad are more specific:
I can only conclude that they must be either softheaded or on Budweiser’s payroll. As a dog owner, I have these reactions:
What kind of irresponsible moron is this?
Are you trying to tell me that he’s never heard of a taxicab? Or Lyft, or Uber?
If he can’t manage to stagger home before dawn, what business did he have getting a dog in the first place?
This seems like a really weird thing to get upset about. Dogs, at some point, have to get used to their owners being gone for hours at a time. Life can’t be a constant montage of playing in the surf, throwing Frisbees, and snuggling. If nothing else, sometimes people like to snuggle with other people. Including the dog in a date is usually distracting or inappropriate, and if a date goes well, the snuggling might involve one person sleeping over.
Basically, what I’m saying is that responsible dog ownership is not the same as having a child. In their first year, a dog ages the equivalent of 15 or 20 human years; biologically, dogs are ready to start looking for other dogs to snuggle with and set up housekeeping on their own. The dog in the ad looks like he’s at about that stage. We’re not talking about child abandonment here.
One of the reasons that this gets into my craw is that every day I comb through stories about the worst things that human beings can possibly do to dogs. Sometimes I write about them. One of my recent stories freaked my girlfriend and her mother out so badly that they stopped reading my Dogster writing for a week.
The day where the worst thing I read about how humans treat their dogs is that a guy left the dog home alone for an evening is a day that I will take a great big sigh of relief.
The ad is deliberately made to tug at the heartstrings a little bit, so the dog’s worry and loneliness is a deliberate focus in order to make a point. But as much as humans and dogs should enjoy each others’ company, they should be able to have their apart time, too. As long as you remember to keep food and water regularly available, having a dog shouldn’t necessarily equal a 9 p.m. curfew every night.
What about you? Do you think the ad shows an irresponsible or cruel dog owner? What precautions do you take regarding your dog when you’re going to be out late?
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