When Ben Jacobs, co-founder and CEO of Whistle, was growing up, his family had a German Shepherd named Bear who passed away at the age of five from sudden intestinal issues. A serious dog lover, Ben went on to have other dogs that brightened his life, but he never stopped thinking about what happened to Bear. And he never stopped wondering what, if anything, he could have done to better take care of him.
The thing about dogs, of course, is they don’t really complain. And while their behavior may change if something is wrong, owners aren’t always there to witness it. Ben created the Whistle Activity Monitor not only as a way to provide dog owners with up-to-the-minute information about their dog’s activity levels, but also to give insight into the state of a dog’s health.
Ben now has Duke, a very healthy Dachshund-terrier mix, who all Whistle users automatically follow. (Duke is basically the “Tom” of MySpace.) Since Duke goes with Ben to the office every day, he has lots of friends to take him out for walks, and it’s not uncommon for him to get almost three hours of activity in a single day.
On the days he doesn’t get enough exercise? Well, it’s not uncommon for him to get into a little trouble, usually of the “I just found a box of nutrition bars and I’m going to eat every single one of them” variety. Needless to say, there aren’t many days Duke doesn’t meet his “fitness” goals. With so many other dogs in the office to play with, it would be hard for him not to.
Watching Ben and Duke, it’s not a stretch to see how Ben might have been inspired to develop a device that helps strengthen the bond humans have with their dogs. He tells us he believes that a better understanding of our pets’ health is a crucial step in strengthening that connection.
As he puts it, “Dogs are not our whole life — but they make our lives whole.”
We couldn’t agree more. Check our our behind-the-scenes interview with Ben and Duke at Whistle HQ: