Nary a day goes by when one of Riley’s antics doesn’t provide the inspiration for an invention that would easily earn me enough to retire on, so I could begin breeding shelties, which in turn would give me even more ideas, so that my family would become a perpetual puppy think tank.
There is one flaw in this scenario: I don’t have even the slightest notion of how to turn one or more of these thoughts into a money-making reality. And so, I now pass 12 of them on to you, dear reader, so that you can quit your job to pursue this dream, get the patents, contract for manufacturing in China, get ridiculed on Shark Tank, develop a distribution network, design the website, strike a licensing deal with PetSmart, become a billionaire, and cut me in for a small royalty.
1. The PupCap. I realize that dogs have been domesticated for a long, long time, but it seems to me that they should have retained at least some residual survival ability. You’d think that a sheltie pup who, at just eight weeks, somehow knows how to herd the family with no training whatsoever, would also have some instinctual awareness of hard objects in its immediate vicinity. If Riley was being raised in the wild, predators would not be the main concern; it would be the trees he’d be constantly crashing into. The PupCap is a helmet for puppies, so that when they turn suddenly to race across the room at full speed, they would not be injured by the table leg that was directly behind them. As an added bonus, this product would enable your pet to play Pup Warner Football.
2. FeetBots. FeetBots are perfect for owners of any herding dog. It’s a lifesize and lifelike pair of human feet, from the calf down, clad in athletic socks. Flick the switch and, using proprietary software from the makers of the Roomba robotic vacuum, the feet will run around randomly, your puppy at their faux heels, while you relax with a cup of coffee.
3. Puppy Socks. The bottoms of this adorable footwear have a tacky substance that enables your puppy to stop his forward motion on non-carpeted surfaces without going into full-on Bambi mode. Or, he will remove the socks within 10 seconds and enjoy his four new pull toys.
4. Mystery Sound Identifier App. As your puppy matures, you’ll probably allow her to roam through more areas of your home. This will let you sit in the living room, binge-watching all the episodes of Downton Abbey you’ve been DVRing since you got the puppy. But, wait–what’s that crunching sound? And was that a crash? And hear that? You know it’s the sound your puppy’s nails make when he’s jumping against the kitchen cabinets trying to get to whatever food item might be just a tad too close to the edge of the counter. Every time you hear a sound, you’ve got to pause your show and go see what’s happening in the other room. But not with the Mystery Sound Identifier App! Just press the button on your smartphone or tablet, and it will instantly tell you what your puppy is up to, so you know if you can keep watching or go clean up the overturned garbage can.
5. Pup-By-Feet Alarm. Obviously, your puppy would like you to step on her, because why else would she repeatedly position herself under your foot? But you, perhaps, would prefer not to turn your dalmatian into a dachshund. This electronic gizmo wraps around your ankles and sounds a loud alarm when you are about to step on your puppy. Another advantage of this item is that, when you have company, everyone will think you are under house arrest.
6. The Incredible Shrinking Gates. So you’ve identified the areas in your home where your puppy will be allowed to roam free. You’ve enclosed those areas with all forms of expanding gates. You’ve ensured that your puppy cannot jump over the gates even though your puppy really, really wants to jump over the gates and seems to be getting closer to the top of the gates every day so that it’s only a matter of time before the puppy you thought was safely enclosed in the kitchen will suddenly join you in the bathtub, even though he will resist with all his might any attempt on your part to place him in the bathtub intentionally for the purpose of giving him a bath.
Where was I? Right–The Incredible Shrinking Gate. The problem with a regular gate isn’t that your puppy will get over it in the near future, it’s that you have to get over it now. Every time you do, you risk serious injuries ranging from a pulled hamstring to a broken nose as a result of the total face plant you hope no one saw, much less videoed for uploading onto YouTube. The Incredible Shrinking Gate has a button that makes it shrink to ankle height so you can easily step over it. But be quick; you just know your pup is lurking nearby waiting for his shot at freedom!
7. Puppy Power Panels. Forget solar energy. Cancel your plans for installing a wind farm. Simply affix these Puppy Power Panels to your puppy to allow all that excess puppy energy to run your appliances. You’ll save on electricity and your tired pup will let you enjoy a good book in the evening without shoving toys into your hand.
8. The Guilt Finder. All dogs have ways of looking guilty. You’ll catch them in the act, and their tails will go between their legs, or they’ll look away, or, in the case of more intelligent dogs like shelties, they’ll try to blame your children. But sometimes your puppy will look guilty when you haven’t caught her in the act. You know she’s done something, but you don’t know what. Is there a trail of toilet paper leading from the upstairs bathroom to your dog’s bed? Does your child’s room look like a group of pre-teen girls was over for a pillow fight? Has the steak you left out to defrost become a pupsicle? Well you no longer have to search your house for the scene of the crime. Just clip The Guilt Finder onto your dog’s collar and she’ll be compelled to lead you to the site of the disaster.
9. The Dog Answerer. Your puppy is finally calm. He’s lying on the living room floor, on his back, legs splayed, fast asleep. Suddenly he flips over, leaps up and races across the room for no apparent reason. “Why?” you ask. “Why did you suddenly have to be over there?” The Dog Answerer receives electronic impulses from your puppy’s brain and translates them into answers so you can now know why your pet suddenly had to be over there. In this case, the answer would be “He has no idea.”
10. Puppy Talk Canceling Headphones. No, this is not something to wear so you don’t hear your puppy whining when you put him in his crate. Rather, you wear the Puppy Talk Canceling Headphones when anyone (including you) starts speaking to your dog in that glass-shattering, high-pitched voice reserved for baby animals and, well, babies. The device automatically lowers the pitch of all voices to make it slightly more bearable to hear “Who’s a good boy?” 176 times a day.
11. Cuteness Identifying Digital Camera. So your puppy has discovered the floor-to-ceiling mirror for the first time, and it’s just adorably hysterical. This is the “go-viral” moment you’ve been waiting for. But where’s your video camera? Where’s your smartphone? Oh, look–she’s repeatedly bashing her little head into the glass! How cute! Wait–there’s your phone! You run and get it, but it’s too late. By the time you press the video button, your pup is lying quietly on the floor looking a bit dazed. Another opportunity for online fame (not to mention a possible invitation to appear on Ellen) lost. But not with the Cuteness Identifying Digital Camera. Just wear it at all times, and as soon as your puppy does something cute, it automatically records it and uploads it to YouTube.
12. The Toy Converter. You’ve brought home your new puppy, and you’ve purchased approximately $387 worth of puppy toys that will assist in every stage of his development. You’ve got your basic squeaky toy. Your ball. Your pull rope. Your crinkly thing. Your bell thing. Your assortment of plush animals. Another ball. Something that dispenses treats like a slot machine. A frisbee. A complicated intelligence toy that your puppy is supposed to figure out but never will. A louder squeaky toy. A weasel attached to a battery-operated ball which allows the puppy to play by himself until he figures out how to grab the weasel part and swing the heavy ball part around in a manner that threatens his head and your glass coffee table. And among all those toys, his favorite is…a dish towel! Well, the Toy Converter lets you get even. For every household item your puppy adopts as a favorite toy, you can covert one of his into a replacement. So, the rubber hamburger turns into your throw pillow, and his plush rabbit becomes your new dish towel. Good luck, however, trying to get comfortable in your new rawhide slippers.
Feel free to add your own ideas. But, more important, feel free to send me money for one of these.
See you soon.
P.S. Photoshopped illustrations by Casey Hallen.