The dog-watching, television supermodel—Jake—is the canine that brought Beke Lubeach into the pet space. Lubeach, Senior VP Partnership & Business Development at DOGTV, and a long-time rescue advocate, adopted Jake and shared her life with him for more than ten years. She called him her “little boy in a dog suit,” and he was always at her side and up to some kind of mischief. Jake was photogenic and friendly—and unfortunately taken too soon from this earth when he succumbed to cancer.
Q: How did your dog, Jake, get you into the pet space?
A: I was working at Cox Communications and my dog trainer asked if Jake would be available for a video shoot. Naturally I said, yes! He went to participate in what turned out to be a video for DOGTV. While at the photo shoot I met the founder of DOGTV, Ron Levi, who asked if I could help get them onto Cox; that was the start of my foray into the pet space.
I left Cox to help DOGTV launch a test in San Diego. I worked on everything from getting airtime on Cox and Time Warner, to on air programming to promote the opportunity through advertising at local special events. It was true grass roots marketing.
We reviewed the results of the launch, garnered feedback from parents and it went so well that after a year we took the results to DIRECTV. That set the pace toward national distribution of the DOGTV channel.
Q: It sounds like you jumped in with both feet and have never looked back! What came next? And how did it help Jake?
A: I really thought it would be fun to work with my dog—and it was! I was sold on DOGTV and its programming because I knew how positively it impacted Jake.
I adopted Jake when he was about a year-and-a-half old—bought him a lot of toys and a bed—then left him when I went to work the next morning. When I returned, he had pulled everything off of shelves and tables. I tried doggy day care, but that was expensive and stressful for both of us. I tried crating him but he howled and cried all day and the neighbors complained.
Once I learned about DOGTV and kept it on for him when I had to leave him home alone, it made all the difference in the world. I wasn’t sure if he’d benefit from the programming, but he did. It helped with his separation anxiety (and mine!) and enriched his days: I could leave him home and not worry as much about him.
Q: So it sounds like you can really speak to the benefits of DOGTV as a pet parent whose dog benefitted from it. What is it about DOGTV that gets a dog to “tune in” and relax?
A: The programming is based on more than sixty different research studies that looked at how dogs react to sound and to visual stimuli. From that research, content was created that was designed to help dogs relax. There is also programming that helps desensitize dogs to sounds and situations that may cause them anxiety, such as traffic, vacuum cleaner noise, or other dogs barking. The programming is all about enriching a dog’s life whether through enjoyable programming that helps them relax or through programming that helps them learn that “scary sounds” really don’t have to upset them.
Q: What kind of changes did you see DOGTV made in Jake?
A. DOGTV created an atmosphere for him that was filled with the right type of visual stimuli and the sounds that didn’t cause Jake anxiety—he stopped barking, howling and destroying the house. There are no loud spikes (like television commercial interruptions) or scary visuals. All of the DOGTV programming is meant to provide an enriched environment for your dog when he’s home alone.
Q. Why do you think pet parents would be, not only willing to leave a television on for their dog, but to pay for the programming?
A. There is an increase in technology-based pet products. There is also the acceptance in households that pets truly are family members. Pet parents are looking for ways to enrich their pets’ lives. Frankly, they want to alleviate their own “pet parent guilt” when they have to leave their dogs home alone. So, we’ve found they’re more than willing to leave the television on and play DOGTV because they know their dog is benefitting from it. Plus, DOGTV offers a free trial, so there is no risk in checking it out to see if your dog will benefit.
Q. Will my dog actually sit and watch DOGTV?
A Dogs don’t watch television the way people do. When we turn on the television, we pay attention to what’s on the screen and follow the storyline. We are actively engaging. That’s not what most dogs do—some dogs, however will give the DOGTV programming their undivided attention. Even though your dog may not curl up on the couch and stare at the screen, he is being enriched by the sights and sounds.
We do recommend, when people first get a DOGTV subscription, that they spend time on the couch (or wherever your dog sits) and watch DOGTV. Your dog may not intuitively know to watch and listen, but when she’s spending time with you, she’s more likely to pay attention and benefit from the enrichment of the programming.
Q. What’s on the horizon for DOGTV?
A. Our DOGTV Adoption Show, which is in its second season. The Adoption Show airs weekly and features adoptable dogs from around the country. We created partnerships with T-Mobile and DIRECTV, and are looking to partner with other large organizations to bring the programming to more people. We are currently working on a launch with Dish Network.
Note: Currently DOGTV is available on: Amazon Fire, Apple Tv, Roku, Xfinity, Comcast and DIRECTV. To sign up for a free 14-day trial of DOGTV, click here.
Q. What else do you do in the pet industry?
A. I’ve always loved to discover new and innovative ways to help keep our pets happier and healthier, and since 2011 I have worked with pet business owners and pet influencers to do just that through Dog Bone Marketing Solutions. I help innovative brands that are starting out in the pet space navigate and find the best approach to reaching pet parents with their product. I also work with pet industry influencers to help them share the news about pet products and to facilitate partnerships between the influencers and the brands.
A business or pet service needs to solve a problem, the way the DOGTV does. Any new product or service should look at how it can solve a problem and focus on what makes them unique and what makes what they do different.
Q. What other pet-related businesses have you worked with in the past?
A. I’m also a am a huge advocate of pet health insurance and have worked with pet insurance companies in the past. Having pet insurance takes away the fear of having to take your dog to the vet. With pet insurance you can focus on what’s best for your pet, rather than what you can afford. My Jake lived with cancer for four years and because of his pet health insurance plan, I was able to explore the various treatments available to him and enhance his life. I did everything I could for him, right up until the end, and the pet insurance made that possible.
Robbi Hess, award-winning author, is multi-petual: She shares her home with two Devon Rex kittens, three adult rescue cats, a mini poodle, a Goldendoodle, three lizards and two ferrets. When not caring for her pets, she is an editor, speaker, time management and productivity guru, content creator, social media manager and blogger. She writes at All Words Matter, My Divas Dish, and is the story editor and chief cat herder at Positively Woof.