You can’t really blame someone employed as an assembly line worker from letting their mind wander on occasion – thinking that there must be a better way to make a buck. Such was the case with a man named Mike Bowling. He couldn’t help but notice that Cabbage Patch Kids were about the hottest collectable ever to hit the market and decided that if people liked collecting dolls, maybe they would have an even bigger soft spot in their heart for man’s best friend. His curiosity led to a line of plush canine critters called Pound Puppies – and his little Rovers would rescue him from the auto assembly line forever.
Recognizing that a complete line of pups would be necessary if his creations were ever going to be collectable, he developed an ingenious idea, one that most certainly resulted from his auto manufacturing experience. He took one body style and created three distinct ear types, three eye colors, and six fur colors. The various combinations of these features allowed for a whole line of cozy and collectable canines and by 1984, he was ready to test the waters.
Most toy manufactures initially showed no interest in his canine creations but he persevered with dogged determination, until Tonka toys finally gave him the wag of the tail. Showing their expertise in marketing, they immediately created an animated television special to start the buzz. They also proceeded to package the dogs so they appeared as if their head was sticking out of a doghouse, just hoping for a loving owner to come and rescue them. The doggie adoption angle proved quite successful and soon after, Mike could comfortably put away his toolbox forever. By 1986, Pound Puppies had become the biggest selling toys in the world. And for the feline lovers of the world, he gave them a collection of critters as well, known as Pound Pur-r-ries.
Preferring to market the mutts in the small gift shops and specialty stores over the big toy chains proved to be a brilliant strategy for the Pound Puppies, as it made them decidedly more collectable. Kids and collectors alike scooped up as many Pound Puppies as possible. Doghouses and carrying cases were also issued to make sure that these canines were always kept comfy. With the success of the plush puppies and kitties, it wasn’t long before the line was expanded to included Pound Ocean creatures such as dolphins and octopus, as well as the Pound Pony. And if that wasn’t enough to satisfy the appetite of fans, a Hanna-Barbera cartoon series also ran on Saturday mornings up until 1988, called (you guessed it) Pound Puppies.
The Pound Puppies were eventually discontinued but re-emerged in 1996 and won the affection of fans yet again. They continue to fetch high prices on the collector market to this day – proving yet again that a dog, especially a cuddly stuffed version that doesn’t need food or a walk in the brisk morning air, is truly man’s best friend. They even have the power to rescue someone from the monotonous doldrums of a daily assembly line existence.
If a Pound Puppy ever made its way to your Christmas wish list, or if you assembled your own collection of these lovable canines, we welcome all of your thoughts and recollections in our comments section.