The Things We Do for Love: “I Produced a Movie … for My Dog!”
Caroline Golon, the human behind popular humor blog Romeo the Cat, shares stories of pet owners who have gone the extra mile for their pets in this series, The Things We Do for Love.
Like many dog owners, Ray Benenate of Santa Barbara, Calif., doted on his family’s Shih Tzu, Sophie. She went with them almost everywhere, and Benenate hated when they couldn’t bring her along. A few years ago, he came up with a creative solution to keep Sophie company when they were gone: a movie he produced just for her!
Benenate enjoyed taking Sophie to the dog park, and often brought his video camera with him so he could later share with his family the clips of Sophie playing with the other dogs.
His kids were mildly interested in the dog park videos, but it was Sophie who truly enjoyed them. “I would play the clips for the family, and Sophie would run into the room,” Benenate says. “She was more interested in it than the kids!”
Benenate began leaving the movie on for Sophie and her homebody sister, another Shih Tzu named Katie, when the family left the house. The Benenates were happy knowing the dogs had some entertainment and company while they were gone.
Doggie Guinea Pigs
It wasn’t until he was visiting his sister that Benenate realized Sophie’s movie might be interesting to other dogs as well. His sister mentioned how much she hated leaving her Chihuahua, Jet, home alone, so Benenate made a DVD for the little dog. Jet loved it.
Next, Benenate tested it out on the Golden Retriever next door. She, too, enjoyed the film.
To Market, To Market
Benenate scoured the Internet to see if there were other similar movies on the market. There weren’t, so Benenate decided to try his hand at marketing the DVDs to a larger audience … and see if he could help ease other dogs’ loneliness and anxiety. With that, The Movie for Dogs was born.
The first order of business was to make the movie interesting to all kinds of dogs.
Benenate traversed the area, filming dogs at local beaches and parks. He included some action scenes of dogs doing agility and swimming, and peppered the movie with doorbell chimes and jingling dog tags. Benenate says the variety of sounds throughout the 73-minute film helps keep the dogs engaged.
A housepainter by trade, Benenate also had to hone his skills as a fledgling filmmaker. “I’d never done anything like this before,” Benenate says, “so there was a learning curve there.”
Now, seven years later, Ray has sold thousands of copies of The Movie for Dogs worldwide. “There’s no need for subtitles,” Ray jokes. “They all speak the same language!”
Sales are still going strong as Benenate plans what’s next. Regardless of where the business takes him, Benenate is having a great time. “We enjoy it; people are happy,” he says. “It’s been a really fun experience.”
What do you do for love? We’re looking for the funny, sweet and special stories that will make other pet parents smile. Email us at [email protected] to share your story. Please put "The Things We Do for Love" in the subject line.