Traumafessions :: Kinderpal Professor Von Whiskersen on the Sad Dog Bank

Most people who know me would agree that I prefer the company of animals to that of my own species. As a child, when other kids might have had imaginary friends, I had imaginary pets. A homeless person on the side of the road might be ignored or rationalized out of existence, but seeing a malnourished dog or cat will stick with me for the rest of the day. I’m pretty immune from news stories of man’s inhumanity to his fellow man (or rather, his humanity towards his fellow man), but stories of abused animals sicken me.

Anyway, when I was a child, there was a particular phenomenon that made me dread going up to the counter of most restaurants: The Crying Dog Animal Donation/Extortion Bank! If you’ve seen one of these, I’m sure you could instantly describe it, down to the smallest detail. You also understand why I’m writing about it. If you have NOT ever seen one of these calculated, inanimate manipulators, I’ll educate you.

The Crying Dog Animal Donation/Extortion Bank was a plastic piggy-bank type device about 10 to 12 inches tall. It’s form was that of some sort of yellowish hound dog, with long flowing ears, matched only by its long face. Its eyes welled with tears, with a single drop spilling onto it’s cheek. There was almost always an attached placcard or business card for some local animal shelter with the following poem (which has been etched into my mind for at least the last quarter century):

“I’m so hungry I could cry. If you don’t help me, I may die.”

No doubt early super-computers were used to optimize the heart-tugging at work here. I’m pretty sure that the RAND corporation had some of their excess post-Vietnam War analysts work up some 10 volume set detailing the exact means to squeeze the hearts of children right in their chests. Needless to say, I was highly susceptible to this sort of manipulation. I would usually deposit money if I had any or, for days after I’d regret not having any.

I don’t know if this is a Southern thing or just an ’80s thing. I don’t see them at restaurants as much anymore, which I am conflicted about. I like not getting depressed every time I go to the counter of A&W to pay for my Coney dogs, but I hate that a potential funding stream for homeless animals might be drying up.

If you missed out on this delightful cultural icon, don’t worry. The RAND folks are still hard at work in their cramped basement offices, cranking out pure sadness and pathos. Now they’ll beam it straight into your living room…and this time they’ve got SARAH McLACHLAN helping out.

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EegahInc (@eegahinc)
12 years ago

Hey, I still own on of these!

loraho (@loraho)
12 years ago

I totally agree with your preference for the company of animals over people.  I had imaginary pets as a child, mainly because of allergies.  As an adult I still have allergies, but I also have 3 cats.  The stuffy nose and itchy eyes are a small price to pay for their love and companionship. Anyway, I’ve never seen these banks, but I have seen the Sarah McLachlan commercials.  If I don’t immediately change the channel when one of them comes on, I’m quickly reduced to tears.

mickster (@mickster)
12 years ago

Prof.VW and I have a method for avoiding the McLachlan commercials. We leave the volume on, but look away. If we mute the commercial, then sometimes you make the mistake of looking back before it is over. When Prof.VW began writing this traumafession and mentioned the banks to me I immediately was able to recite the poem. It sticks in your head for life!

FilmFather (@ezwriter68)
12 years ago

Professor: These banks weren’t just a Southern thing or an ’80s thing — as a child of the’70s growing up in Pennsylvania, I saw them all around. In fact, somebody actually gave me one as a gift — so I had this eternally sad pooch on my dresser in my bedroom for years on end.

FatherOfTears (@fatheroftears)
12 years ago

Those I don’t remember seeing.  Up here in NJ we had the donation cans with the pictures of abused pets-including dogs that could pass for the one on that Alice In Chains CD cover!

WarpedRecord (@warpedrecord)
12 years ago

You’ve just given me a horrible flashback! My parents had one of those. I remember “borrowing” from the bank to attend a carnival. When my mother found out, she said I made the dog cry. It haunts me to this day.

rifframone (@rifframone)
10 years ago

I remember seeeing those banks in California during the late 70’s. I’m the same way about animals- nothing upsets me as much as hurt/abused/homeless animals. There are a couple of those commercials they show now that I can’t watch- and if I can’t locate the remote fast enough I end up running from the room until I’m sure it’s safe to go back in. I can’t even listen to the McLachlan song (or the Willie Nelson one) without tearing up.

lcd tv
lcd tv (@lcd-tv)
10 years ago

I think most of donation’s cans looks like they would scream “you’ve got to share your money with us”, i don’t like it at all, it really annoyes me.