Most people have never seen a cat driving a car. That changed this week when a television commercial aired with tuxedo cat Waffle driving and calico cat Tirzah riding in a two-wheeled cart pulled by a little purple vehicle that used to be a child's peddle-powered car.
The cats and their car won starring roles in the locally produced commercial after beating out 197 dogs and one cat at the Molyneaux Casting Call at the Pittsburgh Pet Expo last fall. Marketing director Pat Molyneaux had pledged to donate $5 to Animal Friends for every pet that auditioned -- with a maximum of $500. When the number of auditions surpassed his wildest expectation, he capped donations at $750.
The commercial was shot March 22 at the Peters home of Mark and Mary Orsi, friends and neighbors of Mr. Molyneaux. The cats did a great job, though they are just regular pets, not professionally trained performers. They got a lot of help from owners Gregg and Karen McCandless of Butler.
Driving and riding in the car was no problem during the 80-minute shoot, because Waffle and Tirzah seem to like that, and have done this at many public appearances. Mrs. McCandless used a peacock feather, a rattle and her own voice to coax the cats into doing what the director wanted, like getting them to look up or down.
Did I mention that the commercial has a '60s theme and the cats were dressed in hippie clothes?
At one point director Sam Sandora was shooting still photos and asked if Waffle could put his paws on the steering wheel.
"No, he only does that when the car is moving," said Mr, McCandless., who converted the kiddie car to a battery-powered critter car that he propels with a remote-control device.
Mr. Molyneaux wanted to get some carpet and tile samples into the commercial. He brought out "Hello Kitty" tiles, and Tirzah, on cue, pawed the sample.
"That is great footage!" Mr. Sandora said.
Mr. and Mrs. McCandless later recorded voice-overs. He's the voice of Waffle. She's the voice of Tirzah. Their lines include "isn't Molyneaux carpet PURR ... fect" and "that's fur-out, man."
If you watch much television, you know Molyneaux commercials run frequently on local channels. You can also see the cat commercial on the Facebook page: Molyneaux Tile-Carpet-Wood. Mr. Molyneaux will donate $10 to Animal Friends for every story about a shelter or rescue pet shared on the Facebook page.
Waffle is also in a national commercial for Revolution, a prescription med from Pfizer Animal Health. In this one he's Rex, the "outspoken advoCAT" for the flea and parasite protection product. The commercial was shot in New York City, where Waffle was on-camera for six hours. Go to www.protectmycat.com to see the commercial.
There are many videos of Waffle and Tirzah on the www.basic9.com website. Mr. and Mrs. McCandless use the website and their cats to teach about "the nine fruits of the spirit" -- including love, joy, peace and patience -- from Galatians 5:22.23.
National Autism Awareness Day was earlier this week (April 2) and Perfect Fit Canines is raising money to help train service dogs for children and adults with autism. Local service dogs will attend a 7 p.m. concert tonight at Union Project, 801 N. Negley Ave., Pittsburgh 15206 (Highland Park). The performance by Matt Otis and the Sound includes the debut of an original song dedicated to autism acceptance.
There will also be kids crafts and an auction of art done by children with autism.
Regularly priced $40 tickets are now available for $20, and college students under 21 pay $10. Tickets can be purchased at the door or at www.perfectcanines.org.
Bully Happy Hour
There's an Extended Happy Hour at Carson City Saloon, Friday (April 12) 6-9 p.m. It benefits Biggies Bullies, a local nonprofit that rescues pit bulls and other bully breeds.
Every $5 spent on signature Pinnacle vodka drinks goes directly to the dogs. The saloon is at 1401 E. Carson St., South Side (15203).
Bark Shadyside is a new "dog-friendly initiative" started by The Shadyside Chamber of Commerce, known as Think Shadyside. Nearly 50 businesses in the program provide things dogs need -- including water bowls, treat jars, dog waste bag dispensers and "dog parking posts."
Dog friendly businesses include Eyetique, J. Crew, Journeys of Life, Smiley's Pet Pad and multiple banks. Two invite people to "please ask about bringing your dog in": Arhaus Furniture and Cheeks & Glassworks. Go to http://thinkshadyside.com/bark to see the complete list of businesses.
A Bizz Buzz grant from the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh is funding Bark Shadyside.
The Bark Shadyside Pup Walk next Saturday will kick off the program. It's being put on by the pet store Petagogy, 5880 Ellsworth Ave. The one-mile walk starts at 10 a.m. at the Liberty School, corner of Ellsworth Avenue and Ivy Street. Activities before and after the walk include bobbing for tennis balls, raffles, giveaways and doggy bags for all participants.
Go to www.BarkShadyside.com to register in advance for $10 per dog or show up at 9 a.m. on walk day to register for $15 per dog. Proceeds benefit the Animal Rescue League Shelter & Wildlife Center.
Keystone Oaks Fundraiser
The Keystone Oaks School District is hosting "Pets, Prizes and a Few Surprises" -- an adoption event and fundraiser for Animal Friends. The free event is 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. next Saturday at Keystone Oaks Middle School, 1002 Kelton Ave., Dormont (15216).
Adoptable animals from the Ohio Township shelter will attend, but people should leave their own pets at home. There's free gift bags for the first 150 people who come. Auction prizes include restaurant gift certificates, pet products, event tickets and a free weekend stay at a Deep Creek condo.
Pet Holistic Health
Veterinarian Doug Knueven of Beaver Animal Clinic will be at the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society shelter on the North Side on April 14.
Topics at the daylong holistic pet health seminar include prudent vaccination guidelines, natural nutrition, "which food is best," acupressure, how to use herbs and which ones to avoid, maintaining spinal health, pet massage and homeopathic remedies.
Cost is $55, and includes lunch and a 25-page workshop guide. Registration is required -- call the Humane Society at 412-321-4625, ext.234.
Linda Wilson Fuoco: email@example.com or 412-263-3064. Got a pet health question? Email it to firstname.lastname@example.org. It may be answered in an upcoming Pet Points column by veterinarians at the Point Breeze Veterinary Clinic