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A Brief History

Mike Bowling lived in Cincinnati, Ohio and worked at a Ford automobile assembly line. He had no intention of being a toy designer. Until one year, he bought his daughter a handcrafted doll, which she carried around everyone and doted on. He began to think about that connection, and compared it to man's best friend - the dog. And suddenly, he wanted to bring that idea to life.

In order to convince companies to invest in his idea, he created handmade plush, even designing special packaging that looked like a crate or kennel. Despite his efforts, he was rejected 14 times. One man even telling him that they were "the ugliest" things he'd ever seen. But Mike did not give up. If he couldn't sell them, he would register his idea and distribute the toys himself. And that's exactly what he did.

After speaking to an intellectual property lawyer and safeguarding his idea, Mike began to produce his puppies with the help of Rebecca "Becki" Manning. Together they made and sold the toys through word of mouth and through Mike's connections at the Ford factory.

Finally though, one Canadian company called Irwin Toys took a chance on Mike's puppies. They were an immediate hit, and eventually were released in 1984. Pound Puppies turned out to be the first real unisex toy - something that had never been done before. Their popularity grew and the rest, as they say, is history!

The story of Pound Puppies is one of determination, perseverance, and the bond between a child and their puppy.


TV Show

The toy line was extremely popular and, like most toys in the 80s when they were popular enough, they got their own TV show.

in 1985, Hanna-Barbera Productions released a 36 minute TV special called The Pound Puppies. It was a spoof of a 1963 film called The Great Escape. The plot follows a dog named Violet, who is captured by the dogcatcher and taken to the pound where she meets Cooler and his band of friends, whose job is finding homes for every pup in the pound.

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