Alf is dismayed at learning the fate of Wilson the Lotto dog, the wire fox terrier which starred in an advertisement in which he travels the world to return a winning ticket to his master.
The poor creature is in serious danger of straying to places like Kohima, the hilly capital of Nagaland, located at the foot of a mountain. A tourism site spells out the nature of the threat –
The central market in Kohima is a colorful place where tribal people sell delicacies such as insect grub and curried dog meat.
But Alf is dismayed, too, on learning how much it cost to make the advertisement.
Bloody hell: $2.5 million.
The Herald on Sunday describes it as a $2.5 million taxpayer-funded advertisement.
Especially when we learn what happened to the bloody dog.
It has emerged the wire fox terrier was left in India after filming for the advert because quarantine rules meant it was too much trouble to get him back to New Zealand.
The spin doctors are telling us the creature has done nicely out of the deal, that he enjoyed five-star hotel treatment during filming and has been given a home with his own personal servant.
But would someone like Sam Neil have agreed to such terms for stardom in the ad, even if he was assured of living a life of luxury?
Most of Alf’s constituents are familiar with the advert and are delighted with it, although they were probably unaware how much it was costing.
The Lotto advertisement was filmed by advertising agency DDB and has won hearts after being launched on World Animal Day.
It depicts “Wilson” leaping from a yacht in stormy weather to rescue a winning Lotto ticket blown overboard. The faithful animal is shown battling the elements, then braving beggars and slums of the Third World to bring the ticket back to his master in New Zealand.
The Herald on Sunday has revealed the awful truth that the dog – whose real name was Paddy – was one of three cast for the series of advertisements.
But he was the only one who travelled to India on a one-way ticket.
The other two terriers live near Wellington.
The HoS has gone back to the the official press release when the advertisement was launched.
NZ Lotteries chief executive Todd McLeay said in that statement the advert was shown on World Animal Day to “celebrate the role that pets play in our lives and acknowledge their loyalty”.
McLeay also said a third of Kiwis owned dogs and most “treat their pet as a member of their family”.
Yes – but did someone see Paddy as a cash cur.
He was despatched to India by people who must have known he would not be coming back after performing for just a few seconds of broadcast footage.
Inevitably, the buggers are telling us they had Paddy’s best interests at heart.
Lotto spokeswoman Karen Jones said the decision not to bring Paddy back to New Zealand was based around the quarantine requirements involved.
She said Paddy faced spending up to a year in quarantine before being allowed to run free in New Zealand.
“We weren’t willing to do that to a dog. We would have pulled the plug on the India shoot if we couldn’t guarantee the welfare of our animal star. Dog welfare, for us, was paramount.”
Paddy’s journey to India and his new home show the seriousness with which the commission considered his welfare.
But did anyone ask Paddy if he was happy with the arrangements being made on his behalf?
We also are being told how Paddy has been living the life of Reilly.
Animal handler Caroline Girdlestone said Paddy was driven between locations in an air-conditioned car and stayed in five-star hotels.
During the day, he carried a special hydration mixture with electrolytes to replace body fluid, fed through a pump-driven straw at the edge of his mouth. And, rather than allowing him to get dirty on location, special makeup was used to give him the appearance of living rough.
Each evening he returned to the hotel where he was washed in a marble bath and “men from the hotel would come up with white feather duvets to dry him”, said Girdlestone.
At the end of filming, Girdlestone and husband James Delaney escorted Paddy to Bangalore where they met his new family – an ex-pat Kiwi couple with three boys.
They stayed for two days, building a fence around the property and discussing ways to settle the dog into his new life in India.
“He has a maid of his own so he is never alone,” said Girdlestone. “He was the little dog who won Lotto.”
But Alf is familiar with foxies, and regards them as great little diggers with a natural instinct to burrow for rabbits, rats and what have you.
Paddy has been designed by nature to dig under the fence at his new home in India, and is bound to do so.
We can only trust that he then has the good doggy sense not to stray too far from his new home, lest he finish up in a curry pot.
Mind you, Mrs Grumble’s on-line research suggests there is a much greater prospect of Paddy becoming people tucker in China and Korea.
She affirmed at Wikipedia there were reports of locals in remote parts of North-East India, such as those in Manipur, Mizoram and Nagaland, consuming dog meat.
But apart from these areas, eating dog meat is a taboo throughout India. Hinduism, the primary religion of India, has a strong vegetarian tradition. Eating any meat is considered a taboo by many devout Hindus.
But who’s to know it will be just Paddy’s lousy Lotto luck to finish up in the cluches of someone who is not a Hindu and who fancies hot dog of the sort you would get in a hearty vindaloo.