The following ad appeared in a newspaper:
SBF Seeks Male companionship. Age and ethnicity unimportant. I’m a young, svelte good looking girl who LOVES to play. I love long walks in the woods; riding in your pickup truck; hunting, camping, fishing trips. I love cozy winter nights spent lying by the fire. Candlelight dinners will have me eating out of your hand. Rub me the right way and watch me respond. I’ll be at the front door when you get home from work, wearing only what nature gave me. Kiss me and I’m yours.Call 555-XXXX and ask for Daisy.
(The phone number was the Humane Society and Daisy was an eight week old black Labrador Retriever. They received 643 calls in two days.)
We can’t say for sure whether anyone has ever used this faux personals ad (attributed to many different newspapers) to lure a lonely man into adopting a homeless canine, but the basic gag is at least several years old and has appeared in many versions with slightly different details.
In 1996, for example, an Illinois newspaper reported the following ad had appeared in a Peoria shopper:
LOVABLE, AND LOOKING
SBF (single black female) seeks male companionship. Loves long walks in the woods,
riding in your pickup truck, hunting, camping and fishing trips, cozy winter nights spent lying
by the fire. Rub me the right way and I will respond with tender caresses. I am a svelte, good
looking female who loves to have fun. Call now. I’m a five-week-old black Labrador Retriever.
As recently as late 2003, this joke was still bedeviling the Atlanta Humane Society:
The faux personal ad gives a metro Atlanta telephone number and says to ask for Daisy. Only careful readers get to the punch line on the bottom: “Over 15,000 men found themselves talking to the Atlanta Humane Society about an 8-week-old black Labrador.”
“We get one or two calls a week,” said receptionist Heather Bowles, who had a Daisy-related voice mail waiting for her. There are black Labs at the shelter. There are sometimes dogs named Daisy. But there is no black Lab named Daisy.
“We never placed that ad,” said Katherine Christenson, public relations manager for the Atlanta Humane Society, who has fielded curious calls from newspapers in Florida, radio stations in Milwaukee and Reader’s Digest.
Bowles thinks the e-mail must vary a bit.
“Sometimes they ask about a dog and sometimes they just ask for Daisy,” she said. “When they ask for Daisy, I know they’re not looking for a dog. I tell them it’s a joke and don’t let it get any further.”
While the Peoria version quoted above simply works this gag into the common technique of catching a reader’s eye with an ad that initially appears to be one thing but is eventually revealed to be something else (such as the common scheme of printing of SEX in big, bold letters at the head of an ad, followed by copy reading: “Now that we’ve got your attention . . .”), the version quoted in the example block at the head of this page is an out-and-out deception.
We hope that if anyone ever used an ad like this one to find a home for an ownerless dog, deception wasn’t a part of it. Pets should be adopted by people making informed choices after due consideration and forethought, not by those jumping into spur-of-the-moment decisions after having an idea sprung on them by surprise (or by those making hasty choices in attempts to save face or spite those who made them look foolish).
We also can’t imagine that anyone working for an animal shelter would want to subject himself and his co-workers to the torrent of crank, lewd, and abusive phone calls they’d receive in response to such a deliberately misleading notice. Humane societies so typically struggle with the twin curses of being extremely busy and woefully understaffed that the thought of voluntarily setting up an office to field one loopy phone call after another should be immediately rejected — it takes manpower to staff phones, and that’s one of the many resources animal shelters are always short of.