MODEL WITH A MESSAGE
Buttercup is getting ready for her close-up in an upcoming commercial for a healthy new dog food, which will be launched next month by Wild Earth, an eco-friendly alternative protein pet food.
The spunky Chihuahua mix, whose owner is Dr. Kristen Weiss, Ph.D. of Santa Barbara, is one of four winners, selected from 600 entries, to represent the Berkeley-based company.
“We chose Buttercup because we felt a kinship to her Instagram page’s mission of helping the planet, and we love her do-good attitude. We were also inspired by her adorable rescue story and the bond Buttercup has with her dog mom,” said Diana Olson, social media and content strategist for Wild Earth.
The commercials start airing Aug. 24.
Dr. Weiss told the News-Press that she rescued Buttercup about four years ago from the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) for Monterey County.
“I was training to be a volunteer with the SPCA Wildlife Center at the same location when I found Buttercup in one of the dog rooms. She was the sweetest little pup there. She crawled onto my lap, and I decided to adopt her. Her name was Betty then, but I changed it to Buttercup. She is not hyper loud and barky like most Chihuahuas. She is calm and quiet, an old soul,” said Dr. Weiss, who earned a bachelor’s degree from UC Berkeley and her Ph.D. in marine ecology from James Cook University in Queensland Australia.
Now working as a science translator, she moved to Santa Barbara from Monterey 18 months ago.
For three years, Dr. Weiss has had an Instagram account, Buttercup the Ocean Pup (@buttercup.the.ocean.pup), which she uses to educate, via Buttercup, followers — 3,664 and counting — about the ocean, conservation and the environment.
“I was feeding Buttercup snacks from Wild Earth when I saw the notice about the contest. I had to submit a six-minute video, while holding Buttercup, and tell why I thought she would make a good model for the commercials,” said Dr. Weiss. “Several weeks later, I was notified that she was one of the finalists. During another video by the company, I was told that she was one of the four winners, which I wasn’t expecting. It was very exciting, especially when I found out Wild Earth will provide a lifetime supply of free dog food.”
Like Buttercup, the other three winners are rescue dogs. They are Willie, a Chihuahua mix with one eye missing; Leia, a Sheltie; and Zeppelin, a pit bull/boxer mix.
Buttercup and Dr. Weiss will travel to Berkeley for a photo shoot and commercial on Aug. 1 and 2, and they will walk the red carpet at the company’s launch event Aug. 24 in Los Angeles.
Meanwhile, Buttercup continues to enjoy life in Santa Barbara with Dr. Weiss and her partner, Mark Maccora, a filmmaker who Dr. Weiss calls “Dog Dad.”
“Buttercup loves to hike, rock climb and run on the beach with us. I’ve done some agility training with her, too,” said Dr. Weiss.
She is thrilled that her pet will be educating people about the mission of Wild Earth products.
“They focus on sustainability and dog health, which I feel strongly about since it’s the message I communicate on Instagram through Buttercup. It’s a very meaningful cause.”
According to Ms. Olson, a lot of the “junk currently found in pet foods comes from processed and leftover meat products. The company is on a mission to provide our pets with healthier food for a healthier planet by way of plant- and fungi-based proteins.
“Wild Earth seeks to battle America’s meat crisis and the detrimental environmental impact that follows. Many are not aware that 30 percent of the environmental impact from meat consumption actually comes from our pets.”
Wild Earth dog food is available at Montecito Pet Shop, 2020 Cliff Drive in Santa Barbara; Sailor and Friends Pet Supply, 142 N. Ashwood Ave. in Ventura; and online at www.wildearth.com and amazon.com.