Two birds, one stone: Pedigree encourages empty nesters to adopt a rescue dog

Empty nest syndrome is not a matter to take lightly and Pedigree and Colenso BBDO are hoping to provide a solution, with an initiative to rehome the thousands of dogs from around New Zealand that have been rescued from abuse and neglect.

Pedigree Adoption Drive Charitable Trust spokesperson Cormac van den Hoofdakker says at this time of year, thousands of Kiwi parents will be feeling the effects of seeing their children leave home for the first time as they head to university or to start work. And at the same time, there are thousands of rescue dogs in need of rehoming throughout New Zealand, so it wants to bring the two together.

Using a series of videos, the campaign targets the parents of adult children and encourages them to move on by adopting a dog. Adding to the appeal are some DIY projects, including turning a child’s duvet into a dog bed and turning a jacket into a dogs jacket.

But it’s not about just any dog being placed with any parents, as the campaign’s website, replacethem.co.nz, helps to match dogs with the physical characteristics of the children who’ve moved out.

It asks for gender, name, hair length, behaviour traits, hunger levels and location to find the best replica.

Auckland psychologist Sara Chatwin says if a dog embodies characteristics of a family member, it can really feel like a great fit in the family.

“Often people are looking for a replacement and are attracted to things they’re used to (in regards to looks) or that remind them of certain people.”

Chatwin says the impact of having an empty nest on our mental health should not be underestimated and a dog can be valuable to those who are suffering after their children move out.

She says empty nest syndrome can manifest itself in a number of ways with some feeling depressed or anxious when there are less people in the home.

“Having spent much of their life looking after children and caring for them, parents can have difficulties coming to terms with a house that isn’t so busy and frenetic.

“All of a sudden their role as caregiver is significantly diminished and people can struggle with loneliness and depressive symptoms.”

Chatwin adds they will often think long and hard about ‘what next’ to keep themselves physically and mentally active and getting a K9 companion can help answer that question.

The campaign will run for a month and for those who aren’t willing to take on a rescue dog permanently, van den Hoofdakker says it’s also in need of foster parents to help socialize dogs that have been saved from abusive environments.

“For those that can’t commit to taking a dog permanently, helping to socialise the dog through fostering it in a caring home is a key part in preparing it for long term adoption,” he says.

If Colenso BBDO’s previous work for Pedigree is anything to go by, this campaign set to be a hit. The past few years has seen ‘K9FM’ and ‘Pedigree Found’ receive many mentions at local and international award shows, with highlights including gongs at Cannes 2015 and Caples 2016.

More recently, Colenso (with Watermark) picked up a gold Axis for ‘A Dog Story’ while Mars claimed the title of Creative Client of the Year.

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