10 Best Moments from Better with Pets 2014

We all know we’re better with pets, but what does our future with dogs and cats hold? What surprises, what uplifting stories, what world-changing inventions are to come? On October 14, 2014, Purina brought some of the brightest minds in the pet industry together to explore this question. Here are the moments all pet lovers need to see.

1. The Triumphant Entrance of TurboRoo 

TurboRoo, a Chihuahua born without front legs, made the crowd swoon when he appeared onstage in his 3D-printed prosthetic device. (Yes those are inline skate wheels.) Aerospace Engineer Mark Deadrick, the man who created his set of wheels, spoke about the inspiration behind his kind gesture, and the many dogs he’s helped since. Mind = blown.

2. Victoria Stilwell Unraveling the Mystery of Aggressive Dogs 

What makes aggressive dogs act that way, and what’s an owner to do? TV host Victoria Stilwell argues that we have to make a choice when it comes to how we interact with our pets. Do we want to scare them into behaving, or do we want to encourage them to learn by building trust? Aggressive dogs, she argues, just like childhood bullies, don’t need to be "put in their place," they need patience and love. 

3. The Bravest Cat Mom of Them All — Domestic Abuse Survivor Pamela Sharing Her Story 

Did you know that 48 percent of women stay in abusive situations out of concern for their pets’ safety? That’s what Rita Garza, Senior Vice President of URI, shared with the crowd. Rita created URI Pals, a program that allows domestic abuse survivors to live alongside their pets in shelters. A survivor named Pamela joined Rita onstage to share her story, and it was hard not to shed a tear when the crowd sang Pamela “Happy Birthday."

4. Bean the Resilient “Pit Bull” and the Doctor Whose Team is Smitten 

Bean’s favorite things in the world are playing with her soccer ball and snuggling with her family. But the odds weren’t so good for Bean, who was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy and a malfunctioning esophagus. Luckily, Bean crossed paths with Veterinary Professor Stan Marks and his team, who dedicated their time to saving her life. Seeing Bean come onstage in all her lovable glory, it was clear why she quickly became the chief source of morale for Marks’ team.

5. A Firsthand Look into How Purina is Innovating Our World with Pets

Dan Smith, of Purina Research and Development, walked us through Purina’s innovations to date. Here are just a couple he shared:

  • A 14-year life-span study, which proved that feeding dogs to their ideal body condition throughout their lifetime can help extend their healthy years
  • A diet that can reduce or eliminate insulin necessity for a diabetic cat
  • A personalized, mail-order dog food 
  • A probiotic nutritional supplement aimed at reducing stress-related digestive problems for cats and dogs

6. A 14-Year-Old CEO Tackling Separation Anxiety

Not only is teenage inventor Brooke Martin an eloquent and confident speaker, but she’s already tackled a huge problem for dogs: separation anxiety. Brooke shared the story of her canine sisters and how much they miss one another when Brooke’s away. Enter ICPooch, her invention that lets her talk to and treat her dogs from afar. We want one already.

7. The man behind Henri Le Chat Noir Making an Appearance — and An Important Point

Remember Henri, the French existentialist cat lauded by critics like Roger Ebert? Well his cat dad — and Golden Kitty winner — Will Braden showed up to Better with Pets, eager to talk about cats and art with his friend, CatVid Fest Founder Scott Stulen. They explored how cats bring sincerity to the art world. Cats, they argue, strip all that away and connect us in the universal language of “meow.”

8. A Surprising Explanation for Why Pets’ Roles in Society Are Evolving 

Purina Veterinarian Kurt Venator has seen the evolution of pets firsthand in the history of his own family, from his grandfather’s working dog to his best friend, his Labrador. Kurt argues that advancements in veterinary medicine have caused this evolution, with discoveries like vaccines, pet MRI machines, and underwater treadmills making it possible for pets to live long, healthy lives with us.

9. The Rare Cat Who Can Pee in a Toilet 

18-time Moth Story Slam Champion Adam Wade showed up to share his classic tale about the smartest cat in his family, Raisin, who he painstakingly filmed for months in order to catch him peeing in a toilet. Now that’s an evolved cat.

10. Slam Poets Revealing Why Pets are Poets without the “O"

NYC-based slam poetry collective Mayhem Poets kept the energy up with a lyrical ode to pets. Here are some of their choicest lines:

“I saw the best felines of my literation destroyed by catnip.”
“My cat was more like Katniss, always hungry and trying to play games.”
“Rage, rage against the hiding of the mice/ do not bark gently into that good night.”

The event was fantastic. Thanks to everyone who joined us.