A phenomenon of the toy store landed on the small screen with its cute story of canines – Pound Puppies.
Distributed by Tonka, Pound Puppies were cuddly stuffed dogs, each with floppy ears, droopy eyes and a unique personality, which came with a carrying case and adoption papers.
In the initial group there was 10 dogs that were up for adoption at your favourite toy store, but many more characters were added, as well as kittens.
With names such as Nose Marie, Howler, Whopper, Beamer and Bright Eyes, the puppies were an instant hit with kids, who wanted to adopt them all. With the success of sales in 1983, Tonka’s distribution increased, and in the next few years, spread to 35 countries and sales of US$300 million.
Next came the television special, created by Hanna Barbera in 1985. The Pound Puppies animated special featured Violet, a dog from a wealthy family who is targetted by dognappers. Violet is picked up and placed in the city pound, where she meets the local gang, led by Cooler, Bright Eyes, The Nose, Scrounger and Howler. Actors used in the series for their voices included Ron Pallilo, Jo-Anne Worley, Don Messick and Alan Oppenheimer.
In 1986 ABC TV launched Pound Puppies the animated series, which featured the voices of Nancy Cartwright, Ruth Buzzi, Pat Carroll and Peter Cullen. The characters (minus Violet) continued on their exploration of the city for two seasons.
In 1988, an animated film, Pound Puppies and the Legend of Big Paw was created which was panned by critics and ignored by movie-goers for its inconsistent animation and had no connection to the continuing story of the series. The era of Pound Puppies came to an end.
I had a friend whose youngest sister was obsessed with these stuffies and the series – a sickly sweet combination of sad stories and puppy triumph. For the under 5-7 set, it was the all the rage. For the parental group, it was a phase, that eventually ended and was replaced with something else.