You might want to take a break from watching Puppy Bowl XVI on Sunday and tune into the second quarter of that other big sports event, Super Bowl LIV.
One of the commercials will be for University of Wisconsin-Madison’s School of Veterinary Medicine. The $6 million, 30-second spot, appropriately titled “Lucky Dog,” isn’t being paid for by the school, but by WeatherTech, a manufacturing company whose founder and CEO is David MacNeil. The commercial features Scout, MacNeil’s 7-year-old Golden Retriever, who’s alive today thanks to the staff at the school’s teaching hospital, UW Veterinary Care.
Last summer, an aggressive tumor was growing on Scout’s heart. He had hemangiosarcoma, a cancer of blood vessel walls, and was given the grim prognosis of having only one month to live. Devastated because he had lost three previous dogs to cancer, MacNeil, with a referral from his veterinarian, took Scout to UW Veterinary Care in July 2019.
Specialists with the hospital’s emergency and critical care and oncology teams were able to quickly stabilize Scout. He was given chemotherapy followed by radiation therapy to zap his heart tumor. At the same time, he was given immunotherapy to boost his immune system so it could better attack cancerous cells.
While all those treatments may sound overwhelming, the main goal of the hospital staff along with MacNeil was maintaining Scout’s high quality of life during these procedures. “Scout is kind of the perfect patient in that he’s tolerated multiple modes of therapy very well,” said David Vail, professor of comparative oncology at the School of Veterinary Medicine, in a press release.
Amazingly, Scout’s heart tumor decreased in size by almost 80% after just one month of treatment. By September it had decreased another 10%. Today, it has pretty much disappeared.
Scout was one of 3,500 patients who visited UW Veterinary Care’s Oncology Service in 2019. Cancer is the No. 1 cause of death in older dogs, and UW Veterinary Care is conducting research and using innovative treatments to help save dogs’ (and cats’) lives. Since cancerous tumors in dogs often share the same characteristics as those in humans in regard to recurrence, spread and response to treatment, this research can help save people’s lives as well.
Scout, who’s the face of WeatherTech’s pet products, appeared in the company’s Super Bowl commercial last year. But this is the first time UW Veterinary Care has ever been in a commercial, and the faculty and staff are understandably excited about it.
“So much of what’s known globally today about how best to diagnose and treat devastating diseases such as cancer originated in veterinary medicine,” said Mark Markel, dean of the School of Veterinary Medicine, in the press release. “We’re thrilled to share with Super Bowl viewers how our profession benefits beloved animals like Scout and helps people, too.”
The commercial ends with a plea for viewers to donate to UW Veterinary Care so other dogs can be as lucky as Scout. You can make an online donation at weathertech.com/donate/petsmakeadifference or via the school’s website at vetmed.wisc.edu/scout/. Every dollar donated will go toward research to better diagnose, treat and prevent cancer, as well as toward the purchase of specialized equipment to help identify new cancer-fighting drugs and treatments.
In case you miss the “Lucky Dog” commercial or prefer to watch the Puppy Bowl instead of the Super Bowl (I hear ya), here it is.