March 30, 2021
A Real-Life Pet Detective | Life of a Stray Dog in Istanbul | Stock Photo Dogs Come to Life | Dog Edition #11

Dogs are on the loose! Meet a pet detective who finds missing pups. Get a dog’s eye view of Istanbul ... and find out what happens when dogs run post-apocalyptic intergalactic airports.

Want to hear something surprising, unusual, or downright weird? This week’s show has all three of those covered.

Jamie Katz – Licensed Pet Detective

When a beloved dog goes missing, we tend to panic. We assume the worst: dognapping! We tend to not think clearly about how to best begin a search. That’s where a licensed Private Investigator can be of help. Jamie Katz is just such a professional ... who exclusively works to get pets back home. This real-life, bonafide Pet Detective offers tips and insights. And you won’t want to miss the story about her latest super-success story.

 Stray – A New Documentary

Filmmaker Elizabeth Lo takes us to the streets of Istanbul in her new documentary Stray. It’s illegal to capture and hold or kill stray dogs in the Turkish capital … which may make them the city’s most interesting denizens. Filmed at dog level, Lo takes us on a long walk with the dogs. We play in parks, march in protests, visit a couple “dog restaurants, and listen in on everyday conversations. Lo crafts a poignant, wordless portrait of a way of life where dogs and humans interconnect by the multitude … to explore the inherent value of all beings.

The Airport for Aliens Currently Run by Dogs

When virtual reality changes your reality, you know you’re truly in the matrix. Indie Game Developer and Award-Winning Narrative Director, Xalavier Nelson Jr., once identified as a cat person … but became a dog person by creating a video game that deals in absurdity. The Airport for Aliens Currently Run by Dogs asks the question “what happens if you and your loved one are the only humans left … and you are separated by galaxies … and what if dogs are the ones running the alien airport you must use to reunite?” Using unabashedly joyful stock photo dogs in his game ended up changing his view on the species. Now he now has a real-life dog – something that wouldn’t have happened without the game.

About Jamie Katz

Licensed Private Investigator Jamie Katz is the best in the biz when it comes to reuniting lost pets with their loved ones. Katz has traveled across the country at a moment’s notice and successfully found missing animals in rural towns as well as in big cities. PI Jamie Katz, LLC is the only private investigation agency in South Florida that specializes full-time in reuniting lost, missing and stolen pets with their families with the aid of scent specific tracking dogs.

About Elizabeth Lo

Elizabeth Lo is an award-winning filmmaker who is interested in finding new, aesthetic ways of exploring the boundaries between species, class, and unequal states of personhood. Her work has been broadcast and showcased internationally, including at Sundance, MoMA Museum of Modern Art, SXSW, IDFA, True/False, Tribeca, Hot Docs, New York Times Op-Docs, Field of Vision, and PBS’ POV. Elizabeth has been featured in Filmmaker Magazine’s 25 New Faces of Independent Film, DOC NYC’s 40 Under 40 List, Cannes Lions’ New Directors Showcase, and the artist academics of Locarno Film Festival and New York Film Festival.

Her debut feature, Stray, won the Top Jury Prize at Hot Docs and was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award, a Critics Choice Award, and two Cinema Eye Honors after premiering at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2020.

About Xalavier Nelson Jr.

Xalavier Nelson Jr. is a BAFTA-nominated, award-winning narrative director, writer, ex-PC Gamer columnist, IntroComp organizer, and MCV Rising Star. You might know him from his work on Reigns: Beyond, Hypnospace Outlaw, Can Androids Pray, SkateBIRD, An Airport for Aliens Currently Run by Dogs, or dozens of other things.


>> James Jacobson: [00:00:04] Hey Pam.

>> Pamela Lorence: [00:00:05] Hey Jim.

>> James Jacobson: [00:00:07] Have you ever had your dog like disappear? Like he's there one minute and boom.

>> Pamela Lorence: [00:00:12] Yeah, I have. And it's terrifying, especially because I live near a very busy street.

>> James Jacobson: [00:00:17] You feel that sinking feeling like, Oh my God, I don't know what to do. Well, it turns out that there are real life pet detectives just like Ace Ventura, Pet Detective.

They are real pet detectives. And we're going to talk with one today. 

>> Pamela Lorence: [00:00:31] Yeah, her name is Jamie Katz and she is in Florida, but she helps pet owners all over the country. 

>> Jamie Katz: [00:00:38] Most of my cases come in, my dog was stolen, but only 3 to 4% of my cases I've actually had in the last seven years, which is like, a little bit more than 700 has actually been stolen.

>> James Jacobson: [00:00:51] That is in our first segment. In our second segment, we travel to Hong Kong and we speak with filmmaker Elizabeth Lo, who has a new film out called Stray. It captures the stray dogs on the streets of Istanbul, Turkey. It is a beautiful, poignant film told from the perspective of these dogs.

>> Elizabeth Lo: [00:01:11] There are 130,000, free-roaming dogs in Istanbul and that's because there are laws that protect them.

>> Pamela Lorence: [00:01:20] And then later on in the show, we learn about a new video game release, that dog lovers are going to absolutely love. Have you seen these stock photos of dogs before Jim on the internet? 

>> James Jacobson: [00:01:32] Never, ever. You see the same golden retriever, the same beagle.

Yes, in advertising, everywhere. Yeah.

>> Pamela Lorence: [00:01:39] This video game uses these stock photos to add a layer of comedy into this game. And it's just fantastic.

 So it's a game about a world that fundamentally cares about you at all times, because that's what dogs do.

>> James Jacobson: [00:01:53] So if you love dogs, as much as we do paws what you're doing, leash up your pop and let's take a walk.

We've got a lot to talk about on today's episode of Dog Edition.

>> Pamela Lorence: [00:02:05] Hey Pepper. Want to go for a walk?

Let's imagine for a moment that my dog Pepper went missing. I'm panicked. I'm not thinking straight. I need help. I call Jamie Katz, a licensed private investigator who specializes in finding, missing pets. Here's how that first conversation would go.

>> Jamie Katz: [00:02:28] How old is Pepper. 

>> Pamela Lorence: [00:02:29] He's uh, nine. 

>> Jamie Katz: [00:02:31] Okay. And is Pepper neutered?

>> Pamela Lorence: [00:02:33] Yes.

>> Jamie Katz: [00:02:34] Okay. And what kind of dog is he?

>> Pamela Lorence: [00:02:36] He's a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.

>> Jamie Katz: [00:02:38] All right. And, uh, okay. How much does he weigh? 

>> Pamela Lorence: [00:02:41] Oh, close to 20 pounds.

>> Jamie Katz: [00:02:43] Okay. And is this the first time that Pepper has gone missing?

>> Pamela Lorence: [00:02:47] Yes. 

>> Jamie Katz: [00:02:48] Okay. Has he ever wandered off even for five minutes before?

>> Pamela Lorence: [00:02:51] Yes. 

>> Jamie Katz: [00:02:51] Okay. Okay. What, how long what's the longest that he's wandered off before he's come back himself?

>> Pamela Lorence: [00:02:57] Just a couple minutes.

>> Jamie Katz: [00:02:58] Okay. Have you ever had a neighbor bring him back to you?

>> Pamela Lorence: [00:03:01] No. No. 

>> Jamie Katz: [00:03:03] The neighbor never called and said, Hey, I think I see your dog. 

>> Pamela Lorence: [00:03:06] They have. 

>> Jamie Katz: [00:03:08] Okay. So this is why I ask the questions the way I do though, because you don't think of certain things like, has anybody ever found your dog? No.

Has anybody ever called to say, Hey, I see your dog. Go ahead and tell me what happened. 

>> Pamela Lorence: [00:03:21] So I told her the rest of the story and she asked a lot more questions about Pepper's habits and personality. After profiling the case, Jamie determined that what she calls an off location awareness campaign would be the best course of action to find Pepper.

>> Jamie Katz: [00:03:38] The way that works is that I make you a sign, it's an 11 by 17, it's colored, laminated, weatherproof, waterproof.

>> Pamela Lorence: [00:03:47] Jamie would map out exactly where to put the signs for maximum exposure. She has clients all over the country. It's not something she has to be local to do. You hang the signs exactly as she instructs you to.

>> Jamie Katz: [00:03:59] And the way that I map it, I'm going to make it so that it's impossible for anybody to come into a certain mile radius of where their pet went missing from and not have to see a sign. 

>> Pamela Lorence: [00:04:10] And if a case profile calls for more than the awareness campaign and you're in or around the Florida area where Jamie is based out of, she puts her scent specific tracking dogs to work.

She has two of them.

>> James Jacobson: [00:04:23] What does that mean? 

>> Pamela Lorence: [00:04:24] Ah, okay, good question. So that means that she'll bring the dogs in, if it's a more complicated or complex case where a scent specific dog would come in handy and be able to then follow, uh, follow a track, like say maybe your dog is just sort of lost in the neighborhood.

Not something that it's maybe not a situation where somebody snatched your dog, put it in a car and drove off. Although in that case, a scent specific dog might be able to lead you to a point where the trail ends. 

>> Jamie Katz: [00:04:52] The scent I give to them is the only scent they're going to fall off. I start, um, cases with the scent article of that pet.

So that, that means it needs to be a hundred percent only that pet.

>> James Jacobson: [00:05:05] So a scent object for the pet, I guess I really like the pets bad or his favorite toy.

>> Pamela Lorence: [00:05:10] Yeah. Yeah. Something like that, but it has to be something that only that dog touched. If you touched it or another pet in the household touched it, it's going to throw her scent specific tracking dogs off. So it gets a little hard. You have,

>> James Jacobson: [00:05:25] I'm gonna say like, even if I, so if I pick up, if I only have one dog and I pick up it's bed and give it to her, then I have now damaged the integrity of the scent. So, what is a possible scent related thing that only a dog would have.

>> Pamela Lorence: [00:05:38] Maybe they've maybe they have a favorite blanket. Maybe they have a favorite toy.

>> James Jacobson: [00:05:43] But you can't touch it.

>> Pamela Lorence: [00:05:44] Well, you can pick it up with a bag. Like you pick up the poop.

>> James Jacobson: [00:05:49] I see. Okay. So this could be like a whole, like a, really the FBI coming in and, and using tweezers and putting it in an evidence.

>> Pamela Lorence: [00:05:56] Yes. Yes. Remember she is a licensed private investigator. 

>> James Jacobson: [00:05:59] There's a method to Ace Ventura's madness.

>> Pamela Lorence: [00:06:02] Yes. Yes. And rules to follow. A procedure. There is a procedure to follow. Um, now remember this was all made up as an example. Pepper is completely fine. He's sitting right here next to me. He's fine. He does get out occasionally, but Jamie shared the details of a real case

she recently solved. Jim, do you want to, you want to tell the story you want to take it from here? 

>> James Jacobson: [00:06:27] Well, it all began with a phone call from a woman who had just spent three months in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and was now back home in Portland, Oregon.

>> Jamie Katz: [00:06:37] She hired a transport company to transport her dog from Fort Lauderdale back to Portland, Oregon.

>> James Jacobson: [00:06:44] It was the same company the woman had used to bring her dog from Oregon to Florida, in the first place. A company uses and allows third party drivers to bid for jobs. 

>> Jamie Katz: [00:06:55] The winning bidder was only $575, which is kind of crazy because that doesn't even, that wouldn't cover gas. So you would think something in that kind of situation, it would be somebody who, you know, is transporting multiple things, multiple items, whatever the case is because you have to make money. And that 5 75 is not going to make money. 

>> James Jacobson: [00:07:17] The woman had spent $900 to bring the dog from Portland to Florida in the first place. So 5 75 seemed like a low number, and that was a red flag for Jamie. 

>> Jamie Katz: [00:07:31] He picked up at 9:00 AM Saturday. He was going to be in Portland, Oregon by 2:00 PM on Tuesday. He wanted the money up front.

She gave it to him. She gave him the 5 75. She took a picture of his license. She took a picture of his car and his license plate. Thank God, because if not that we would have had nothing.

>> James Jacobson: [00:07:56] Early Sunday, the woman texted the driver for an update. 

>> Jamie Katz: [00:08:00] And he said, well, I just picked up another puppy, another pit bull puppy, and they get along great.

And he sent a photo of both dogs.

>> James Jacobson: [00:08:09] She was a little suspicious and pressed for more information. And then he stopped responding. 

>> Jamie Katz: [00:08:16] And then finally she got a text from him Sunday night and it said I lost my phone while walking the dogs. It's been a crazy, crazy day. The weather's horrible. And I had to get an iPad.

He said, I will call you in a half an hour from another phone. He has to get a phone. He said, I'm in Missouri. 

>> James Jacobson: [00:08:45] Guess what he never called again. 

>> Jamie Katz: [00:08:48] Monday went by, never called, uh, Tuesday went by. So she called me on day six of him, you know, completely gone. And when she called me, I swear, I was like, Oh my God.

I'm like, how am I going to help this girl out? I like this dog could be literally anywhere from Fort Lauderdale to Portland, Oregon. This is crazy. My thoughts were how I have to find this person. But in order for me to find this person, I have to be able to, you know, find somebody who knows him or who's related to him.

If I just call you and say, hi, this is private investigator, Jamie Katz. You know, you're likely to hang up on me. So we do the background and, um, This guy, he's just like a gypsy, like a drifter, like, I mean, he's got a million phone numbers. He has a million addresses. He's lived everywhere. Just there's so much under him and there, you know, it's okay.

Well, let's, let's just start.

>> James Jacobson: [00:09:56] Jamie called the numbers. No luck. She turned to social media.

>> Jamie Katz: [00:10:02] I, he's not on Facebook. He's, you know, he's not anywhere on social media. And he's got a background, you know, he's got, uh, he's got felonies, stuff like that.

>> James Jacobson: [00:10:12] So Jamie started sending messages to people she thought might know him or be related to him.

>> Jamie Katz: [00:10:19] Somebody texts back and it says, yes, that's my brother. And I'm not surprised that he did this to you because I get calls. I get emails. I get messages from around the country about things that he's done wrong and who, and who's he scamming this time and what trouble he's in. And so that was just, that was one of those.

>> James Jacobson: [00:10:44] The sister had not spoken to her brother in years, but she loved dogs and sympathized with Jamie's client. She agreed to help. She would send an email to her brother. 

>> Jamie Katz: [00:10:56] Within a few hours, she wrote back and she said, okay, he responded. And he's in North Carolina and he said, the dog is fine. He has the dog, the dog's okay.

>> James Jacobson: [00:11:07] This was incredible and surprising news because Jamie thought the dog, who was a five month old puppy, would have been solved by this point.

>> Jamie Katz: [00:11:17] Now I'm thinking, well, how do we really know he has the dog. So I asked the sister, can you please ask him to take a pen and paper and write I'm okay. I'm safe. And hold it up in front of the dog and take a photo within 10 minutes

She sent the photo. I'm like, with the dog. I'm like, Oh my God, the dog is alive. Oh my God. 

>> James Jacobson: [00:11:39] This is real gumshoe detective work. He also wrote a lengthy explanation of what had happened.

>> Jamie Katz: [00:11:47] Uh, not avoiding you. Absolute hell. Sister emailed me. Kodak is good. I have broke down. Been Assaulted. Phone stolen. Called nine one one. I'm sorry.

Can't log into the pet site. Not had your number. Been driving back to you because I remember where that is. Sorry, I'm not a pet napper. Believe me. Sorry. It's returned to sender. Laugh out loud. It's been an effing nightmare. Have enough for another tank of gas. 

>> James Jacobson: [00:12:17] So there's an explanation for what's been going on, but Jamie is not impressed.

She sends a message imploring the guy to pull over, stop, find a police station, find a fire station, anything to make sure that Kodak is in fact safe. 

>> Jamie Katz: [00:12:36] I want to say 15 minutes of that. I got a phone call from a 24 hour vet and they said, this guy just came in. He and he left this dog here and gave me this phone number.

And I was like, I'm like, I cannot believe it. I cannot believe he did it. He did it. He pulled over, he went to a vet. I don't care what it was. He did it. 

>> James Jacobson: [00:12:56] Then Kodak's owner flew to North Carolina to be reunited with her dog. Case closed. Happy ending.

>> Jamie Katz: [00:13:05] Done and over crazy, crazy, crazy case. That's just happened.

>> Pamela Lorence: [00:13:11] So, yeah, that, that just happened last week. And Jamie's phone notifications were pinging throughout the entire interview with her. That, when I was talking to her. There's absolutely no shortage of work for her. 

>> James Jacobson: [00:13:24] Wow. Well, we're going to take a quick break. I want to make sure my dog's right here. And when we come back, we will journey to Istanbul Turkey with filmmaker Elizabeth Lo. 

>> Pamela Lorence: [00:13:36] You're listening to Dog Edition.

>> James Jacobson: [00:13:41] When you think of Istanbul, you think of amazing mosques and bizarres and the Bosphorus river. And you also think of dogs and dogs have been there for centuries. Mark Twain wrote about it in 1867, where he said the dogs sleep on the streets all over the city. They would not move even though the Sultan himself passed by. Well, in 2004, several laws were enacted that were meant to protect the stray dogs.

Filmmaker, Elizabeth Lo has come out with a new movie called Stray that captures life on the streets for these dogs.

>> Elizabeth Lo: [00:14:19] Uh, you're not allowed to kill any healthy stray dog or euthanize them, the government isn't allowed to. Um, and you're not even allowed to hold any healthy stray dog in captivity. Um, so their shelters are only filled with sick dogs or dogs who can't survive on their own.

>> James Jacobson: [00:14:35] The people of Istanbul are very kind to these dogs. And as a result, the strays are well socialized and savvy, when it comes to navigating things like crowded sidewalks. They're fully integrated into the urban fabric and they're unconcerned with things like cars and traffic. 

>> Elizabeth Lo: [00:14:52] Um, and they just live among people.

And they're very well fed because the government has feeding stations for them throughout the city. And also people feed them every day. 

>> James Jacobson: [00:15:03] The daily search for food is a central theme in the film and one that connects dogs and people. And for Elizabeth, this project came from a very personal place. 

>> Elizabeth Lo: [00:15:13] Um, my own dog had passed away. Um, and I remember suppressing my grief at his passing because he wasn't a human family member. And that really made me question who has value and who is considered not to have value. Yeah.

>> James Jacobson: [00:15:29] And that is what led Elizabeth to make a film about the absolute value that other beings have, demonstrated through the lives of three stray dogs

living in the streets of Istanbul. 

>> Elizabeth Lo: [00:15:41] We were searching for dogs that had interesting lives and also were at ease in front of the camera. And one day Zeynep, uh my Turkish co-producer and I were wandering through a really busy underground tunnel. 

>> James Jacobson: [00:15:57] Well, suddenly two huge dogs streaked past them. They watched as the dogs weaved in and out of people's legs, in a rush to get to where they were going.

>> Elizabeth Lo: [00:16:08] And that really intrigued us because we thought where could, um, these stray dogs be going. They don't have owners, they don't have jobs. Why are they in such a rush?

>> James Jacobson: [00:16:19] So Elizabeth followed the dogs. 

>> Elizabeth Lo: [00:16:22] And they ended up being on the heels of the young Syrian men, who they have an on and off again relationship with in the film.

>> James Jacobson: [00:16:29] The protagonist of the film is a yellow dog named Zeytin, a Labrador, something mix. Joining her are Nasar, a dark and sturdy looking dog and their friend, a little puppy Kartal.

And the movie is shot totally from the perspective of the dogs.

>> Elizabeth Lo: [00:16:49] If you're going to make a film about dogs and you want audiences to empathize with their point of view and see the world through their eyes, you kind of have to be at their eye level. And, um, I think because I was following dogs around and telling people that we encountered, because these dogs, they eavesdrop on people's conversations throughout the film,

Um, once we told people that we were filming what dogs see and hear, everyone's guards were down and they allowed us, allowed us into their private lives in a way. 

>> James Jacobson: [00:17:23] And when you hear those snippets of conversation and get those glimpses into the lives of the people living in Istanbul, this film becomes a critical observation of our own humanity.

The filmmaker narrows our focus by introducing us to three young men, immigrants from Aleppo, Syria who are living on the streets and in abandoned buildings, alongside the dogs.

>> Elizabeth Lo: [00:17:49] I could really tell that the young men saw in these street dogs, a sense of belonging and home and a makeshift family unit that they were building together.

So I'm sort of like they had this pack in the streets of Istanbul in a country not their own, that they were trying to settle down in and have to spend many nights on the streets. And, and I think that speaks to a very primal coexistence that we have with dogs in our greatest times of need. They give us warmth.

They give us a sense of non-judgment. If we're good to them, they're good to us. 

>> James Jacobson: [00:18:26] This film has no narration, no interviews in it, but from time to time, the dog's point of view stops and you see a title card with a deep and profound message from an ancient philosopher named Diogenes. 

>> Elizabeth Lo: [00:18:40] Who is this Greek philosopher from thousands of years ago, who, who was born in the land of modern day Turkey.

And he modeled his philosophy around the lives of stray dogs. He believed that if you watched and observed stray dogs who were apart yet, yet a part of human society, um, without wealth, work, property or marriage, or all the things that we cling to as humans that are important. That they were able to look at human, humanity with a truly objective eye, um, because they're sort of half in and ha, half out of human society.

>> James Jacobson: [00:19:19] Stray is a beautiful film with a beautiful message. I so enjoyed watching it. It's getting some rave reviews now and is nominated for several awards. You can watch it on your favorite streaming service. 

>> Pamela Lorence: [00:19:32] Well, I know what I'm going to do tonight. 

>> James Jacobson: [00:19:34] I think this is something you will actually, I know that your dog has don't necessarily like watching TV. Kanga,

who's like yours actually really got into this film because it is told through the perspective of a dog and it's over the shoulder a lot. And, and after a few minutes, they like totally settled down and really enjoyed this film. So this is a film you can actually watch with your dog and you won't cry.

I promise. 

>> Pamela Lorence: [00:20:00] Thank goodness. I can not, I cannot watch movies that make me cry. I am. I'm definitely. All right. That's it. You've, you've convinced me. I'm going to watch this movie tonight. Normally, maybe I would have sat down in front of, you know, a video game, like Mario Kart or something like that, but but tonight I'm going to, I'm going to watch this movie.

Do you, do you play video games? 

>> James Jacobson: [00:20:18] I do not play video games. The only video game, probably truly the last video game I played was Pac-Man

>> Pamela Lorence: [00:20:29] Ms. Pac-Man or Pac-Man, there's a difference. 

>> James Jacobson: [00:20:31] I believe the original. 

>> Pamela Lorence: [00:20:34] Alright. Well I think, I think I maybe found a game that we can both enjoy.

 Oh yeah.

>> Xalavier Nelson Jr.: [00:20:40] You're in an airport, an alien airport run by stock photo dogs. And your fiance is in another airport across the galaxy. So you get a ticket. 50 tickets if you want, and to use your ticket, you need to find your gate.

You're surrounded by a language that you don't understand. You do understand dogs. You pet dogs, you pet every dog at every time with infinite hands because you can. Take infinite amounts of money out of the ATM's because dogs don't care about money. They just want everyone to be happy. 

>> Pamela Lorence: [00:21:15] Isn't that the truth. The game was developed by award-winning Narrative Director, Xalavier Nelson, Jr.

>> Xalavier Nelson Jr.: [00:21:22] You might know me from my work in indie games, including Hypno Space Outlaw. Brains Beyond. Skate Bird. Uh, The Airport for Aliens Currently Run by Dogs, which we were discussing today.

>> Pamela Lorence: [00:21:31] That's it. The Airport for Aliens Currently Run by Dogs. It looks super rad. We're going to try this out. Xalavier describes it as a game about simulated airports run by stock photo dogs, across a universe of empathy and unapologetic joy.

Here's what he says. 

>> Xalavier Nelson Jr.: [00:21:51] You are one of the last two human beings left in the universe after a series of mysterious happenings, uh, you and your fiance, and you are finding opportunities to meet each other across galaxies of transit, uh, and yeah, find time to support and love, the people you care about in a healthy, long distance relationship while solving the absurd problems of the stock photo dogs that you meet, uh, who are all living their own lives with their own existential and mundane complexities. 

>> Pamela Lorence: [00:22:26] And much of that unapologetic joy comes from players' interaction with these stock photo dogs, but why stock photo dogs?

>> Xalavier Nelson Jr.: [00:22:35] As a joke to myself to represent the receptionists who you get tickets from to go to your gate, I threw in a public domain stock photo of a black and white Jack Russell terrier. 

>> Pamela Lorence: [00:22:49] Xalavier was working in engine on the game for the first time, meaning working within the game software, alongside his collaborators, which can get kind of tricky.

>> Xalavier Nelson Jr.: [00:22:59] I didn't quite get how the scale, uh, of a human being to a Jack Russell terrier. So the next thing I know, I am confronted by an eight foot tall, black and white photo of a Jack Russell terrier towering over me asking if I want a ticket to Uranus. And at that moment, I had a choice. Do I make this existential, in many ways, a tragic and human game about being alone and human in a universe of alien airports, or do I make, or do I embed that same story within a joyful universe,

unabashedly run by stock photo dogs? Do I make something that is deeply and inherently weird and loving? Uh, and I chose the second route and I've never looked back. 

>> Pamela Lorence: [00:24:03] And I think he made the right choice. The dogs in the game have complex and deep personalities that Xalavier based sometimes on the breed, and sometimes on the pose the dog was in, in the stock photo.

>> Xalavier Nelson Jr.: [00:24:17] One dog really wants an umbrella because their owner, once upon a time threw a, a ball for them. But when they ran after the ball, they turned around and realized the owner was still holding the ball. And this has given them a deep seeded distrust and paranoia of the world itself. You have to get this dog and umbrella.

And this, that entire root of the character came from the stock photo I had seen in the public domain of a dog looking very pensive off in the distance next to a little, uh, next to his house, in this wood. And in a similar way, when you have a pug who doesn't have a great sense of smell or a, uh, incredibly excitable beagle, or a very responsible golden retriever, you get the opportunity to examine the heightened characteristics of humans through

the prism of what dogs mean to us. 

>> Pamela Lorence: [00:25:21] World-building this space for dogs and giving them their personalities within the game led to an unexpected epiphany about dogs outside the game. 

>> Xalavier Nelson Jr.: [00:25:32] Dogs are these joyful projections of enthusiasm into a complicated world. So, uh, liking dogs, even having grown up with dogs, um, and having some time has been sort of tragically separated from dogs

I loved and getting a new perspective from which to understand and care about them, uh, unexpectedly changed the, uh, the way I even saw my own pet owning habits. I would identify as a cat person, but, uh, let me tell you, we have a new member of the family, um, and his name is Alfred and he's a poodle and he's adorable.

And that I I'm confident that that wouldn't have happened without this game. 

>> Pamela Lorence: [00:26:21] And Xalavier just announced some really exciting news last week.

>> Xalavier Nelson Jr.: [00:26:25] Coming out May 25th, uh, 2021 on PC via steam and on Xbox series X and S. It's a next gen console exclusive despite being about stack stock photo dogs.

>> Pamela Lorence: [00:26:40] So you have to wait until may to meet all the dogs running the airport for aliens.

>> Xalavier Nelson Jr.: [00:26:45] Gosh, is life better with a dog in it. 

>> James Jacobson: [00:26:48] We couldn't agree more. I guess I can save my quarters to play that game. I need to learn how to use whatever that is. 

>> Pamela Lorence: [00:26:55] Get yourself an Xbox. 

>> James Jacobson: [00:26:56] Okay. Okay, Pam, are you video gamer? 

>> Pamela Lorence: [00:27:00] I can find my way around, uh, a few games. 

>> James Jacobson: [00:27:03] Oh, I, I didn't know that about you. We learn new things every episode of Dog Edition.

Wow. That's cool. I want to thank you for bringing Dog Edition along with you on your walk today. We will be back with another episode, but chances are if you and your dog will be taking a walk between now and then we have something else for you to listen to.

>> Pamela Lorence: [00:27:24] If you're interested in hearing more from some of our guests, please check out DPN sister show The Long Leash for Jim's extended conversations.

>> James Jacobson: [00:27:32] You can find The Long Leash in your podcast app of choice, or you can go to the direct URL for that podcast, which is long lease And while we're talking about apps, don't forget to follow or subscribe, whatever you want to call it, we'll call it follow. Cause that's the new thing. Follow us in your favorite podcast app so that you can hear our next episode.

>> Pamela Lorence: [00:27:55] When I take a drive up to Northern California to meet some hardworking truffle hunting dogs at the Alexander Valley truffle company. 

>> James Jacobson: [00:28:02] We'll have that story and more. 

>> Pamela Lorence: [00:28:04] Dog Podcast Network is for dog lovers by dog lovers. And that means we want to hear from you.

>> James Jacobson: [00:28:09] Visit the show's There is a button at the bottom, right of every episode page, so that you can easily leave us a voicemail and share your stories with us.

Or you can call our listener line. The phone number to do that is one eight, six six talk dog. That's T A L K dog, one eight six six. Talk dog. 

>> Pamela Lorence: [00:28:31] You can also check the show notes for links and information about the guests on today's episode. 

>> James Jacobson: [00:28:36] We are looking for correspondents as we grow Dog Podcasts Network,

and so if you are a content producer or a journalist or a podcaster or an audio storyteller who loves dogs, check out our 101 Dog Stories Contest with over $15,000 in prize money. 

>> Pamela Lorence: [00:28:54] And please join our pack. Be sure to follow Dog Edition in your favorite podcast app. And tell a friend about the show. I'm Pamela Lorence and I'll see you at the dog park.

I'm James Jacobson. I want to thank you for listening today. On behalf of all of us here at Dog Podcast Network, we wish you and your dog a very warm, Aloha.