Powell pug stars in national TV commercial


Rudy the Pug may now appear on a TV near you.

The 12-year-old canine from Powell is featured in a national commercial for New Jersey-based Freshpet’s refrigerated dog food.

“He’s just been really such a part of the family. He’s funny, he’s a clown, he’s a lover — you know he’s all of those things,” owner Mary Ann Jepsen said.

When Rudy became ill in the fall of 2016, it opened up a future opportunity to get on the small screen. Mary Ann started buying Freshpet to go with his medication. But when he recovered, Rudy didn’t want to eat his original dog, a “well-known brand,” she said.

Mary Ann’s concern increased on the fifth day of Rudy’s new behavior when her son, Luke, returned from New York to visit. Rudy and Luke had developed a bond when her son took time off from college because of his own illness.

Rudy would normally “run to the door and jump, all full of love,” Mary Ann said.

But it didn’t happen this time.

Stephen Jepsen arrived from work a half hour later and was welcomed with an odd sight: his wife and son kneeling on the kitchen floor with a lethargic Rudy. Mary Ann thought Rudy was dying.

Without saying a word, her husband went for the Freshpet. He started feeding about half-a-cup from the roll to the family dog.

“Rudy started to come more to life,” Mary Ann said. “… I kid you not within 20 minutes Rudy was up running around the kitchen like he was a three-year-old crawling.”

The dog owner believes Rudy went on a hunger strike.

“He was willing to die because he wasn’t going to eat that other food anymore,” she said.

At the suggestion of another son, Mark, Mary Ann wrote a letter to the Freshpet company. She didn’t hear from them until about eight months later. The company asked to do an online video interview with her and Rudy. Mary Ann agreed, but didn’t know exactly for what purpose.

The interview went on for about 45 minutes, longer than she expected. Rudy was gone from her lap when when she found out they were a finalist to star in a TV commercial.

In June, Mary Ann welcomed a TV crew that turned her Powell home into a Hollywood-like studio. The crew worked for nearly three days at her home.

“It was all a good experience,” she said.

Rudy’s “Picky Eater Approved” story will also run on the company’s website and social media pages, according to a company press release. It’s the latest effort in the New Jersey-based company’s “Letters” campaign.

“Each year, we continue to receive thousands of letters from pet parents about the positive experiences they have with Freshpet. Their letters, telling transformational stories after using our food, are what truly inspire us. Each new letter reminds us that pets like Rudy, are living happier and healthier lives,” Scott Morris, Freshpet’s co-founder and chief pet officer, said in a prepared statement.

The letters selected tell stories that highlight the transformative power of Freshpet, including pets who have overcome all kinds of health issues, such as digestive problems, allergies or refusal to eat.

“Rudy is really kind of the breakthrough Picky Eater story,” said John Speranza, vice president of marketing for Freshpet.

“We don’t really have an end date,” he added. “… We’re really confident that Rudy’s message — because so many people have picky eating dogs — is enduring.”

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Rudy the Pug of Powell is being featured in a national TV commercial to promote Freshpet’s refrigerated dog food. Rudy is shown here with one of his favorite toys.
https://www.delgazette.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/40/2017/08/web1_284A0294.jpgRudy the Pug of Powell is being featured in a national TV commercial to promote Freshpet’s refrigerated dog food. Rudy is shown here with one of his favorite toys. Courtesy photo

Mary Ann Jepsen of Powell witnessed Rudy’s perceived hunger strike for five days after eating Freshpet refrigerated dog food. The pug refused to return to eat his original dog food, she said.
https://www.delgazette.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/40/2017/08/web1__C1A3069.jpgMary Ann Jepsen of Powell witnessed Rudy’s perceived hunger strike for five days after eating Freshpet refrigerated dog food. The pug refused to return to eat his original dog food, she said. Courtesy photo

By Brandon Klein

bklein@delgazette.com

Gazette reporter Brandon Klein can be reached by email or on Twitter at @brandoneklein.