When you walk through Rittenhouse Square with Matthew Baron and Bodhi, people are going to stare. No amount of sunbathers or breakdancers or general Philly mayhem can divert attention from a yellow lab wearing a bright blue jacket blasting Darth Vader's theme song.
"What's really interesting is to see how other dogs respond to it at the dog park," says Baron of The Woofer, essentially a dog vest rigged with speakers and an iPod hook-up. "They become the leader of the pack."
While it's an unusual product, The Woofer isn't that unlikely of an invention considering Baron's previous experience in marketing, pet actor casting and audio tinkering. The result of years of trial and error — the vest not only has fairly impressive sound quality, but also must be comfortable and allow for tidy bathroom breaks — it's veterinarian-approved for dogs 20 pounds or more. Not to mention hump- and water-proof: "If the music stops when it's funniest, you lose the point of the product," explains Baron.
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Bodhi, for one, prefers classical tunes on his walks, and some dog owners have purchased The Woofer to promote their own music or broadcast gospel teachings. But the majority of customers don't buy it with a playlist in mind at all. "It is, quiet frankly, for people who want what their neighbors don't have," admits Baron.