For Bret Michaels, pets rock

  • Article by: CHRISTINE CHAMPAGNE , McClatchy News Service
  • Updated: September 25, 2012 - 3:02 PM

"Crazy, harebrained idea" triggers a second career for the musician from Poison.

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Bret Michaels expands his reach with a collection of dog toys.

Photo: John David Mercer, Associated Press

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When Bret Michaels wrote the power ballad "Every Rose Has Its Thorn," a huge hit for his band, Poison, in the late 1980s, he couldn't have imagined the song would inspire the design of a dog bowl. But, indeed, it has. In fact, Michaels' music and rock 'n' roll lifestyle has set the tone for his new Pets Rock dog collection.

Michaels describes his endeavor as a "crazy, harebrained idea" that came out of his desire to provide pet owners with cool, affordable specialty items such as dog beds, leashes, toys, apparel and more. "I am not trying to make a novelty line," Michaels says. "I really want to do this as part of my professional career from here on out."

The rocker and reality TV star has a passion for animals. He grew up with dogs and cats in western Pennsylvania and now has a menagerie roaming around the Arizona estate he shares with his family. "I've got cats, rats, horses, dogs -- the whole gamut," says Michaels, who appreciates the animal-human bond. "A pet gives unconditional love without a doubt. They just love that you're around. They love that you take care of them. It's like having a child."

With that in mind, Michaels notes that safety and durability were top priorities when he and his team were designing his pet products. He spent a lot of time testing the toys at home with his German shepherds Diesel and Phoenix. "I have about a zillion pictures of me testing the flying disc. The first one didn't really get off the ground," he says, laughing. "There were a couple of toys where I was like, 'Oh, God, that didn't work.'"

After a lot of trial and error, toys such as the Nylon Flying Disc ($5.24), the Spiked Rubber Ball With Bandana ($9.74) and the Vinyl Boot ($4.49) -- a cowboy boot that canines can chew on without getting into trouble -- made the cut.

The Pets Rock collection also contains colorful plush toys. All the time Michaels spends on the road spurred the creation of the Tour Bus Toy ($11.99), his favorite item. The Plush Fox Toy ($5.24) and Plush Animal With Squeaker ($5.24), available in monkey, hedgehog or frog form, are other options for dogs that like soft toys. "A lot of children have been buying these up as toys [for themselves]," says Michaels, who has two daughters, Raine and Jorja. "My younger daughter loves them, and she has a little collection of them. It's kind of a cool thing."

Apparel is a big part of the line. The Doo-Rag With Flames ($11.24) is modeled after Michaels' ever-present headgear. The Mayhem Tee ($11.24 to $12.74, depending on size) sports a skull on the back and defiantly declares "Master of Mayhem." The Corset Tank ($14.99) is for the daring dog that likes to show off her figure.

And let's not forget that aforementioned bowl. In a nod to "Every Rose Has Its Thorn," prickly roses adorn the Pets Rock Melamine Roses Bowl ($6.74).

This is just the beginning, by the way. Michaels expects to release more merchandise, including pet carriers and possibly cat-specific items, in the coming months. He is also starting an online community for pet lovers. "Bret's Pet Nation is what it's called," Michaels says. "We started putting it all together probably about a month ago, and we'll launch it at the end of summer, beginning of fall."

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