SPCA Is Growling Over Toy Dogs Created for Kicks

Times Staff Writer

Animal rights advocates aren't getting much of a kick out of a new stuffed toy invented by two Orange County men.

Called KickDog, it is meant to be kicked around by adults looking for a cheap way to reduce stress. KickDog was the center of attention this week at the San Francisco Gift Show.

"We think the idea of kicking dogs around the city is repulsive," said Richard Avanzino, president of the San Francisco Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

KickDog was created by Mike Murphy of Laguna Hills and Mike Greene of Santa Ana.

"We're just giving people what they want, a funny way to relieve stress that undercuts the costs of psychiatrists," Murphy said.

The owner's manual for KickDog promises: "Now you can quit those therapy sessions, throw away those vitamins, forget about biofeedback, isolation tanks, gravity boots and Valium because your furry friend KickDog is the ultimate answer for stress."

Never Try on Real Thing

The manual also advises readers never to try this with the real thing.

But Avanzino said the idea is about as funny as a baby doll for parents to beat when they are angry with their children.

Avanzino said he was also concerned that children would see their parents booting KickDog and imitate their behavior with the real thing.

But Murphy countered that children "aren't going to look at an adult kick a stuffed toy and go out and kick real dogs. Kids are more intelligent than that."

Murphy, 29, a certified public accountant, said he got the idea for the toy about three years ago from his nickname "Murfdog." A co-worker in his office at an accounting firm gave him the nickname in 1981, and it stuck.

Murphy and Greene, who both had dogs while growing up, decided to take the idea for the toy seriously about a year ago and designed the prototype. They formed Murfdog Co. in Irvine, where Greene now works full time.

Greene, 29, a former advertising and public relations man, said the response from wholesalers at the San Francisco show "was tremendous."

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