In 1927, an American dog trainer named Dorothy Harrison Eustis wrote a piece for the Saturday Evening Post about a special school in Potsdam, Germany that trained German Shepherds to help soldiers who lost their sight during World War I. That caught the attention of 20-year-old Morris Frank, a blind man who was frustrated by the limitations that his life placed upon him. He wrote Eustis to thank her for the piece, and to ask for any info she could provide about that school, or any others in the United States that might be willing to train dogs in order to assist the blind. She agreed to help him, they worked together to school Frank’s dog, Buddy, and then the two of them opened their own training center for guide dogs. They called it The Seeing Eye.
Ninety-odd years later, their pioneering work has finally reached its full potential with a Golden Retriever named Flynn. This very good boy is a guide dog for Nathan Tree, a visually impaired ice hockey player from Oxford, England. “Flynn’s my best friend, saving my life every day,” Tree says. But, while eating at his local Burger King, he got the idea that maybe, just maybe, Flynn could be taught to do even more.
“I’d like to train my dog to learn to find me food,” he said—and not just any food. He wanted Flynn to learn to find Whoppers, especially while the two of them are traveling with Tree’s hockey team. So Burger King Germany got involved (as did Grabarz & Partners, the King’s German ad agency) and Flynn started an intense training session based around the distinct scent of flame-grilled burger patties.
“I didn’t know if it was really possible” Tree acknowledges in the resulting commercial. “I just thought it was a cool idea, you know? The Whopper Dog.” (Flynn the Whopper Dog should in no way be confused with the flame-grilled Whopper Dog).
For two long weeks, Flynn spent some intense days at the Essex Dog Training Center, as the facility’s instructors shouted “Find Whopper! Find Whopper!” toward his adorable ears. On the 15th day, this smart boi was tasked with not only finding a Whopper, but successfully distinguishing it from an order of fish and chips and a “non-flame-grilled burger.”
Some 90 years ago, a jubilant Morris Frank sent Dorothy Eustis a telegram after his dog helped him cross a busy New York City street. “Success,” it read.
And as Flynn legit pulled Nathan into a crowded Burger King in Paris, ‘success’ sounded a lot like “S'il vous plaît un Whopper.”