Wag Union: Giving Story to Shelter Dogs

By Reid Evans, Director of Strategy, argodesign

Life with dogs is better; it’s a match made in heaven circa 30,000 BC. Heartbreakingly though, anywhere from 30 to 40% of shelter dogs in the US will never find a forever home.

Dog’s can’t talk or share their story, a driving reason why many are overlooked or not considered for adoption. So, argodesign set out to give a brand story to something that doesn’t have it and desperately needs it. Because little pooches waiting to find their forever homes need as much help as they can get.

Dog showcasing its custom bandana—colors and shapes that define its personality

We believe that by revealing and branding a dog’s real personality, we’ll help create unwavering confidence that people can find a rescue dog they’ll love, and subsequently reduce the re-home rate of shelter dogs. If we uproot Americans’ purebred taste, we can boost the shelter adoption rate (currently hovering at 23%), and reorient Americans’ relationships with strays to be a preferred way to get a dog, not an act of grace.

Our brand strategy started by pinpointing the primary reasons people don’t adopt:

No Credible Breed or Personality Profile: Facilities have no repeatable tool to accurately identify, measure, or describe a dog’s behavior and personality, particularly in critical situations (e.g. meeting new dogs).Therefore most dog returns are due to behavioral issues, which if known and addressed could eliminate mismatches.

No Universal Facility Quality Certification: Facilities have no universal certifications, government-issued qualifications, or common languages to communicate to potential adopters that the facility acutely understands its dogs.

America’s Purebred Addiction: Americans are driven to purebreds by a loose knowledge of dated and generic breed information created by self-interested kennel clubs and dog product corporations. This has the consequence of not inspiring or preparing people to build a relationship with a dog “from the street”.

Official logo for Wag Union

Our brand addresses these problems and improves every shelter dog’s chances of adoption by creating a truthful and compelling brand story for any stray, giving it a history where none existed. We’re calling it Wag Union; it’s like eHarmony meets Fitbit for dogs. Wag Union can identify dog dispositions and traits early on, helping facilities best match people with the right dog.

Here’s how Wag Union would work:

First: Build the Ultimate Interbreed Library

We determine any dog’s heritage through a photo matched to a database of every dog permutation possible. We can also identify lost dogs and reunite them.

Second: Track, Study, and Profile Each Dog

All dogs undergo structured stimuli and spontaneous shared-space interactions, where cameras watch the dogs, building a robust picture of every dog’s behavior.

Third: Match With A Loving Human

Adopters build their perfect dog using our branded color and icon system, and dogs that match are shown, even offering people a time to visit the dog.

Fourth: Brand the Dog’s Story

Each dog is awarded its own personality-branded bandana showcasing its core attributes, so there are more positive interactions with it wherever it goes.

Fifth: Strengthen The Database

Once adopted, a tracker in the bandana profiles all dog activity, and uses that information to strengthen the knowledge database for all dog breeds and ages.

Users choose a color and add key traits to be matched to available dogs

Wag Union provides an iconic way for facilities to promote their dogs. This gives every stray dog a mighty, life-changing story, but the underpinning of its technological foundation doesn’t just place dogs in forever homes; it introduces a historical fabric that helps people see into the spaces between. Giving story and a brand to details and subtleties is strangely powerful. Imagine better knowing how a used car was driven or the singular quirks of its engine before signing on the dotted line; just like knowing for certain the dog you’re taking home is calm, kid-friendly, and watchful—not just hoping it is.

Animal shelter showcasing its Wag Union certification

By combining a clever array of technology to study things, we unknowingly provide it a voice to share its soul with people. A technological bridge between the animate and inanimate might be just what we need to ground ourselves in a universe that we believe to know so much about, but in reality are only scratching the surface. If we can use technology to figure out a dog’s personality and then create a compelling brand to tell their story, less dogs will be euthanized or re-homed. And to think, this all might start by shining more light into the blind pragmatism of dog shopping to introduce what matters: a lasting connection between people and their lifelong best friends.

Get in touch with us if you’d like to work together to move this from concept to reality.

We are a product design firm. We love design – for the technology, for the simple joy of craft, and ultimately for the experiences we create.