Unless you live in a cave – and, quite possibly, even then – you’ll have heard about Pokémon Go. The interactive game, which uses a smartphone’s GPS and camera to let users to hunt, capture and train Pokémon characters in the ‘wild’, became one of the most-used apps in the world just days after its launch on 6 July.
It’s already more popular than Tinder and Twitter, and has been crowned the most popular mobile video game app in history. For grown-up 90s kids, childhood fantasies of really catching ‘em all have finally been made (kind of) real.
People’s total absorption in nostalgic joy has had unexpected side effects. Stories abound of Go-ers being so transfixed by their screens that they walk into oncoming traffic – not advisable at any time, but particularly not when drivers may be distracted by their Pokémon hunt as well. On the flip side, health experts have praised the app for getting players walking as they hunt for Pikachu, Bulbasaur and the rest of the gang, while one dog shelter came up with an innovative way to harness all this excitement.
Over in the US town of Muncie, Indiana, Phil Peckinpaugh noticed the rise in people walking around as they played Pokémon Go. At the Muncie Animal Shelter, where Peckinpaugh is director, there are plenty of rescue dogs who need to be walked. So he had a brainwave: why not combine the two?
“Trying to hatch an egg or catch rare Pokemon? Come down to the Muncie Animal Shelter to walk one of our dogs while you get your steps in!” reads the post on the shelter’s Facebook page. “Just come to the front desk and say you are here for the Pokémon dogs!”
The post quickly went viral, with over 9,000 likes at the time of writing. We’re yet to hear if any UK animal shelters will take inspiration from the idea – but we live in hope.