Retro Wednesday: The Pet Rock

Have you ever sat around with friends and had “wouldn’t it be great if” conversations, or “I wish” talks?  I think just about all of us have.  Well, in April 1975 a man named Gary Dahl was having one of those conversations with some friends.  They were complaining about their pets – walking them, bathing them, feeding them, exercising them – when Dahl said, “Wouldn’t it be great if your pet was more like a rock?”  (or something along those lines) But the thought did not end there.  This genius was truly inspired, and shortly thereafter the first pet was born!

The first Pet Rocks were ordinary gray stones bought at a builder’s supply store. They were marketed like live pets, in custom cardboard boxes, complete with straw and breathing holes for the “animal.”  A 32 page official training manual titled The Care and Training of your Pet Rock was included as well with instructions on how to properly “raise and care” for one’s new Pet Rock (notably lacking instructions for feeding, bathing, exercising, etc.).  This was really the best part of the package as the manual included all sorts of gags, puns and jokes including commands that could be taught to the new pet.  While “sit” and “stay” were fairly easy to accomplish, “roll over” required a little help from the trainer.  “Come,” “stand,” and “shake” were near impossible, but “attack” was fairly simple with some more additional support from the owner!  The Pet Rock was a great guard pet.  The cost for this perfect companion?  $3.98.  

The pet rock actually made Dahl a millionaire.  For a little bit of time there, children and adults alike would actually walk the streets holding their pet rock lovingly, comparing theirs with their friend’s.  Luckily, it was just a fad, though a pretty funny and amusing one.   If you’ve ever dreamed of having this perfect pet I have to tell you they aren’t easy to find.  Though they come up sometimes on ebay, it isn’t often.  But the good news is the online store thinkgeek.com sells a USB Pet Rock which recreates Dahl’s original product down to its faux cardboard pet carrier box with straw bedding. The rock is also accompanied by an 18 inch USB cable and is advertised as being “compatible with Windows (7 and lower); Mac (all OS’s); Linux; and all other past, present, and future operating systems.”

Or you could just go pick your perfect pet up right off of the street …


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