A magazine about dogs is a big hit in Germany right now: But this one is a far cry from Modern Dog or Best Friends, popular dog magazines in North America. Poop & Pooches appeals to readers who don’t love dogs.
The absurdist backstory behind Poops & Pooches was detailed in the Wall Street Journal Monday. Nearly two decades ago, Hamburg resident Wulf Beleites and fellow journalists played a drinking game, trying to come up with the most ridiculous title for a magazine. After a few rounds, they came up with an idea for a magazine that disses dogs in dog-loving Germany: "Kot & Köter," which translates to "Poop & Pooches."
Beleites trademarked Kot & Köter as a joke but began getting requests for interviews from the German press when reporters discovered the fictional title. He happily obliged. From 1992 to 1998, in the role of Kot & Köter editor-in-chief, he answered questions about the anti-dog publication on television -- even though it didn’t exist. After six years as a TV “bad guy,” as he described himself, the interview requests stopped and Beleites got bored.
But as freelance work dried up, Beleites and fellow journalists decided to finance a real issue of Kot & Köter through crowdfunding. He made a video, pretending to be homeless to garner sympathy, and it worked. With the $9,060 he raised, he published the first actual edition of Kot & Köter at 7.8 euros ($10) an issue, or 4 euros ($5) to read online.
The debut issue of the satirical magazine featured articles about Hitler and his dog, Blondi. Another article about extravagantly groomed poodles appeared, titled “The phenomenology of slutty poddles: the role of dogs in the sex trade.”
In Germany, there are 80 million people, 5 million dogs and roughly a dozen magazines about dogs. Although the 1,000 print issues of Poop & Pooches sold out and Beleites and friends printed 1,750 more, there was some pushback from the pro-pooch contingent, which didn’t take too kindly to satire about man’s best friend.
When Beleites presented store manager Brigitte de Jong, owner of a fancy dog store in downtown Hamburg called Koko von Knebel, with an issue of Kot & Köter, she told him to go away. Koko von Knebel sells items like limited edition doggie bowls that will set you back 800 euros, as well as tricked-out doggy strollers.
"You can slap your child in Germany,” dog journalist and trainer Philip Alsen told the Journal, “but you better not slap your dog. I don't think this magazine has a future.”