Oddchester: Mother of invention has a Yorkie named Lucy
Two years ago, during a motorcycle trip to Virginia, my dad, little sister and I found ourselves inspired by the inventions of Thomas Jefferson's Monticello.
For the rest of the trip, we shared our own inventions dreamed up through the years, including Attach-A-Patch!, Boot Scootz!, and Campin' Critterz!
All of those, incidentally, are mine. I'm scared to tell you what they are, for fear you'll steal my ideas. Deep down, I truly believe that Attach-A-Patch! and Boot Scootz! could make me wealthy. I'm certain Campin' Critterz! will revolutionize camping as we know it.
My dad and sister had a bunch of ideas as well, but I don't remember any of them.
When my dad got back home to Michigan, he set up a company for us, called Dorky Inventions, LLC.
So, yeah, I'm one-third owner of a company.
The three of us emailed a few ideas back and forth over the next few months, but never agreed on one project, mostly because they kept ignoring my pitch for Boot Scootz!
That was pretty much the last we talked about it.
Until I went to my parents' house for Thanksgiving. Because that's when my father, an engineer, called Lori and me into a room to show us the first working prototype designed and created by Dorky Inventions LLC.
I was sure it was going to be Boot Scootz!
Instead, our company had apparently spent 18 months creating what looked like a tripod welded to a steel baseplate. The tripod stood roughly two feet high and, at the top, sported what looked to be a rubber human hand whose fingers and thumb could be clamped together like a small vice. The hand was attached to a universal joint, allowing it to swivel in all directions.
Some of this description may be the prototype and some may be drawings of what the final product will look like. It was all a bit of a blur.
Here's one thing I remember crystal clear, though: Someone announced the device will be called Miss Peggy's Bone Holder.
This was certainly not one of the inventions Lori or I recall signing off on.
The idea, my dad explained, is that my parents' Yorkie, Lucy, loves to play with her rawhide bones. The problem — and this was my dad's inspiration to spend his nights in the garage working on this — is that Lucy only likes to play with her bone if someone holds it.
And my parents can't be home all the time!
So my dad created a device to mimic someone holding Lucy's bone. To add to the realism, the hand was a rubber mold my dad had made of my stepmother's hand. My stepmom's name is Peggy.
If I've learned one thing in the invention game, it's that different people get excited about the marketability of different inventions.
My father is certain Miss Peggy's Bone Holder will be a big seller, despite the fact that the list price, based on my estimate of prototype materials, would need to be $1,800.
Dogs are a big market, my father was explaining to me. We could get a dog bone manufacturer to back us. We could offer customizable rubber hands for clients.
I wasn't really listening. Because, although I had done no physical work whatsoever on building any invention, I had spent a lot of effort creating the voice and look of the cartoon monkey that would be my commercial spokesperson for Boot Scootz!
As tri-CEO of the company, I felt like some of my employees had circumvented my authority in pursuit of their personal project.
I was this close to saying something — or at least dashing off a company-wide memo — when, as his final demonstration, my dad loaded up a rawhide into Peggy's rubber vice hand. Then brought the dog in.
That little Yorkie immediately grabbed that rawhide and ran in circles as the rubber hand spun around on that universal joint.
I watched my dad and Peggy laugh and cheer and realized that, if we could get the price down, pet people might buy Miss Peggy's Bone Holder.
So if you are considering taking our idea, rest assured that, after our intensive focus group testing, Dorky Inventions LLC has already begun the patent process.
And don't even think about stealing the name, as it is in the final stages of trademark registration.