When I was a kid, I treated my dog’s birthday with all the seriousness that I believed I would one day treat the birthday of a child. I opened a can of wet food and plopped it on a plate, then stuck a rawhide stick in the middle of the foul-smelling “cake” to represent a candle – I figured he wouldn’t appreciate an actual lit candle, which would interfere with his ability to immediately shove his face into the pâté mess. I then invited his friends, i.e. my stuffed animals, to the party where I presented him with the cake and sang happy birthday to him. I may have also tried to outfit him with a special birthday hat or bow, but I don’t believe he was having any of that frippery.
Nowadays, I don’t make quite such a production out of pet birthdays. I may buy my cat a new toy or give her an extra cat treat on her birthday, which I arbitrarily assigned to her as she was a stray with a mysterious past, but we don’t do parties – she’s not especially social. Many of the pet owners I know celebrate their pets’ birthdays, real or assigned, in some fashion, even if it’s just a Snapchat of said pet sent to friends with scribbled streamers and “HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAN!” across the image.
No one I know personally, however, has marked their pet’s birthday in as elaborate a way as Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg recently did for his dog, a white Puli named Beast. (Pulis crack me up – they look like actual smiling mops.) As you may recall, Facebook owns Oculus, so Zuckerberg tasked one of his virtual reality artist employees to use the new Oculus Medium, a VR creation tool, to design a 3D version of Beast.
In a video Zuckerberg posted to his Facebook page, the artist expertly wields the Oculus Touch controllers to sketch the dog in midair, glancing at photographs to make sure that every virtual detail is sculpted in perfect Beast likeness. Once he has finished the image, the file is sent to Facebook’s hardware lab, where a technician 3D prints and post-processes the miniature Beast (he requires a lot of support material, it seems).
Beast, who is now six years old (or 42 in dog years – a healthy middle age) looks pretty excited to be presented with his mini-me – although perhaps slightly disappointed when he realizes that he can’t eat it. His 3D printed doppelganger is a very good likeness, however, right down to the blue bow on his head.
It’s a pretty clever way to advertise the Oculus Medium, which looks like a lot of fun and which I would love to play around with. I’m not going to 3D print my cat a replica of herself for her next birthday, though – like I said, she’s highly antisocial towards other cats and would likely feel threatened by a miniaturized version of herself. I’ll stick with her usual gift – a good old-fashioned squeaky mouse toy. Discuss in the 3D Printed Dog forum at 3DPB.com.