Senior dogs Mack and Babs are hitting celebrity status these days at Old Friends Senior Dog Sanctuary in Mt. Juliet.
They are prancing a bit perkier because they are front and center of a new, interactive mobile game adventure inspired by the rescue stories, everyday antics and personalities of those two and eight other residents who of the facility which opened June 12 on Nonaville Road.
Last month New Zealand game designer Runaway Play released “Old Friends Dog Game” for iOS and Android devices based on the internationally known senior dog sanctuary.
“We set out to create something meaningful to bring happiness, hope and comfort during difficult times,” CEO Runaway Play CEO Zoe Hobson said. “At its core, ‘Old Friends’ is a game about friendship, for people who love dogs. ‘Old Friends’ transforms the famed canine retirement home based in Mt. Juliet into a fun and highly interactive game. Players name and design their own sanctuary, build bonds with each dog that joins their pack and take on tasks to ensure their happiness.”
Old Friends Marketing Manager Noel Kiswiney said she is already on Level 3 of the game. She said every month Runaway Play will sponsor a new sanctuary resident with profits from in-game purchases, covering expenses for a full year.
“We’ve had about 85,000 new downloads of the game since release day on Aug. 12,” Kiswiney said. “This does not include the over 100,000 downloads of the open beta testing prior to launch.”
The other top star in the game, Babs, is a 13½-year-old Bassett hound who was lounging in his quarters recently.
Kiswiney said Old Friends co-founder Zina Goodin and Runaway game professionals have been collaborating on the game since 2018.
“Zina got an email from the game developer because they heard about our dogs and purpose,” said Kiswiney. “Zina at first thought it was too good to be true. Hearing from a place in New Zealand and them wanting to make a game out of our sanctuary? But we did have 12 million followers on Facebook at that time.”
The video game designers chose 10 dogs that live at the sanctuary as characters based on their personalities.
The download is free for the game designed for 8-year-old and older humans. Some game features include Unleash the Love where gamers rescue and take care of their own senior squad; Unlock Heartwarming Adventures where gamers uncover new story chapters for adventures with the dogs; Decorate Digs Fit for a King (Charles) where gamers can design and decorate an indoor and outdoor play area with furniture and plants for the dogs; Bake Drool-Worthy Snacks where gamers can bake treats like donuts, pupcakes and biscuits.
Gamers also can produce livestream performances with their senior dogs to receive in-game sanctuary donations and jump to the next level.
“We are so excited about the release of Old Friends Dog Game,” said Zina Goodin. “A mobile game about our sanctuary isn’t something we ever imagined, but when Runaway Play approached us it all fell into place. Now, after a couple years of working on it with them, we’re so happy to have it available for people to play and enjoy!”
Kiswiney said that she usually plays the game in front of the television and virtually rubs the bellies of Mack (a 10-year-old blind dog) and Babs during the game.
She does this while she cuddles her foster, Trixie, a little Pomeranian of a certain age.
“We just hope this game brings attention and spreads awareness and that people know our seniors have a lot to offer,” Kiswiney said.