Back in the mid-1990s, the internet was only really starting to take hold in homes, and on our college campus, it had finally arrived in the fall of 1995. We endured all kinds of long website loading times on very slow modems to see the glory of the world wide web, and it was both strange and glorious.
One of the effects of the internet invasion was that software was easier than ever to share and download, especially with all of the different trial programs out there. So when I went to work in the computer center help room on our college campus, I found out that everyone had been bowled over by this program called Dogz for Windows 95.
Dogz wasn’t a game, not really. It belonged to the virtual pet craze of the 1990s, but also to the “things doing unproductive stuff on your desktop” craze that was infecting a lot of Windows machines. We were kind of nuts for overloading our computers with all sorts of gimmicky programs that would slow everything down to a crawl. Today it seems like the opposite — we’re all about streamlining and simplifying our workspace. I guess it was the novelty of it all.
Anyway! Dogz! So the idea here is that you would adopt one of five highly animated dogs and then raise and train them. Each dog had a specific personality, so generally you’d pick the one that was suited to your own. Personally, I liked Jowls because he had a sweater, but your mileage may vary.
I thought it was a nice touch that the pet would then break out of the window and romp all over your desktop (if you had the window reduced in size instead of fullscreen). You could then train the dog with spritzes of water and snacks, feed and water them, pet them, and play with them using a variety of objects from the screen. Throwing the ball around to see the dog chase it or playing tug of war was pretty entertaining, at least for a while.
I guess the idea here was similar to vanity pets in MMOs — to give you that feeling of virtual companionship, even if you were so desperately alone. So alone. Why? Why wouldn’t anyone date me? Why was I destined to be alone each and every Friday evening? WHYYYYYY HUG ME DOG AND LICK AWAY MY TEARZ
Anyway, while we spent a good amount of time fiddling with Dogz at our job, it was mostly because it wasn’t seen as a game and playing games there was frowned upon. I never took Dogz with me on my laptop or fell in love with it — it was more of a temporary fascination that became dull once you’d seen all that it had to show you. I know that the series kept on going for a good long while on many platforms, but right there in 1995 was where Dogz and I crossed paths and then parted for good.