By Syd Nicely
Brando, Chairman of Brand-O Foods, the Charlottesville-based energy bar company, has long cultivated an image as a happy-go-lucky, lovable hound. He does all the usual things dogs do – chase tennis balls, sticks and squirrels, engage in stalemates with hissing cats, act desperate for affection, snore and slobber (sometimes both at once).
But sources inside the Brand-O organization are quietly painting a very different picture. Behind the walls of his personal empire, these sources say, is a dog prone to fits of temper and caprice. A couple of years ago, when cloaked in anonymity, he’d happily snack on a Milk Bone whenever one was offered. Now, this trail-trotting corporate celebrity turns up his nose at the Limited Diet Ingredient stuff - which doesn’t come cheap – even when garnished in Organic chicken broth. In such cases, apparently, only boiled Organic chicken breast and rice will do.
“It’s been pretty amazing to watch,” a source with access to Brando’s feeding schedule told Ask Nicely. “As soon as his picture went up on the Web site, and the ‘corporate visionary’ stuff started… now it’s like he expects a Michelin 5 Star chef to put out his dog bowl in the morning.”
As a puppy, he’d go to public dog parks and chase, run and skirmish with all comers – sheepdogs, pugs, greyhounds and terriers. In recent months, the Brand-O Foods impresario has taken to secluding himself within an exclusive circle of black labs and hounds known for their striking good looks and hard-playing ways – Ask Nicely hears it’s not unusual for a handsome head to go through drywall when running in this pack.
“He’s got a life mate in Richmond,” a former aide to the Chairman said. “He hardly ever goes to see her anymore. She’s devastated.”
And in perhaps the most damning revelation, Your Humble Correspondent has learned that the Brand-O Foods Chairman maintains four beds. That’s right, four. For those keeping score at home, that’s one in each car, one in an upstairs crate and one in the living room. Company insiders were aghast when Brando recently added an addition to his memory foam-filled sofa bed. When questioned on the appearances of such lavish living, the Chairman reportedly lay down across his two beds - just because he could.
“Families are always rising and falling in America,” as Nathaniel Hawthorne famously observed. Well, this columnist is throwing down the gauntlet - lovable hound mascot of a plucky startup energy bar business, or plutocrat industrialist. Pick one collar to wear, Mr. Chairman. Your leash won’t latch on to both.