It’s easy to want to label Bret Michaels as just a rock star. He fits the bill, having spent the last 20 years rocking stages around the world both solo and as the front man for the glam rock band Poison, selling more than 25 million records. But that isn’t the only spotlight he’s stepped into.
On the small screen, he starred in his own VH1 reality series, “Rock of Love,” and is currently filming his second stint on NBC’s “Celebrity Apprentice,” which he won in 2010. He is also an avid philanthropist — he donated his “Apprentice” winnings to the American Diabetes Association, and in October he opened the Bret Michaels Hospitality and Music Room in the Phoenix hospital where he was treated in 2010 for a brain hemorrhage that nearly took his life.
While it’s impossible to put Michaels himself into a neat little box, now pet parents can bring home a piece of him to their pets. Michaels launched his “Bret Michaels: Pets Rock” collection at PetSmart in June, inspired by his rock ‘n’ roll aesthetic and his own experiences as a pet parent. “I’ve had pets for as long as I can remember, and being a lifelong animal lover, this was something I was really excited to do,” Michaels says. “My ranch in Arizona is practically a zoo, with all of the pets my family has running around, so designing for PetSmart has been something I’m not only well-suited for, but passionate about.” The collection includes toys, beds, bowls, clothing and collars, all pet-tested and paw-approved by Michaels’ two German Shepherds, Diesel and Phoenix. “We all think our pets are rock stars, and my goal is to help pet owners bring out that rock ‘n’ roll vibe.”
The toys especially evoke that fun, energetic vibe — many feature Michaels’ trademark bandana, and some draw directly from his rock star experience. “My dogs love the tour bus chew toy,” Michaels says. “It’s modeled after the bus I use on the road, and it comes with a security guard and roadies” that fit into the plush bus. “They also love their ‘Roses and Thorns’ dish,” inspired by Poison’s No. 1 hit, “Every Rose Has Its Thorn.” Michaels’ experiences with pets go back to his childhood, growing up near Harrisburg, PA. “My first dog was a German
Shepherd, and he’s a big reason why I still have German Shepherds today. I love their energy and their personalities. When I’m home, I love to take them out and throw a ball around or go for a run with them.”
Diesel and Phoenix may share Michaels’ love for activity, but they differ from him greatly when it comes to health. While Michaels says his dogs have always been generally healthy, his own medical history includes an emergency appendectomy, a brain hemorrhage and a condition known as a patent foramen ovale (PFO), or a hole in the heart. “I’m extremely health-conscious, not only as a result of what I’ve been through in recent years, but I’m a lifelong diabetic. I’ve had to become rigorous about my own health, and the health of my family. And that includes my pets. We take them to the vet regularly and do everything we can to keep them in tip-top shape, from regular exercise to feeding them a healthy, nutritionally balanced diet — with the occasional treat.” That also includes making sure that playtime is safe.
While Michaels has indulged in his share of rock star antics, he insists there are no risks to pets from his products. “Safety is a top concern for both myself and the PetSmart team, and we go to great lengths to make sure that the toys are extremely safe. As a proud pet parent, I give my pets all of the toys from the collection. I certainly would never give them something unsafe.”
One thing that’s not on the agenda for Michaels: slowing down.
Apart from continuing to work on his PetSmart collection — which will soon unveil seasonal toys and innovative designs — and filming “Celebrity Apprentice” in New York, Michaels is also touring America with his solo “Get Your Rock On” Tour. “I will also be releasing a new album, ‘Bret Michaels: Good Songs and Great Friends,’ in early December. I have a new show with the Travel Channel, ‘Rock My RV,’ premiering in March 2013. I spend a lot of time on the road, and I love my RV, so it’s going to be great to share that with the fans.” You can bet two of his biggest fans, Diesel and Phoenix, will be tuning in, treasured tour-bus toys in paw.