You’d be hard-pressed to find something cuter.
Budweiser’s latest Super Bowl commercial, “Lost Dog,” a sequel to last year’s popular “Puppy Love” spot (featuring a Clydesdale horse and his rambunctious Labrador puppy companion), is already wildly popular, with more than 14 millions YouTube views since its release last week.
The spot shows the little yellow Lab getting lost, then having to find his way back home to his protective pals and loving master on the ranch – though not before braving a coyote encounter along the way.
“Lost Dog” is a heartwarming tale about how true friends always have your back,” Budweiser vice president Brian Perkins tells PEOPLE. “It’s a storyline that people of all walks of life can relate to.”
And while it may be only an ad, the connection between the dog and master at the final scene was completely real.
“Absolutely. That’s true love right there.,” says actor Don Jeanes, who reprised his role as the Budweiser Clydesdale trainer for the third time for this year’s spot. “But I don’t know who doesn’t love a Labrador puppy.”
In fact, the young canine star was actually part of a group of puppies – eight of them in total, seven females and one male – around 11½-weeks old.
“We actually weren’t allowed to interact with the dogs when we were on set, because it can be distracting to them and they won’t do what they’re supposed to do,” says Jeanes. “It was like having a warm plate of chocolate chip cookies being passed around at a party and not being able to touch them!”
But at the end of the day, the trainers would allow everyone to give the dogs a real cuddle. Says Jeanes: “They’d let them into a field, and said, ‘Okay, you can play with them now!’ There were grown men rolling around on the ground with them.”
Working with the large Clydesdales was hardly a stretch for Jeanes, 34, who grew up in Texas, where his father and grandfather owned a 1,000-acre ranch.
“They’re just gentle and sweet,” Jeanes says of the horses, who underwent three months’ training in advance of shooting. “But when you see them in real life, you’re like, ‘Oh my gosh, they still make animals that big?’ They’re like dinosaurs.'”
In fact, he says, the only snafu faced on set was getting some of the puppies brave enough to interact with the giant horses. “They’d get a little sacred,” he says. “It took a few times to get them to sniff and lick them.”
So does Jeanes, like most people, get a little misty-eyed when he sees the actual commercial on TV?
“It does give me chills,” he says. “It’s that song!”
(Want to download it? It’s I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles), performed by Sleeping at Last.)