Actor, Jonathan Goldsmith poses with the Skinny Water models at the Skinny Water At Maxim's Fillies & Stallions Party at the Mellwood Arts & Entertainment Center in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by John Sommers II/Getty Images for Skinny Water)
(CBSNews.com) - The world's most interesting man is taking on a new challenge: helping to cure canine cancer.
Jonathan Goldsmith, known to many as the suave face of Heineken's Dos Equis brand, is lending his support to The Orvis Company's campaign to raise money for the Morris Animal Foundation's fight against canine cancer.
Goldsmith has two links to the effort. For one, he lives in Vermont, close to the headquarters for Orvis, the longest continually operating fly-fishing business. Orvis sells sporting goods and clothing through dozens of retail stores, its catalog and online site.
Secondly, Goldsmith is also a dog owner and lover. In his commercial for the campaign, he's shown with one of his two Anatolian shepherds. He told CBS MoneyWatch that the campaign is important to him, as he has lost a dog to osteosarcoma, a cause of bone tumors in dogs.
"I've been a dog lover all of my life," Goldsmith said. "I do everything I can to help in any way."
Goldsmith's Dos Equis work has won fans for his debonair portrayal of the high life, which is paired with tongue-in-cheek ad copy such as, "His masseuse feels an overwhelming sense of calm when he makes an appointment," and, "The one time he went commando, an Eastern European dictatorship crumbled."
With Goldsmith's addition to the campaign, Morris Animal Foundation is hoping to raise $250,000 this year, or about 20 percent than it brought in last year, said Dan Reed, chief development officer for the foundation. Orvis has raised almost $1 million for the effort since starting the campaign in 2009.
The program asks dog owners to enter photos of their pooches into the "Orvis Cover Dog Contest for Morris Animal Foundation." Fans then donate $1 for each vote, with a $5 minimum, with the funds going to Morris Animal Foundation to help their research into canine cancer. The Million Dollar Dog Sweepstakes will end on Feb. 15.
The fundraising event comes at a time when healthcare spending on pets is skyrocketing. Americans spent a whopping $53 billion on their animals in 2012, including vet care and food. Spending on over-the-counter medications for pets rose by 7 percent, while alternative vet care treatments totaled $12.5 billion, The Associated Press notes.
That's raising questions about the ethics of spending on pet healthcare, raising dilemmas such as whether it's justified to spend thousands on treatmen
t for one animal while many other pets are euthanized in shelters.
One in four dogs over the age of two in the U.S. dies from cancer, the leading cause of death in dogs over that age, a Morris Animal Foundation spokeswoman told CBS MoneyWatch. The group has raised money to fund research to test and identify drugs for canine cancer treatments, among other research efforts.
Goldsmith points out that many pets in shelters are there because they're ill and their owners are unable to care for them. "In a roundabout way, this helps keep dogs out of shelters," he said.
As for his own dogs, Goldsmith notes that they are "150 pounds of cuteness." Anatolian shepherds are used in Turkey for guarding and protecting livestock.
"They keep paparazzi away from my home," he laughed.