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White God: It’s not the nerds getting revenge in this haunting Hungarian film

In terms of its story line, White God isn’t too different from any other movie in which the bullied rise up and get even with the bullies.

What makes it different — and makes it shine — is that in this case the bullied are abused and mistreated dogs, a species that already knows (perhaps better and more instinctively than us) that there is strength in numbers.

Perhaps the most talked about scene in the much talked about Hungarian film — winner of the Cannes Film Festival’s Prize Un Certain Regard Award and an official selection of Sundance Film Festival — is when a pack of 250 dogs, all mutts, stampede through the streets.

And what makes that scene even more impressive is that it was achieved not through computer graphics, but with dogs.

Director Kornel Mundruczo first issued a casting call for 100 dogs for the scene, then decided bigger would be better. More than 200 dogs ended up being involved, many of them from local animal shelters.

The scene serves as the movie’s climax, and it was a first of its kind achievement for the dog trainers involved.

Under the leadership of Hungarian dog trainer Árpád Halász, a team of humans was able to train the dogs to stampede in a pack in what was, in reality, a massive rush for treats.

One of the dog trainers involved, Teresa Ann Miller — daughter of a trainer who worked on films like Beethoven and Cujo — was interviewed about the movie on NPR this week.

Miller helped cast and train the two dogs who shared the role of Hagen.

The movie’s story begins when a young girl is forced to give up her dog, Hagen, because it is of mixed-breed heritage. Her father, unwilling to pay the fee required to keep a mutt, abandons Hagen in the streets.

Young Lili tries to find him, and Hagen tries to find her, but eventually he joins forces with, and becomes the leader of, hundreds of other abandoned, abused and mistreated dogs living in the streets.

As a pack, they rise up to seek revenge for the indignities they’ve suffered at the hands of humans.

(If the film has one fault, it’s the notion that dogs would seek revenge. They’re better than that.)

Miller told NPR that director Mundruczó wanted the stampede scene to look as real as possible — a goal complicated by the fact that no one has ever seen hundreds of domestic dogs running as a pack.

It was first rehearsed with 100 dogs running together.

Trainer Halász watched and then said, “What about 150?” Miller recounted. “And 150 looked so good that he says, What about 200? And each time Árpád learned, as he acquired the dogs and introduced other dogs into the pack, that it was possible.”

It took four months to prepare for the scene, she added.

“And that was amazing to see; that was fascinating. I’ve never seen it done. I’ve never seen such a large pack of dogs run together. And, quite honestly, I don’t think we’d ever do it here (in the U.S.) just for the time that it takes. It’s so much easier just to CGI it, but the director didn’t want that effect at all.”

How endangered is that doggy on a rooftop?

bojo1

They get about five calls a day at the Farm and Garden Store in Forest Grove, Oregon, about the dog on the roof.

But rest assured, store employees say, he’s not going to jump.

Bojo, a white American bulldog, lives above the store with his, and its, owner, Dennis Crowell.

Crowell commonly leaves a sliding door to the roof open, and Bojo regularly ventures out there — all the way to the edge so he can keep an eye on his owner and anything else he deems worth watching.

Whenever Crowell goes out on an errand, Bojo assumes the position, dutifully awaiting his return.

It’s all cool, store employees say, but those unfamiliar with Bojo’s habits don’t know that.

So hardly a day goes by that the store, or the fire department, or the police department, doesn’t get a call from someone concerned that the dog is in danger, the News-Times reports.

bojo2“Everybody thinks he is going to jump because he always sits at the edge,” said store manager Jesse Wong. “That’s why I think people freak out about it.”

“I don’t think he’ll jump down from there. I’ve been here since he was a puppy, and I think he’s 4 or 5 years old now.”

When Bojo is not on the roof, he can be seen roaming the store, which also has a mural of his likeness on its front wall.

(Photos by Travis Loose / News-Times)

What trash should we cash?

seussWhen an author pens some words

Then decides to abort ‘em

Is it right to dig them up

And publish them post mortem?

When an artist abandons or otherwise trashes a work in progress — be that artist a musician, painter or writer — it’s usually for good reasons

When an heir, agent or publisher digs up the discarded work of a dead or incapacitated artist it, and seeks to package it for public consumption, it’s usually for one:

Profit.

That — more than paying homage, more than fleshing out the historical record — is what’ I’d guess is behind the publication of “new” books by two of America’s most beloved authors.

Harper Lee’s Go Set A Watchman — essentially the trashed first draft of To Kill a Mockingbird — was released this summer, even though some say, given Ms. Lee’s mental state, she isn’t likely to have endorsed the project.

What Pet Should I Get, by Dr. Seuss (Theodore Geisel), hit bookstores today — 24 years after his death.

Fifty years after Seuss and Lee became part of popular culture, their respective publishing houses are saying, in effect — and like an infomercial — “But wait … There’s more.”

The new Seuss book is based materials found in the author’s San Diego home in 2013 by Geisel’s widow, Audrey.

According to Random House, when Audrey Geisel was remodeling her home after his death, she found a box filled with pages of text and sketches and set it aside with some of her husband’s other materials. Twenty-two years later, she and Seuss’s secretary revisited the box.

They found the full text and sketches for What Pet Should I Get? – a project that, seemingly, Seuss didn’t feel good enough about to pursue.

As reincarnated books go, Go Set a Watchman has proven far more contentious.

On top of questions over whether Lee wanted the work published, it’s first-version portrayal of Atticus Finch as a bigot is hard for some readers to take, especially those who read Mockingbird.

What Pet Should I Get? hasn’t entirely escaped controversy.

The story line is simple:  A brother and sister (the same ones featured in One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish) go to the pet store with permission from their parents to pick out a pet.

The can’t seem to agree. The brother wants a dog, the sister wants a cat, and some consideration is given to a “Yent that could live in a tent.”

Some reviews are saying the rhymes lack the pzazz and zaniness of Geisel’s better known works.

In addition, the book doesn’t stand up to the test of time. It was written in a day that buying a dog from a store was deemed acceptable — decades before the atrocities of puppy mills (where many such dogs came from) became known.

Among the book’s earliest critics — even before it came out — was PETA, whose president contacted Random House to point out it might send the wrong message to young readers. Apparently, Random House took the advice to heart. In an eight-page afterword, the publisher makes a point of explaining, among other things, that families should adopt rather than buying dogs and cats from stores.

What’s not addressed are the ethics of profiting off selling the unpublished works of the dead.

In the spirit of Dr. Seuss, let me conclude with a couple of modest thoughts. You can call them little point one and little point two.

Point one is a note to creative types. You might want to consider outlining in your will, in great detail, what may or may not happen to, and who should get any profits from, any unpublished works that you squirreled away in a drawer rather than burned or threw away.

Point two is that, in celebrating our beloved writers, particularly two who shaped the lives, hearts and brains of so many children and young adults, remembering their wishes should be paramount.

The publishing world is something of a zoo, and it’s not above shoveling out some stinky stuff wrapped in shiny new packages.

So be careful of that wily fox

He’s smarter than a lot of us

Watch out for tigers, snakes and bears

Beware the hippo-posthumous

 

Company recalls Tremenda Sticks pet chews

1tremendaThe Natural Dog Company is recalling 12-ounce bags of 12-inch Tremenda Sticks pet chews due to possible Salmonella contamination.

The product was sold in retail stores in North Carolina, Ohio, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Missouri, Montana, Utah and Washington, according to the FDA.

The potential for contamination was noted after a Colorado Department of Agriculture inspection of the product revealed the presence of Salmonella, the FDA said in a press release.

Production of the bully sticks has been suspended while FDA and the company continue their investigation into the source of the problem.

While no illnesses have been reported so far, the company says the product can make dogs sick, as well as humans who touch it. Infected animals can be carriers and infect other animals or people.

Symptoms of salmonella in pets include lethargy, diarrhea, fever and vomiting.

The Tremenda Sticks pet chews in question come in a 12-ounce bag with UPC number 851265004957 but with no lot number or expiration date. The company says products with new packaging, which includes both a lot number and expiration date but the same UPC, are not affected by this recall.

The Natural Dog Company, based in Windsor, Ohio, says unused treats may be returned for a full refund.

Consumers with questions may contact the company at 1-888-424-4602.

Photo of “death row” hug helps two Atlanta pups avoid getting put down

1deathrowhug

Here’s a picture that turned out to be worth much more than a thousand words.

When an Atlanta rescue organization posted this photo on Facebook of one dog hugging another — a shot taken at a shelter shortly before both were scheduled to be put down — it was only a matter of hours before they were taken in by a foster parent.

Along with the photo was this explanation from Angels Among Us Pet Rescue in Atlanta, written from the perspective of one of the dogs:

“I’m Kala. This is Keira. We’re so scared in here. The people working in the shelters see how scared we are but just told each other that today is our deadline.

“We have to have someone rescue us or we’ll be ‘next.’ Keira is black and not a ‘real boxer,’ just a mix. She’s so brave and tells me it will be okay no matter what happens. She tells me to be brave too but I don’t know if I can be.

“Can you see our faces. Keira knows what will happen. You can see it in her eyes. She’s putting on a brave face for sure but I can feel her heart beating fast while I’m clinging to her.

“If no one saves us, someone will take her away from me. I’ll see her as she goes down the hallway. She won’t come back and I’ll cry.”

Within a few hours, both dogs were taken into foster care by an unnamed veterinarian from the Atlanta area, according to MyFoxAtlanta.com.

The photo was shared thousands of times on social media, and received thousands of ‘likes.’

(Photo: by Malena Evans, courtesy of Angels Among Us)

Dutch woman plans to marry her dog

1lesbirel

You can’t say Bible-quoting conservatives didn’t warn us.

Let members of the same sex get married, they said, and it will open the door to even unholier unions.

Now comes word from Metro that a woman in the Nederlands plans to marry her dog.

Dominique Lesbirel, 41, says she might not do it immediately, because she wants to be sure that she’s not acting out of grief.

You see, her husband, Doerack, just died. He had kidney failure.

Oh, and he was a cat.

Lesbirel married Doerack eight years ago, conducting the ceremony herself, based on the authority she thinks she holds from getting ordained online.

She says she regularly officiates weddings between people with their pets — but not before doing some research and making sure they truly love, respect and are committed to each other. Also, she says, she wouldn’t marry anyone to a lion or tiger.

A Metro online poll shows only 8 percent of us would marry our pet.

Lesbirel, whose services are explained on her website, says some people have accused her of animal cruelty and promoting bestialty, which is “certainly not the case.”

“I would never condone such terrible acts of cruelty to animals. My site is all about making a commitment to pets to show your dedication to them and promise that you will always look after them.”

“We’d be lost without those happy little faces at our windows, so I’ll do anything I can to remind people to treat animals with love, kindness and respect.”

That, she says, is why she will someday soon tie the knot with her dog, Travis.

“He has given me so much happiness and unconditional love. I just want to celebrate that bond.”

(Photo:PA Real Life, via Metro)

Dog flu arrives in North Carolina

1zalia

The potentially deadly strain of the dog flu that has sickened thousands of dogs nationwide has made its way to North Carolina.

Two dogs in Asheville and one dog in Winston-Salem were confirmed to have the H3N2 virus at the end of last week, and state officials suspect more than 200 dogs in the state may also be infected.

The confirmed case in Winston-Salem is that of a 10-year-old German shepherd that belongs to Dr. Sandra McAvoy of Abri Veterinary Hospital, the Winston-Salem Journal reported.

McAvoy believes Zalea might have gotten the virus from a dog she was fostering for the Forsyth County Humane Society.

The humane society closed its doors Thursday due to concerns about the virus and expects to remain closed for at least 10 days.

Most dogs recover from the sickness within two to three weeks, but secondary bacterial infections can develop and cause more severe illness and pneumonia.

Dog flu is not transmittable to humans, according to the Center for Disease Control. Humans can, however, spread it from an infected dog to an uninfected dog.

The symptoms include cough, runny nose and fever. Other signs can include lethargy, eye discharge, reduced appetite and low-grade fever, officials said.

The state is also testing samples from a cluster of dogs in Greensboro that are showing similar symptoms.

“All dogs are at risk because this is something new, they’ve never been exposed,” said McAvoy. “They don’t have any natural immunity to it. So it’s probably going to run a course and then down the road we’re going to have immune dogs, down the road we’re going to have vaccines so the dogs will be vaccinated and they won’t get it.”

As for Zalea, she’s recovering from pneumonia and McAvoy is hopeful she’ll to pull through.

Two percent of the dogs that have contracted the virus have died.

A state Agriculture Department website is tracking the cases, and features more information and resources for pet owners.

(Photo: Zalea, the German shepherd who was one of the first dogs in North Carolina to be diagnosed with the H3N2 virus; from 13NewsNow.com)


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