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Archive for September, 2017

Meet two dogs who will fetch you some tee

Just as they are finding jobs on baseball teams — mostly at the college and minor league levels — dogs are making inroads into the college football game as well, and not just as mascots.

And let’s face it, being a mascot isn’t a job at all; it’s more like a position of royalty.

These two dogs, on the other hand, are earning their keep (though they regard it more as play than toil) by retrieving the tees after kickoffs in college football games.

Pint, a Nova Scotia duck tolling retriever, has held the position at UC Davis for five years. In all that time, “I’ve never seen him fumble a tee,” UC Davis associate athletic director Josh Flushman said.

When Pint was having difficulty spotting the tee on the field last season, kicker Matt Blair, who prefers a green tee, agreed to switch, for Pint’s sake, to a black one, ESPN.com reported.

When he first showed up for practices and saw footballs flying through the air, Pint thought they were ducks and wanted to chase them all.

Dr. Danika Bannasch, Pint’s owner and a geneticist at UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, initially covered Pint’s eyes during every kickoff, then released him when the kickoff and run back were completed. Now, judging from the video above, he sits and watches kickoffs, and once unleashed charges out onto the field.

At Boise State University, a black lab named Kohl is handling tee retrieval duties. The tee-fetching tradition there goes back to the 1990s, It went on hiatus and returned in 2010.

Kohl also retrieves bats for the local minor league baseball team.

“He’s just a rock star, man,” said his owner and trainer Britta Closson, who works at Positive Pets Dog Training in Boise. “Once we put the confidence in him, he was unstoppable. You can literally teach him to do just about anything. I’m just there to tell him when to go,” she said.

Customers say supermarket’s chocolatey kindness poisoned their dogs

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To thank its loyal customers, the UK supermarket chain Sainsbury’s sent complimentary chocolates through the mail to holders of the store’s reward card.

Now, it’s hearing back from some customers who are feeling less than rewarded — and who are “thanking” Sainsbury’s (sarcastically) for poisoning their dogs.

As anyone who receives their mail through a slot in their door knows, dogs are generally curious — and not above tearing into — anything the postal carrier delivers that looks or smells interesting.

As most dog owners know (or should) chocolate can be toxic to dogs.

So, thoughtful as it might seem delivering unsolicited chocolates — a selection of Green & Black’s chocolate bars — was a lame-brained move that has now evolved into a public relations’s nightmare.

A Sainsbury’s spokesperson said the company was “extremely sorry for the distress caused,” the BBC reported, and that it is investigating complaints “as a matter of urgency.”

The spokesperson added, “We know chocolate is unsafe for pets to eat and that’s why we had measures in place to safeguard against pet owners receiving this promotion.”

The company didn’t say what those safeguards were — only that “we are urgently investigating what went wrong.”

Those whose dogs have fallen ill have taken to social media to express their rage.

choc2Sarah Hayward’s cocker spaniel Jarvis was rushed to the vet after he tore into the promotional box while she was at work.

“My parents, who came home to let the dogs out at lunchtime, found the empty packet on his bed … They realized it was chocolate and the second they called the vet they were told to rush him straight in. He was put on various drips to flush fluids down him to try and induce him to be sick and, yes, it was a bit of a worry”.

“My eight month old puppy is currently having its stomach pumped and is being hospitalized at the vets this evening due to your utter foolishness, wrote another dog owner, Sammy Taylor. “I was out for less than two hours to return home and find three bars of dark chocolate devoured at my front doorstep and a very hyper puppy having heart palpitations … Chocolate is poisonous to dogs… it is well well known fact!”

Dan Dugdale, a 27-year-old designer from York, told The Daily Telegraph that he had arrived home on Monday to find his two two miniature dachshunds had eaten the contents of the package.

He said the two dogs were “completely hyper,” and he and his partner rushed them to a vet’s office, where the dogs were determined not to have had a significant negative reaction.

Dugdale said he’s not a Sainsbury’s rewards card holder and that the parcel was addressed to a previous occupant.

Photo: At top, Dan Dugdale’s dachshund with the box of chocolates he tore into; lower, Sarah Hayward’s cocker spaniel, Jarvis, who also became ill after eating the chocolates; Twitter)

Guggenheim, citing threats, pulls controversial pit bull piece from exhibit

The Guggenheim Museum in New York has pulled from an upcoming exhibit an “artwork” that features, on video, four pairs of pit bulls on treadmills charging at each other.

Real dogs are used in the piece, titled “Dogs Cannot Touch Each Other,” but it is a video version of a performance staged live when it first appeared in Beijing in 2003.

It and two other works condemned by animal welfare activists will no longer be part of the exhibit when it opens Oct. 6.

The charging pit bull piece — a seven minute long video — is by artists Peng Yu and Sun Yuan, a husband and wife team (let’s hope they treat each other with a little more kindness) who, in the original exhibit, lined up four pairs of pit bulls, face to face, on eight treadmills.

The dogs charge towards each other, but never get more than a few inches away. Still, they keep at it, panting and drooling and becoming more and more stressed out and frustrated.

The Guggenheim initially responded to animal welfare concerns by saying it had no intention of removing the work from the exhibit.

But, just four days later, museum officials reconsidered.

guggenheim-gallery-exterior-lightAccording to a report from NPR, the Guggenheim will pull the pieces from its upcoming exhibit, “Art and China after 1989: Theater of the World.”

The museum blamed “explicit and repeated threats of violence,” but provided no details.

An online petition demanding the museum remove the works garnered more than 600,000 signatures since it was posted five days ago, and protesters gathered outside the museum on Saturday, holding signs that say “suffering animals is not art.”

Even after that, the Guggenheim defended the pit bull video, calling it on Thursday “an intentionally challenging and provocative artwork that seeks to examine and critique systems of power and control. We recognize that the work may be upsetting. The curators of the exhibition hope that viewers will consider why the artists produced it and what they may be saying about the social conditions of globalization and the complex nature of the world we share.”

But on Monday the museum relented under the pressure and said it was pulling that work and two others, citing threats of violence and concern for the safety of its staff, visitors and the artists.

“Although these works have been exhibited in museums in Asia, Europe, and the United States, the Guggenheim regrets that explicit and repeated threats of violence have made our decision necessary,” the museum said in a statement. “As an arts institution committed to presenting a multiplicity of voices, we are dismayed that we must withhold works of art. Freedom of expression has always been and will remain a paramount value of the Guggenheim.”

In another of the to-be-removed pieces, artist Xu Bing tattooed meaningless characters all over the bodies of two pigs, a boar and a sow, who were put on display, mating, in a museum exhibit in Beijing in 1994. The Guggenheim was to feature the video of that “performance” as well.

Also removed was a work featuring live animals — reptiles, amphibians, insects — that are trapped in a glass enclosure and proceed to eat and kill each other for the viewing pleasure of attendees.

Facing defunding, VA says it will keep closer eye on its dog research experiments

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The Department of Veterans Affairs says it will tighten oversight of controversial medical experiments on dogs after an investigation found surgery failures and canine deaths in research projects at a VA facility in Virginia.

The announcement of a change in policy comes as Congress considers a bill to defund the experiments altogether.

Nationwide, invasive experiments at three VA facilities are slated to include roughly 300 dogs, and involve surgeries on their brains, spines and hearts by researchers seeking treatments for heart disease and other ailments, USA Today reported yesterday.

All the dogs will be killed when the research is complete.

Michael Fallon, the VA’s chief veterinary medical officer, said all future research projects involving dogs will have to be approved by the VA’s accrediting body.

The VA’s Office of Research Oversight found in May that researchers at the VA facility in Richmond failed to adequately document whether dogs had been treated properly, and that four dogs suffered complications in experimental surgeries.

Those findings are fueling an effort to halt VA dog experiments deemed painful for the dogs. The House passed legislation — known as the PUPPERS Act — in July that eliminated funding for such research, but the VA is hoping to persuade senators to reject the measure.

“If this legislation passes the Senate, it would stop potential VA canine research-related medical advancements that offer seriously disabled veterans the hope of a better future,” VA Secretary David Shulkin wrote in a USA Today op-ed this month.

Opponents of the dog research say much of that research hasn’t translated to humans and that the VA is relying on outdated models that don’t fully take into account scientific advances that may provide alternatives to dogs as research subjects.

“The VA is abusing its authority and fear-mongering to defend taxpayer-funded experiments on dogs that are cruel and unlikely to help veterans or anybody else,” said Justin Goodman, vice president of White Coat Waste Project, an advocacy group that wants to end funding to the agency’s dog experiments.

Only three VA facilities are conducting the type of research that would be affected by the legislation.

In Milwaukee, VA researchers looking for ways to decrease pain without slowing breathing are using dogs to study neurons that control breathing rates. In those experiments, researchers place the dogs under anesthesia and remove parts of their brains to cause a complete loss of consciousness and sensation, according to research protocol documents.

In Cleveland, VA researchers are studying ways to restore cough functions after spinal cord injury. The experiments involve placing dogs under anesthesia and then using electrodes for high-frequency stimulation at various places on their spinal cords to induce coughing. The research calls for 41 dogs, who are euthanized upon the completion of the studies.

At the Richmond VA, researchers are seeking therapies for heart disease. They are implanting pacemakers in dogs, running them on treadmills and performing various tests, including by injecting medications, inducing irregular heartbeats, creating heart attacks and blocking arteries with latex. After the research is done, the dogs are euthanized by injection or by draining their blood.

The investigation of the Richmond cardiac experiments followed a complaint to the VA inspector general’s office in March.

Investigators concluded a dog received an overdose of anesthetic during one surgery, and two dogs suffered surgical disruptions of nerves controlling digestive functions. One later died and the other was euthanized during subsequent surgeries. A fourth dog died after a surgeon accidentally cut into one of its lungs during surgery.

The VA says dogs accounted for less than 1% of the animals used in agency research last year.

Photo: Billboard in Cleveland area calls for an end to the experiments, from Cleveland.com)

In “Isle of Dogs,” canines in a Japanese city are banished to an island of trash

Director Wes Anderson has been secretive about the plot of his new animated movie, “Isle of Dogs,” but judging from a trailer released last week it will be trademark Anderson — bleakly beautiful, deceptively sentimental, more than a little haunting, and unconventional, with a capital UN.

It is set, 20 years from now, in a Japanese city, where canine overpopulation and an outbreak of dog flu has led the local government to banish dogs to an island filled with trash.

A 12-year-old boy hijacks a plane and flies to the island in search of his dog, Spots, and so begins an epic quest (is there any other kind these days?) in which he is assisted by five other exiled dogs (all of whom speak, of course).

“We’ll find him,” one of the dogs reassure the boy. “Wherever he is. If he’s alive. We’ll find your dog.”

It remains to be seen how family friendly the film will be, and whether it, like many other Anderson films, will have dogs dying off as the plot unwinds.

The movie is Anderson’s first feature since 2014’s “The Grand Budapest Hotel.”

Its cast of voice actors includes Bryan Cranston, Edward Norton, Jeff Goldblum, Frances McDormand, F. Murray Abraham, Tilda Swinton, Bill Murray, Courtney B. Vance, Harvey Keitel, Scarlett Johansson and Yoko Ono.

The film is scheduled to hit theaters in March, 2018.

Woman gets very crabby about service dog in Delaware restaurant

A customer who went ballistic over the presence of a veteran’s service dog in a Delaware seafood restaurant has defended her tirade, saying she was the victim of racial slurs.

Ciara Miller, the woman seen yelling in the now viral video, says that before the camera was turned on during the confrontation at Kathy’s Crab House in Delaware City, racial epithets were directed at her by “six or seven people.”

And she told FOX 29 that she stands firm in her belief that her dining experience should not have been spoiled by a dog.

“No, actually I don’t regret how vocal I was. I reacted based on the way they reacted to me,” Miller said.

The dog in question is JP, a Great Dane belonging to retired US Air National Guard Force Master Sgt. Bill Austin who suffers from PTSD. JP was wearing a vest indicating he was a service dog.

Miller objected that her family was seated in close proximity to the dog.

“The dog’s body was about the same height as the table. Basically, the butt was sitting in front of me at the table,” she can be heard to say in the video.

When someone tried to explain to her that JP was a service dog, belonging to a veteran who fought for the country, she responded, “Congratulations, congratulations. My husband’s dad did too … My husband’s dad fought for the fucking country …I don’t care, I don’t care … There should be a separate section for a f—ing animal.”

Bill+Austin+and+JP+Service+DogAustin, meanwhile, said no one said anything racial to Miller, that she started the argument, and that his dog behaved appropriately.

“I really am hoping something positive comes out of this,” Austin said. “This is about bad behavior.”

Since the video went viral, Miller says she has been harassed online.

“I am frightened to send my daughter to school with the level of verbal content is being said to and about me, my family and I based on these fake articles,” Miller said in an email to the Wilmington News Journal.

Kathy’s Crab House issued a statement apologizing for the “embarassing turn of events … It is unfortunate that some of the public are not familiar with federal regulations regarding service animals, which, in fact, do permit service animals into establishments such as grocery stores, public buildings and restaurants …”

The restaurant announced it will be sponsoring a fundraising effort for veterans and service animals.

(Photo: Bill Austin, with his wife and, in the foreground, JP, photo provided by Austin)

Woof in Advertising: Ellen’s dog food has new mascot — and it’s a turd with a halo

There’s a new animated turd in town, and no, it’s not a character on South Park.

Halo dog food, Ellen DeGeneres’ brand, has launched a new advertising campaign featuring a saintly pile of feces know as “Poopsie.”

woof in advertisingThe mascot appears in two advertising spots that have been made so far, both telling us that Halo brand pet foods are free of filler, and that the consumption of it leads to healthier, friendlier, more polite poops.

Halo promises dog owners “a poop that’s a pleasure to scoop.”

It’s not clear what, if any, role, DeGeneres played in conceiving the new mascot for the brand, but the ads were developed by RPA (Rubin Postaer and Associates), an advertising and marketing agency headquartered in Santa Monica, according to AdWeek.com.

mrhankyPoopsie is not the first animated poop to hit the airwaves. That honor, many think, belongs to Mr. Hankey, a talking, sewer-dwelling lump of human feces who first appeared in a Christmas-time episode during the first season of South Park. He went on to become a recurring character.

South Park, however, has been accused of stealing the character from Ren and Stimpy creator John K., who says the cartoon rips off a series of Spumco comics and cartoons that featured “Nutty the Friendly Dump.” The two characters look alike, and the plot lines are similar, too, with the talking feces surfacing to befriend a main character who has been rejected by classmates.

That controversy didn’t make a lot of headlines when it was playing out, back in 1997, so I don’t know, nor do I want to, whether it led to a court battle over who first produced talking poop.

Twenty years later, though I don’t think anybody is going to sue Ellen (because she’s too nice). And the advertising agency is probably in the clear, too, because Poopsie, being coiled, has an entirely different shape than either Mr. Hankey or Nutty. And Poopsie — as much as I would like to call him a spokesturd — doesn’t talk (at least not yet).

In any event, Halo brand has trademarked the name “Poopsie” and the Poopsie image — basically a spiraled piece of poop with eyeballs and a mouth and a golden halo hovering over it.

Poopsie’s point … and it does have one .. is that “the proof is in the poop.”

Dogs who eat Halo brand are avoiding difficult to digest filler and “meat meal,” and as a result they dispense poop that is, if not truly angelic, at least less offensive, the ads contend.

As the next ad says, “the truth always comes out in the end.”

(This link will lead you to more of our Woof in Advertising posts)