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Archive for 'Muttsblog'

A fitness tracker (geesh) for your dog

fitbit

Reading stories about technological advances hitting the marketplace often makes me roll my eyes — because many of those so-called innovations, in my view, are like those new clothes that emperor wore.

Case in point, fitness trackers — those devices you wear on your wrist to remind you to get off your duff. Perhaps they perform some more vital functions, but based on a TV ad — pretty much the extent of my knowledge about them — they will buzz or beep if you’ve been sitting still too long (which most often is a result of earlier technology, i.e. the computer and television).

If that weren’t ridiculous enough, there are also (eye roll) fitness trackers for dogs.

Forbes reports that Whistle, the maker of a fitness tracker for your dog, is raising $16 million in a Series B venture capital round, bringing its total funding to $25 million.

In other words, a lot of people with money believe in it.

Whistle’s $100 Fitbit-like dog collar features a 3-axis accelerometer to track movement, Bluetooth for connecting with your smartphone, WiFi, and an app that collects fitness data, allowing you to track the activity level of your dog.

Whistle has acquired Snaptracs, which makes Tagg, a GPS tracker for your dog that — in addition to tracking movement — also includes a temperature sensor to make sure your dog doesn’t get too hot or cold.

The interest of such companies is understandable, given society is nuts about gizmos, apps and pets. On the latter alone, Americans spent $58.51 billion last year, according to the American Pet Products Association.

I’m all for any device that helps find dogs when they’re lost, but really now, do we need devices to let us know whether our dogs are too hot, too cold, and getting enough exercise?

We already have two devices for that, called eyes. And better yet, they are rollable, and don’t need recharging.

(Maybe someday there will be a wristband I can wear that notifies me when I am rolling my eyes — and reminds me, perhaps with a gentle zap of electricity, that it’s not an attractive trait.)

We’re in danger of letting silly gizmos replace our common sense, while gizmo-making companies get rich on our gullibility.

That’s how my rolling eyes see it; others see it differently. As Whistle CEO and founder Ben Jacobs explains:

“As the Internet of Things moves into these initial areas, people are looking at other key parts of life,” he is quoted as saying in the Forbes article. “The pet is a member of the family and an interesting vertical in the Internet of Things.”

Is there an app to translate that?

She’s one tough cookie (but with soft spots)

She has been called “America’s deadliest DA,” “the queen of death” and “one tough cookie.”

But Lynne Abraham, the former Philadelphia district attorney who sent hundreds of humans to death row, has a soft spot for animals.

And one supporter thinks that’s worth highlighting as Abraham runs for mayor of the City of Brotherly Love — so much so that he produced a campaign ad for her, at his own expense.

It all goes back to 2007, when the ad’s producer, Bill Whiting had to deal with a horrific situation: Some neighborhood kids took his dog, Edna. They held her for ransom, tortured her as Whiting listened over the phone, and killed her.

Abraham went after the suspects with her trademark bulldog-like tenacity, and earned Whiting’s undying respect.

“I could never have realized justice without the help of Lynne Abraham who was Philadelphia’s District Attorney at the time,” Whiting said in the video.

A 15-year-old was arrested, tried and punished in the case.

abrahamadWhiting appears in the ad with his new dog, a Jack Russell Terrier named Winnie, praising Abraham’s commitment to fighting animal cruelty. Abraham, and other owners and their dogs, are featured.

Whiting produced the video himself with the help of some friends who donated their time, according to a Newsworks report.

“The ad cost $14 in dog treats,” Whiting said. “That’s all there was.”

The video highlights her stance on animal cruelty, but also describes Abraham, a Democrat, as “a sharp, fair-minded elder stateswoman” who has the skills and experience to become Philadelphia’s first female mayor.

Whiting said he made the ad out of gratitude, and says he hopes it will “humanize” a woman the New York Times called “America’s deadliest D.A.” because of how often she sought the death penalty. That same 1995 article made note of Abraham’s practice of carrying cans of Little Friskies in the trunk of her official car, doling out portions to street cats in need of nourishment.

She’s hardly the only “hard on crime” public official that goes gooey when it comes to animals. Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who has been called the country’s “toughest sheriff” has a well-known soft spot when it comes to dogs — and it has served to help humanize him a bit.

As for Abraham — it was none other than Frank Rizzo (no softy himself) who first called her “one tough cookie” — she’s seen as a “very no-nonsense, straightforward district attorney,” Whiting said. “But I also wanted people to know that she has an extremely kind heart.”

The case of Edna, was “one of many that is emblematic of Lynne’s strong commitment against cruelty to animals,” Abraham’s campaign spokeswoman, Cathie Abookire, wrote in an email promoting the video.

Abookire said Abraham, as district attorney, appointed Philadelphia’s first prosecutor devoted to animal cruelty cases.

A eulogy for Sally

sallybadrapBADRAP, the San Francisco organization best known for defending pit bulls from being maligned, abused and discriminated against, lost a good friend last week — Sally, the friendly pit who served as both mascot and inspiration.

What follows, reprinted with permission, is a beautifully written eulogy, penned by Donna Reynolds, Sally’s mom and BAD RAP’s director:

“Some news to share, with a heavy heart. Our muse, our founding dog and our best gal – the irrepressible Sally – passed away last Friday, leaving a legacy as wide as her smile.

“Who was she? She came to us in 1998, back when pit bulls wore a scarlet letter and suffered the consequences of breed stereotypes and misinformation. She seemed to know that we needed a little levity in a world that had started to lose its heart for dogs. She was supposed to be a visitor, but unpacked her bags and before we knew it, staked her claim as a monolithic influence in our personal lives and catalyst for our organization.

“She was our four legged Google before Google existed; our touchstone for dogs from her tribe. We weren’t exactly sure what a pit bull was – we still aren’t – but Sally was happy to take on the role of ambassador of a forgotten country that was begging to be explored. We built BADRAP’s message and key programs around the lessons she graciously offered. Along the way, her beauty inspired her favorite human (Tim Racer) to take up chisels and memorialize her and then other beloved dogs in wood carousel sculptures.

“With a larger than life personality, she had no concept of personal boundaries and was unapologetically obsessed with people – ‘over socialized,’ we joked. She screamed like a lovesick banshee when she heard the voices of people she knew. When she reached them, she scrambled to taste them, slurping straight up surprised nostrils with ecstatic, impatient licks.

“We didn’t train Sally; we worked out agreements with Sally. “Sit calmly until the child is ready to touch you and then you can have a tiny kiss.” She’d tremble, working against every fiber in her being to keep her butt on the ground so she could earn her prize moment.

“She was bold, bawdy and uninhibited and she reveled in being alive, beating back cancer for ten of her 17 years. She body surfed in the Pacific and knew how to catch the best waves and ride them to shore like a pro. She never once took the winding path down to the beach; instead, she plowed down the side of the steepest dune so she could get to the water first. When she tired, she’d find a quiet perch and stare out at the horizon as if reading a sonnet in the waves. When she slept, she curled her heavy head in the crook of an elbow and rumbled softly, occasionally peeking with a twinkling brown eye to solicit a soft kiss.

“In 2007, she nearly derailed our much anticipated assignment to assess the survivors of Bad Newz Kennels by falling very ill and sporting a suspicious mass deep in her bowels, just as we were making our flights to Virginia. Then, after noting our double distress, she granted us permission to travel by dutifully pooping out a plastic toy car in its entirety – Crisis averted. (Thank you, Sally.)

“She schooled the Vick dogs as soon as they arrived in CA. To her, they were just dogs – and she reminded us of that right away. She took great pleasure in humping good manners into Jonny Rotten aka Jonny Justice and in pissing far above Hector’s pee spots, aiming for a target as high as her business end could reach. ‘You’re welcome here, new dog. But just don’t forget who the Queen is.’ They politely deferred, so she gave them straight A’s.

“To Sally, life was one long party with momentary pauses along the way. She marched in the SF Pride Parade nearly 13 years in a row, convinced that the fanfare of waving, screaming spectators had assembled just for her. She zig zagged and pulled as hard as she could towards the throbbing music and sun oiled bodies and she always managed to end up in the lap of one or more of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence – naturally.

“Despite her hurricane nature, she was also tender and affectionate and sensitive. Too strong of a reprimand horrified her, and she felt responsible for restoring peace when her humans argued or swore. She schooled hundreds of foster dogs and counted many as her best friends, but she took no guff from ill-mannered dogs. After finding two boy pups fighting over food in HER kitchen, she body slammed both dogs across the room in different directions. Conversation done and over.

“All and none of these traits marked her as a pit bull. She was Sally before she was a dog, and she was a dog before she was a pit bull; a force of nature who blew into our world and rattled us awake, then wagged her way back home 17 deliciously happy years later.

“‘Rest in Peace’ is not a fitting epitaph for this game changer. Rather: ‘Long may you rail and adventure around the cosmos. Thank you dearly for stopping by and including us in your exciting travels.’”

“Sally Racer 1998-2015. Long live the Queen.”

(Photo of Sally courtesy of BADRAP)

The puppy ad Go Daddy pulled off the air

Go Daddy previewed its Super Bowl ad today, but hours later decided to drop it amid a flood of criticism from dog lovers who said it was tasteless, mean-hearted and irresponsible.

The video of the ad was taken off YouTube, where hundreds of commenters had blasted it, including top officials of animal protection groups.

A back-up ad will be used during the 2015 Super Bowl, the company said.

The ad was intended to poke some fun at Budweiser’s puppy ads — both the highly acclaimed one that aired during last year’s Super Bowl, “Puppy Love,” and a follow-up ad that the beer company will during Sunday’s Super Bowl, called “Lost Dog.”

The 30-second Go Daddy ad featured a retriever puppy finding its way home after falling out of a truck, only to find its owner has used Go Daddy to set up a website that lets her promptly sell the dog to a new owner.

Many in the animal welfare community responded, pointing out that dogs purchased online often come from puppy mills. (For a sampling of their anger, check out hashtag #GoDaddyPuppy, or read the comments left on the YouTube page where the video itself has been deactivated.

The ad was made by Barton F. Graf 9000, but heads of the agency declined to comment.

GoDaddy CEO Blake Irving responded to the ad’s critics on Twitter this afternoon, vowing “we will not air it.”

Earlier in the day, though, Irving had defended the ad, according to AdWeek, saying, “Buddy was purchased from a reputable, loving breeder, just as the ad suggests. Sell or adopt, both need an online presence.”

Around 6:30 p.m., Irving posted a statement confirming the ad won’t run, and that another ad will be substituted.

“You’ll still see us in the Big Game this year, and we hope it makes you laugh,” he wrote.

The YouTube video was removed around the same time.

A petition launched on the website Change.org by animal rights advocate Helena Yurcho demanding the ad be pulled had more than 42,000 signatures by afternoon.

“Essentially, GoDaddy is encouraging private breeding/puppy mills while shelter animals wait patiently for their forever homes or worse—to be euthanized,” she wrote. “They are also encouraging purchasing an animal online; the animal could be sold to someone who runs a fighting ring, someone who abuses animals, or to someone who cannot adequately care for the animal. Animal rights are no laughing matter and to portray them as such is cruel and irresponsible.”

On YouTube, the clip received more than 800 comments, many of them negative. Dog breeders and animal rescuers alike were critical of the spot for sending a negative message.

Deeming its behavior aggressive, Texas man shoots pit bull three times at dog park

diesel1

A man who shot a pit bull he thought was behaving too roughly with his dog at a Texas dog park was briefly detained but released by Harris County sheriff’s deputies.

Deputies were called to the Bay Area Dog Park in Pasadena Sunday after the pit bull, named Dieisel, was shot — reportedly three times.

The man said he was defending himself and his dog, but witnesses interviewed by news organizations afterwards said the pit bull was only playing roughly with the man’s dog and at no point seemed aggressive.

The two-year-old pit bull was taken to a veterinary hospital, where, due to the severity of his injuries — a shattered front leg and two bullet wounds to the back —  he was put down, Click2Houston reported.

The man told investigators the pit bull was trying to attack his dog, and he was afraid it would turn on him. Witnesses said he kicked the pit bull first, then drew his weapon, firing at least three times.

“His dog was not in danger… He was not in danger,” one witness said. “I don’t understand how they are not pressing charges. I witnessed everything. No one was in danger.”

“I just can’t believe somebody would do that when the dog wasn’t even being aggressive,” said another.

The man, who authorities declined to identify, told others at the dog park that he had a concealed carry permit for the weapon, witnesses said.

Deputies initially placed him handcuffs, witnesses said, but he was later freed.

The Harris County District Attorney’s office said reports saying it was declining to prosecute the man were incorrect, and that detectives have been asked to investigate the case.

(Photo: KPRC in Houston)

CEO who kicked dog charged with cruelty

The CEO who was drummed out of his job after video surfaced of him mistreating a dog on an elevator has been charged with causing an animal distress.

Desmond Hague, who lost his job last year after the video went public, was head of Centerplate, the food service giant that contracts with stadiums across the country.

He was charged Friday with two civil violations of causing an animal distress. The charges were filed in Provincial Court in Vancouver, British Columbia, where the incident took place — inside a luxury downtown high rise on July 27, 2014.

hagueHe is scheduled to appear in court Feb. 24, according to U-T San Diego.

Conviction of the charges can carry fines up to $75,000 and two years imprisonment, but it’s considered unlikely that Hague will see any jail time.

The video showed Hague kicking the dog — a one-year-old Doberman pinscher — and jerking her off the ground by her leash.

Around the world, the widely shared video sparked anger among dog lovers and calls for the CEO to be immediately fired.

Hague, who had been walking the dog, named Sade, for a friend, issued a public apology. Centerplate, after its board initially stood behind Hague, placed him on probation and ordered him to take anger management classes, donate $100,000 to a nonprofit to assist abused animals and perform 1,000 hours of community service.

When all of that did little to quell the continuing public outrage, the company forced Hague to resign.

Sade was taken into protective custody, and has since been returned to her owner, said Lorie Chortyk of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Canada.

Hague is not permitted to see Sade under terms of the dog’s release back to her owner, Chortyk said.

(Photo: Twitter)

Caffeine and canines: LA Dog Cafe would showcase adoptable dogs

dogcafe

Here’s an idea we love — an establishment where you can get your caffeine fix and your canine fix at the same time.

It’s a dog cafe — a cozy and comfortable place where, in addition to enjoying a nice cup of coffee or tea, you can meet, bond with and pet a few dogs, and maybe even take one home.

A woman in Los Angeles, putting a new twist on what up to now has been an Asian concept, is trying to start up America’s first dog cafe — called, appropriately enough, the Dog Cafe.

“The Dog Cafe’s mission is simple. We want to provide a second chance for shelter dogs that are often overlooked,”  founder Sarah Wolfgang told LA Weekly. ”The Dog Cafe is going to put a spin on the way people adopt by totally reinventing the way we connect with homeless dogs.”

In addition to showcasing adoptable dogs in a warmer environment than most shelters offer, the cafe will allow Los Angeles residents who can’t have dogs to get a doggy fix — thereby soothing nerves frazzled by traffic jams and making workday stresses disappear.

(And maybe lowering their blood pressure at least as much as that cup of coffee is raising it.)

Allowing the petless to spend some time with pets was the idea behind pet cafes that popped up in Japan, Korea and other Asian countries. For the price of a coffee or tea, patrons — many of whom live in small crowded apartments and can’t have pets of their own — can sit in a restaurant and pet, cuddle, interact with and be surrounded by dogs, or cats.

Finding the animals homes wasn’t their purpose, but Wolfgang, who once worked at private animal shelters in Korea, saw the possibilities.

The Dog Cafe in Los Angeles will have adoption as its primary mission, but not its only one.

sarahwolfgang“The Dog Cafe is for everyone,” Wolfgang said. “We want people to come in and cuddle with our pooches even if they aren’t interested in adopting.”

Working with rescue groups, the Dog Cafe will be stocked with dozens of adoptable dogs, who will roam the shop and hang out with customers.

The coffee will come from Santa Monica–based coffee roaster Grounds & Hounds Coffee Co., whose blends include Alpha Blend, Morning Walk Blend and Paper & Slippers Blend. The company donates 20 percent of its profit from each purchase to a local shelter.

Because of L.A. Health Department regulations, the cafe must be divided into two areas, keeping the drink service counter and “dog zone” separated.

She’s now raising funds — here’s her page on indiegogo – to help start the cafe.

“Our goal is to find forever homes for at least 104 dogs within the first year, though we are anticipating to reach a much higher number,” the page says. “Our project will reinvent the way people view adopting dogs and will give dogs that seemed ‘unadoptable,’ a chance at their very own forever home.”

The Dog Cafe would benefit both dogs and humans, she said — and not just those humans who adopt a pet.

“… Even if you’re not looking to adopt, you can still enjoy all of the sloppy kisses you’ve ever wanted.”


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