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Archive for 'videos'

Some older dogs will get a chance in the lead-up to next year’s Puppy Bowl

After 13 years of celebrating youthful dogs in their annual “Puppy Bowl” extravaganza, Animal Planet is finally going to give older dogs a chance to show off their stuff.

Leading up to Puppy Bowl XIV, the network will show the “Dog Bowl,” a one-hour special hosted by Jill Rappaport that — while it may not prove to be as rambunctiously action-packed as the Puppy Bowl — is aimed at giving older dogs a chance to be adopted.

Its contestants won’t be limited to senior dogs, but the program will feature adult dogs living in rescues and shelters.

The program likely won’t be the ratings grabber that the Puppy Bowl has been as an alternative to the Super Bowl. And it may not satisfy an audience seeking mega-doses of playful cuteness.

But it will likely lead to some calmer, wiser, been-around-the-block-a-time-or-two dogs finding forever homes.

And that’s what the Puppy Bowl is all about. Well, that and ratings. Well, that and ratings and advertising and sponsoring.

“Puppy Bowl’s goal is to promote animal adoption so as many animals as possible can find their forever homes,” Patrice Andrews, General Manager of Animal Planet, says in a release.

The formula — dogs competing on a miniature football field — has proven to be a succesful one, both in terms of ratings and in leading its contestants to get adopted.

As is the case with any successful TV show, it’s now being duplicated. Hallmark’s Kitten Bowl will be back for its fourth year.

And then there’s National Geographic’s Fish Bowl, which we’re pretty sure isn’t about adoptions at all.

The new Dog Bowl will be part of Animal Planet’s Road to the Puppy Bowl coverage. It’s good to see the makers of Puppy Bowl branching out and becoming a little more inclusive and diverse.

Last year’s Puppy Bowl featured a three-legged pup and two other special needs dogs — one deaf and one sight and hearing impaired.

It’s about time more mature dogs got some attention, especially in an industry that is so focused on youth, be it human or canine.

After all, an older dog can still be pretty entertaining.

(Video: A promotion for Animal Planet’s 2017 Puppy Bowl, which turned out to be the second highest rated ever)

ZenCrate: Company offers what they say is a soothing shelter for dogs during storms

Does your dog need a ZenCrate?

Do you?

A Florida company has begun manufacturing of a $500 “smart” crate that doubles as a piece of furniture and offers your dog solace during storms.

The “anti-anxiety dog crate” features noise-muting walls, subtle lighting, and soothing music that is activated by a sensor whenever the dog enters.

zencrateThe crate has a camera and WiFi connectivity so owners can get live updates. Other than that, it’s a remarkably simple concept that combines elements of the Thundershirt, Temple Grandin’s cow-hugging contraption, and the sensory deprivation tank.

The crate doesn’t put the squeeze on dogs, but it is close enough quarters that they feel protected, which is almost as good as a hug.

If they could make them a little bigger, I might want one for myself. Throw in a bottle of wine and it would be a great place for a date, or to crawl into every time North Korea threatens to send a missile our way, or Donald Trump … opens his mouth.

All it would need for human applications is a little more womb … I mean room.

The ZenCrate is the size of an end table and is designed like an animal’s den. It has no door, so dogs can enter and leave as they please.

chargerzencrateThe inspiration for the crate was Charger, a yellow lab whose hopes of becoming a seeing eye dog were derailed due to his fear of thunder.

The dog’s trainer, Jonathan Azevedo, ended up adopting him, and Charger’s fear of storms led Azevedo to bring some engineering-type friends together to make the ZenCrate a reality.

The company is cranking out 30 crates a day to catch up to the 700 pre-orders made before manufacturing even started.

“It really took us by storm,” Azevedo told Fox13 in Tampa. “That’s why we are working around the clock, the lights are on almost 18 hours a day, seven days a week.”

On the down side, the company will not allow the crates to be returned because of their “personal nature.”

Even more annoying, the crate’s “brain” will also send you an email every time your dog enters the crate — a feature we hope is easily deactivated.

(Photos: From ZenCrate.com)

Thief returns dog’s ashes to owner

The thief who stole a package containing a dog’s ashes from a woman’s front porch in Staten Island has returned them, along with a note of apology.

Gloria Johnson said a box containing the ashes of her Yorkie, Dakotah, was returned to her home Tuesday morning with a note from the thief.

“Dear Mam,” the note begins. “I’m sorry for all the trouble I caused you. I wanted to bring back to you what’s dear to you and to me.

“My mind was mesed (sic) up without my mental medication and I feel bad. I love dogs and I made sure I placed him in a rose basket for the time being until I could return him where he belongs!!!”

Johnson told the Staten Island Advance Tuesday she was “ecstatic” to have Dakotah’s ashes back.

Surveillance footage obtained from Johnson’s neighbor showed a man enter her gate after the package had been dropped off by Fed Ex on July 27.

What happens when he approaches the porch can’t be seen, but he walks back into view with his backpack in his hands, walks out of the gate and leaves on his bicycle.

Johnson learned the ashes had been stolen after checking with her vet to see why they hadn’t arrived. She was told they had been delivered the previous week.

After seeing the surveillance video from a neighbor’s home, Johnson searched the neighborhood, knocking on doors, asking questions and checking inside trash cans to see if the thief might have tossed the package after seeing what was inside it.

Dakotah died from complications after a possible stroke.

“I go outside a hundred times a night to see if maybe someone put him on the fence,” Johnson, a widow, told the Advance in an interview after the theft. “After my husband died he was the one I hung on to every night.”

She had bought a crystal ash box for the dog’s cremated remains that she planned to fill and place on her mantle, alongside those of her husband.

In a plea for the return of the ashes, she added, “It matters to me that I have him, that I can talk to him. I’m not coping well.”

It’s not known if the thief saw the initial news reports, but apparently he had a conscience, and three weeks after the theft the box was returned.

“Got a little bit of faith in humanity,” Johnson told ABC 7 in New York.
“But still, he held it for three weeks. He didn’t throw them in the garbage, that was my fear, he’d just open it up and throw them in the garbage because it didn’t mean nothing to him.”

Johnson said the ashes were returned on what would have been Dakotah’s birthday.

Today’s question: Can dogs be humiliated? The answer is tutu clear

bulldogtutu

Attention all you “dog shamers,” all you dog dresser-uppers, all you dog-dyers, and anyone else who finds it fun and harmless to put your dog in a costume, use him to make a fashion statement, or ridicule him on social media.

You may be making him feel silly, and damaging his self esteem.

The Telegraph reports that animal charities in the UK are calling upon pet owners to cool it when it comes to decorating their dogs.

Among those quoted in the story was Caroline Kisko, the Kennel Club’s Secretary, who said the organization is “not greatly in favour of doing anything to dogs which makes them feel ‘silly.’ Dogs know when they are being laughed at.”

Not exactly a bold stance there — “not greatly in favour?” — but then again the Kennel Club sponsors Crufts, which in 2009 chose this poodle as winner in the Utility Group:

Apparently shaving a dog to resemble a bunch of poofy cotton balls is an accepted exemption from the “let’s not make dogs feel silly” rule.

Hypocrisy and poodle cuts aside, we think Kisco makes a valid point when she says dog owners need to strike a balance between what is done for the dog and what is mere “human vanity.”

“It is not a toy and we need to maintain that a dog is a dog,” she said. “Since we can’t ask them we should err on the side of caution … Why is it suddenly OK to dress a dog up in silly clothing or dye it?”

The answer is social media, which has made such practices, if not more frequent, at least more noticeable.

Decorating dogs is nothing new. I’d guess even ancient Egyptians did it — because it sounds like something right up their alley. But since Facebook and other social media came along, it has brought out the attention-seeker in all of us, to the point that — even if it’s not Halloween — we’ll post photos of our dogs looking silly or doing something silly.

doghamedThat’s not always “mocking” or “ridiculing” them, but often, particularly with the dog-shaming sites, it comes pretty close.

I’ve long had a problem with people dressing dogs for any purpose other than protection against the elements. I draw the line at bandanas, which my former dog almost always wore, and loved. My current dog, Jinjja, won’t let a bandana anywhere near his neck.

Some dogs tolerate getting adorned, receiving dye jobs, and funny haircuts; some don’t. But, as Kisco points out, even a dog who doesn’t visibly object may still be getting humiliated.

“Some will have a reasonably high level of tolerance for that sort of thing. You can get a dog that will love being the center of attention. But some will feel silly. Outfits come under the same banner – whether it’s a silly collar or whatever.

“If someone wants to put a bumblebee costume on their dog for Christmas, that’s fine, but take it off again. The dog doesn’t want to be a bumblebee …”

Paula Boyden, veterinary director at Dogs Trust, told The Telegraph that she had a problem with grooming techniques and dyes that could cause discomfort or irritation.

“It’s important that dog owners, and groomers, remember that dogs are not fashion accessories to have the latest trend tried out on them, grooming is for the dog’s needs rather than for the owner’s entertainment,” she said.

And Elisa Allen, a director at PETA in the UK, is quoted in the article as saying, “Dogs aren’t bonsai trees to be sculpted into shapes that please us. Many are nervous about being groomed, and dyeing them bright colors puts them at risk for allergic reactions and even toxic poisoning, which can have serious and even fatal consequences.”

Before you start thinking those groups have peacefully united to pursue this cause, keep in mind that the only place they seem to have come together is in the Telegraph article, and that — if there is any newsworthiness here — it’s that there is something all three groups agree on.

PETA regularly crashes Crufts, and the Dogs Trust has blamed the Kennel Club and Crufts for promulgating breed standards that don’t just make dogs look silly, but makes them unhealthy as well.

The article may make it sound as if the groups are harmoniously working hand in hand, but that’s about as likely as a bulldog doing ballet.

BBC anchor can’t get too excited (at all) about dog surfing contest in California

Remember when you were a kid and your mother asked you to do something, like clean your room or take the trash out … and then she asked you nine more times … and then, while having far more important things to do, you finally, begrudgingly, did it?

You did it with with a bit of surliness, with total disdain for the task and for the person who assigned it, and while heaving lots of sighs.

That apparently is how BBC news anchor Simon McCoy felt about introducing this “news” report about a dog surfing competition in Northern California.

Pausing often, and emitting frequent sighs, McCoy prefaces his remarks by noting August is always a slow news month. Then he barely gets through reading the words, which clearly were written by someone else — someone who thought the event was cute.

McCoy apparently didn’t think that it was cute, or that it was news, and his performance behind the news desk was so lackluster that it has gone viral and made it on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

The Colbert bit shows the real McCoy, then features a faux BBC newscaster who has introduced one too many animal stories.

The real McCoy ends his narration saying, “That’s a shame, we’ve run out of pictures,” before turning things over to the weatherman.

McCoy’s demeanor suggests he thought presenting such fluff was beneath him, and not where he expected his career, which included covering the war in Iraq and the royal family, to turn.

(Buck up, Simon, there are still wars being waged and there’s a good chance more are ahead, possibly quite soon.)

We all need a little fluff now and then, and what is more delightful than watching dogs surf or, for that matter, watching dogs do anything?

It’s when we get a steady diet of it — and that seems to be the direction the news media continues to head — that it becomes unhealthy.

McCoy’s lackluster reading is being praised as “heroic” by some on Twitter, who maintain he gave the report exactly the enthusiasm it deserved.

Perhaps McCoy, through his demeanor, was providing commentary on the state of the worldwide news media, or simply exhibiting that stereotypical British nose-in-the-air disdain for trivial, silly (generally American) things. Perhaps it was a little of both, or even just a little on-camera shtick.

In any case, we’d suggest — without being too judgmental, too serious, or too fluffy — that he needs a vacation.

And a dog.

COzpDmAW8AA_RXS(Late breaking news: Simon McCoy informs us he will be taking a vacation next week — with his two border terriers.

Surfing is not on the itinerary.

See his full comment below.)

(Photo: Posted by McCoy on Twitter)

Poking a little more fun at Audible For Dogs

We poked a little fun at Amazon’s new Audible For Dogs yesterday, but, as we see, the campaign is so lame there’s plenty of room for more poking.

So up there above is what Conan O’Brien’s writers did with it.

Audible has teamed up with Cesar Millan, and their effort is receiving a truly inordinate amount of media coverage, especially when you consider it’s really no effort at all — rather, it’s just featuring some audio books they already offer on a new web page.

Given it’s just another way for them to move existing merchandise, and given most of us dog owners already knew that turning on the television or a radio (both of which cost you less than an audio book) could help keep home-alone dogs company, there’s nothing there but some slick marketing.

Not to rub their noses in it, but the campaign by Audible and its parent company Amazon deserves every bit of ridicule it gets.

Much ado about nothing: Audible partners with Millan to launch audio books for dogs

Gotta call bullshit on this one.

Well, maybe “bullshit” is too strong a term. Maybe I should just say, “Give me a break” or “Get real,” while rolling my eyes and wondering what consumers are going to fall for next.

Audible and Cesar Millan have teamed up, offering and promoting a book-of-the-month type program, in which, for $14.95 a month, you can choose audio books to play for your dog while you’re not home.

Of course Audible For Dogs is the same thing as Audible for humans, thereby requiring no investment from Audible, or parent company Amazon, other than what they’re spending on promoting the campaign and the undisclosed amount they’re paying Millan, who reportedly is helping choose the books and making promotional appearances.

If you’re not the sort to buy “Pride and Prejudice” for yourself, you might be willing to buy it for your dog, Audible figures, and play it for him to keep him calm and occupied when you leave the house.

The campaign promotes books the company already offers in audio, featuring them on the Audible For Dogs web page — sometimes classics, sometimes bestsellers, sometimes dog-themed, including several by (you guessed it) Cesar Millan.

It’s all based on a 2015 study performed at Hartpury College in the U.K. that showed that listening to audio books reduced stress in shelter dogs even more than music does.

dogs-with-headphonesFollow-up research was conducted with 100 dog participants through Millan’s Dog Psychology Center, and it found (big surprise) exactly what the company wanted it to find.

Specifically, Millan’s center found that 76% of dog owners who played audio books for their dogs reported an increase in calm, relaxed behavior in their pets over a four-week period.

Audible is already the largest seller of narrated books.

But it has figured out it can sell even more by cashing in on our tendency to pamper our dogs and exploiting the guilt we feel when we leave them alone

As one of the owners involved in Millan’s “follow-up study” explained, she used to feel guilty every time she left her dog, Buddy, at home alone.

In a video interview with Millan, she spoke of the effects the audio book program had on her dog and, more importantly it seems, her.

“I was really surprised at the lack of guilt I found when I was able to do that, it was like leaving him with a friend,” the woman, named Leslie, says. “I could go out with a smile on my face and feel really good about what I was doing for him.”

News flash, Leslie: You could have just left a TV or radio on for him and achieved pretty much the same effect, saving $14.95 a month.

($14.95 is the regular price for an Audible subscription, which comes with one new book a month.)

I’ll admit I leave the TV on for my dog, rescued from a Korean dog farm, in hopes it will keep him calm and help him get used to non-threatening humans.

But would I buy him his own audio book? Absolutely not — unless maybe it was one narrated by the soothing voice of Morgan Freeman, or the calm, sleep-inducing, you-can’t-have-too-much-Xanax voice of Bob Ross, the painter.

(Disclaimer 1: We are not implying Bob Ross uses Xanax. You can have too much Xanax. And so can your dog.)

(Disclaimer 2: I apply this same therapy to myself, seeking out a reassuring voice on TV to fall asleep to. Sixty-three year old’s can’t suck their thumbs. This is why I often go to bed with Bob Newhart.)

Millan suggests choosing a book narrated by a person of the same gender as their dog’s primary master and notes that “it’s the consistency of a tone that allows the dog to stay in that (relaxed) frame of mind.”

He also suggested the books be played at average volume on a listening device such as the Alexa-driven Echo, which Audible’s parent Amazon just so happens to sell.

audiodogsMillan says audio books can help dogs better cope with the separation anxiety many have when left alone, which can result in bad behavior, including barking, destruction and peeing.

He also told USA Today, “I’m always looking for ways where people don’t feel guilty, worried, (or) stressed when they leave their dogs alone.”

Again, none of this is actually groundbreaking.

Most of us likely had already figured out that an audio book — like the television or radio — can keep our dog “company.”

Yet Audible/Amazon still felt the need to appoint a celebrity, create a new niche market, conduct a campaign, issue press releases and have a “launch.”

“While most dog owners will indeed go to great lengths to ensure the happiness of their four-legged family members, you can’t help but approach Audible For Dogs with a healthy dose of skepticism,” wrote USA Today. “So is Audible barking up the wrong tree?”

We’d say yes, unless you’re talking about the money tree.

To its credit, through the end of the year, Audible will donate a dime per download to Long Island’s North Shore Animal League America, the world’s largest no-kill rescue and adoption organization, up to a total donation of $250,000.

Millan also somewhat philanthropically recorded an original audio book for the service called “Cesar Millan’s Guide to Bringing Home a Shelter Dog,” which you can download for free.

Launch titles include Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice,” performed by Rosamund Pike; Trevor Noah’s “Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood,” performed by Noah; W. Bruce Cameron’s “A Dog’s Purpose,” performed by William Dufris; Garth Stein’s “The Art of Racing in the Rain,” performed by Christopher Evan Welch; and Maria Goodavage’s “Soldier Dogs: The Untold Story of America’s Canine Heroes,” performed by Nicole Vilencia.

We laugh at Audible’s effort. And yet, at the same time, we encourage them, if they are going to persist in this, to work some books narrated by Morgan Freeman, Bob Ross and Bob Newhart into the mix.

We’d also suggest some Hans Christian Anderson — specifically, “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” because it so perfectly reflects what they are up to: making people think something is there when it’s not.

The only thing there is a desire to sell more books. With fewer humans reading them, maybe Audible felt the need to branch out to other species.

I’d warn you that the day could come — given all the books dogs might be consuming and a decline in our own reading — that dogs could become smarter than us.

But there’s a pretty good chance that day is already here.