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Archive for 'videos'

You’re just the cutest little audience ever … Yes … Yes … Yes, you are!

A business professor at American University is using dogs to help students overcome their fear of public speaking and hone their oratorical skills.

Bonnie Auslander, the director of the Kogod Center for Business Communications, started the program on a trial basis last year, pairing anxiety-prone business school students with patient canine listeners.

The thinking behind it is similar to that of programs around the country in which much younger students read to dogs to gain confidence in their reading skills.

“Addressing a friendly and nonjudgmental canine can lower blood pressure, decrease stress and elevate mood — perfect for practicing your speech or team presentation,” says the program’s promotional material.

For now, evidence of the benefits is mostly anecdotal, reports the New York Times.

With therapy dogs arriving on campus regularly during finals, Auslander got the idea to use dogs as a practice audience and she recruited six dogs with calm personalities.

They included Teddy, a Jack Russell terrier, and Ellie, a Bernese mountain dog.

We think it’s a great idea — assuming the dogs are willing to put up with all those speeches. On top of gaining confidence, students can learn the importance of inflecting their voices and gesturing to hold audience attention — though treats are proving to work better than either of those.

Auslander joked about having “an audience cat program some day that will be for speakers who are overconfident and need to be taken down a peg. The cats will turn away and lick their paws.”

Although we feel a little sorry for them, we wish the best to those dogs taking part in the program. And having had our own issues with public speaking, we wish great success to those students taking part.

We’re confident they will get their MBA’s and become great orators — identifiable only by their tendency to throw Milk Bones to their audiences.

Woman and dog rescued as car goes under

A woman and her dog were pulled from their car Saturday, seconds after it disappeared under rising floodwaters in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

The car was about two-thirds submerged when some men on a boat pulled up, with video camera rolling.

She can be heard asking for help as the convertible sinks beneath the water.

“Oh my God, I’m drowning,” she says.

The men tried first to break a window as the Miata sank, then managed to pierce the convertible top and rip it open enough to pull the woman out just after the car submerged, according to the video that aired on WAFB

Immediately upon surfacing, the woman told the man who pulled her out to get her dog.

“Get my dog. Get my dog. Get my (expletive) dog.”

When he hesitated, she dove under the water.

“I’ll go down,” the woman said before diving and bobbing quickly back up, empty handed.

“I can’t get your dog,” the man in the water says after reaching under the water and into the car several times.

As he dives under one more time, one of the men on the boat says, “Maybe she’s gone.”

“No, she better not be,” says the woman.

Just then, the man in the water pops back up, with the dog in his arms.

“I got your dog.”

All three swam to the safety of the boat.

KHOU reported that the boat was being used to give a reporter a tour of the areas affected by the flooding, and that it was shot by WAFB reporter Robbie Reynold.

The man who jumped into the water and pulled the woman and dog from the car was identified as David Phung.

Woof in Advertising: Olympic Mer-mutts

Just in time for the Olympics, Farmers Insurance has come out with a new series of ads featuring dogs making the best of a flooded home.

woof in advertisingThe latest in the Farmers “We Know From Experience” campaign, the ads feature dogs as athletes, competing in events that include diving and synchronized swimming.

The venue? The living room of a home that flooded after one of the dogs turned on the kitchen faucet, causing the sink to overflow.

That part of it, Farmers says, is based on a real claim.

The “Mer-Mutts,” as they are becoming known, are featured together and in separate spots featuring the dives of each — complete with commentary.

You can find all of them here.

Oscar winning actor J.K. Simmons introduces the ad, calling the event a combination of “form, grace and ill-behaved dogs.”



(You can find more of our Woof in Advertising posts here.)

Jessie the beagle’s castle under the stairs

jessie2

Tom Wadsworth took a storage area under a staircase and converted it into a Victorian cottage retreat for his beagle, Jessie.

For just a little over £100 — about $130 — Wadsworth, who lives in Plymouth, England, put together a spacious room with a picket fence, a secret door, a four-poster bed, and historical photographs, all of them bearing Jessie’s beagle head.

“I finished it last week. I originally did the outside but then Facebook and social media told me to do the inside as well so I did,” Wadsworth said. All together, it took about a month.

jessie1“I just want people to see what they could do with spaces they don’t think about,” he added.

Jessie had been sleeping in a pen in the living room. She was hesitant to move into her cottage at first, but now she loves it.

“We moved her bean bag into where the bed is. It took her a while to learn how to use the secret door but now she used it every day and night.”

The outside features climbing vines, a window for her to look through and a Victorian style lantern, according to a report in The Herald.

Friends and family frequently come by to see it, and Wadsworth says some have accused him of having too much time on his hands.

He says Jessie seems to appreciate the new set up and keeps her room tidy: “She’s got a pretty good temperament and knows what’s her space and to respect it.”

Woof in Advertising: Eukanuba makers agree to drop claims that food extends lifespans

Under pressure from the Federal Trade Commission, the makers of Eukanuba dog food have agreed to stop claiming their brand extends the lives of dogs.

In a settlement that resolves a false advertising complaint filed by the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, Mars Petcare will cease making the claim.

The FTC announced yesterday it had reached a settlement with Mars. Eukanuba began an advertising campaign last year claiming the brand could extend the expected lifespan of a dog by 30 percent or more.

woof in advertisingThe ads — like the longer version promotion shown above — featured aging black Labs, inspiring music and the bold claim that Eukanuba had been “scientifically proven” to extend the lives of dogs.

“Two-thirds of all Americans have pets at home, and they spend billions of dollars to ensure that their pets are healthy and well-fed,” said Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “Pet owners count on ads to be truthful and not to misrepresent health-related benefits. In this case, Mars Petcare simply did not have the evidence to back up the life-extending claims it made about its Eukanuba dog food.”

The order settling the FTC’s charges prohibits Mars Petcare from making any misleading or unsubstantiated claims that its Eukanuba-brand pet food or any other pet food will enable any dogs to extend their lifespan by 30 percent or more or live exceptionally long lives.

In May 2015, Eukanaba began the marketing and ad campaign on television, in print, and on the Internet.

“Ten years ago, we launched a long life study,” one ad said. “What we observed was astonishing. With Eukanuba and proper care, dogs in the study were able to live beyond their typical lifespan.”

The ad then showed a dog named Iowa who, at 17, had lived five years beyond than the typical Labrador lifespan.

eukanubaThe ads were based on a “10-year Long Life Study” purportedly carried out at the Eukanuba Pet Health and Nutrition Center. Dozens of Labrador retrievers were fed Eukanuba and given “proper care” over that span.

The study found 90% of the dogs lived beyond the typical lifespan of the breed, with 28% living longer than 15 years.

The study was begun while Eukanuba was still owned by Procter & Gamble Co. Last year, Eukanuba, along with Iams and other smaller brands, was acquired by Mars Petcare.

The FTC alleges that the longevity claims are false or unsubstantiated and that the claim that longevity was proven through scientific evidence is false.

“Among other things, the evidence relied on by [Mars] for its representations concerning the Eukanuba brand dog food consisted primarily of results from a single study, the results of which showed no significant difference in the median age at death of the dogs in the study relative to the typical age at death of dogs of the same breed,” reads the complaint. “Therefore, the representations… were, and are, false or misleading.”

The FTC decision does not penalize the pet food company financially, and under it Mars neither admits nor denies any wrongdoing.

(More of our “Woof in Advertising” posts can be found here.)

Who doesn’t enjoy a good bedtime story?

Jenna Beardé made an exception to her “no dogs on the bed” rule when her son, River, said he wanted to read a story, before his nap, to one of their dogs.

Ronnie, a deaf pit bull, jumped up and made himself comfortable, which meant Macy, another family dog, had to get up there, too.

As they settled in, River started reading, and Jenna, who normally reads her two-year-old son a naptime story, sat back and watched.

By about the third book, both dogs — resting on their backs, legs splayed — appeared to be asleep, Jenna told the Kansas City Star, which reported on the video Jenna took after it went viral.

She posted the video to Facebook, and a week later it had been viewed 22 million times.

On top being atrociously cute, the video, in her view, gives some much needed positive attention to pit bulls, which are illegal in several municipalities around Kansas City.

Ronnie, the dog lying closest to River in the video, is a rescued pit bull. Macy, a black and white terrier mix and the first dog the family rescued, was often mistaken for one, prompting her and her husband Michael to move from Prairie Village, which banned the breed.

The couple — hairstylists who own Beardé Salon in Mission — relocated to Spring Hill to raise their family.

Ronnie, between his disability and his designation as a pit bull, had spent 500 days in a shelter, and been returned twice, when they adopted him.

Jenna has documented Ronnie’s life with the family on a Facebook page called Ronnie’s Life. That’s where she first posted the video of her son reading to him.

River also reads to his pet pig — and anyone else who will listen, according to his mother.

It’s like Uber for dog poop

Just as Uber will whisk you where you need to go, the folks behind the new app Pooper — that’s right, Pooper — promise to pounce on and dispose of your dog’s poop, for a small fee, of course.

If it sounds like one of those hoax apps, well that’s entirely possible.

But until it’s exposed as such, I’m going to take it seriously — I, after all, having come up with the idea of poop valets long ago.

True, my idea was a bit more fanciful, and didn’t have an app; and true my idea was clearly tongue in cheek, unlike Pooper, whose professional-looking website leaves you thinking, hey, this might be real.

pooper-ui-device3Pooper claims the app is in the “beta testing” phase in San Francisco, New York and Los Angeles.

There, if they are to be believed, they have recruited the on-call staff necessary to answer your call when your dog answers nature’s.

Actually, no call is even necessary, assuming you are a subscriber. Just take a photo of your dog’s mess and send it on to the app. The location is sent out to all members of the local scooping team, who we we can only presume are standing by excitedly.

One of them accepts the mission — we assume they are on a first come, first served basis — and goes to the scene and cleans it up.

Pooper, as the ad above puts it, allows you to put “your dog’s poop in someone else’s hands.”

Three kinds of monthly “subscriptions” are available, according to the pooperapp website.

For $15 a month, you get two scoops a day within a 15-mile radius; for $25, you get three scoops a day over a 30-mile radius (and yes, you can rollover unused scoops); for $35 you can have the “elite plan,” unlimited scoops, unlimited radius.

Pooper says the service is good for the environment.

And just like Uber drivers, Pooper scoopers — for whom we don’t imagine there will be too intense a screening process — could cash in.

Scoopers will be able to sign up for scooping duties, though the website says no more are needed during the Beta period.

“Anyone with a smart phone can scoop for us. Scoopers are paid per-scoop, use their own mode of transportation – car, bike, scooter, hiking boots – and scoop on their own schedule,” says the website.

Even though they ripped off my idea, I hold no ill will against the people behind Pooper — at least not until they get unbelievably rich. (Then I will have all kinds of ill will.)

In today’s world, such intellectual thefts have become commonplace, though I must admit they run counter to my very personal belief that you work hard for what you want in life; that your word is your bond and you do what you say you’re going to do; that you treat people with dignity and respect, even if you don’t know them, and even if you don’t agree with them.

Besides, I’m busy brainstorming a new project that just might put Pooper out of business, if they are really in business to begin with.

That involves coming up with a way to get all those people already walking the streets while playing Pokémon Go to pick up dog poop for free.

Bonus points, maybe.

(Photos and video from Pooperapp.com)