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Archive for 'videos'

Cooking with Dog (It’s not what you think)

A much beloved Internet celebrity has died.

He was part of a cooking team — the less shy half, the English-speaking half, the more comfortable in front of the camera half, the poodle half.

Francis the dog was the host and narrator of “Cooking with Dog,” which also featured the human he lived with, an unnamed Japanese housewife who had never been on camera before a producer friend proposed they put together a cooking show for the Internet.

She was hesitant, as she was a private sort, and felt alone and insecure in front of the camera.

francisandchefWith Francis at her side, though, she was up to the task and the duo went on, over the next 10 years, to rise to Internet stardom — Chef, as she is called, doing all the cooking and making an occasional comment in Japanese, Francis providing the narration, in English, with a French accent.

Francis passed away Sunday at age 14, Gizmodo reported, based on a Twitter post.

“Cooking with Dog” began in 2007 after the producer, who also likes to keep his name private, returned to Japan from Los Angeles, where he had spent several years working in the entertainment industry.

He said he wanted to keep working in film and television, and promote Japanese culture — in a way English-speaking audiences could follow.

“There are many cooking programs on TV and I just wanted to make our show look different and unique. And also I don’t know any celebrities or famous people and I didn’t have a large budget,” he told The Japan Times last year.

Having Francis narrate the show gave it a quirky edge, and opened it up to English-speaking audiences.

“Cooking With Dog” has over 1.2 million subscribers, making it one of the most popular food channels on YouTube. Nearly a third of the viewers come from the United States.

Over the years, its title has raised some eyebrows and led to a little confusion. Some who have stumbled across it thought it might be about cooking for your dog, or about recipes that used dog meat as an ingredient.

Dogs are, after all, raised for their meat and consumed by a small minority of the population in several Asian countries.

But anyone who watched a video quickly became aware nothing nefarious was afoot — it was a just a pure and simple cooking show in which a soft-spoken chef calmly puts together elaborate and often ornate Japanese dishes as her dog looks on.

It’s a refreshing change from American cooking shows, where there has been a distinct shift toward manic hosts, who are generally overseeing some sort of cut-throat competition.

Gizmodo reports it is uncertain if “Cooking with Dogs” will continue without Francis.

If not, we still have the more than 300 episodes that have been produced. You can watch them at the Cooking with Dog, YouTube channel.

Is there some common ground, after all?

Pedigree, the dog food company, found one thing Clinton and Trump supporters can agree on.

As a social experiment, Pedigree sent a woman to Clinton and Trump rallies, where she pretended she had found a lost dog.

She wore a Trump T-shirt to the Clinton rally, and a Clinton T-shirt to the Trump rally, and walked up to supporters of the opposing candidate asking if they knew anything about the golden retriever she told them she had just found it running loose in the area.

Die-hard supporters of Clinton and Trump (and is there any other kind?) avoided any snide comments and vitriol, treated her with civility, bonded with the “lost dog” and offered their assistance.

At the end of each visit, the “owner” of the dog rushed up on cue and reunited with the dog to the pleasure of the crowds.

It shouldn’t take a lost dog to remind us of our humanity. But, hey, whatever works.

The new video is a part of Pedigree’s “Feed the Good” campaign

“The message in ‘A Vote for Good’ is true to the core of the campaign that dogs bring out the good in all of us despite our differences,” said Craig Neely, Vice President of Marketing at Mars Petcare. “We only hope that we can play a small role in reminding people that we have more in common than we might expect.”

Let Bob Dylan be Bob Dylan

Why is everybody doggin’ Bob Dylan?

So what if he didn’t visibly display excitement, didn’t jump up and down and wag his tail, upon learning he had won the Nobel Prize for Literature.

So what if he’s not exactly yapping and scratching at the door to attend the upcoming Stockholm awards ceremony to receive the prize from King Carl VI Gustaf.

It really seems to bother people — respected journalists, less respected journalists, and lowly drama-seeking bloggers — that Dylan has not reacted like a “Price is Right” contestant who just won the showcase round.

To those people — those who demand effervescence from a man who, until he puts pen to paper, chooses to holds most things inside — we say, first off, don’t expect everybody’s personality to be the same as your’s.

Let Bob Dylan be Bob Dylan. And respect, as well, the privacy he seems to treasure.

dylananddogAfter the prizes were announced by the Swedish Academy, Dylan had no public reaction for weeks, which, for some reason, became news. He reportedly “refused to pick up the phone” to speak to representatives of the Nobel committee.

How does anyone know he was refusing to pick up the phone? Why is it assumed he was being petulant?

Perhaps he was not home, or was otherwise occupied, or was under the impression he can live his life at the pace he chooses, talking to who he chooses when he chooses.

How dare he? How dare he not give the news media what it was looking for?

Well, he never really has. He has always been more of a wandering, independent stray than a mindless lap dog.

For all those who were fretting over his lack of a reaction, The Telegraph reported Friday that yes, he hopes to attend the ceremony, and yes, winning the prize was “amazing, incredible … Whoever dreams about something like that?”

So much for the theory that he was going to pull a Jean-Paul Sartre, the novelist who famously declined the award in 1964.

He has said he will be there “if he can,” but many find that unacceptable as well and have deemed his behavior “impolite and arrogant.”

Maybe. Or maybe not all of us are wired for public displays of enthusiasm.

I have been accused of lacking enthusiasm, because I’m generally quiet. For my part, it was a matter of realizing if I am constantly flapping my jaws, my brain can’t process the things it needs to — be it writing a story, solving some mystery of life, or locating the items on the grocery list.

I’m just one of those people who mostly celebrates without fireworks, and on the inside. I would never be chosen to compete in The Price is Right. I’m more likely to bare my soul, if I bare it at all, to a dog.

dylananddog1Maybe Bob is that way, too. Maybe, at home, he has the curtains drawn and is running around the house high-fiving his dogs.

Interviewers, the smart ones, have found dogs to be the one topic that can get Bob Dylan going.

In any event, I’d guess the dogs in his life — and he has had many — have served to help him be a loner without being lonely. I’d guess he tells them more than he tells most friends, and definitely more than he tells the news media.

One of his first poems, written when he was 16 and in summer camp, was about a dog (Little Buddy) who died a tragic death.

bob1He once credited “a dog lying on the floor” (his name was Hamlet) with helping create the relaxed ambience in which he and The Band put together “The Basement Tapes,” while living outside Woodstock in the summer of 1967.

In addition to the song featured atop this post, “If Dogs Run Free” (which he turned into a children’s book in 2013), Dylan refers to dogs in at least 30 of his songs, according to an article in Bark a while back.

“They seem to inhabit his world, his thoughts, and, ultimately, they come to life in his music,” the article notes. “…Dylan uses dogs as a messenger for mood, as set for the stage. You can picture them wandering down dirt roads, or collapsed on creaky porches. They’re dustbowl dogs and prowling alley dogs, dogs with no collars, dogs with no homes.

“It’s a hungry, lonesome quality about them that he touches upon, a sense of being, all at once, tired and restless. They speak to the human condition that surrounds them, suggesting what really doesn’t need to be said.”

Bob Dylan has always been very good at saying what needs to be said, and even better at not saying what doesn’t need to be said.

So whether he shows up to claim his Nobel Prize, whether his speech consists of “thank you” or he jumps up and down and says “ohmigod! ohmigod!” — those are questions we will just have to keep asking in the months ahead. Or not.

The answer, my friend, is … well, you know.

What happens when you dress up for Halloween as your dog’s favorite chew toy

For your Halloween viewing pleasure we present a California dog named Jolene, coming face to face with a life-sized version of her favorite chew toy.

Jolene’s owner, Emily Crisp, thought it might be fun, for Halloween, to have her boyfriend, Ben Mesches, dress up in a Gumby costume.

He walks into the room as Jolene is enjoying some time with her Gumby chew toy. Jolene looks up and registers a look of what can only be described as wonder and amazement.

She cautiously, at first, approaches the life-sized Gumby, jumps up on him, and proceeds to go crazy with joy.

Mesches, of Petaluma, initially posted the video to his Facebook account. On YouTube, it has gotten, nearly 4 million views in two weeks.

Happy Halloween, Jolene, and everybody else.

Woof in Advertising: Snoopy gets the axe

MetLife has given Snoopy his walking papers.

After proudly serving the insurance company for 30 years, Snoopy is being put out to pasture as part of a company-wide “refresh” aimed at portraying MetLife as more sophisticated and financially savvy.

The beagle who has been appearing in MetLife ads since the 1980’s is not the sort of symbol they say they now need.

woof-in-advertising“We brought in Snoopy over 30 years ago to make our company more friendly and approachable during a time when insurance companies were seen as cold and distant,” said chief marketing officer Esther Lee.

“Snoopy helped drive our business and served an important role at the time,” she added. “We have great respect for these iconic characters. However, as we focus on our future, it’s important that we associate our brand directly with the work we do and the partnership we have with our customers.”

In other words, Snoopy and the Peanuts gang — as loved and symbolic as they are — are not the kind of symbols the company wants representing them in these times of doing whatever is necessary to make all the money you can possibly make.

You’ve got to admit, the Peanuts characters have never been known for their financial savvy.

lucyI mean 5 cents for psychiatric advice? That’s not going to bring in the kind of profits American corporations now insist on.

Making obscene profits, and being able to talk with saying anything, are vital skills for the modern day American company.

MetLife seems to have that second part down. It’s not until the bottom of its press release about ushering in a new era that the company press release mentions the phasing out of Snoopy and the Peanuts gang — not until after they go on and on (and on) about their bold new company logo.

It’s the letter “M” — but not just any “M.”

“MetLife’s new visual branding is built around a clean, modern aesthetic,” the press release says. “The striking new brandmark brings contemporary blue and green colors together in a symbol of partnership to form an M for MetLife.

“The iconic MetLife blue carries forth the brand’s legacy, but has been brightened and now lives alongside a new color – green – which represents life, renewal and energy. The broader MetLife brand palette expands to include a range of vibrant secondary colors, reflecting the diverse lives of its customers.”

Zzzzzzzz. Good grief! AAUGH!!!

aaughThere will be no more Snoopy in MetLife ads (but we’ll stay tuned for the exciting adventures of that “M”).

And Snoopy will no longer appear on the MetLife blimp.

Don’t cry too much for him, though.

He has plenty on his plate, or in his bowl.

PETA has offered him a job, at least in a tongue in cheek way, as mascot of its doghouse donation program.

Likely, he won’t jump at that, because he’s already sitting pretty. He — or at least descendants of his creator — still reap profits from arrangements with Hallmark, Warner Bros. and Target, CNN reports.

The Peanuts brand has more than 700 licensing agreements in about 100 countries, according to SEC filings. Iconix Brand Group (ICON) partnered with the family of Charles M. Schulz to buy the brand from two publishing houses for $175 million in 2010.

His TV specials will probably be watched by our great great grandchildren.

And he still has his gig with the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Snoopy has floated down Broadway 39 times, more than any other character.

Let’s see an “M” do that.

(Woof in Advertising is a recurring ohmidog! feature that looks at how dogs are used in marketing. You can find earlier posts in this archived collection.)

Look, up in the sky, it’s … it’s … it’s … skydiving anti-poaching dog!

If the ranks of specialized crime-fighting canines seem to be reaching new heights, well, they are.

Drug-sniffing dogs, bomb-detecting dogs, and even “porn dogs” are all already on duty, but there’s a new incarnation of crime fighting dog hovering on the horizon, and it may be most super-hero-like yet:

Skydiving anti-poaching dogs.

To help crackdown on the epidemic of ivory poaching in Africa, dogs are now being trained to parachute (with their handlers) from helicopters, track and take down poachers.

skydivingdogarrowArrow, the two-year-old Belgian Malinois shown in the photo to the left, hasn’t gone out on an actual mission yet.

But he and a six-year-old German shepherd named Giant, featured in the video above, are being trained for the task at the Anti-Poaching and Canine Training Academy, according to NationalGeographic.com

It’s run by Paramount Group, a defense contractor based in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The academy’s canines, which are bred at the facility, are trained and matched with rangers from national parks and game reserves across Africa.

Dogs have been skydiving for a while now (remember the one on the Navy Seal mission that took down Osama bin Laden?). But that’s only half of this job.

Once on the ground, the dogs — much faster and better at tracking than humans — are released to pursue the poachers and bring them down before they vanish into the bush.

Both dogs have already mastered descending from a helicopter by rope, strapped to their handler, but parachuting gets them to the ground more quickly, and decreases the likelihood of the poachers being scared off by the noise of the helicopter.

An estimated 100 elephants a day are gunned down by poachers who saw off their tusks. About a thousand rhinos were killed last year by poachers who harvested their horns.

Africa’s parks are far too vast to be patrolled effectively, allowing the poachers to operate almost with impunity.

Dogs, as is often the case in war and crime-fighting, were seen as effective strategy. Flying dogs? Even better.

The risks (to the dogs) is high. Fleeing poachers could easily train their high powered rifles on the dog pursuing them. Having a drone chase them down, maybe one that could fire tranquilizer darts at the poachers, would seem to make more sense. But then again drones don’t have dog noses.

Eric Ichikowitz, director of the Johannesburg-based Ichikowitz Family Foundation, which helped launch the training program, says the dogs seem to like the chase, getting excited when they hear the roar of a helicopter.

“The dogs are exceptionally comfortable with skydiving,” he says.
“They know they’re going to work.”

(Photo: National Geographic)

When one lost soul bumps into another

Two lost souls coming together isn’t exactly a new movie theme, but it still works, especially when it has a twist like this one.

“A Stray” is about a young man whose refugee family fled Somalia and relocated in Minneapolis. He becomes sort of a double stray when his family kicks him out after he gets in some trouble.

At a mosque, Adan finds shelter. He gets a job, delivering food, and seems to be pulling his life together when his delivery vehicle strikes a dog.

Adan, at the urging of a bystander, hesitantly loads the small white mutt in the car and takes him to a vet, who pronounces the dog OK. It is then that Adan learns he must take the dog with him.

That’s a problem because, on top of being homeless, Adan is Muslim. Under Muslim law, dogs are considered dirty. Many practicing Muslims, like Adan’s family, forbid them in the home. When he arrives back at the mosque with the dog, he’s told to leave.

What happens next — when a man raised to have nothing to do with dogs ends up with a stray, when his God and his Dog are seemingly irreconcilable forces — makes for a thought-provoking and magical movie.

It premiered earlier this year at the South By Southwest (SXWS) Film Festival, and had several screenings last weekend, introduced by writer-director Musa Syeed, at the Film Society of Minneapolis and St Paul.

The human star of the movie is actor Barkhad Abdirahman, a Somali refugee who lives in Minneapolis.

Director Syeed, in an interview with Minnesota Public Radio, said he was intrigued by the idea of combining the archetypal American/Western man-and-dog story with Muslim sensitivities towards dogs.

“What was interesting to me about a Muslim kid and a dog was that these are two entities that seemingly are not able to reconcile, or that are so different,” he said. “And I think that’s the way that maybe a lot of people see, you know, Muslims in America … there is some inherent tension or something like that.”

He said he hopes that the story of a man and his forbidden dog shows that there is room for compassion, understanding and a connection.