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Clifford, that big red dog, coming back to TV


Clifford the Big Red Dog has found his way back to television.

Scholastic Entertainment announced yesterday that the new series, inspired by the books of Norman Bridwell, will run concurrently on Amazon Prime and PBS Kids, starting in the fall of 2019.

The rebooted show will have a strong emphasis on social-emotional skills such as empathy, along with a curriculum designed to boost early literacy and encourage imaginative play, Scholastic said.

“There is something enduring in Clifford’s gentle, loyal spirit that touches fans even after they become adults,” Iole Lucchese, the executive producer of the series, said in a statement. “We see it in tributes on social media and in fan art, and of course, in every parent who grew up with Clifford and now shares their love of him with their preschoolers.”

The Clifford books began being published in the 1960’s, relating the story of the loveable red dog who grew from a small pup to larger than a house.

The original version of the series debuted on PBS in 2000 and ran for three seasons, airing in 110 countries and picking up several Daytime Emmy nominations. John Ritter provided the voice of Clifford until his death in 2003. He was posthumously nominated for an Emmy in 2004.

A spinoff series, “Clifford’s Puppy Days,” starring Lara Jill Miller and Henry Winkler, ran from 2003 to 2006.

The new series will offer fresh and colorful new locations, as well as introduce all-new designs for main characters Clifford and Emily Elizabeth, according to Scholastic.

To accompany the series, Scholastic Entertainment will launch a global publishing, broadcast, merchandise and licensing program.

Scholastic published the first “Clifford The Big Red Dog” title in 1963. There are dozens of titles and more than 133 million Clifford books in print in 16 different languages.

Bridwell was a freelance artist who found little success with children’s book publishers until one suggested he make his own story to accompany one of the sketches.

(Image: Courtesy of Scholastic)

A bear of a mistake in China

Another case of a wild animal who was mistakenly thought to be a dog has surfaced in China — and this one’s a doozie.

Just a few days after news broke that a woman found out the spitz she bought from a Chinese pet store last year is actually a fox, another woman is telling the story of how her dog was actually a bear.

What a Tibetan Mastiff pup looks like

What a Tibetan Mastiff pup looks like

According to The Independent, Su Yun, from Kunming in the Yunnan province of China, bought the animal from a roadside dealer while on vacation two years ago, believing it to be a Tibetan Mastiff.

Yun and her family were impressed by their pet’s massive appetite — on a typical day, it would eat a box fruit and two buckets of noodles.

The family realized their mistake when the pet did not stop growing — to 250 pounds — and started showing a talent for walking on his hind legs.

“The more he grew, the more like a bear he looked,” said Yun. “I am a little scared of bears.”

The animal — once confirmed that he was an Asiatic black bear — has now been taken into by the Yunnan Wildlife Rescue Centre.

Staff were so intimidated by the animal – which had lived in the family home – they sedated it before transportation.

Saved from the lava: Rescue efforts continue as more eruptions are predicted

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Dogs on Hawaii’s Big Island continue to be rescued from the unpredictable flows of lava that have spewed from the Kilauea volcano since its eruption last week.

Many pets are said to have bolted away from their homes during the earthquake that preceded the eruption, and more have been lost during evacuations.

Further eruptions are being predicted in the days ahead.

“It’s a sad situation,” said Adam Pereira, the shelter manager at the Hawaiian Island Humane Society told BuzzFeed. “They had to evacuate so fast and lots of people thought they’d go back the next day.”

The Hawaii Island Humane Society combed through every street in Leilani Estates last Tuesday looking for pets still remaining in the neighborhood. It was the third mission to retrieve animals since the area was evacuated on Thursday.

The first time the humane society went into the evacuated zone on Saturday, it retrieved six dogs and two tortoises.

One woman recovered her two dogs, missing for 10 days, on Sunday, after they were found near a lava vent.

cani-eruzione-kilauea-2-281x300Carol Hosley, who was being evacuated by firemen at her Leilani Estates, said Brus, a Jack Russel-pug mix, fled the house as she was packing up her things. Little Dude, a black terrier mix, followed close behind him

Hosley adopted Brus from Aloha Ilio Rescue six months ago, and that group aided in his rescue, according to HawaiiNewsNow.com.

“We’ve been looking for him for 10 days, and we’ve just kept going back, and going back,” said Daylynn Kyles, president of Aloha Ilio Dog Rescue. Kyles, accompanied by two friends, finally found the dogs on Sunday, trapped between a cooled lava flow and a fence line.

“They were stuck behind a fence, and they couldn’t get out because the lava had surrounded them,” Kyles said. “It was crazy.”

Kyles and her companions had to crawl through the grass and over the fence line to reach the dogs who were badly shaken, and bitten by red ants.

cani-eruzione-kilauea“We just knew this dog was probably just terrified, he was truly stuck, he couldn’t get out,” Kyles said.

Kyles said they were searching near the 17th fissure, and could hear the ground rumbling.

“It sounded like a freight train. You just heard these constant, big booms.”

Brus and Little Dude are recovering at Aloha Ilio while Hosley tries to find more permanent housing.

“I’m just thrilled to death, I just couldn’t be happier,” Hosley said. “The other stuff is stuff, but I got the dogs.”

(Top photo, U.S. Geological Survey; lower photos of Brus and Little Dude, courtesy of Aloha Ilio Rescue)

Is this why “The Blue Boy” is blue?

The_Blue_Boy“The Blue Boy,” artist Thomas Gainsborough’s most famous work, featured a dog at one point in its evolution, and come September you’ll have a chance to see its ghostly image in person.

At some point in its creation, “The Blue Boy” lost his dog. Gainsborough painted over the fluffy white dog in the painting’s lower right hand corner, covering it with a pile of rocks.

Not until 1994, when an X-ray revealed the dog sitting by his master’s feet, did that become known to the world.

The painting’s ongoing restoration at The Huntington Library in California is now becoming an exhibit in itself, featuring a look at the painting’s history, mysteries, and artistic virtues, the revelations X-rays have provided over the years and explanations of the techniques being used to restore the work.

Project Blue Boy will open Sept. 22 at the Huntington, where the original painting has resided since 1921.

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Of course, the boy’s blueness had nothing to do with any feelings of melancholy; instead the painting depicts a young man who appears confident, proud of his station in life and maybe a little bit defiant, as if prepared to defend himself against any teasing about his frilly blue outfit and plumed hat.

The painting isn’t as vibrant as it once once, and that’s why the museum has undertaken the restoration project.

“Earlier conservation treatments have involved adding new layers of varnish as temporary solutions to keep it on view as much as possible,” said senior paintings conservator and “Project Blue Boy” co-curator Christina O’Connell.

“The original colors now appear hazy and dull and many of the details are obscured,” she added.

In addition to contributing to restoration research, the project will likely uncover new information of interest to art historians. O’Connell is using a Haag-Streit surgical microscope to closely examine the painting. To gather material information, she is employing imaging techniques including digital x-radiography, infrared reflectography, ultraviolet fluorescence, and x-ray fluorescence.

The restoration project has also uncovered an An L-shaped tear more than 11-inches long, which is believed to have dated back to the 19th century when the painting was in the collection of the Duke of Westminster.

The painting was sold in 1921 to railroad tycoon Henry Edwards Huntington, leading to an outcry among the English, who were horrified that “The Blue Boy” should leave his homeland. The sales price is believed to have been about $700,000, or about $9.3 million today, which made it the second most expensive painting in the world, behind Leonardo da Vinci’s Madonna and Child.

In 1939, an X-ray was taken of the painting that revealed the canvas had once been an incomplete painting of an older man. The dog didn’t appear in that X-Ray.

Many believe the painting pictured ironmonger Jonathan Buttall, the first owner of the painting, but the true identity of the model remains a mystery.

No one knows why Gainsborough decided to rid the painting of the dog, either.

O’Connell will continue her examination and analysis of “The Blue Boy,” and her efforts to restore it.

Visitors to the Huntington will be able to observe her at work in the Thornton Portrait Gallery on Thursdays, Fridays and select Sundays from Sept. 22 through January 2019, PasadenaNow.com reported.

The painting will get a final treatment and reframing after that and will be rehung in its former location in the Huntington’s portrait gallery in early 2020.

(Photos: At top, the original painting (ca. 1770), lower, the painting under digital x-radiography; courtesy of The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens)

Woman in China finds out her spitz is a fox

foxIt only took a few months for Ms. Wang to start noticing her “dog” was a little odd.

The woman bought the fluffy white pup from a pet store in China about 10 months ago.

She thought she’d bought a spitz.

But in the months ahead she noticed its tail was growing longer and fluffier than that of the average spitz.

And when it was three months old, it stopped eating dog food, preferring fruit and produce.

And its snout grew more pointy.

And the “dog” never barked.

Then there was the reaction other dogs had to it when they went out on walks. They seemed a little scared.

Eventually, Ms. Wang took her doubts and her pet to Taiyuan Zoo, where she was informed that what she’d been living with was a fox.

“Based on the size, it is a domesticated fox,” the zoo’s Sun Letian told Shanxi Network Television. “It carries a smell in their body and the smell can get stronger as it grows older.”

The fox is currently about a foot long and is expected to grow larger.

Ms. Wang gave the fox to the zoo, where after a month in quarantine, it will live in the fox enclosure.

She was invited to come visit it anytime.

Virginia files lawsuit against company whose service dogs were “little more than pets”

diabetic

After years of complaints — and enough controversy and drama to rate an episode of Dr. Phil — the investigation into a company that supplies service dogs for diabetics and others has led to the filing of a lawsuit by Virginia’s Attorney General.

The lawsuit against Service Dogs by Warren Retrievers was filed Tuesday in Madison County Circuit Court, accusing the company of violating the state’s Consumer Protection Act by charging $18,000 to $27,000 for 3-month-old Labrador retriever puppies that were unable to perform their task and had apparently received little or no training.

The company billed its dogs as highly trained lifesaving tools that were able to alert diabetics to dips or spikes in their blood sugar level by nudging them with a nose or a paw.

But what customers received, according to the lawsuit, were “little more than incredibly expensive pets” — some of them unable to walk properly on leashes, respond when called, or remain calm around loud noises or new people.

Customers were told that they would receive ample “scent training,” but that never came, and customer requests for assistance were regularly ignored, the lawsuit says.

“This suit alleges not just dishonest and unlawful business practices, but a recklessness that could have endangered the lives of customers who relied on the claims made by Service Dogs and its owner,” Virginia Attorney General Mark R. Herring said.

The lawsuit followed a lengthy investigation based on complaints from more than 50 customers, Herring’s office said.

In 2016, some of them appeared on a Dr. Phil episode about the company.

In addition to deceiving customers about the company’s dogs, the suit alleges, owner Charles D. Warren Jr. illegally encouraged them to solicit charitable donations. He also lied about having served in the military, according to the suit.

That lawsuit seeks restitution for customers as well as civil penalties and attorneys’ fees, The Washington Post reported.

On behalf of the company, John B. Russell Jr., an attorney representing the company, denied the allegations, saying “we absolutely deny that we have ever set out to mislead, cheat or defraud our many happy clients.”

Diabetic-alert dogs use their sensitive noses to detect fluctuations in blood-sugar levels, but studies on their effectiveness have been mixed.

Service Dogs by Warren Retrievers promised customers that assigned dogs possessed a “proven scent ability” and that they could be trained to seek help or even dial 911 on special devices, according to the attorney general’s lawsuit.

According to the lawsuit, though, dogs arrived at consumers’ homes with no training and no apparent abilities to alert clients to shifts in their blood sugar levels.

The dogs have been sent to customers across the country, and the complaints range from Texas to Florida, where a woman says they stopped paying for the dog they received — only to be sued by the company.

Jovana Flores said the diabetic-alert dog for her 13-year-old son did little more than serve as a pet.

“In hindsight, now, maybe I should have been a little bit smarter, but you’re looking for any bit of hope,” Flores said.

(Photo: Service Dogs by Warren Retriever website)

Half of Kentucky’s county animal shelters called substandard — and nobody’s watching

Trixie Foundation dogsleashes1

One day after basking in the nationwide attention the Kentucky Derby brings, Kentuckians woke up to the reality of how another species of animal is being treated by the state.

The Lexington Herald-Leader presented a package of stories addressing the often poor conditions in the state’s rarely monitored animal shelters.

In a state most famous for racing horses — and doing so in manner that almost appears civilized, what with the all the elegant outfits, mint juleps and whimsical hats — many dogs are living far less regal lives, stuck in county-run shelters that, under state law, receive almost no scrutiny from state agencies.

Unlike most states, Kentucky’s animal-shelter law does not include any inspection or enforcement provisions, which means any actions taken against them such shelters must from citizens.

Not until 2004 did state laws even get written to lay down minimum standards for county-run shelters. Those new measures required each county to have access to a shelter and animal-control officer, and set out standards that include protection from the weather; basic veterinary care or humane euthanasia for ill or injured animals; adequate heat in winter; clean and dry pens with adequate room for animal comfort; construction with materials that can be properly cleaned and disinfected; available clean water; uncontaminated food provided daily; and public access to the facility.

Those laws didn’t outline how, or specify who, was responsible for enforcing those standards.

A measure in the 2017 legislative session called for a study of ways to better fund animal shelters and cited the need for a “government entity” to enforce the state’s shelter rules, but it died without consideration.

That lack of enforcement is a large part of the reason the Animal Legal Defense Fund has ranked the state last in animal protection laws for 11 years in a row.

A study by the University of Kentucky, done in 2016, found that of 92 shelters covering Kentucky’s 120 counties – some of them regional facilities – conditions at 57 percent violated three or more provisions of Kentucky’s animal-shelter laws.

More than a fourth were considered “very substandard,” and only 12 percent were meeting all the rules the legislature put in place in 2004.

“Current laws do not appear to be fully satisfactory at accomplishing the goal of providing good shelter animal care across Kentucky,” said the study.

skaggsWhile county-run shelters operate with relative immunity, independent nonprofit sanctuaries and shelters get no such free ride, as was the case last week when the state Department of Agriculture seized 14 dogs from a no-kill sanctuary called Eden.

Randy J. Skaggs, who operates the sanctuary in Elliot County through his Trixie Foundation, faces 179 misdemeanor charges of animal cruelty in connection with poor health and living conditions.

Skaggs defenders say he has devoted his life to caring for animals because so many public shelters in the region were substandard.

Skaggs says he is housing animals no one else wants, and that shelters would end up euthanizing. He refuses to let anyone adopt dogs because believes their best chance to live a healthy and happy life is at his sanctuary.

Skaggs believes the criminal charges against him are retaliation over his efforts to bring attention to Kentucky’s failure to adopt adequate animal protection laws, his criticisms of county shelters and his efforts to push for improvements.

(Photos: Will Wright / Lexington Herald-Leader)