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Therapy dog can’t see the smiles he brings

smiley

Born with dwarfism, and without eyes, a golden retriever named Smiley is bringing comfort and joy to hospital patients, school students and nursing home residents in the small town of Stouffville, Canada.

Rescued from a puppy mill when he was one or two years old, Smiley was timid at first, said his owner, Joanne George.

“He was very scared,” she recalled. “[The dogs] had never been out of that barn.”

But as he came out of his shell, she saw that he had a personality worth sharing:

“People were so drawn to him, so inspired by him.” George told CBS News. “I realized this dog has to be a therapy dog — I have to share him.”

Smiley joined the St. John Ambulance Therapy Dog program and, now 12 years old, still spends several hours a day dropping in on patients at retirement homes, visiting with special needs children in a library reading program and comforting patients at nursing homes near Stouffville.

George said when she first brought him home Smiley quickly bonded with another one of her dogs, a deaf Great Dane named Tyler.

“Tyler was so bouncy and crazy and happy go lucky and [Smiley] turned into the same dog,” George said. “He came out from underneath the tables where he was always hiding.”

“Dogs can come back from anything, they forget their past,” George said. “We as humans dwell on the past.”

One of Smiley’s favorite people to visit is a man named Teddy, who lives in a nursing home and, up until he met the dog, hadn’t uttered a sound.

“One day, Smiley put his feet up in front of [Teddy] and he started smiling and making noise,” George said. “All of the nurses rushed into the room and said they’ve never seen him smile — never seen any kind of reaction.”

Now every time Smiley visits the nursing home, Teddy is the first person he sees.

After caring for Smiley for 10 years, George says she has learned a lot about how to care for blind dogs: “Don’ t be his eyes, don’t run his life, don’t’ keep him in a bubble … Does he bump into things? Of course, he does. But he does it very carefully.”

George said Smiley changed her life — and was there for many memorable moments. “He came on my first date with me. He was my ring bearer at my wedding.”  He has also brightened up the lives of hundreds more.

Even now, as he nears the end of his, she says — his fur getting whiter, his steps slower — his “tail will never stop wagging.”

(Photo: Joanne George’s Facebook page)

More scandalous behavior at Crufts 2015

As an investigation continues into the apparent poisoning death of an Irish setter who competed at Crufts, and reports surface of up to six more poisonings, one of the human contestants has come under fire for picking up her Scottish terrier by the tail during judging at the world’s largest dog show.

U.S. contestant Rebecca Cross, owner of Knopa, the Scottish terrier who won Best in Show at Crufts, was filmed picking the dog up by her tail and around its neck to place her on the ground. Now Cross is taking a bashing online.

Knopa’s crowning moment was interrupted during the show when a protestor with a sign reading “Mutts Against Crufts,” ran onto center stage and was spirited away by officials.

And the RSPCA is investigating reports than another canine contestant was beaten by his owner or handler outside the arena earlier in the week.

All in all, it’s fair to conclude, not a good year — public relations-wise — for Crufts.

To say the embarassing series of incidents this year, and all the scandals that have preceded them, are signs that dog beauty shows (and dog ugly shows) have run their course would be a knee-jerk reaction.

There are much better reasons they should become a thing of the past.

Jagger, the Irish setter who competed under the name Thendara Satisfaction, died the day after returning home to Belgium. His owners say a necropsy revealed his stomach contained beef cubes tainted with three strains of poison.

A full toxicology report is expected next week.

Meanwhile, the Independent reports that the owners of as many as six other dogs suspect their showpiece pets may have been poisoned while at Crufts.

A West Highland White terrier, an Afghan hound, two Shetland Sheepdogs and another Irish Setter have all reportedly fallen ill after the international competition.

Yesterday, there were reports that a shih tzu competing at Crufts had died after being poisoned, but UK’s Kennel Club said it could not confirm them. Nor is it confirming that Jagger died from poisoning.

crufts beatingIf all that weren’t enough, another competitor has been alleged to have beaten his dog outside the arena — although photos circulating online don’t fully substantiate that. Both the RSPCA and the Kennel Club confirmed they were seeking more information on those allegations.

As for Knopa, the dog whose owner used her tail as a handle — we’d guess she does that to avoid messing up Knopa’s coiffure — Kennel Club Secretary Caroline Kiskoe said handling a dog that way is improper, but apparently it’s not so frowned upon that it would lead the Kennel Club to revoke the title.

An online petition on 38Degrees has accumulated almost 90,000 signatures, calling for the title to be revoked, and hundreds of commenters are urging the same on the official Crufts Facebook page.

Knopa’s owner apparently picks her dog up that way often — at least often enough that it has become in her words, “a habit.”

“I didn’t do it on purpose, it was just habit,” Cross said. “It’s just one of those things.”

Musical interlude: “Raising Humans”

Here’s a song Michael White wrote after losing his dog Max to cancer.

Yes, it might make you cry, but it’s a good kind of cry.

Max was a basset hound-boxer mix and “one heck of a dog,” White says.

White posted the video on YouTube more than a year ago, where it has received a couple of thousand views — further proof that, while moronic videos often rise to the top, what deserves to go viral usually doesn’t.

Thanks, Michael, for bringing it to our attention.

Looks like Max raised a good human.

A murder mystery at Crufts?

jagger

As prestigious and proper as the world of Crufts is, fear, loathing and backstabbing have never been strangers to the world’s largest dog show.

Murder, however, was — at least until this year.

The death of a competitor — an Irish setter named Thendara Satisfaction, but known as Jagger — is being investigated as just that, after his owners said a necropsy revealed poisoned meat in his stomach.

The three-year-old dog died after returning home to Belgium, the day after he won second place in his class at Crufts.

Some news reports, like this one in the Telegraph, are suggesting, without much to back it up, that a jealous rival dog owner could have been behind it — and owners of Jagger are saying they hope that is not the case.

“We compete week-in, week-out against each other and we have one thing in common, we all love dogs,” said co-owner Dee Milligan-Bott. ”I think and hope it was a random act by someone who hates dogs, an opportunist.”

In either case, the death has shaken up Crufts, UK’s Kennel Club and dog show participants who say that, while dogs shows have never been free of scandal, this could become the darkest one in Cruft’s 100-year history.

“I can’t believe anyone could be so evil or vindictive,” said Gillian Barker-Bell, who judged Irish setters in the competition. “Dogs have been tampered with at other championship shows so this is not a first. But I have never heard of a dog actually dying. What a sick mind to do something like that.”

Sandra Chorley-Newton, another Irish setter judge, called it horrific: “This has shocked the whole dog community. The thought of it being another exhibitor is too awful to contemplate.”

“The Kennel Club is deeply shocked and saddened to hear that Jagger the Irish Setter died some 26 hours after leaving Crufts,” said Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club Secretary. “We have spoken to his owners and our heartfelt sympathies go out to them. We understand that the toxicology report is due next week and until that time we cannot know the cause of this tragic incident.”

Police in Belgium are investigating, according to the BBC.

According to the Telegraph report, two others dogs in the competition have taken ill, possibly from poisoning.

Jagger , who was owned by Milligan-Bott and Belgian Aleksandra Lauwers, collapsed and died after returning home to Belgium on Friday.

After celebrating their second place ribbon, Lauwers and her husband returned home with the dog by train.

“I prepared food for the dogs and I called Jagger to come over. He just collapsed and started shaking, it looked like a fit,” Mrs. Lauwers said. “We called our vet immediately. He started having diarrhea and urinating on himself. It looked like a heart attack. He went into a coma a minute later and died. The vet said it looked like poison.”

“It was dark red meat, it looked like beef. Inside there were small colours – white, dark green and black,” she added. “The vet is convinced it is poison, possibly a few different types to make it work more slowly but efficiently. The people in the clinic also suspected it was poison.”

Mr. Lauwers said he believed that Jagger was targeted, saying: “There is no other option, it had to have happened [at Crufts]. How can you mistakenly poison a dog?

“Jagger was such a promising dog. He was just three years old but he was well known around the world. Of course if you are successful, success doesn’t make you a whole lot of friends,” he added.

“I can only hope it wasn’t an act of jealousy by another competitor, but just a lunatic.”

(Photo: Courtesy of Dee Milligan-Bott)

U.S. ambassador to South Korea receives outpouring of respect, love … and dog meat

lippert

It may not have been the most diplomatic of gifts,  but one of  Mark Lippert’s well-wishers had only good intentions when he delivered a package of dog meat for the hospitalized U.S. ambassador.

Lippert, who is recovering from an attack by a knife-wielding anti-U.S. activist, is a dog lover who regularly walks his basset hound, Grigsby, near his residence in Seoul.

The gift, delivered to Seoul’s Severance Hospital Friday morning by an elderly man, didn’t make it to Lippert’s room. Hospital rules prohibit any outside food being delivered to patients.

The gift giver said the package contained dog meat and seaweed soup, according to an official who didn’t want to be named because he wasn’t authorized to speak to the media, according to the Associated Press.

Some South Koreans believe dog meat promotes health, heals wounds and can help patients recover from surgery.

The Thursday attack left Lippert with deep gashes on his face and arm and damaged tendons and nerves. The hospital plans to remove the 80 stiches on Lippert’s face on Monday and Tuesday and release him on Wednesday.

The suspect in the attack, Kim Ki-jong, 55, could face charges including attempted murder, assaulting a foreign envoy, obstruction, and violating a controversial law that bans praise or assistance for North Korea.

(Photo: South Korean conservative activists hold portraits of Lippert during a rally for his quick recovery; by Ahn Young-Joon / Associated Press)

$30,000 doghouse features treadmill, hot tub, TV screen and snack dispenser

Samsung Dream Doghouse.  EDITORIAL USE ONLYGracie, a terrier cross, tries out the Samsung Dream Doghouse created by the tech firm to celebrate their sponsorship of Crufts 2015 - which starts on Thursday 5th March at The NEC Birmingham.  Issue date: Wednesday March 4, 2015. The architect designed dog kennel, which features a Samsung Tab S entertainment wall, astro turfed treadmill and paw operated snack dispenser, took 12 designers over six weeks to create in the aim to represent the ultimate in luxury canine living. The Samsung Dream Doghouse will be on display at Crufts, which Samsung has been sponsoring for over 20 years. Photo credit should: David Parry/PA Wire URN:22410646

Here’s a swingin’ dog pad — or maybe dog pod is a better term — and it only costs $30,000.

Samsung’s Dream Doghouse, on exhibit  this week at Crufts, comes complete with an AstroTurf-covered treadmill, hydrotherapy pool, entertainment wall, and paw-controlled snack dispenser.

What,  no fireplace? No bar? No dim-able lights?

International Business Times reports that a team of 12 designers and builders collaborated on the project, which took six weeks to complete.

“The Samsung Dream Doghouse looks sleek and modern, featuring the kind of tech the discerning dog of the future will need,” Andy Griffiths, president of Samsung Electronics in the U.K. and Ireland, said in a press release.

“From dogs who have social media profiles, to owners who use video calling to check on their pet while away, technology is fast becoming an integral part of everyday life,” he added.

(Too fast, we think.)

You can’t order one just yet — Samsung only made one of the “dream houses” and gave it away via a social media contest.

But they’re hoping it will create a buzz at the Crufts Dog Show, which runs March 5-8 at Birmingham, England’s National Exhibition Centre. Samsung is one of the dog show’s sponsors.

Griffiths said the company surveyed 1,500 dog owners and found that a quarter of them wanted their pets to have their own treadmill, as well as a tablet or TV. Of the dog owners surveyed, 64% believed their pets would benefit from more technology and gadgets, and 18% said they’d like their furry companion to have a hot tub.

The doghouse has a vinyl wall that can be covered with photos. On the opposite wall, there’s a Samsung Galaxy Tab S tablet — not so much because dogs can’t live without them, but because Samsung makes them.

So let’s review. The dog of the future will ensconce himself in a plastic pod, and watch videos, and soak in the spa, helping himself to treats whenever he wants one, but having the option to stay in shape by running on artificial grass while getting nowhere.

If that’s the dog of the future, I prefer to remain in the past.

(Photo: Gracie, a terrier cross, tries out the Samsung Dream Doghouse created by the tech firm to celebrate their sponsorship of Crufts 2015; by David Parry / PA Wire)

Woof in Advertising: Utterly unskippable

You know, probably all too well, those intrusive and uninvited advertisements that often precede viewing the videos you want to view on the Internet.

They are known as “pre-roll ads,” and I always do my best to make them disappear — both in terms of the videos I put on ohmidog!, and in terms of my own home viewing. I skip them the millisecond YouTube permits me to.

This one though, I’ve watched ten times, in its entirety.

The first five seconds of the Geico ad shows an all-too-typical family enjoying an all-too-typical spaghetti dinner, with the wife bragging about saving money on her insurance bill before the ad seems to culminate, at the five-second mark, in what at first appears to be an all-too-typical freeze frame.

That, as the family remains frozen — or at least tries to — is where the Saint Bernard comes in.

wia

He eats spaghetti off the dad’s fork, climbs atop the table and clears the daughter’s plate, passes over the salad and spills a glass of milk as he proceeds to the the son’s plate, devouring its contents. Then he plunges his snout  into the serving dish mom is holding.

The ad doesn’t really make me want to find out if 15 seconds can save me 15 percent on my insurance bill, but it’s brilliant — and further proof that dogs have a way of holding our attention, especially dogs behaving badly.

The ad was filmed in Los Angeles last month, and the dog, whose real name is Bolt, is a Saint Bernard mix.

If you find it impossible to skip, that was exactly the goal — to keep people riveted, even though it’s a form of advertising most of us detest.

“We call these unskippable,” Joe Alexander, chief creative officer at The Martin Agency, told USA Today. The agency has created three other mock freeze-frame Geico spots.

“Our goal is to bring attention to Geico in a space that is often hated,” he said.

(You can find more of our “Woof  in Advertising” posts — about how marketers use dogs in advertising — here.)

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