Booger — the heart, soul and sturdy foundation of a streetside act that brought together dog, cat and rat for performances that amused millions (if you count online) — has died.
The 13-year-old dog — a Rottweiler-Labrador mix – died Monday night from kidney and liver failure at a veterinary clinic in her hometown of Telluride, said her owner, Greg Pike.
Pike brought together Booger, a cat named Kitty and a rat named Mousie, taught them to arrange themselves in a pyramid and showed that animals can buck their stereotypes and view each other as more than predator and prey.
The hopeful message behind the act — in which Mousie stood atop Kitty, who stood atop Booger, most often on the west end of Pearl Street in Boulder — was that maybe we humans could do a better job of getting along, too.
It all started off on a bet, though.
Pike began putting the act together soon after he was given Booger as a puppy, according to the Boulder Daily Camera:
One day in a Telluride park, Pike and some others were discussing the limits of what’s possible, and he bet that he could get a dog, cat and rat to get along.
After finding Kitty and her littermates in a box under a house, Pike said he introduced the cat to Booger. They hit it off immediately and were inseparable from that point. Over the years, several different rodents have been used in the act.
Pike didn’t limit his entertaining to Colorado. To counter the sadness he saw in people after 9/11, Pike took the animals across the U.S. He said he enjoyed seeing the smiles on people’s faces when they saw the animals walking around, stacked on one another.
“Everywhere I brought them, they made people smile, and it just made me feel really good inside,” Pike said.
The act appeared on the Animal Planet series “Must Love Cats” and a YouTube video of them has been viewed more than 9.75 million times.
Pike said Booger will be cremated, and in the spring he will climb to the top of Gold Hill in Telluride to spread her ashes.
“I think my eyes are drained. It really hurts,” Pike said Tuesday. “She didn’t die in pain at all. She passed away in comfort in Telluride, where she loved to be.”
Kitty seems to be missing Booger as much as he is, Pike noted.
“I’ve never seen her curl up to me this much.”
Posted by jwoestendiek October 31st, 2012 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: act, booger, boulder, cat, colorado, dead, died, dog, dog cat rat, getting along, greg pike, instincts, kitty, mousie, peace, performance, pyramid, rat, stereotypes, street, street performers, telluride, video, you tube, youtube
As is now known by fans of Irving the talking dog — and I’m not one of them, at least when it comes to the talking part – the Boston terrier didn’t make it to the finals of “America’s Got Talent.”
Still, in terms of the exposure alone, it was a win for ventriloquist Todd Oliver, whose Branson, Missouri-based act has become more popular than ever.
Branson features three dogs in his performances, all equipped with flapping contraptions attached to their lower jaws. He controls the devices remotely, making the dog’s mouth move in time with the words he supplies, via ventriloquism.
In other words, Oliver uses his dogs for dummies.
No, I don’t think Oliver’s act should be banned. I don’t think we need to get PETA on the phone. I don’t think the appendages attached to the dogs for the act are hurting the dogs, or even bothering them to any great extent.
I am merely saying that it’s another example of us putting words in dogs’ mouths, of our humanization of them — solely for our own amusement.
I don’t like that Pedigree’s DentaStix ad campaign, featuring dogs with human dentures, either — for the same reason. In addition to the TV ads, the campaign allowed us to, with help from our computers, put not just human dentures, but the words of our choice, into dog mouths.
I’m not one of those to unnecessarily sound the anthropomorphization alarm — mainly because it’s too hard a word to say — but I do believe we should enjoy dogs as dogs, and not try to transform them into us.
Oliver seems like a nice guy who does a lot for dogs and animals, and as far as what he does to them for the act, it’s probably not abusive and even somewhat cute, at least for the first few minutes.
He says on his website that the device was developed with a veterinarian.
“Todd is just a true animal lover. He often assists local shelters and rescues dogs from unfit environments,” the website says. ”Everything in Todd’s act is 100% safe and registered with the USDA and the Missouri Department of Agriculture.”
I know that, again, I will be criticized for being overly sensitive, but in my opinion we’ve already tinkered with dogs too much — by shaping them, over the centuries, into breeds whose looks please us; by using them in lab experiments and, in recent years, cloning them; by dressing them up, teaching them to dance, and all the other things we do for our own amusement.
They’re pretty amusing and animated just as they are, without our help. Our attempts to make them more amusing, I think, are often both dopey and disrespectful. But who’s going to listen to me?
If only I could get a dog to say it.
Posted by jwoestendiek September 4th, 2012 under videos.
Tags: act, america's got talent, amusement, animals, anthropomorphization, dentures, dog, dogs, dogshaming, dummies, dummy, entertainment, funny dogs, humanization, humans, irving, irving the talking dog, mouth, pedigree, pets, talking dogs, tinkering, todd oliver, ventriloquism
The owners of Atlantic City’s Steel Pier have scrapped plans to bring back the diving horse act it was once famed for.
The act — started in the 1920s, shut down in the 1970s – featured a horse and a rider plunging into a tank of water from a 40-foot-high platform.
Anthony Catanoso, whose family owns the historic pier, said he’s no longer interested in bringing back the attraction, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
“We just felt that since Atlantic City is moving forward, we should move forward with it. We should create new memories for visitors instead of recreating old ones.”
Catanoso had revived the act once, in 1993, but shut it down after two months amid protests from animal rights activists.
Catanoso proposed reviving the act again earlier this month in connection with a massive redevelopment plan for Atlantic City’s Boardwalk, casino district, and shopping areas.
But within days, animal welfare activists and others were voicing opposition. A petition against the act, on the website change.org, garnered 10,000 signatures in one day.
“That negativity – we didn’t want that to interfere with the positive things we’re trying to do,” Catanoso said.
Catanoso says no horse was ever harmed in the act.
Posted by jwoestendiek February 15th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: act, animal rights, animal welfare, anthony catanoso, atlantic city, canceled, diving, diving horses, horses, opposition, petitions, plans, protests, steel pier, stunt, tourism
The self-described “author and journalist” whose dogfighting videos were given the Supreme Court’s seal of approval this week, has at least three “pro-dogfighting videos” to his credit as well as an instructional book for aspiring dogfighters, the Humane Society of the United States says.
Robert “Bob” Stevens, a 69-year-old resident of Virginia, produced the videos “Japan Pit Fights,” “Pick a Winna,” and “Catch Dogs and Country Living.” He has also sold other dogfighting videos, including “The $100 Keep.”
Stevens, the first person tried and convicted under the now-defunct federal Depiction of Animal Cruelty Act, is also the author of “Dogs of Velvet and Steel.”
Stevens’ was convicted under the 1999 law in 2005 and sentenced to 37 months in prison. A decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit overturned the conviction, and the Supreme Court agreed with the appeals court decision this week.
While Stevens has claimed to be merely a pit bull lover with no interest in dogfighting, HSUS says the evidence points to the contrary. In “Dogs of Velvet and Steel,” he declares, “I attended many pit fights” and gives graphic accounts of several.
“Japan Pit Fights” includes a series of graphic dogfights. In “Pick-a-Winna,” Stevens invites viewers to pick the dog they think is going to win the fight. He goes on to act as commentator for each match, providing analysis on which dog is the better fighter.
“Theeeere they go!” he shouts as each new pit bull match launches.
Stevens’ final video, “Catch Dogs and Country Living,” is geared toward training dogs for hog catching, an event in which pit bulls commonly latch onto the faces of pigs. Sometimes the pigs go down, sometimes the dogs do.
During one scene a pit bull named Katie is shown doing “catch work” by latching onto the face of a farm hog. “In about three minutes there is no bottom jaw on that hog. Stevens says. “Katie took that, and good part of his throat and his nose out…”
(Photo: Stevens, in a scene from Pick-a-Winna)
Posted by jwoestendiek April 22nd, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: act, animal cruelty, bob stevens, book, catch dogs, catch dogs and country living, depiction, dog fighting, dogfighting, dogfights, dogs of velvet and steel, free speech, instructional, japan pit fights, manual, movies, news, pick a winna, robert stevens, supreme court, videos
The United States Department of Agriculture, in response to a Freedom of Information Act request, released hundreds of pages of new evidence last week from its investigation of NFL quarterback Michael Vick to Atlanta’s WSBTV.
The documents include summaries of interrogations by federal investigators with member of Vick’s dogfighting ring and confidential informants in the case.
Among the revelations:
• A confidential informant told investigators that Vick drowned dogs, shot them to death and killed others “with a shovel.”
• A Delta Airlines employee from Virginia was fired “when he attempted to get Vick around security” during the peak of the dog fighting operation. Vick “felt responsible” and went on to hire the employee.
• In 2003, Vick and two other men attended a dog fight in Blackstone, Va., bringing with them two pit bulls. Both lost so the dogs were left with the owner of the property. Vick did not keep dogs that lost matches.
• In April 2007, Vick tested several dogs to determine if they had the predisposition to fight. He ordered six or eight dogs destroyed because they did not meet his standards. The witness said Vick personally helped drown three or four dogs, a process that took two people to hold the animal’s legs while the dog’s head was held under water. Vick also hung dogs.
• The witness told investigators Vick “seemed to get an ‘adrenaline high’ when killing the dogs.”
Vick served nearly two years in federal prison after pleading guilty to a federal animal fighting charge. He was released in 2009 and joined the Philadelphia Eagles.
WSBTV.COM submitted the request for the records in March 2008. The information was delivered by the USDA last week.
Posted by jwoestendiek January 12th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: act, adrenaline, atlanta falcons, department of agriculture, documents, dog fighting, dogfighting, dogs, drowned, freedom of information, high, killed, killing, michael vick, philadelphia eagles, ring operation, usda
Sen. Al Franken’s first piece of legislation — aimed at increasing the supply of service dogs for veterans – has been passed and is headed to the White House for approval.
Under the legislation, the Veterans Administration would develop partnerships with organizations that provide disabled veterans with service dogs. Franken said the measure will cost about $5 million and is designed not to interfere with non-profit organizations providing service dogs.
“The government is going to pay for essentially every other dog. What I didn’t want to happen was to dry up the funding for the organizations like Hearing and Service Dogs in Minneapolis and all of these non-profits who have been providing dogs to some vets.”
Franken said about 200 veterans will get dogs as a result of the legislation. The legislation was passed yesterday as apart of the Defense Authorization bill, according to Minnesota Public Radio.
Franken introduced the legislation after meeting Luis Carlos Montalvan, a veteran who said his service dog improved his quality of life.
Posted by jwoestendiek October 24th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: act, al franken, approved, authorization, defense, dog, dogs, law, luis carlos montalvan, minnesota, passed, passes, sen., senate, senator, service, soldiers, veterans, vets, white house
I’m not sure what U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert, a Republican from Texas, was trying to say when he spoke out against passage of the Great Cats and Rare Canids Act of 2009.
It’s clear he was against the act — that he felt the U.S. was in no position to be assisting other countries in preserving endangered species, that he thinks we’re falling too deeply in debt to China, and that he think it’s ironic that some of the funds authorized in the act might be used for preservation efforts in China
But I’m baffled by his statement that, by borrowing more money from the Chinese, we’ll “end up with moo goo dog pan or moo goo cat pan.”
The Chinese will take control of us and force us to eat dogs and cats, prepared in the style of their cuisine? Give it a listen and, if you figure it out, let me know.
Despite Gohmert’s objections, the Great Cats and Rare Canids Act of 2009, which authorized $50 million to help save snow leopards, wild African dogs and other endangered species, passed the House.
Posted by jwoestendiek May 20th, 2009 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: 2009, act, authorize, cat, cats, china, debt, dog, dogs, endangered species, funds, great cats, louie gohmert, moo goo cat pan, moo goo dog pan, preservation, rare canids, representative, republican, texas, u.s.