OUR BEST FRIENDS

whs-logo

The Sergei Foundation

shelterpet_logo

B-more Dog

aldflogo

Pinups for Pitbulls

philadoptables

TFPF_Logo

Mid Atlantic Pug Rescue

Our Pack, Inc.

Maine Coonhound Rescue

Saving Shelter Pets, Inc.

mabb

LD Logo Color

Tag: alec baldwin

Canadian dog lover with autism created art featured on the National Dog Show program

dog-show-program

There’s a story behind the cover of the program for this year’s National Dog Show — one that strikes us as far more interesting than who won the annual canine beauty pageant.

(For the record though, it was Newton, a Brussels Griffon, who captured best in show at the Thanksgiving Day event, held in Philadelphia.)

The official show program this year featured a cover (above) designed by a Manitoba artist who began painting dogs as a way to cope with struggles associated with autism.

rottweilerAlec Baldwin’s parents were told when he was 2½ years old that he had mild to severe autism and likely wouldn’t be able to speak until he was 18.

They refused to accept that. When schools didn’t seem to be expecting much out of him, or doing much for him, they took him out, figuring they could do a better job themselves. But the big change came when they brought him a how-to-draw dogs book.

“He just took off,” his mother, Tanis, told CBC News

Alec drew every dog in the Canadian Kennel Club book, and then every dog in the American Kennel Club book. He used watercolour pencils and made 200 portraits of dogs that he gave to the owners of his subjects. He is a dog handler who shows at competitions and is a Special Olympics athlete going to Nova Scotia next year as part of the Manitoba team.

And, yes, at 24 now, he speaks:

It was after switching to paint that one of his pieces, a 40-by-60-inch night scene with 35 champion dogs, won best acrylic painting in the Icelandic Festival of Manitoba’s fine art show in Gimli last year.

Baldwin gave a poster of that painting to Wayne Ferguson, president of the Kennel Club of Philadelphia, which runs the National Dog Show, who hung it in his den.

Ferguson then commissioned Baldwin to do a painting for the show.

The finished work shows the Philadelphia skyline at night, with 15 previous champion dogs in the foreground.

It appears on the cover of the program, the show’s VIP passes, posters and 8,000 brochures, even on the wrapper of the show’s official chocolate bar.

The painting was unveiled at a special gala for VIPs, including Baldwin and his mom.

“When I was at the show, I looked down at my VIP pass and it had his painting on it, and it dawned on me that everyone around here who was a VIP has his painting around their neck,” Tanis said.

“We’ve worked on his weaknesses and built on his strengths,” Tanis said. “That’s the best you can do with any child,” she added. “I’m really proud of him. He’s worked really hard — he’s had to work harder than anybody … But above all, he has a good heart.”

This year’s Super Bowl ads left me cold

mountain-dew-super-bowl-commercial-2016

This year’s crop of Super Bowl ads was disappointing — and not just because there weren’t enough commercials with dogs in them.

I counted two ads in which dogs played a significant role, compared to nearly a dozen featuring celebrities, among them Alec Baldwin, Jeff Goldblum, Helen Mirren, Amy Schumer, Anthony Hopkins, Seth Rogen, Christopher Walken, Kevin Hart, Willem Dafoe, Liam Neeson, Ryan Reynolds and Drake.

woof in advertisingThat seemed to be the theme — if there was one — to this year’s ads: Let’s get some overexposed celebrities and expose them a little more.

And throw in a dizzying amount of special effects.

Yes, there was that stampede of dachshunds, all in hot dog costumes, making a mad dash for the Heinz family of condiments:

And there were those dogs scheming on how to get their paws on some of the Doritos displayed in the grocery store.

Neither of those knocked me out, and they pale in comparison with some of the far more funny, far more human, dog ads of previous Super Bowls.

Several other ads featured dogs in small supporting roles — in an ad with singing sheep, and in one where a town seems to occupied nearly entirely by clones of Ryan Reynolds (as if we’re not already seeing enough of the real one of him).

Then, too, a dog was part — and I do mean part — of my least favorite dog-related Super Bowl ad.

Mountain Dew, in an ad for its new beverage, Kick Start, unveiled a puppy-monkey-baby that looked like it would be more at home in a bad acid trip. I can only assume its creators had a little too much Kick Start during their creative process.

I didn’t keep a tally, but I’m pretty sure monstrous or otherwise fictional creatures far outnumbered dogs in this year’s ads — just as special effects far outnumbered moments of humanity, and flash far outdistanced substance.

I won’t show you the worst of them — that pink blob of bulging intestines wandering the stadium in search of a free bathroom. Nor will I mention the name the prescription drug it advertised. I’ll just remind you that Super Bowl ads cost $5 million per spot — and that’s just for the time.

Throw in the production costs involved with having a celebrity or animated intestinal blob tout your product and you’ll begin to understand why you probably won’t be paying bargain prices for anti-diarrhea meds or your next Hyundai.

All in all, Super Bowl ads this year left me unimpressed, feeling a little cold, and feeling a little old. They often left me creeped out — and I include the “Super Bowl babies” in that group. (Is the NFL so hard up for something to brag about that it must boast that the big game makes people copulate?)

This year’s ads left me longing for some of those ads of previous years — when dogs were dogs, and men were men, and internal organs stayed inside us.

Not being a big fan of talking dogs, dogs in costume, or dogs being part of some monstrous hyperactive multi-species hybrid, I didn’t really have a favorite dog ad among them.

Instead, I’d have to give this year’s top honors to the Subaru ads featured during the Puppy Bowl.

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

“Move over vegetables, here comes Fonzie”

Yesterday we brought you slow-motion dogs. Today we’ll take a look at no-motion dogs — those whose owners like to keep them around, even after death.

As the first episode of “The Marriage Ref”  showed, the practice is seen by some, perhaps most, as horrific, while still others consider it a fitting tribute to their pet.

The new show, a Jerry Seinfeld creation that premiered this week, included a segment on a marital spat over a husband’s decision — over his wife’s objections — to “stuff” his deceased Boston Terrier, Fonzie.

The show’s resident fact checker reported that only about 1,000 people a year have their pets “stuffed,” and its panel of “experts,” which included Seinfeld, Kelly Ripa and Alec Baldwin, all sided with the wife in the dispute, concluding that the practice was bizarre and Fonzie shouldn’t be displayed, shrine-like, in the couple’s home.

With that, the husband agreed to move Fonzie to the attic, which is where a lot of “stuffed” animals end up.

The show didn’t get into the specifics of how Fonzie was preserved after death, instead just using the misnomer “stuffed.” But apparently he was freeze-dried, an increasingly common technique being used by taxidermists and others — and at a rate that I think probably exceeds that reported by the “fact-checker,”  NBC News reporter Natalie Morales.

I did some research into the practice in connection with my forthcoming book about dog cloning, looking back at the days when “stuffed” animals really were stuffed, the more modern form of “mounting” or stretching their pelts over a plastic form, and the more modern yet version, freeze-drying.

As part of my research, I interviewed Chris Calagan in West Virginia, owner of Perpetual Pet, which has been freeze drying pets since 2002, when he and his wife started with their own cat, Naomi.

Posing the pet and removing the moisture in his freeze drying machine is a process that can take months, depending on the pet’s size, Calagan explained to me.

“We don’t put a hole in it. It’s just through osmosis, very gradual, like drying an orange,” he said. “The moisture comes out through the peeling.”

Freeze drying is the latest variation of a practice that goes back to Victorian times, and one to which many have turned over the years.

Stubby, a pit bull who was the most decorated dog of World War I, was stuffed after his death and displayed at the Smithsonian.

When cowboy star Roy Rogers’ horse, Trigger, died in 1965 at age 33, the Rogers family had him mounted, his skin stretched over a plastic mold, posed proudly in the position of a horse at its liveliest – reared up on its hind legs. Trigger became the main draw at the Roy Rogers/Dale Evans Museum. The Rogers also had Dale Evans’ horse, Buttermilk, and their German shepherd, Bullet, mounted to become museum pieces. Rogers, before his death in 1998, joked about having his own body “stuffed” and placed atop his rearing horse, but he never actually pursued that.

ScrubsMore recently, the mounted pet returned to popular culture in the television show “Scrubs,” in which a lifeless dog named Rowdy had a recurring role.

To some, it’s far to creepy a thing to ever consider. Others pursue it precisely because it is so quirky. But the majority of pet owners do it because of a sincere wish to keep a beloved dog around — in a state they can view and touch.

As with cloning, those who have done it might face a certain amount of ridicule, but, more often than not, they don’t care what anybody else thinks. In fact, they’d probably have two words for those who judge them: Stuff it.