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Tag: animation

In “Isle of Dogs,” canines in a Japanese city are banished to an island of trash

Director Wes Anderson has been secretive about the plot of his new animated movie, “Isle of Dogs,” but judging from a trailer released last week it will be trademark Anderson — bleakly beautiful, deceptively sentimental, more than a little haunting, and unconventional, with a capital UN.

It is set, 20 years from now, in a Japanese city, where canine overpopulation and an outbreak of dog flu has led the local government to banish dogs to an island filled with trash.

A 12-year-old boy hijacks a plane and flies to the island in search of his dog, Spots, and so begins an epic quest (is there any other kind these days?) in which he is assisted by five other exiled dogs (all of whom speak, of course).

“We’ll find him,” one of the dogs reassure the boy. “Wherever he is. If he’s alive. We’ll find your dog.”

It remains to be seen how family friendly the film will be, and whether it, like many other Anderson films, will have dogs dying off as the plot unwinds.

The movie is Anderson’s first feature since 2014’s “The Grand Budapest Hotel.”

Its cast of voice actors includes Bryan Cranston, Edward Norton, Jeff Goldblum, Frances McDormand, F. Murray Abraham, Tilda Swinton, Bill Murray, Courtney B. Vance, Harvey Keitel, Scarlett Johansson and Yoko Ono.

The film is scheduled to hit theaters in March, 2018.

In the cartoon world, some offenses are considered especially anus

doganus

Blood, gore and violence? No problem. But censors at Adult Swim, a cartoon network, apparently have issued an edict prohibiting showing a dog’s anus.

The frames in question reportedly would have resembled those above (though those are cat anuses from another cartoon).

“We drew a dog’s butt. Just like a circle, little asterisks, very innocent, we didn’t think anything of it. We got it back, they’re like, ‘No dog anuses on Adult Swim,'” said Genndy Tartakovsky, creator of the cartoon program Samurai Jack.

Tartakovsky related the episode in an interview with IGN about the show’s fifth and likely final season.

While Adult Swim has been more tolerant about the violence portrayed in the series since it moved from its previous home on the Cartoon Network, apparently it draws the line at dog buttholes.

DSC05721 (2)That would be a ridiculous edict in children’s cartoons; in adult cartoon it’s even more laughable (and far more laughable than your typical adult cartoon).

There is nothing X-, R-, or even PG-rated about a dog’s anus.

We’d say anybody who has a problem with a dog’s anus being visible in public — especially while purveying animation of sliced off heads and poked out eyeballs — has a pretty skewed sense of morality.

My current dog has a highly visible anus. So did my previous one. So do many breeds and mixes who sport a curly, upright tail.

You get used to it, and it’s a small price to pay for watching that fluffy tail perk up every time your dog becomes gleeful.

The anus, per se, may not have the innate visual beauty of a sunset, or a Grand Canyon, but it’s part and parcel of the incredible scenery dogs provide, and as such should be accepted, not cloaked.

Sure, there are those people who might be alarmed by seeing a dog whose anus is immediately visible. I recall one, at a dog park once, who remarked, “Look mommy, I see his poopy hole.”

But that was a five-year-old, not a network executive.

“The Present”

This animated short was shown at more than 180 film festivals and won more than 50 awards in the two years after its release in 2014.

Now the makers of “The Present” have posted it on Vimeo for all the world to see.

Jacob Frey and Markus Kranzler were students at the Institute of Animation, Visual Effects and Digital Postproduction at the Filmakademie Baden-Wuerttemberg in Ludwigsburg, Germany, when they worked on the film together.

If San Francisco’s neighborhoods were dogs

Just as every dog breed has a distinct personality, so too does every neighborhood.

In a city as dog-loving, artistically inclined and fantastically diverse as San Francisco, perhaps it was only matter of time before a creative type decided to match them up.

The video above, in which 11 neighborhoods are portrayed as dressed-up dogs, may reinforce a stereotype or two, but it is really more about making you smile.

“This little animation is the long time brainchild of my obsession with dog breeds and the humorous stereotypes of SF neighborhoods,” says its creator. “Hopefully no-one is offended.”

An intense dog-lover, and San Francisco-lover, Libby Cooper is creative director of Videopixie.

She’d had the idea for the video in mind for a couple of years, but a creative-project stipend from Videopixie allowed her to make the notion a reality, reports the website, Curbed.

“My budget allowed me create 11,” she says. “But I hope to eventually cover all of the San Francisco neighborhoods.

In the short animated video, entitled “San Frandingo,” an Afghan hound with a pearl necklace represents Pacific Heights, a Shiba Inu wearing goggles and a “vegan leather jacket” symbolizes Potrero Hill, and a French Bulldog with a motorcycle cap, studded collar and harness serves as mascot for the Castro.

Other match-ups include a golden retriever with a tennis ball in its mouth as the marina, an American Staffordshire Terrier wearing a Giants cap as the Mission, and a Cairn terrier smoking a cigarette as the Tenderloin.

Cooper, who says she can recite all 184 dog breeds, relied on her personal impressions of the neighborhoods and her knowledge of dog breeds and their characteristics to come up with the concept.

Talk the dog: Humanizing our pets

There are two main reasons I’m against humanizing our pets.

One, it’s messing with nature — dogs (ideal beasts, in my view) should stay dogs.

Two, portraying them as humans, giving them human attributes, or using them as our puppets, implies our species is superior, and worth imitating. Oftentimes, from what I’ve seen of it, it’s not. We’re are way too far from perfect to appoint ourselves role models for the animal kingdom.

I get slightly peeved when I see technology being used to make dogs more human — especially when, because we deem it cute and entertaining, we put our words in their mouths.

So, immensely popular as it is, I’m less than smitten with My Talking Pet, an app that allows us to take a photo of our cat or dog, record an audio message, and get a video of our pet — animated so that mouth, nose and eyebrows move as the pet appears to talk.

From the samples I’ve seen, the words we put in the mouths of dogs are only further proof that we’re not the intellectually superior species we think we are.

“People are obsessed with it,” said Iain Baird, who developed the app with his former school buddy, Peter Worth. “I think it’s really struck a chord with how close people are with their pets.”

The concept, he told Fortune.com, came while he and some friends were in a London pub talking about a YouTube video featuring a “talking dog” that had gone viral. They decided to come up with an app that would make it easy for any pet owner make their dog “talk,” and it hit the iTunes market in early 2013.

It wasn’t until after the app was featured on the “Ellen” show that it really took off.

Last October, Kat Dennings and Beth Behrs, stars of the CBS sitcom “2 Broke Girls,” praised the app while on the show. In the weeks that followed it became the most downloaded paid app in the Apple iTunes store.

Worth and Baird say their company, WOBA Media,  began thinking even bigger after that — including offering a “devil mode,” which adds glowing red eyes to the pet, and “angel mode,” in which the pet appears under a halo.

Taken alone, “My Talking Pet” is  just a little harmless fun — as is dressing the dog up for Halloween, treating the dog like a spoiled grandchild, or calling them “fur babies”.

The dangers come when our seeing them as humans sabotages our attempts at training, when we start assigning dogs human emotions they don’t have, and holding them to human expectations.

We should be close to our pets. We should see them as family members — only canine ones. To manipulate them, to turn them into something else (humans, or angels, or devils), to put words into their mouths, all takes away from appreciating them for what they are.

Just something to keep in mind as technology marches on — often making bigger inroads than we originally anticipated.

How long will it be, for example, before cutting edge, 21st Century technology, like that used in “My Talking Pet”  is turned around on us, and the app takes on a mind of its own, and our pets are giving us their unsolicited opinions on the best brand of dog food, cereal or car to buy?

That could never happen, could it?

One way Brian could be brought back

brian1

Brian, the family dog in Fox’s long-running animated hit “Family Guy,” died Sunday night when he was struck by a car.

The Griffin family’s faithful dog — a far more level-headed being than any of the human characters on the show — was killed off and, after some grieving, replaced with a new dog, named Vinny.

Brian’s multitude of fans want him back, and so do we (and at the end of this post, we have a suggested story line that would allow him to return, at least in a form).

The death of Brian came Sunday night in the sixth episode of “Family Guy’s” 12th season — and seemed to hit fans of the show hard.

A petition on Change.org is gathering thousands of signatures after being launched Monday by an Alabama fan asking the show to bring back Brian.

“Brian Griffin was an important part of our viewing experience,” the petition reads. “He added a witty and sophisticated element to the show. Family Guy and Fox Broadcasting will lose viewers if Brian Griffin is not brought back to the show.”

Brian, who was an aspiring novelist, was voiced by “Family Guy” creator Seth MacFarlane; Vinny, the new dog, is voiced by Tony Sirico of “The Sopranos” fame.

The Los Angeles Times wondered whether fans will get to see their beloved dog again, and didn’t rule out the possibility.

Reuters reported that Brian appeared in more than 200 episodes of the show, which averages 6 million viewers an episode.

brian2Brian’s final words were: “You’ve given me a wonderful life. I love you all.”

At Brian’s funeral, Peter Griffin noted, “Brian wasn’t just my dog, he was my best friend in the whole world.”

We don’t know how much memories of Brian are going to play into upcoming episodes, but we’d guess that — as with any dog owner — it’s going to be hard for the show to just let him go.

And, while it’s too late, we can see some great opportunities — story-line-wise — growing out of his death.

For one, an exploration of what really happens at “Rainbow Bridge.” MacFarlane’s mind, and writers, could have some fun with that.

Better yet, what if it turned out the Griffins had hung on to a hunk of Brian’s tissue, and sent it off to South Korea for a clone to be created. It happens in real life, and it sounds like just the sort of thing Stewie would go for.

Having written a book about it, I don’t favor cloning pet dogs, and generally don’t see it as a laughing matter. But “Family Guy” has always had a way of making things that aren’t laughing matters pretty laughable.

If a clone of Brian were created in a lab, and the family “reunited” with him, would it really be Brian, brought back to life — as those behind cloning initially would have us believe — or just a similar-looking dog with his own distinct personality?

And, assuming writers followed a factual route, and Brian’s clone was not the same character Brian was, how disappointed would viewers be?

It could be a funny and informative route for the show to follow.

As many problems as I have with dog cloning, as blanketly against it as I am, I would have to be in favor of reanimating Brian.

“Sometimes love really is a bitch”

“My Dog Tulip” — J.R. Ackerley’s classic account of how a dog entered his life, stimulated his curiosity, broadened his horizons, and brightened his otherwise cranky golden years — is now out as an animated movie, and the book has been reissued in paperback.

“Unable to love each other, the English turn naturally to dogs,” the British writer wrote in what’s perhaps the most famous line of the 1956 book about the bond between dog and man.

“Sometimes love really is a bitch,” reads the tagline, updated for the times, of the new movie.

The movie came out late last summer, directed by Paul and Sandra Fierlinger, who are also responsible for the hand-drawn animations that, on screen, are like a New Yorker cartoon come to life.

The film is narrated by Christopher Plummer, in the role of Ackerley, and also features the voice of Lynn Redgrave, who died in May and to whom the movie is dedicated. One review called it “the most sophisticated dog movie ever made.”

It tells the story of a lonely gay man who has all but given up on finding a longtime companion and “ideal friend” in the human world.

Enter Tulip, or, as was her name in real life, Queenie, a German shepherd Ackerley acquired from his neighbors when he was “quite over 50,” and with whom he would spend the next 15 years.

“She offered me what I had never found in my life with humans: constant, single-hearted, incorruptible, uncritical devotion, which it is in the nature of dogs to offer.”

Ackerley died in 1967, and though the book is now 55 years old, it retains a sense of freshness attributable to the fact that Queenie was his first dog. His keen observation of inter-species interaction is that of someone who just landed on the planet, as opposed to being an old hand with dogs.

“It seemed to me both touching and strange,” he says at one point, “that she should find the world so wonderful.”

We long-time dog lovers know exactly what he means. It’s what makes dogs so lovable — they see the world as wonderful, and, no matter how curmudgeonly we may be, they help us see it that way too.