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Tag: bark

Japanese robot dog can tell you if your feet are stinky

It’s one thing — one seemingly very strange thing — to build a robot whose only job is to tell us if our feet stink.

But to make it in the form of a fluffy little white dog? That’s a pretty odious, and odorous, task to assign to the species, even a robot member of the species, and it’s degrading to robot dogs everywhere — many of which perform far more important duties, like sitting, and laying down, and barking and fetching a ball.

This new odor-detecting technology comes from Japan, which leads the world in producing robot dogs.

Its name is Hana-chan, and the six-inch long robot dog from Next Technology has a built-in odor detection sensor in its nose that assesses just how malodorous you feet may be, according to Japan Times.

JAPAN-TECHNOLOGY-ROBOT-OFFBEATIf your feet are slightly smelly, Hana-chan will bark. If they are truly pungent, Hana-chan will faint and fall over on its side.

But not before spraying a little air freshener on your toes.

Hana is the Japanese word for nose and Chan is a common girl’s nickname.

Next Technology plans to start selling the robot dog in early 2018 — at about $900 each.

Now, as absurd as Hana-chan might seem, the product makes more sense when you consider the cultural context.

Traditional Japanese remove their shoes before entering a home — both their own and those of others.

Traditional Japanese are also respectful, and not as likely as, say, an American friend — or wife — to blurt out, “Jesus! Your feet stink.”

Next Technology says it created the robot in response to a request from a man who suspected he had a foot odor issue.

“He told us his daughter had said his feet were smelly . . . But he didn’t want to know how bad the odor was because he would feel hurt,” a company representative said. “That’s why we developed this cute robot.”

With the robot dog, people can avoid the embarrassment of being told their feet stink, or perhaps the even greater embarrassment of not being told and offending everyone in the room.

(Photo: Next Technology)

Say what, AlphaPup?

A toy that’s supposed to help kids learn the alphabet may be teaching them a dirty word.

At least that’s how a couple in the UK is hearing it.

Stuart and Diane Gravenell from Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, bought the Leap Frog AlphaPup toy for their 18-month-old granddaughter, Iris.

alphapupThe singing dog helps teach young children the alphabet and phonics, and features three educational songs, one of which the Gravenells say, includes a word that sounds a whole lot like something a dog would never say. It sounds a whole lot like f***.

(F*** is generally how us old-fashioned types write “fuck,” but if a baby toy is saying it now, why should we hold back?)

The Gravenells told the Daily Mail their daughter, Jessica Sollars, took the toy out of the box for her granddaughter and turned it on, playing some of the songs.

In one, the dog sang, “One, two, chew on a shoe, three, four, bark at the door.” But instead of “bark,” it sounded like f*** to the parents and grandparents.

gravenell“When Jessica heard it she phoned us up and asked, ‘Is this some kind of joke?'” Gravenell said. “And then when she played it to us we both heard it and I just thought, ‘oh my God!’… These things are supposed to teach children to speak properly, so you’d think they would over-enunciate correctly.”

The toy is widely available in the UK and the U.S., where retailers including Walmart, Amazon and Toys R’Us offer it.

In the American version of the toy, the dog has no British accent, so “bark” doesn’t sound like f***.

The couple said their daughter has taken the toy away from Iris.

Said Gravenell, “It has been a naughty dog, so Jessica has put it into quarantine.”

(Photos and video from the Daily Mail)

Give us the goods on your veterinarian

veterinarian symbolWe want to know about the veterinarian of your dreams – whether you’ve found him or her, or not.

For an article in an upcoming issue of The Bark on how we choose a veterinarian, we’d like to know what – in your eyes — are the most important factors.

If you’ve found the perfect vet, just what is it that makes him or her perfect? If you’re still seeking that person, just what exactly is it you’re looking for?

As our dogs become more and more like family members, the choice of vet is a decision humans probably take more seriously than they did 50 years ago. Time was one’s choice of veterinarian was based in large part on proximity.

We’re guessing that has changed. Now we seek opinions from friends, question fellow denizens of the dog park, turn to online reviews, and perhaps even make some in-office visits, all in our quest for the perfect vet.

But what makes the perfect vet?

Is it where he or she went to school? Is it a friendly staff, reasonable rates? Is it how quickly you can make an appointment or how long you spend in the waiting room? Is it bedside manner, how much empathy, or compassion a vet exudes? Is it how clearly that vet can communicate? Whether they honor your pet insurance? Is it how the vet connects with you, how the vet connects with your dog, or both?

We want to know what is (or was) the single most important factor in your choice of veterinarian, and how you found the one (if you have) that you can’t imagine ever leaving.

Tell us about the veterinarian of your dreams by leaving a comment, preferably with your name attached, on The Bark’s blog, or here on ohmidog!

(John Woestendiek, who produces the ohmidog! website, is a frequent contributor to The Bark. His story on finding the ideal veterinarian will appear in an upcoming issue.)

Roadside Encounters: Tugg

Name: Tugg

Breed: Lhasa Apso

Age: 16 months

Encountered: At Volunteer Park in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood.

Backstory: “Joyful, dignified, mischievous and aloof.” That’s how the American Kennel Club describes the personality of the Lhasa Apso. The personality of Tugg — while he looks pretty dignified at left — may be completely different, for all I know.

I only spent a couple of minutes with him — most of that taking photographs, which he didn’t seem to mind at all — before his human, Amanda, took off.

The breed originated hundreds of years ago in the remote Himalayan Mountains, and served mainly to guard the homes of Tibetan nobility and Buddhist monasteries. Those were near the sacred city of Lhasa.

That explains the Lhasa, but what about the Apso? According to 5stardog.com, there are two theories.

One is that it comes from rapso, the Tibetan word for goat. Supposedly, the breed’s coat resembled that of the goats kept by Tibetan herders. Another is that because of the breed’s role guarding sacred places, ancient Tibetans referred to it as apso seng kye, which translates into “bark lion sentinel dog.”

I don’t know which, if either, is right.

The message I got from Tugg — whose face, to me, even without the setting sun dappling it, reflected both wisdom and inscrutability — was that he’d prefer the mystery to remain.

Arizona town ponders debarking the dog park

dog silencerOn its website, the city of Chandler, Arizona — perhaps best known for its annual ostrich festival — refers to its four dog parks as “bark parks.”

Cute, huh?

What’s slightly less cute is that the city was, in light of complaints, on the verge of installing high frequency devices at one of them — Shawnee Bark Park  — that would send out painful and irritating signals if any dog barked while in its confines.

That’s right: “Welcome to the Bark Park, no barking allowed.”

Dog parks are where dogs socialize. Barking is how dogs communicate. To zap any dog that barks runs counter to the very purpose of dog parks — places where dogs can be dogs.

To try to end barking at a dog park is just dopey. It makes about as much sense as the city of Chandler saying, “Be sure to also visit our lovely municipal pools (no swimming is permitted) and golf courses (golfing is strictly prohibited).

Nevertheless, Chandler was poised to become the first city in the nation to discourage dog barking in a public dog park with the installation of high-frequency-sound devices that only canines can hear, the Arizona Republic reports.

But now, just as complaints about barking led the city to purchase four Dog Silencer Pros, complaints about the devices being inhumane, especially when applied to large groups of dogs, are keeping them from being used.

The city is reviewing its plan after complaints from the Arizona Humane Society, dog owners and others who say the devices, for one thing, would result in all dogs being punished for the act of one. The devices are triggered by barking within 75 feet, and send a high frequency signal out 300 feet.

That would seem to mean every time  a barking dog receives an irritating  jolt to his ears for barking, 10 or 15 other non-barking ones could recieve one as well — and have no idea why.

Kimberly Searles, a spokeswoman for the Arizona Humane Society, noted the Dog Silencer “does have the potential to negatively affect dogs who are not barking, in that it can make them not want to go to the dog park if doing so is going to hurt their ears.”

The city bought four of the devices from the Medford, Ore.-based Good Life LLC for $360 after a local committee was unable to come up with a solution to noise complaints from neighbors of the park.

A Good Life spokesman told the Republic that his company has had no feedback from users about negative effects on non-barking dogs. Chandler was the first client to buy them for use in a dog park, the spokesman said.

(Photo: The Dog Silencer Pro from Good Life)

Reconsidering my stance on debarking

Up until now, I’ve been pretty much against debarking — a surgical procedure whose proponents like to call it “bark softening.”

But this video makes me realize that, possibly, in some cases, it may be justified.

Law & Order theme triggers howls

Why some dogs react the way they do to certain songs and sounds would probably make for an interesting scientific study.

Until then, we have YouTube, where a mounting number of videos, it has been noted, show dogs howling along with — or in objection to — the theme from “Law & Order.”

It’s not the first time multiple dog owners have noticed certain songs seem to cause their pets to vocalize, and captured the result on video. Remember all those videos of dogs singing along with Gwen Stefani’s “Sweet Escape?”

Just as only some dogs howl at sirens, some howl at Gwen Stefani and, for reasons just as mysterious, at the Law & Order theme. Whether they are expressing discomfort or joining the chorus, we don’t really know.

In any event, for an impressive array of dogs howling at “Law & Order,” check out the compilation video above, or visit nastynets.com.