All we can learn from dogs, and how, in many ways, we should strive to be more like them, are recurring themes on this website.
But, for the record, this is not what we mean.
A new documentary by Channel 4 in the UK takes a look at the “secretive” world of men who like to dress up as, and play the role of, dogs.
Around 10,000 people follow the pet play craze in the UK, according to “Secret Life of the Human Pups” — in which several members of this “secret” society dress up and strut before the cameras.
Apparently, it’s another one of those secret societies that — judging from some of its related websites, and the public competition it holds every year — really craves attention.
The documentary — sensationalistic as it is, albeit in a properly restrained British kind of way — isn’t unearthing any new ground.
Furries — people who dress up and behave as animals — have been around for decades, and the only new twist we can see is a trend towards preferring latex over fur costumes.
Participants, as always, range from those who enjoy a playful escape from reality to those who truly wish to be another species, from those seeking to shock and grab attention to those who are probably in need of some mental health counseling.
Anonymous sex, as always, while not what it’s entirely about, remains a strong component — at least for some participants.
The director of the documentary, Guy Simmonds told Newsweek he began pursuing the project after he “stumbled across some pictures [of human dogs] on the Internet.”
“… The more we researched it, the more surprised I was to learn how large the community was in the U.K. They’ve got their own social networking sites, events and competitions.”
The documentary aired Wednesday night.
Simmonds says puppy players (generally men) come from all walks of life: “We’ve come across librarians, security guards, even CEOs of huge corporations who wanted to remain anonymous. There are gay, straight, transsexual, asexual pups.”
One 42-year-old man described the appeal of pretending to be a pup this way:
“Life is getting more hectic nowadays, so much pressure on work and life. Some people drink, there’s drugs… You’ve got to be civilized in our society. When you’re in puppy mode, all that goes away. We don’t care about money; we don’t care about what job you’ve got, or the bigger car.”
For other people, role-playing as a dog can be a way of dealing with social anxiety, deep-rooted childhood issues or chronic medical conditions.
London-based psychotherapist Wendy Bristow says it is not uncommon for those who have experienced childhood trauma to seek comfort in forms of escapism. She points to cases of paraphilic infantilism, in which adults seek comfort by putting on diapers and regressing back to being a baby.
By taking on the role of something in need of nurturing — be it puppy or baby — they may be attempting to make up for a lack of it in their pasts.
“The technical term is displacement,” she said. “They’re doing an activity that gets them comfort, but they’re not expected to relate back apart from being grateful.”
Whatever the case, it seems there is one thing that both dogs and men who dress up as dogs are probably seeking more than anything else — attention.
Posted by John Woestendiek May 26th, 2016 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, anonymous, behavior, costumes, documentary, dog, dogs, escape, fantasy, furries, human, pets, pretending, puppies, puppy play, pups, role playing, secret, secret life of the human pups, sex, uk
While Amish breeders are notorious for running puppy mills, some of those in southern Indiana are working with Purdue University’s Center for Animal Welfare Science to improve their breeding practices and, in the process, their reputations.
“It was time that we as breeders recognize that there are professionals out there that can help us and we need to involve them in our businesses,” said Levi Graber, a member of Odon’s Amish community who helps several breeders in the area.
Though the Amish aren’t known for reaching out, or letting people in, Graber contacted the university a few years ago about improving Amish-run breeding operations in the region. That led to a pilot program in which the operations are reviewed, and suggestions are made on how to improve them.
Already, those behind the program say, they’ve found that improving conditions and practices at the kennels leads to happier, healthier, better behaved dogs.
Under the program, which is open to non-Amish breeders as well, a set of voluntary standards will be created for breeders to follow, according to the Lafayette Journal & Courier.
“Many folks hear about breeding and animal welfare and they don’t know what (breeders) actually do. They just want to put them out of business,” said Purdue’s Candace Croney, director of the animal welfare center.
Most dogs she and her team of researchers have observed have been in good physical health, Croney said, but some had room for improvement in their behavior. Some facilities’ dogs were loud and dogs became over-excited when they saw people, which Croney said indicated they weren’t used to seeing people often.
The research team advised those breeders to make sure something positive happens for the dogs, such as receiving a treat, every time someone comes into the kennel area. They also suggested letting the dogs out in the yard daily to exercise and socialize.
The changes made a big impact, Croney said. Over four months, the dogs in the kennel with the most behavioral issues became calmer when they saw people, and they physically looked better.
“We’ve seen a very positive impact on some of the things she recommends,” Graber said. “I’ve seen more contented, happy dogs.”
Once the trial program is complete, a third party will audit the breeders’ practices, Croney said.
Breeders who qualify will receive a certification that she said goes beyond the standards mandated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which cover areas such as housing, sanitation, food, water and protection against extreme weather and temperatures.
Graber said the community feels fortunate to work with Purdue and emphasized that the breeders don’t want to sell puppies that disappoint anyone.
Not all Amish-run breeding operations are like those that end up on the news, noted Dale Blier, who works for Blue Ribbon Vet & Supply in Odon and sells supplies to many breeders in town.
“The majority of dog breeders in Indiana treat their dogs the same way they treat making furniture: They want to be the best at it they can,” he said.
(Photo: A child sits with puppies at a breeding operation in Odon that’s working with Purdue’s Center for Animal Welfare Science program; by Levi Graber)
Posted by John Woestendiek May 24th, 2016 under Muttsblog.
Tags: amish, behavior, breeders, breeding, center for animal welfare, conditions, health, improvements, improving, indiana, kennels, odon, operations, perceptions, program, puppies, puppy mills, purdue university, reputation, southern indiana
There’s nothing, in my view, that can make a neighborhood bar more homey than having its own dog.
You’ve likely met the bar dog. Though not a breed, he or she has particular characteristics: A laid back, borderline lazy demeanor; a 100 percent friendly disposition; a tendency to be large and situate him or herself in such a way to block the maximum amount of traffic.
The bar dog happily greets customers, but does not jump on them. The bar dog lusts after what you might be eating, but does not snatch it out of your hand. The bar dog is sociable, generally well behaved and not the least bit hyperactive. He goes with the flow.
My dog Ace (on the left in the picture above, taken at a bar in North Carolina) served as a surrogate bar dog for a while at a corner bar in Baltimore. (Bar dogs must also love bars, and Ace, being a reflection of his owner, does.)
At the Idle Hour in South Baltimore, Ace unofficially filled in after the owner’s dog, Higgins — now there was a bar dog — passed away.
Ace, it seemed, was born to be a bar dog. At the Idle Hour, there was no one he didn’t want to meet and greet and spend a while sitting next to, but he wasn’t prone to jumping up, or licking faces — unless such action was requested.
Not every dog has what it takes to be a bar dog.
Mark Thorp, who owns Vaughn — and who owns Little Miss Whiskey’s on H Street and Jimmy Valentine’s Lonely Hearts Club on Bladensburg Road –says his dog is big, and active, and harmless.
But two customers have sued Thorp, claiming otherwise.
Kathleen Moran says she was sitting on a couch at Jimmy Valentine’s one night in July 2015 when Vaughn bit her face, causing “gashes to the outside of her eye, cheek, and lip.”
In an earlier lawsuit, a customer at Little Miss Whiskey’s claimed Vaughn bit her face.
Thorp said both the lawsuits and other legal troubles stem for an ongoing neighborhood feud.
Thorp was arrested in February of 2015 on drug and animal cruelty charges — both of which he claimed were trumped up charges he thinks stem from his beef with a neighborhood official he successfully sued for libel for remarks she made about one of his establishments.
It’s a long, involved story that’s not too related to our point, but you can find a synopsis in the Washingtonian.
Numerous legal matters are still pending, but Thorp, who temporarily lost custody of Vaughn, now has him back.
And, legal issues aside, maybe it would best to not allow him to freely roam the bars — at least not until he becomes better schooled in how to be a bar dog.
A bar dog, like a bartender, should be compassionate, calm, patient and mellow. He must show up when you want him to. And go away when you want him to.
Unleashing just any dog in just any bar is a mistake — and one that might come with costs.
Ace never had a problem — or caused any, at least that I’m aware of — at the Idle Hour. A lot of that was because it was among, since puppyhood, his top three places to be.
When, years later, I did a little bartending myself, and brought him along to the golf club where I worked, his behavior was always exemplary.
So, yes, I’m all for bar dogs. They can make a place seem like home. They can make a laid back bar even more laid back. They can promote bonding and conversation and help lower an entire room’s blood pressure.
But they should be chosen carefully, have the right personality, and be able to stay within certain boundaries.
Then and only then can they do what they were meant to do — make us all chill out, get along, and not sue each other.
(Photos: Top photo, Ace and friends at Recreation Billiards in Winston-Salem; bottom photo of Vaughn from his Twitter page)
Posted by John Woestendiek May 19th, 2016 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, animals, baltimore, bar dog, bar dogs, bars, bartender, bartending, behavior, dc, doberman, dogs, duties, feud, idle hour, jimmy valentine's, lawsuits, little miss whiskey's, mark thorp, neighborhood bars, personality, pets, responsibility, training, vaughn, washington
A new medication that claims to soothe dogs who are frightened by loud noises, such as fireworks and thunderstorms, will be available to veterinarians in the U.S. within a week — in plenty of time to help make the 4th of July less traumatic.
Sileo (not a very serious sounding name, is it?) comes in a gel form and is the first prescription medicine for treating anxiety over loud noises in canines– a widespread problem that leads to property destruction, running away and life-threatening injuries.
Its U.S. maker, Zoetis of Florham Park, New Jersey, says Sileo (pronounced SILL-lee-oh) works by blocking norepinephrine, a brain chemical similar to adrenaline that pumps up anxiety.
It is applied to a dog’s gums via a pre-filled, needle-less syringe.
Zoetis says the medication will give owners of the estimated third of the 70 million dogs in the U.S. who have problems with loud noises an alternative to human anti-anxiety pills, like Xanax, that sedate dogs for many hours.
Sileo takes effect within 30 minutes to an hour.
The pre-filled applicator costs $30, and contains enough for two doses for a dog of 80 to 100 pounds, four doses for a 40-pound dog, or six doses for a small dog.
Dogs can be re-dosed every two hours, up to five times during each noise event, Zoetis said in a press release.
Zoetis has exclusive rights to distribute Sileo in the U.S. under an agreement with the medication’s developer, Orion Corp. of Finland.
In testing on 182 pet beagles conducted on New Year’s Eve, 75 percent of their owners rated its effect good or excellent. Side effects were rare and minor, the company says.
(Photo: Provided by Zoetis)
Posted by John Woestendiek May 17th, 2016 under Muttsblog.
Tags: 4th of July, animals, anxiety, behavior, canine, dog, dogs, drugs, fear, fireworks, first, fourth of july, gel, july 4, loud, medication, medicine, new years, noise, noises, pets, prescription, sileo, syringe, thunderstorms, veterinarian, veterinary, zoetis
We’re not recommending you do, and we’re not recommending you don’t. We’re only taking a quick look at the subject because, pure and innocent an act as hugging your dog might seem, it is not without controversy.
Stanley Coren, author of many dog books, stirred up a little of it in his column this month for Psychology Today, citing “new data” that shows getting hugged raises the stress and anxiety levels of dogs, and the possibilities of someone getting bitten.
Some people who have been hugging their dogs for years (and insist their dogs enjoy the affection) found his conclusions laughable, labeled him a party-pooping old fuddy duddy, and said his research techniques were anything but scientific.
We’d agree only with that last part — because Coren’s “new data” was gathered by looking at 250 random photos on the Internet of people hugging dogs.
“I can summarize the data quite simply by saying that the results indicated that the Internet contains many pictures of happy people hugging what appear to be unhappy dogs,” he wrote.
“In all, 81.6% of the photographs researchers scored showed dogs who were giving off at least one sign of discomfort, stress, or anxiety. Only 7.6% of the photographs could rate as showing dogs that were comfortable with being hugged. The remaining 10.8% of the dogs either were showing neutral or ambiguous responses to this form of physical contact.
That’s when you can see the white portion of the eyes.
Here’s the problem, though — or one of them, anyway. How does Coren, or anybody else, know that the dogs pictured are stressing out because of the hug. Couldn’t it also be a reaction to WHO is hugging them? Or a reaction to the camera?
The simple fact is some dogs like being hugged, some tolerate it, and others don’t like it at all.
For the latter group, it might be the amount of pressure applied during a hug that they are reacting to — enough to make them feel restrained. It might be that hugs tend to be spontaneous and come out of nowhere.
Then, too, mood could be a factor. Sometimes dogs, and humans, feel like being hugged and sometimes they don’t.
There are just too many variables to make a sweeping conclusion — especially when it’s all based on what photos turn up in your Internet search and your subjective interpretation of those photos.
Hard to read emotions through that many wrinkles, but he seems to be digging it.
We’d agree with the experts who say hugging a dog you don’t know or have just met is not a good idea — and that children should be taught that early on.
But beyond that, we’d be hesitant to put the kibosh on dog hugging altogether, especially when it’s based on Flickr’ed or Facebook’ed photos posted by dog owners wanting to show how much they love their dogs — whether their dogs like it or not.
In this writer’s life, he has been creeped out by some hugs, tolerated others, found some both warm and comforting, and gotten truly enthused by a few.
Probably, some old photos exist of him showing half moon eyes while being squeezed by his big sister.
Does that mean he doesn’t like hugs?
Of course not. He just prefers to make the decision on a case by case basis. Dogs should have that freedom, too.
Posted by John Woestendiek April 26th, 2016 under Muttsblog.
Tags: affection, animals, behavior, dog, dogs, emotions, health, hug, hugging, hugging your dog, hugs, internet, interpreting, mood, pets, photographs, photos, psychology today, safety, stanley coren
For years, there were only two ways for an unclaimed pit bull, Rottweiler or chow to get out of the Guilford County Animal Shelter in Greensboro, N.C.
One was for a rescue group to step in, take custody of the dog and find it an adoptive home.
The only other alternative was euthanasia.
Due to “liability concerns,” the shelter had a policy against allowing pit bulls, Rottweilers and chows to be adopted — instituted by the non-profit group that managed it for 15 years.
That group was ousted last year, and last week the Guilford County Board of Commissioners reversed the long-standing rule.
The old policy was established under the United Animal Coalition, a Greensboro-based nonprofit that ran the shelter until last year — when its licensed was revoked after an investigation into charges of animal cruelty. The county assumed management of the shelter.
Last Thursday, the Board of Commissioners voted to change the policy that prevented the adoption of certain breeds, according to the Greensboro News & Record.
According to the shelter’s director, Logan Rustan, about 8 of every 10 dogs in the shelter at any given time are pit bulls.
“A lot of our cages stay empty because I cannot put these three breeds on the floor, and that’s most of what we get,” Rustan told the commissioners. “If I can have this approved … I guarantee when I get back today I can fill the adoption floor, fill it full, with adoptable animals.”
Rustan said the shelter had worked with area rescues to find pit bulls, Rottweilers and chows adoptive homes, but was often left with adult pit bulls that could not be placed.
The change in policy is in keeping with recommendations from the state Department of Agriculture, which has urged the shelter to give more consideration to a dog’s temperament than to its breed when assessing its adoptability.
(Photo by John Woestendiek / ohmidog!)
Posted by John Woestendiek April 11th, 2016 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adoptions, animal shelter, bans, behavior, board of commissioners, breed, breeds, changed, chows, greensboro, guilford county, north carolina, pit bulls, pitbulls, policy, rottweilers, shelter, shelters, united animal coalition
A man in Oklahoma decided to use a similar hi-tech strategy to locate a missing dog. He walked through the neighborhood, repeatedly punching the remote that operates the dog’s shock collar, assuming any reaction that produced might help him track her down.
And the man was a dog trainer, no less.
His strategy resulted in one woman being bitten, and in animal cruelty charges being filed against him.
Lukas Miller, who owns the Sit Means Sit franchises in Oklahoma City and Edmond, called Edmond Animal Services after the two-year-old boxer mix chewed through a leash and ran off while being trained.
Miller admitted that, as he searched, he repeatedly triggered the remote, according to a News9 report.
What he didn’t know is that the dog, named Nala, had stopped outside a house, where a woman, seeing the dog in pain, went to her aid.
“She’s an animal lover, so first her instinct was to come outside to see if the dog was OK. As soon as she came outside, the dog got aggressive and lunged at her,” said the woman’s husband, Justin O’Feery.
O’Feery said his wife quickly realized an electronic training collar around Nala’s neck was being activated. When she tried to remove it, the dog bit her.
Miller and the animal services officer arrived at the home after the dog bite had been reported to 911.
“We don’t blame the dog one bit. We’re not mad at the dog. We are mad at the trainer,” O’Feery added.
A spokesperson for Miller said Nala, who he was training for the dog’s owner, was being taken for a bathroom break when she chewed through her leash and ran off.
He called animal control and began searching for the dog immediately because she had a reputation for being aggressive with humans and other dogs. It was Nala’s first training session, the spokesperson said.
A lawyer representing the dog trainer said he plans to fight the charge. A court hearing is scheduled for later this week.
According to the Sit Means Sit website, Miller was an Air Force fire protection specialist for eight years before becoming a dog trainer.
Sit Means Sit says it sometimes uses a “a proprietary remote electronic training collar” that gives dogs a “slight tingle” when necessary to get their attention. The collar works for up to half a mile.
According to the spokesperson, Nala, after being held in quarantine, finished up her training sessions, and that her owner was “super happy” with the results.
Posted by John Woestendiek April 8th, 2016 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, behavior, bite, dog, dog bite, dog trainer, dogs, edmond, electricity, idiot, lukas miller, oklahoma, oklahoma city, pets, remote, shock collars, sit means sit, training, zapping