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?
Posted by John Woestendiek September 4th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: 2 broke girls, animal, animals, animation, apps, behavior, dog, dogs, ellen, humanize, humanizing, internet, itunes, my talking pet, pets, species, superior, talking, talking dog videos, talking dogs, technology, words
This boneheaded bloke decided his dog should take the Ice Bucket Challenge, and now the RSPCA is investigating.
Here’s hoping they track him down and file charges (and that he gets a taste of the prison cell challenge).
I have no problem with humans dumping buckets of ice water on their own heads to raise money for ALS research. But let’s not force it on our dogs.
This video shows a teenage boy in London tossing his dog, head first, into a bucket of freezing water.
“‘Here’s my dog and she’s doing the ice bucket challenge,” he says. “She wants to nominate all the other dogs here and all the cats as well, yeah.”
The RSPCA is concerned others — given the Ice Bucket Challenge’s viral nature and the lemming-like behavior of many humans — might try to copy the asinine stunt.
“It is likely that the puppy in the footage could have been caused distress, if not harm, and we are very concerned that others would think this is appropriate,” a spokesperson said. “Causing unnecessary suffering to an animal is an offence under law and we would strongly urge people not to copy this video.”
Most of the videos I’ve seen of dogs having the Ice Bucket Challenge inflicted upon them have been cute and harmless, involving cups and only small amounts of water.
But there will always be jackasses who want to take things to greater extremes. If they want to try the ice block challenge, or the anvil from a rooftop challenge, they should have at it — but only as long as they use their own heads.
Posted by John Woestendiek August 26th, 2014 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: als, animal cruelty, animals, behavior, challenge, dogs, dogs and the ice bucket challenge, fundraising, gimmicks, humans, ice bucket challenge, ice bucket challenge dogs, ice water, pets
Here’s a sweet little story out of Albany, Minnesota, where a dog named River — described as part pointer, part “Walmart greeter” — serves as both friend and inspiration to many in the small town.
River lost the use of his hind legs after being attacked by two larger dogs while out on a walk.
But he has persevered, and — aided by a set of wheels — he’s enjoying his walks as much, if not more, than he ever did, his owners say.
Carol Mader says River seems more concerned about the people around him since his injury.
“He pulls out the people, I think, that are hurting.” she told KARE11. “It’s just like he senses they need attention.”
“He has no use of the back legs at all,” says her husband, Herby. “Probably a lot of dogs would give up, you know, where he’s not.”
River’s veterinarian Dr. Wendy Womack calls the 11-year-old dog “a regular icon” in Albany, a town of about 2,600.
The Maders take River for walks four or five times a day, during which he makes new friends and revisits old ones.
“…I always see him every day, twice a day, three times.” says Ron Koczur, who lost a leg to diabetes and greets River from his wheelchair. “Even though he’s lost of a couple limbs, he’s still happy and proud.”
Posted by John Woestendiek August 20th, 2014 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: albany, animals, behavior, cart, disability, dog, dogs, empathy, friends, handicaps, minnesota, perseverance, pets, pointer, river, sensitivity, social, walks, wheel chair, wheelchair, wheels
We can’t tell whether this dining dog appreciates the musical accompaniment this cockatiel is providing.
On the one hand, the dog doesn’t gobble up the bird, snarl or bark at it, or make the slightest effort to make it go away.
On the other hand, the dog — in what’s uncommon behavior for most members of the species — does leave before finishing the meal.
We could spend hours trying to interpret things, or fretting about the potential dangers of this situation — and you can be sure, on the Internet, many are doing just that.
Instead, we’re just going to enjoy it.
Posted by John Woestendiek August 7th, 2014 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, behavior, bird, bird and dog, cockatiel, dog, dog and cockatiel, eating, eating dog, interspecies, pets, relationships, species, video
A family in western Pennsylvania says their schnauzer got so excited about seeing their daughter for the first time in two years that she passed out — the schnauzer, that is.
A video of the reunion was posted on YouTube four days ago.
Rebecca Svetina and her husband, Miha, have been living in Slovenia and returned home to have a wedding reception at the home of Rebecca’s parents in Murrysville.
Miha was recording the reunion to show his relatives overseas how excited Casey gets when Rebecca returns home, but this time, something happened that never happened before – Casey passed out.
“We never expected her to pass out, but luckily she’s fine,” Rebecca told WTAE in Pittsburgh.
“I think our hearts stopped a little bit as well until she came back and started running around, and we knew everything would be OK,” said Miha.
Both were surprised when the video of the 9-year-old schnauzer went viral — approaching 17 million views by this morning — and prompting calls from news organizations around the world.
The next day, we woke up to a crazy day. The views went sky high,” Miha Svetina said. “It’s so genuine. It’s so cute. There are so many things going on in the world. People are actually excited when they see something so nice and dogs are just awesome.”
Posted by John Woestendiek July 28th, 2014 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, behavior, casey, dog, dogs, emotions, faints, family, murrysville, passed out, passes out, pennsylvania, pets, rebecca svetina, reunion, reunions, schnauzer, slovenia, video, viral, viral video
This mostly friendly game of soccer between a dog and a turtle gets a little rough at times — but then so does human soccer.
Valeria D’Innocenzo Carlantoni in Civitavechia, Italy, a small town near Rome, posted the video of her dog and an unusually speedy turtle on her Facebook page.
At the very end of it, the turtle, after having the ball taken away, appears to snap at the dog’s hind leg.
Where have we seen that before?
Posted by John Woestendiek July 9th, 2014 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: 2014, animals, ball, behavior, bit, bite, bites, bitten, dog, dogs, funny, humans, pets, play, snap, soccer, sport, suarez, turtle, videos, world cup
It may take two to tango, but fetch is a game that can be played solo, assuming you’re a dog with a catapult in your back yard.
This video was posted on YouTube last month, under the title, “This is What Happens When an Engineer Owns a Dog.”
An anonymous dog owner apparently built the contraption, then taught his dog to operate it.
Rocks, as opposed to softer projectiles, seem to the object of choice for this dog, who places a tennis ball-sized stone on the launch pad then jumps twice on the other end of the board, activating a spring that sends the rock flying across the yard.
The dog fetches it, and repeats the process.
The video was featured on the website of yesterday’s New York Daily News.
Posted by John Woestendiek June 4th, 2014 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, back yard, backyard, balls, behavior, catapult, contraption, dog, dog training, dogs, engineer, fetch, fetching, games, homemade, pets, play, rocks, solo, video