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Tag: big dog

Is Fox News biased (against big dogs)?

Of all the adoptable pet segments we’ve seen on local TV news, this one — featuring a large dog named Titus — might be our favorite.

Right off the bat, we’d say a dog who has been labeled as one who “needs to live alone” — code for not getting along with other dogs — probably shouldn’t appear on a live TV adoption segment with other dogs.

In the video above, Titus appears on the Fox morning show Good Day New York with animal activist Cornelia Guest and two other dogs — “little treasures,” as she calls them, named Arabella and Nonny.

An 8-year-old Saint Bernard, Titus “wants to be the only dog, he doesn’t want to be with other brothers and sisters,” Guest — a vegan, socialite, caterer and animal activist — explains, while holding the two smaller dogs, just a few feet away, in her arms.

Titus, though neither the show hosts nor Guest seem to notice, is sitting like a statue, entirely focused on the two small dogs as the hosts ask Guest what he likes to eat.

It’s right about then that Titus begins advancing in the direction of the smaller dogs — and Guest’s face, just for a moment, takes on the horrified look of someone who is about to be dinner.

Being a Saint Bernard, Titus is not to be swayed, and even though Guest tries to spin out of his way, he still manages to get in a good sniff of one of her little treasures, which is probably all he wanted in the first place.

After that, he’s tugged out of camera range by a stage hand, and remains out of view for the rest of the segment, in which Guest goes on to tout the other dogs — as well as the vegan chocolate chip cookies her company makes.

All this leads us to ask, did Titus get the respect he deserved when he appeared on Good Day New York? It seemed every remark the hosts made about him was based on big dog stereotypes. It seems he was rudely led off camera for merely wanting to satisfy his sniffer.

Might Fox News, in addition to all the others it so closely holds, have a bias against big dogs?

Compare and contrast the first video with how respectfully Titus was treated, and how calmly he behaved, in an earlier adoptable dog segment on New York’s CBS2. He was quiet and reserved — even though there, too, he was paired with another dog.

We won’t go so far as to suggest there is a different, more dog eat dog, more hate and fear mongering vibe in the Fox News studios, and that maybe Titus was picking up on that. (Woops, I think we just did.)

We’ll just say that this proves dogs, unlike Fox News folk, are unpredictable.

Perhaps I’m biased, and perhaps it’s mean to add this, but I definitely detect a higher degree of on-air air-headedness among the Fox hosts than their CBS counterparts.

I base this on their comments, such as:

She: “I hope Titus doesn’t take a bite of your … whiteus.”

He: “I’ve got a new name for him, Cujo.”

He: “This is a great big dog. I think it’s one of those St. Bernards that usually … they have whiskey and they find those stranded mountain hikers.”

He: “Oh, is he not supposed to go near that dog? He’s not biting them is he?”

All that said, and while admitting to our anti-Fox News bias, we think any network, station or news outlet that uses valuable time/space to showcase adoptable dogs can’t be all bad.

Titus is available for adoption at the Humane Society of New York, as are those little treasures, Nonny and Arabella.

Drones and droids and robot dogs, oh my!

The older I get the more wary I become of technology.

What I haven’t figured out is whether one necessarily follows the other: Am I just becoming more fearful as I age, or is technology proving itself more worth fearing?

Both are unstoppable forces. Just as one can’t stop the march of time (even with anti-aging technology), one can’t stop the march of technology.

It keeps coming — whether it’s wise or not, safe or not — and we all blindly jump on board and become dependent on it. If it makes us prettier, gets us where we’re going, let’s us accomplish things more quickly, or function without actually using our brains, we humans are generally all for it.

Already we’re reliant on the Internet, GPS, and cell phones. Already we can purchase almost anything we want online. But the day may soon come when, once we order it, it gets delivered by a robot, perhaps a flying one, or a terrain-traversing one, or one capable of hurling 35-pound cinder blocks 17 feet.

I would say these robot dogs could become the newspaper delivery boys of tomorrow, if newspapers had a tomorrow.

droneLast month 60 Minutes revealed that Amazon was working on drones that will be able to fly to homes and deliver packages at our doorstep.

Last week the New York Times reported that Google has purchased Boston Dynamics, the engineering firm that designed the graceful beast known as “Big Dog” (seen in the video above) and other animal-like robots, mostly for the Pentagon.

It is the eighth robotics company that Google has acquired in the last half-year, but Google’s not divulging what it’s up to.

Given search engines don’t generally need to climb mountains, or hurl cinder blocks, to find their information, one can only wonder.

Is the company branching into war machines? Does it want to corner the market on robot pets? (Boston Dynamics did serve as consultant on Sony’s ill-fated pet robot dog, Aibo.) Is it hoping to take Google Earth one step further and have robots take photographs through our windows? Or, more likely, is Google, like Amazon, positioning itself to become the place where you buy everything, and working on lining up a delivery team whose members don’t require salary, or health insurance, or coffee and pee breaks?

It almost looks like Amazon is poised to cover air delivery, while Google, with its latest purchase, is positioning itself to cover the ground. (That, at least until Big Dog becomes amphibious, leaves the high seas open — aye, aye robot! — for, say, a Yahoo, Bing or eBay).

biigdogBoston Dynamics, based in Waltham, Mass., builds animal-like machines that can traverse smooth or rocky terrain, some of them at speeds faster than a human. Most of its projects have been built under contracts with Pentagon clients like the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA.

Google executives said the company would honor existing military contracts held by Boston Dynamics, but that it did not plan to become a military contractor on its own.

So why does it need computers with legs, or robots that can climb walls and trees? Surely Google isn’t working on ”Terminators” that can track you down, knock on your door and provide you with the top 10 recipes for apple crumb cake.

The Times reports:  ”… Executives at the Internet giant are circumspect about what exactly they plan to do with their robot collection. But Boston Dynamics and its animal kingdom-themed machines bring significant cachet to Google’s robotic efforts … The deal is also the clearest indication yet that Google is intent on building a new class of autonomous systems that might do anything from warehouse work to package delivery and even elder care.”

EVEN ELDER CARE? Oy, robot! I do not want a robot dispensing my medication if I end up in such a facility. At that time, I will be even more terrified of technology, and the last thing I would want to see would be a robot coming into my room –  no matter how sexy its voice – saying, “Time for your sponge bath.”

I’m not a total Luddite.

I can publish a website or two, and can hook up my cable TV, and can figure out about 10 percent of what my cell phone does.

But I resent how steep the learning curve has become — how much effort is involved in keeping up with technology. That device promising to make life easier — once you spend a week programming it — may be smaller than your little finger, but its owner’s manual will be fatter than a James Michener novel.

What I fear, though, is where technology can lead, especially technology without forethought, and how quickly and blindly many of us hop on the bandwagon, giving little consideration to the possible repercussions, and how easily it can run amok.

The one futuristic (but already here) technology I’ve researched most is dog cloning. Once achieved, the service was offered to pet owners hoping to bring their dead dogs back to life, and willing to pay $150,000 for that to be accomplished in South Korean laboratories. It bothered me so much, and on so many levels, I wrote a whole book about it. You can order it through Amazon, but don’t expect drone delivery for at least a couple more years. Might one day drones deliver our clones?

I realize my fears are both irrational and rational.

Fretting about the future, I guess, is part of getting older. Old fart worries were around back when automobiles first hit the road (and went on to become a leading cause of death). And it’s probably true that once we stop moving forward, we tend to stagnate. But there’s moving forward and smartly moving forward.

I’m not a fan of big government (except when it helps me get health insurance), but I sometimes wonder if we need a federal Department of Whoa, Let’s Take a Look at this First. Maybe it could monitor emerging technologies, and their ramifications, and determine whether they should be allowed to emerge at all. Maybe that would prevent unimaginable (but, with enough research, entirely predictable) things from happening — like cell-phone shaped cancers forming on the exact spot of our bodies where we pack our cell phones.

But we tend to be more reactive than proactive when it comes to those kinds of things. We wait for the damage to be done and leave it to personal injury lawyers to straighten it out — whether it’s a new anti-psychotic drug that unexpectedly made young males grow female breasts, or irreparable harm done by robotic surgical devices. (If you’ve been victim of either, lawyers are standing by to help you. At least that’s what my TV tells me.)

I want to enter my golden years without shiny silver robots assisting me in living, and without drones hovering outside my door (even if they are delivering a good book). Though I’ve met some clones, I wouldn’t mind getting through life without having any contact with droids and drones and robot dogs.

Sometimes, at least from the Fearful Old Man Perspective (FOMP), it seems we’re so focused on the future that we fail to see and appreciate the present, and don’t even begin to learn from the past.

Sometimes it seems we like dancing on the cutting edge, then cry foul when our feet get sliced up.

Sometimes it seems we embrace technology too quickly and casually, when it should be a careful and thoughtful embrace, made with the realization that, as much as technology can make life better, it can also screw it up badly. We tend to view technology in terms of what it can add to our life, not even considering what it might subtract. And, in what’s the biggest danger of all, we tend to let it overrule our hearts and do our thinking for us.

It can save and prolong lives, even, in a way, re-create them. It can make our human lives – though it’s arguable — more convenient.

But it can also gnaw away at us until we become tin men and scarecrows — maybe not actually missing our hearts and brains, but at least forgetting we ever had them.

A case of mistaken identity?

charlotteA mastiff that killed a terrier-Chihuahua mix Thursday at Charlotte’s Frazier Dog Park mistook the smaller dog for his favorite chew toy, according to the man who brought the mastiff to the park.

On Thursday, Maran Heatwole walked into the dog park with her 12-pound dog, Presley. Witnesses said the mastiff, about 140 pounds, picked up Presley and shook her from side to side, reports the Charlotte Observer.

The man who brought the mastiff to the park told the newspaper that the dog had been playing at the park with his favorite toy, a brown stuffed bear. When Presley walked by, he said, the mastiff picked her up because they looked similar.

The newspaper did not identify the man by name, and he declined to give the dog’s name, but he did provide a photo of the toy in question.

He said he feels sorry for Presley’s owner, but pointed out the park has a separate area designated for small dogs, and that Presley should have been there. He said the mastiff was not his, but belongs to his girlfriend’s relatives in Tennessee.

Heatwole drove Presley to Dilworth Animal Hospital after the incident but veterinarians were unable to save the dog.

Heatwole passed the man’s name on to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Animal Care and Control. Officials there said Sunday night that the case is under investigation.

Parks officials said this is the first fatal incident they know of at one of the county’s five dog parks, which have been open for eight years.

Joseph Hawley, Heatwole’s fiance, said the couple is devastated by the loss and plans to lobby for stricter safety regulations for aggressive dogs in parks. “We’re gonna do as much as we can to make sure no other owner or family has to go through this.”

More light shed on Obama dog

President-elect Obama expressed a desire for “a big rambunctious dog,” as opposed to a “yappy,” lap-sitting, “girly dog” in an ABC News interview with Barbara Walters.

Here’s the exchange that took place between Barack and Michele Obama when Walters  suggested that the First Family get the breed of dog she has — a Havanese, which she referred to as a small, “non-allergenic” terrier.

Obama: “But it’s, like, a little yappy dog …”

Mrs. Obama: “Don’t criticize small dogs…”

Obama: “But it, like, sits in your lap and things.”

Mrs. Obama: “Yes, it’s a cute dog.”

Obama: “It sounds kind of like a girly dog … We’re going to have a big rambunctious dog of some sort.”

Walters had sent Michele Obama a picture of her Havanese, Cha Cha, short for Cha Cha Cha. Obama, in the interview, seemed against the idea of a small dog, but, as he also points out in the interview, Michele often gets the last word.

Obama told Walters that his promise of a dog for his daughters, Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7, has produced an avalanche of advice and dog pictures. “We’re getting more advice about this than my economic policy,” he said with a laugh. “No doubt about it.” He also wanted to be certain that his daughters are going to be willing to “scoop the poop” on the White House lawn.

The interview airs at 10 p.m. tonight on “A Barbara Walters Special: Barack and Michele Obama.”