Here’s another special report from your favorite worry wart.
No sooner do I bemoan one high-tech invention for dog owners than another comes rolling along, equally worth fretting about.
This one is a 3-inch remotely controlled orange ball, with a high-def camera inside, that you can watch and listen to on your cell phone.
Its makers boast it will “usher in the future of human-pet interaction.”
Let’s hope not.
It’s called PlayDate, now in the Indygogoing stage, and like many other contraptions hitting the market, it’s designed to make all the time your dog spends alone more bearable for him, and more entertaining and guilt-free for you.
The problem I have with that, as I’ve stated before, is how it lets dog owners shrug off the responsibility of dog ownership and diminishes the bond between dog and owner.
What I fret about is that the “future of human-pet interactions” could be long-distance, computer-assisted, virtual and heartless — exactly opposite of what dogs need, and exactly opposite of the reasons for having a dog in the first place.
A Manhattan inventor has come up with what the New York Post called “the next big thing for man’s best friend.”
Company co-founder Kevin Li says he got the idea for PlayDate after adopting his Rhodesian ridgeback-Lab mix, Hulk, three years ago.
“Looking at his sad face every time I left for work, I realized he … needed more time with his best friend.”
So Li (and we hope he worked from home at least a little bit) invented a ball for Hulk to play with — one he could control remotely, issue commands through, observe his dog through, and make squeak.
An adjunct computer-science professor at Columbia, Li described the $249 gadget as “Fitbit meets iPhone localization.”
He has already raised more than $200,000 on Indiegogo and has sold out of pre-orders.
With the rechargable ball, a pet owner can watch and listen to their pet, take photos, and record video, all from their iOS or Android device.
A stabilized camera inside provides real-time HD images. And a clear, replaceable outer shell protects the inner workings while allowing the camera — slobber aside — to see out clearly.
There are just three simple steps, its makers say: Download the free app, connect to wi-fi and “usher in the future of human-pet interaction.”
Sorry, but talk like that scares me, as do a few other things.
The shell of the ball is made of a strong, chew-resistant polycarbonate, designed to withstand rambunctious play, according to its makers.
I hope that has been well tested, because I’d prefer not to think about what swallowing a little camera and a lithium polymer battery might do to a dog (or cat).
In the world of pet products, many a toy marketed as indestructible has proved otherwise.
Even PlayDate’s makers are saying that part might take some fine tuning:
“As we put PlayDate’s smart ball in front of more dogs and cats, we may discover the need to make aspects of its design more robust; any pet owner will tell you there’s no such thing as an indestructible toy. We have purposefully designed features like the replaceable outer shell with this in mind. Additional design changes may be required as we perform more testing.”
And what, I wonder, will be the effect of communicating with — and issuing orders to — your dog via an orange ball? Seeing an orange ball wandering around the house on its own, and hearing a disembodied voice come from it would, at the very least, be confusing, I’d think.
I’m all for keeping a dog active, engaged and feeling loved when the owner is away. But it’s a mistake to assume that technology can make up for failing to give your dog adequate attention.
And — needless to say — one shouldn’t get a dog in the first place if one is unwilling or unable to give him or her their time.
Face-time, I mean, with no cameras, or wi-fi, or remote controls involved.
Before we usher human-pet interaction “into the future,” it might be wise to question whether we really need to take that trip.
Didn’t we pretty much have it down just fine already — most of us, anyway?
(Photo: from PlayDate’s website)
Posted by John Woestendiek May 3rd, 2016 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, attention, babysitter, ball, bond, camera, communication, dog, dogs, dogs and technology, humans, inventions, pet, pet ownership, pets, playdate, products, remote, remote control, responsibility, technology, toy, toys, wi-fi
An Australian rugby star faces fines of up to $50,000 and has been stripped of his title of club captain after simulating sex with a dog during an Australia Day party he and some of his crew attended.
Most of Mitchell Pearce’s Neanderthal-like behavior (sorry, Neanderthals) was caught on camera.
The full video shows the shirtless Sydney Roosters halfback forcing a woman to kiss him, then picking up the party host’s small dog, saying he was going to have intercourse with it and holding it in his lap while making thrusting motions. The party host also accuses him of urinating on her sofa.
The Daily Telegraph reported that Pearce faces a fine of up to $50,000, will be sacked as captain of the Roosters, suspended from the club’s trip to England for the World Club series and banned for at least six weeks of the season.
The team also reportedly intends to insert a new clause into Pearce’s $750,000 contract, stating it will become void if he is involved in one more off-field scandal.
The RSPCA in New South Wales says that, despite the appalling nature of his simulated act, no animal cruelty charges are forthcoming.
Catharine Lumby, the National Rugby League’s adviser on women’s issues, says Pearce — who was also fined after groping a woman in a Sydney pub two years ago — should be terminated.
“I think he should be stood aside. I think this should be the end of his career,” Lumby told ABC News 24. “The whole thing was an act of disrespect towards the woman. It just sends the wrong message and the NRL has to continue to show leadership on this issue.”
The National Rugby League could impose disciplinary measures against Pearce once the team investigation and a review by the Australian Rugby League are completed.
Pearce’s father serves on the American Rugby League Commission, but news reports say he wouldn’t be involved in any decisions on disciplinary actions against his son.
From all appearances — or at least based on the video — he wasn’t involved in too many when his son was growing up, either.
Posted by John Woestendiek January 28th, 2016 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: arl, camera, captain, caught, club, dog, fines, mitchell pearce, nrl, party, rubgy, sex, simulated, simulation, sports, suspension, sydney roosters, video
On your next family vacation why not let the dog take the photos?
Granted, you’ll likely end up with lots of shots of human knees and other dog’s butts, but you’d be on the cutting edge, technology-wise.
Nikon Asia has introduced “Heartography,” a photographic system that takes photos not just from a dog’s perspective, but — via a shutter trigger activated by increases in the dog’s heart rate — takes them of those subjects that excite a dog the most.
Heartography consists of a heartbeat monitor, a camera and a special housing that includes a shutter trigger activated when the dog’s heart rate rises.
The company video above shows how one dog, Grizzler, became a canine photographer with Nikon’s help.
Nikon Asia is billing the device as one that “turns emotions into photographs.”
CNET calls it more of a gimmick — a “publicity stunt for the Nikon Coolpix L31” — and predicts it won’t catch on.
“The camera and 3D-printed case together are bulky, making the package an unlikely candidate for commercial production,” CNET reported. But the system “does give us a set of amusing images showing off all the things that get a dog excited, like people, upset cats and other dogs.”
Posted by John Woestendiek May 21st, 2015 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: camera, cameras, coolpix, coolpix L31, dogs, grizzler, heart rate, heartography, mounted, nikon, nikon asia, photographs, photography, photos, system, technology, triggers
Not every yellow Lab loves the water.
But those that do tend to do so with that kind of all-out, make-the-most-of-the-moment glee that dogs so often display (and we humans could learn from).
This video — made with a Go Pro camera strapped to his back — shows Walter barreling own a path to the Ionian Sea in Sicily, from the moment he is unleashed until he takes his plunge, narrowly missing taking a few humans in with him.
I try to refrain from ascribing emotions to dogs — not because I don’t think they have any, but because we mere humans never really know what’s in their heads and hearts.
In this case, though, I think it’s safe to say Walter likes the sea.
It’s also safe to say people like watching Walter’s mad dash: It garnered nearly 3 million views in its first three days on YouTube.
Today is my birthday, and here’s my birthday resolution: Be more like Walter.
Posted by John Woestendiek September 5th, 2014 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, camera, dog, dogs, go pro, ionian sea, italy, lab, labrador, labrador retriever, pets, retriever, running, sea, sicily, video, walter, yellow, yellow lab
It’s not every day that you find Fortune magazine covering a dog abuse story.
But when the apparent abuser is CEO of a prominent sports catering company, and the abuse is captured on an elevator surveillance camera, it raises some questions — including, in this case at least, whether he should remain in that position.
Many a dog lover is calling for the immediate firing of Des Hague, CEO of Centerplate, a food service company that runs the concessions at several sports arenas nationwide, including those that are home to the Denver Broncos, Indianapolis Colts and San Francisco 49ers.
Many are suggesting a boycott of the food served by Centerplate at the stadiums it has contracts with.
So, in a way, it is a business story — Hague’s atrocious behavior, public as it has gone, could play a role in the future of the company.
But it’s also a dog story, so you should know that the pup was not seriously injured (at least in a physical way) and has been removed from the care of Hague.
While some reports say Hague was watching the dog for a friend, a spokesperson for the BC SPCA said Hague appears to be the owner of the year-old Doberman Pinscher named Sade.
The BC SPCA is keeping the dog in an undisclosed location, either a shelter or foster arrangement.
This week, Hague released a statement of apology, through his attorney, calling the incident “completely and utterly out of character … I am ashamed and deeply embarrassed… a minor frustration with a friend’s pet caused me to lose control of my emotional response … I would like to extend my apology to my family, company and clients, as I understand that this has also reflected negatively on them.”
Centerplate, based in Connecticut, says it “does not condone the mistreatment of animals by any of its employees” — that’s good to know — and that it was conducting an internal review of the matter.
“Mr. Hague has agreed to attend counseling to address his anger management issues and has publicly expressed he is deeply ashamed and remorseful for his behavior,” the statement continued. “He has apologized to everyone directly involved as well as to the company’s clients and employees, and has pledged a significant, personal, multiyear financial commitment to help support the protection and safety of animals.”
The company’s board of directors says it has ordered Hague to donate $100,000 toward the establishment of the Sade Foundation, named after the dog he mistreated in the elevator, Fox 12 in Oregon reported.
In addition, the board is requiring him to serve 1000 hours of community service at an animal welfare organization.
While those steps might be an attempt to cut off any criminal prosecution, they don’t preclude charges being filed. They do show that the company’s board members — by appointing themselves judge and jury — are aware how serious the public is taking his misdeeds.
Whether the financial donation and community service are voluntary or company-ordered, they still seem a little like Michael Vick’s “redemption” song, which not too many people bought as sincere.
Sorry, rich guys. But forgiveness can’t be achieved by writing a check. Nice as it would be to see Hague pay, and pay, and pay, money doesn’t erase misdeeds. And, as Vick’s dogfighting case showed, dog lovers have a very long and unforgiving memory.
Posted by John Woestendiek August 28th, 2014 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animal cruelty, animals, apology, arena, bc, business, cam, camera, caterer, centerplate, ceo, company, corporate, cruelty to animals, denver broncos, des hague, dog, dogs, elevator, food, image, indianapolis colts, jerked, kicked, memory, pets, public, sade foundation, san francisco 49ers, spca, sports, statement, surveillance, vancouver, video, yanked
As a family in southern Idaho celebrated their son’s 9th birthday inside, a police officer pulled in front of their house, warned two unleashed and barking dogs to get away, then shot one of them, fearing it was going to attack him — all as his dashboard cam recorded the scene.
Warning: The video is disturbing and contains some profanity.
As the police car’s windshield wipers slap away, the officer can be heard telling the dogs to “get back … move!” as he gets out of his car. He can be seen kicking at one dog, then pointing his gun at him — as if a dog would understand that warning.
Then, almost casually it appears, he shoots the dog in the front yard before heading to the family’s front door, while telling dispatchers over the radio, in case they received reports of shots being fired, that it was him: “I just shot the dog.”
In the four minutes that follow he can be heard, but not seen, informing the dog’s owner what happened — mostly by screaming at him:
“Is this your dog? … I just shot your dog because it tried to bite me. Okay? I come here for a f—ing call and it tried to bite me.”
It happened Saturday, when Filer police officer Tarek Hassani arrived to check on a complaint of dogs running at large. The dashboard video was obtained Monday by the Times-News in southern Idaho.
Rick Clubb said his son’s birthday party was wrapping up about 5:30 p.m. when the 7-year-old black Labrador retriever, named Hooch, was shot outside his home.
Clubb said he suffers Parkinson’s disease, and Hooch, who did not survive, was his trained service animal.
Clubb was he plans to fight the ticket Hassani issued him for an unleashed dog. He added, “He didn’t have to pull out his .45 and shoot my dog. It was right outside my son’s bedroom. What if it had ricocheted through the window?”
Filer Police Chief Tim Reeves said Hassani said that the officer had no choice but to shoot the Lab because it was behaving aggressively.
Clearly, Filer police could use some training on how to deal with dogs, other than using lethal force.
Judging from the one-sided conversation Hassani had with Clubb, they could use some training in being civil as well.
“It’s aggressing me. its’ growling at me,” Hassani can be heard telling Clubb minutes after the shooting. ” … I’m not going to get bit. The last time I got bit I ended up in the ER and I ended up with stitches in my hand … Your dog aggresses me … all of it’s teeth are showing, aggressing me, what am I supposed to think? I yelled at it, I even kicked it a couple of times to get it away from me. It kept charging toward me so I shot it … I love dogs, but I’m not going to be bit again.”
“Is he dead?” Clubb finally asks.
“I think so, yes,” Hassani says.
Posted by John Woestendiek February 12th, 2014 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, at large, behavior, birthday party, camera, conversation, dashboard cam, dog, dogs, filer, front yard, hooch, idaho, killed, law enforcement, leash law, parkinson's, pets, police, recorded, rick clubb, service animal, service dog, shoot, shot, tarek hassani, training, unleashed, video
The reason dogs are still around — and probably will still be when we’re not — is their uncanny ability to adapt.
Since wolves were first domesticated, becoming dogs, they’ve been on a continuous learning curve, learning how to live alongside man, and taking advantage of everything from his good nature to his furniture to his kitchen appliances.
Perhaps no breed is more adept at working these angles than beagles. They are master escape artists, wily hunters and accomplished problem solvers whose cuteness and charm trumps those occasions when they are — dare we say it — pains in the ass.
This one found a way to get chicken nuggets out of a toaster oven on the kitchen counter.
And his owner caught her in the act.
After Lucy came under suspicion for the disappearance of a roast that had been cooking in the oven, her owner set up a hidden camera. It caught Lucy as she nudged a chair next to the counter, jumped up on said counter, opened the toaster oven, removed some chicken nuggets, and enjoyed a snack.
“A few weeks before she took a roast out of the oven that had been cooking for a few hours … So I set her up. I put some nuggets in the oven… Pressed record and left,” her owner, Rodd Scheinerman, said on his YouTube post. “This was 7 minutes into the video.”
We present this as proof positive that dogs just keep getting more clever while we humans … well, I’ll refrain from badmouthing an entire species.
But given Lucy’s kitchen skills, and the possibility she could be injured, we think her owner might want to consider limiting her access to the room when he’s not there and the oven is on, maybe with a dog-proof barricade.
A very dog-proof barricade.
Posted by John Woestendiek January 17th, 2014 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: adapt, adaptability, animals, appliances, beagle, beagles, behavior, camera, caught in the act, chicken, clever, dog, dogs, domesticated, domestication, evolution, food, furniture, hidden camera, humans, kitchen, nuggets, oven, pets, toaster oven, video