If I had a cat — and I don’t — I would never let it play video games.
Why would anyone want to take an animal that is always so joyously in the moment — in the natural moment — and immerse it in an artificial, non-tactile, monotonously repetitious, pixelated, and quite possibly addicting world where time passes in a blur?
To take the house pet perhaps best known for being able to make a game out of anything — string, toilet paper roll, dust bunny — and put a $200 iPad in front of it so it can paw at virtual fish? That just strikes me as wrong.
It might be fun for you to watch the first time, and it might even be amusing for the feline for a while.
But then it becomes more obsession than play, and your feline, once a wildly imaginative beast with an admirable knack for making anything fun, is stalking the room, zombie-like, Jonesing for his iPad.
Then, when you try to take their iPads away, they become evil tantrum-throwing monsters who no longer see joy, mystery and adventure in something as mundane as a cardboard box or paper bag.
Sure, it is all starting out innocently enough. Remember, though, we humans started with Pong before progressing to virtual murder and mayhem. If history is any indication cat computer play will progress into darker realms — to the point where cats are tuning the real world out and, albeit virtually, engaging in pretend sex and violence, car theft even, on their computers.
Am I exaggerating to ridiculous proportions? Clearly. But seriously, taking the long view, is this best for cats?
Or will we, with all good intentions, slowly drive them insane?
How long, for example, can you watch this before feeling a certain panic in your soul?
Video games for cats have been catching on for several years now — to the point that even some animal shelters have turned to them.
The Regina Humane Society in Canada turned to iPads last year to keep their resident cats occupied and engaged.
“This is just another way, another tool in our toolbox that allows us to keep our animals healthy and happy while they’re awaiting their special someone who’s going to take them home forever,” said Lisa Koch, executive director.
“Owned cats around the world have apps that they play with on their owners [iPads], and it’s something that we’ve adopted here at the Humane Society for cats who don’t have families to make the environment that they’re living in more stimulating for them mentally.”
Koch said these programs are meant to keep cats active and stimulate them mentally.
Stimulate? Maybe. But does laying down and pawing a mouse on a $200 screen keep a cat more active than batting an actual $1.29 play mouse around the room and chasing it?
Lost, too, if we let cats live their nine lives in the virtual world, is interaction with humans. High-tech pet toys that bill themselves as “interactive” have a way of removing a human’s resolve to spend one-on-one time with their pet, to the point where they no longer feel much need to do so. It’s like setting child in front of TV set for three hours.
The Regina Humane Society does good and noble work, and maybe in a shelter situation, where it’s challenging to keep all the animals occupied, something like this is acceptable.
On the other hand, cats are already the ultimate game inventors. We should be pinpointing what is in them — a play gene? — that makes them so able to look at a spool of thread, a pencil, a puzzle piece, and see an amusement park.
Instead, we appear headed to making them as addicted to the computer screen as we are?
Posted by John Woestendiek January 10th, 2017 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animal shelters, animals, apps, canada, cat, cat apps, cat games, cat toys, cats, dangers, fish, games, high tech, interactive, ipad, laser games, lasers, mice, petns, play, regina humane society, screen, stimulation, technology, toys, video
Video of a sled dog and a polar bear becoming buddies in northern Manitoba last weekend has gone viral, but it may not have been the stunning, pure and heartwarming moment in nature it was — and still is being — described as.
CBC reported yesterday that just days before the video, in a moment not captured on camera, a polar bear killed one of the rare sled dogs being raised on the same property.
And some officials are questioning whether the property owner, who runs a sled dog sanctuary on the land, might be illegally feeding the bears to lure them onto his property, which in turn draws tourists, which in turn supplement his income.
Initially, the videotaped moment was described as a warm and tender meeting between two species.
The video was shot and posted to YouTube by David De Meulles, a heavy-duty mechanic in Churchill, who moonlights as a tour guide for a friend, Brian Ladoon.
Ladoon operates the Mile 5 Dog Sanctuary in Churchill, where he cares for a rare breed of sled dog and supplements his income by allowing tours of the property, mostly by tourists interested in spotting polar bears.
On Saturday, De Meulles drove two clients out to Ladoon’s property in hopes of seeing some polar bears, and they watched as the polar bear approached the dog.
“I had no idea what was going to happen, and then sure enough he (the polar bear) started petting that dog, acted like he was a friend,” David De Meulles said. “I just so happened to catch a video of a lifetime.”
“I’ve known the bears to have somewhat friendly behavior with the dogs, but for a bear to pet like a human would pet a dog is just mind-blowing,” De Meulles initially told CBC.
“It was a beautiful sight to see, and I just can’t believe an animal that big would show that kind of heart toward another animal.”
But a few days later, CBC reported that a Manitoba Sustainable Development spokesperson confirmed that three polar bears had to be removed from Ladoon’s property the previous week after one of them killed a sled dog.
“Conservation officers had to immobilize a bear in that area last week and move it to the holding facility because it killed one of his dogs,” the spokesperson told CBC. “A mother and cub were also removed because there were allegations the bears were being fed and the females’ behavior was becoming a concern.”
Under Manitoba’s Endangered Species and Ecosystem Act, “No person shall kill, injure, possess, disturb or interfere with an endangered species, a threatened species, or an extirpated species that has been reintroduced.”
“The protection of polar bears is of utmost importance and interfering with their natural behavior will not be tolerated,” the spokesman added.
Other critics of Ladoon’s operation expressed concern about the dog in the video being chained — making it bait for a polar bear.
“The dog was chained up and they’re totally vulnerable,” said Ian Stirling, an adjunct professor at the University of Alberta. “Inuit (hunters) over the years in the high Arctic have told me that if you want a dog to act as a guard dog, you have to leave it off a chain. Because if it’s on a chain it knows it’s vulnerable and it won’t bark.”
The practice of feeding the bears also places the bears in danger, he added.
“Any situation that brings bears in to feed in an unnatural situation in association with human beings, I think, should not take place at all,” he said. It could lead the bears to equate the presence of humans and dogs with the availability of food and lead them to enter more populated areas.
“It’s basically a death sentence for the bears,” he said.
Ladoon, meanwhile, admits to caring for both the dogs and the bears, and indicated that whatever happens on his land is “nature’s will.”
Posted by John Woestendiek November 18th, 2016 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, arctic, canada, chained, churchill, dog, dogs, friends, head, manitoba, natural, nature, pat, pets, polar bear, polar bear and dog, sanctuary, sled dog, species, tied, unnatural, video, youtube
A family who fled from Aleppo after a missile hit their home has been reunited with the dog they had to leave behind.
The reunion in Montreal, where the family now lives, came after a family member sent an email to SPCA International seeking help.
“I left Syria urgently with my mom and my brother, but we left our lovely dog, Fox, in Aleppo, Syria. We left him with our dad in a very dangerous area named Syrian El-Jadideh. Please help us bring our Fox [to Montreal]. Mom [is] always crying. She is extremely worried about Fox.”
In addition to the disabled father, an elderly grandmother and the dog remained in Syria when the mother and her two sons left the country, not long after a missile struck their home in 2015.
Fox was taken from Aleppo to Damascus and across the border to Lebanon by car, before being flown to Germany, and finally to Canada’s Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport on Sept. 26, where his family was waiting for him.
“It was a great feeling seeing Fox again. He was in our thoughts for so long and it felt like something was missing,” said Gaby Andrawos, one of the sons. “It felt like a very important part of our lives was missing for a long time and we finally got him back.”
Posted by John Woestendiek October 10th, 2016 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: aleppo, animals, canada, dog, dogs, fled, fox, home, missile, montreal, pets, refugees, reunion, reunited, reunites, syria, syrian
Until then, outraged owners and an outraged community will try to work through their anger — much of which is being expressed on the Facebook page of the Playful Paws Pet Centre in Saskatoon.
“You better lawyer up,” one irate owner warned. “The fact you knew that overheating occurs and have no temperature monitoring, what the **** is wrong with you. You better get a lawyer because I will make it my personal mission to shut your negligent business down. Absolutely unforgivable my dog dies under your watch. By Christ I will never forgive you.”
The kennel’s post about the deaths has drawn close to 600 comments — some from families of the victims, nearly all expressing outrage.
Despite having knowledge of a faulty heater, the kennel — which boasts of providing 24-hour supervision — left the dogs unattended in an upstairs kennel room overnight Friday.
Though a mild evening, the heater pumped hot air into the room all night and the dogs all died of suspected heat-related causes.
In a statement on its Facebook page, Playful Paws said “staff and management … are devastated to acknowledge the loss of life of 14 dogs on early Saturday morning. We are incredibly saddened by this travesty of life and cannot express enough our sympathy to the families of these dogs…
“A mechanical failure on one of our roof top heating units caused it to continuously push heat into one of our upstairs kennel rooms, to the point that the dogs being kept there passed away.
“We love our dogs and each of our team is trying to personally cope with this terrible loss. Having said that we understand that our pain is small compared to the loss that is being experienced by our dog’s owners. Our sincerest of sympathy goes out to all of these individuals and the family and friends who loved these dogs.”
A former employee of the kennel said management was well aware of ventilation problems and other health issues.
“A proper kennel exchanges its air four to six times an hour. They did not have any type of fresh air exchange for the entire building,” dog trainer Fred Glawischnighe told CBC.
Among the 14 dogs being cared for at the kennel was an autism service dog named Ardie who belonging to 6-year-old Easton Irwin, who waited three years to get him.
Kelsey Friesen said she was informed on Saturday that her four-year-old daughter’s dog, a catahoula mix named Kali, was one of the 14 dogs that perished.
“It’s her best friend and now we have to tell her that her dog is not coming home,” she told CBC News.
Acadia McKague’s Funeral Centre will be holding a public memorial for the families Saturday.
(Photos provided by families)
Posted by John Woestendiek September 14th, 2016 under Muttsblog.
Tags: 14 dogs, animals, autism, boarding, canada, dead, deaths, died, facility, faulty, fourteen dogs, health, heat, heat related, heating, ignored, kennel, malfunction, pets, playful paws, playful paws pet centre, safety, saskatchewan, saskatoon, service dog, system, ventilation, warnings
Pit bulls could end up being banned from all of Quebec — as they are from all of Ontario.
Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard said Thursday the province will probably follow Ontario’s lead in outlawing pit bulls and other “dangerous dogs.”
Public Security Minister Martin Coiteux said officials will “definitely do something significant” by fall, after more research into what other breeds of dogs should be included in any ban.
Ontario’s pit bull ban was enacted in 2005 after several highly publicized cases of people being badly injured in pit bull attacks.
The legislation banned ownership of new pit bulls, placed restrictions on existing pit bulls, and toughened the penalties for the owners of any dog that poses a danger to the public.
In Quebec, at least four local governments around Montreal have announced pit bull bans — all in the two weeks after the death of Christiane Vadnais, a 55-year-old woman who was found dead in her own backyard after a suspected pit bull attack.
Montreal Mayor Dennis Coderre announced Saturday morning that the city plans to amend its animal control bylaws to ban acquisition of new pit bull dogs in Montreal. All existing pit bulls would have to be sterilized and wear muzzles when they are in public.
In Quebec City, Mayor Regis Labeaume announced that, starting Jan. 1, 2017, pit bulls will be prohibited and anyone caught with one will be subject to a fine of up to $1,000 for a first offense.
Candiac, which just lifted its pit bull ban two months ago, will stop licensing pit bulls in August, while waiting to see what action the province takes.
Brossard will vote on a proposed ban next month. Brossard Mayor Paul Leduc says the city has been looking at a ban since an eight-year-old was bitten in the face by a pit bull at a park last summer.
The head of Montreal’s Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals described Montreal’s ban as “knee jerk.”
“If we are trying to find a way to reduce the number of animal bites in a community by starting with how the animal may look, we are starting down the wrong path,” said SPCA executive director Nicholas Gilman.
“It is a rabbit hole that doesn’t lead to effective results. Instead, let’s focus on how animals become aggressive in the first place and work from there.”
(Photo: CBC News)
Posted by John Woestendiek June 20th, 2016 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, bans, breed, brossard, canada, candiac, cities, dogs, laws, montreal, muzzles, ontario, pets, pit bull, pit bull bans, pit bulls, pitbull, pitbulls, provinces, quebec, quebec city, restrictions, specific, sterilization, towns
In 2005, Ontario passed a law designed to purge the province of pit bulls.
“Over time, it will mean fewer pit bull attacks and, overall, fewer attacks by dangerous dogs,” attorney general Michael Bryant told the Ontario legislature back then.
Time has proved him wrong — at least in Toronto.
The number of dog bites has been rising since 2012, and in 2013 and 2014 reached their highest levels this century, even as pit bulls neared extinction, according to a report in Global News.
It’s just the latest evidence that pit bull bans don’t work.
Under the Ontario law, pit bull terriers, American Staffordshire terriers, Staffordshire bull terriers and American pit bull terriers — and any dog who had that pit bull “look” — had to be kept muzzled or leashed in public and get sterilized within two months of the bill’s passage.
The law allowed those who already owned pit bulls to keep them under those conditions, but breeding pit bulls, or bringing them into the province, was outlawed.
If you owned a pit bull type dog, and it was born after the law went into effect, your dog was — and still is — subject to being sent out of the province or euthanized.
Ten years after the law’s passage, most of those grandfathered pit bulls are dead or dying.
There were only 338 registered in Toronto in 2014, down from 1,411 in 2005.
By the year 2020, pit bulls are expected to no longer exist in the Canadian province.
But the law’s primary desired effect — cutting down on dog attacks and dog bites — clearly hasn’t been achieved.
In 2004, 567 dog bites were recorded in the city. Reports indicate 86 of those bites came from dogs designated as pit bulls. The only breed with more was German Shepherds, with 112 reported bites.
In 2014, there were 767 dog bites in Toronto — only 19 of them by pit bulls.
In 2014, German shepherds were involved in most of the city’s dog bites, and Labrador retrievers had moved up into second place.
Nobody has proposed outlawing them — at least not yet.
(Photo: Chart from globalnews.ca; photo by John Woestendiek / ohmidog!)
Posted by John Woestendiek February 22nd, 2016 under Muttsblog.
Tags: american pit bull terriers, american staffordshire terriers, animals, attacks, bans, bites, breed ban, breed specific legislation, bsl, canada, dog bites, dogs, ontario, pets, pit bull, pit bull terriers, pit bulls, pitbulls, safety, Staffordshire bull terriers, toronto
A dog at a Canadian pet motel and foster care center broke out of her kennel and positioned herself outside the kennel of two whimpering foster puppies spending their first night there.
The center’s employees had gone home for the night, but when one checked surveillance cameras they saw that a dog named Maggie had somehow gotten out of her kennel and was sitting in front of the kennels the puppies were in.
When Maggie indicated she wanted to be with the pups, Sandy let her into that kennel.
“Sandy stayed in there for about 15 minutes and then said, ‘Well it looks like they need each other,’ and then let Maggie stay the night in their kennel,” Alex Aldred, who also works at Barker’s Pet Motel and Grooming in St. Albert, explained.
“When we came back in the morning they were all still cuddled up together,” he added.
Turns out Maggie had recently had a litter of her own, and all the pups she gave birth to had been adopted.
“We think that’s why she got so attached to the puppies,” Aldred told ABC News. “We’ve never really seen it before, where a dog sneaks out to some puppies and is so excited to see them.”
Deanna Thompson, who works at the Alberta Animal Rescue Crew Society (AARCS), the organization that rescued the puppies, said she was not surprised by what Maggie did.
“It’s innate in a lot of female dogs, especially if they’ve had a litter in the past. It’s just in their nature. We’ve seen it in a lot of dogs, even with male dogs, when they hear other puppies crying they want to console them and make sure they’re feeling safe.”
(Photos: ABC News)
Posted by John Woestendiek February 4th, 2016 under Muttsblog.
Tags: alone, animals, barker's pet motel, cage, cameras, canada, center, comfort, comforts, crying, dog, dogs, foster, foster puppies, kennel, maggie, pet motel, pets, puppies, rescue, shelters, st. albert, surveillance, whimpering