Reading stories about technological advances hitting the marketplace often makes me roll my eyes — because many of those so-called innovations, in my view, are like those new clothes that emperor wore.
Case in point, fitness trackers — those devices you wear on your wrist to remind you to get off your duff. Perhaps they perform some more vital functions, but based on a TV ad — pretty much the extent of my knowledge about them — they will buzz or beep if you’ve been sitting still too long (which most often is a result of earlier technology, i.e. the computer and television).
If that weren’t ridiculous enough, there are also (eye roll) fitness trackers for dogs.
Forbes reports that Whistle, the maker of a fitness tracker for your dog, is raising $16 million in a Series B venture capital round, bringing its total funding to $25 million.
In other words, a lot of people with money believe in it.
Whistle’s $100 Fitbit-like dog collar features a 3-axis accelerometer to track movement, Bluetooth for connecting with your smartphone, WiFi, and an app that collects fitness data, allowing you to track the activity level of your dog.
Whistle has acquired Snaptracs, which makes Tagg, a GPS tracker for your dog that — in addition to tracking movement — also includes a temperature sensor to make sure your dog doesn’t get too hot or cold.
The interest of such companies is understandable, given society is nuts about gizmos, apps and pets. On the latter alone, Americans spent $58.51 billion last year, according to the American Pet Products Association.
I’m all for any device that helps find dogs when they’re lost, but really now, do we need devices to let us know whether our dogs are too hot, too cold, and getting enough exercise?
We already have two devices for that, called eyes. And better yet, they are rollable, and don’t need recharging.
(Maybe someday there will be a wristband I can wear that notifies me when I am rolling my eyes — and reminds me, perhaps with a gentle zap of electricity, that it’s not an attractive trait.)
We’re in danger of letting silly gizmos replace our common sense, while gizmo-making companies get rich on our gullibility.
That’s how my rolling eyes see it; others see it differently. As Whistle CEO and founder Ben Jacobs explains:
“As the Internet of Things moves into these initial areas, people are looking at other key parts of life,” he is quoted as saying in the Forbes article. “The pet is a member of the family and an interesting vertical in the Internet of Things.”
Is there an app to translate that?
Posted by John Woestendiek January 30th, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, apps, collar, collars, collection, data, device, dog, dogs, eye roll, fit, fitbit, fitness, gizmos, gps, pets, products, snaptrac, tagg, technology, wearable, whistle, wristbands
That stray dog who was found toting an old black and white photo in his collar has a new home.
But there’s still no answer to who the mystery man in the photo is, or was.
The 2-year-old pit bull mix, nicknamed Soldier, was found in Greenville, S.C., on Jan. 13. He was adopted by a new owner Sunday, Fox News reports.
Back in January, the dog was picked up and brought to Greenville County Animal Care. While checking him for ID, animal control officers found an old black and white photo stuck inside a pouch in his collar.
The photo was of a man, possibly in uniform, leaning against a fence post.
Animal Care staff named the dog Soldier, posted the old photo and photos of the dog on its Facebook page, and hoped to find some answers.
Instead, they mostly got questions — as in “can I adopt him?”
Hundreds of calls were received — none identifying the dog or man, but many from people interested in adopting Soldier.
The best fit was determined to be Julie Hensley, who saw him on Facebook and drove from her home in Virginia, in the snow, to pick him up.
Posted by John Woestendiek February 18th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adopt, adopted, adoption, animal care, animal control, animals, black and white, collar, dog, dogs, facebook, found, greenville, greenville county, lost, mix, new home, pets, photo, photograph, pit bull, rescue, shelter, soldier, south carolina, stray
Animal control officers who picked up a stray last month in Greenville, S.C., face a double mystery as they try to track down the identity of a dog, and of a man pictured in an old black-and-white photo found inside the dog’s collar.
Susan Bufano, community relations coordinator with Greenville County Animal Care, said the dog was not neutered or microchipped.
There was no identification on the dog’s collar.
Under the collar, though, a wrinkled black-and-white photo, carrying no name or date, was found.
The stray dog, described as skinny and well-behaved, was given the name Soldier.
Bufano said the dog’s is about two years old, and the collar appeared relatively new.
“It’s so bizarre,” she said. “Absolutely anything is possible.”
Bufano told ABC News that the collar was an unusual one — extra wide, with a built in pouch.
The shelter posted photos of the dog, the collar and the unidentified man on its Facebook page, but no substantial leads had surfaced as of last night.
Bufano hopes that publicity about the dog and the mystery photo could lead to some answers, including who owned the dog.
“This photo should mean something to somebody,” she said.
Soldier is, as of now, available for adoption.
But the shelter has limited space, and it’s possible Soldier could be euthanized if he goes unclaimed.
Anyone with information about Soldier is encouraged to contact Greenville County Animal Care at 864-467-3990.
(Photos: Courtesy of Greenville County Animal Care)
Posted by John Woestendiek January 23rd, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal care, animal control, animals, black and white, collar, dog, dog carrying photo, dogs, greenville, greenville county animal care, identity, investigation, mystery, pets, photo, photograph, pit bull, pit bulls, pitbull, pitbulls, pouch, soldier, south carolina, stray, who, wide
Jon C. Sabin, ordered by a judge last week to stop training and selling service dogs to families of sick children, says any instances of his dogs not performing properly were the fault of the families.
“The dogs are trained when I’m there, but after I leave everything goes to hell in a handbasket,” said Sabin, who was accused by the New York Attorney General’s Office of duping more than a dozen families into believing the dogs he sold them — for as much as $20,000 each — were trained.
Sabin, who ran Seizure Alert Dogs For Life, was ordered by a judge last week to never again train or sell service dogs.
He has promised to fight the ruling, all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary, according to the Watertown Daily Times.
Sabin said families who have complained about their dogs have only themselves to blame — for not following through with the training plans that he made for them and for treating the service dogs like pets even though he advised them not to, according to Syracuse.com
“You don’t put these dogs in your bed. You don’t give them meatballs from the kitchen table,” Sabin said.
Sabin was sued by state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman for selling more than a dozen families untrained dogs he said could detect and control seizures in their ill children.
Court papers described how the families paid thousands of dollars for the dogs only to find they couldn’t detect seizures, much less do anything about them.
Sabin says he suffers from epileptic seizures, and that he developed his program after his medication failed to control them. Sabin estimated that, since 2009, he has sold and trained about 50 dogs
Not all of his customers are unhappy. The Stevens family in Washington D.C. bought a dog from Sabin three years ago for their son, Andrew, who has a severe form of epilepsy. The dog has detected hundreds of seizures and swiped the magnet on her collar over Andrew’s chest, activating a device in the child’s chest that stimulates his vagus nerve and stops the seizure, according to the family.
The state says Sabin “deceptively promoted dogs as ‘highly trained service dogs,’ when in fact he undertook no steps to select appropriate dogs for service work, nor did he undertake any relevant training of these animals prior to selling them.”
A judge last Tuesday issued permanent injunctions prohibiting Sabin and his company from advertising or selling dogs trained to assist people suffering from epilepsy or other medical conditions.
Posted by John Woestendiek May 31st, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: attorney general, children, collar, epilepsy, Eric Schneiderman, injunction, jon sabin, lawsuit, magnet, new york, seizure, seizure alert dogs, seizure dogs, service dogs, sick, vagus nerve
My time at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, helping out as a volunteer, was mostly spent among those dogs who, due to their unpredictable behavior, have been assigned red collars — meaning only staff can interact with them.
I drew duty at Dulcie’s School of Dance, an octagon-shaped structure whose residents, for the most part, misbehaved either before or after their arrival at the southern Utah animal sanctuary, and who — though red collared dogs can be adopted under the right circumstances — in many cases will live out their lives there.
Dulcie’s is occupied by outlaws like Wooley Bear, a 12-year-old border collie mix who is one of Best Friends most prolific biters, a mutt named Billy Brindle, and Boo, a 14-year-old boxer who has spent more than a decade there.
Caregiver Carin Carothers was my supervisor, and she made sure a closed gate was always between me and the mostly notorious canines she oversees.
I did get to help make dinner though, and wash the dog bowls, and attended two classes — one for shy dogs, one for unpredictable and aggressive ones.
Shy dog class was easy lifting — not unlike a day at the park. I took a seat, bag of dog treats in hand, and waited for students, all green or purple collared dogs and all fearful of humans to differing degrees, to cautiously approach.
It’s all aimed at getting the dogs — many of whom came from hoarding situations — to trust humans more, difficult as that sometimes is to do.
Later, I caught part of a class for dogs who, rather than being shy, are aggressive.
I took a seat under the shade and watched as Carin and four handlers, each working with a single dog, sought to keep that dog’s attention focused on the handler. Another volunteer was called upon to approach the leashed dogs who, the hope was, would continue focusing on the treats and their handler rather than snarling and lunging at the person approaching.
I was wondering who that volunteer had made mad when I was called upon to do the same thing — repeatedly walk up to within five feet or so of a dog and be distracting.
Almost every time, the dogs failed to notice me — the preferred reaction, though I didn’t like it much. The only thing worse than not being able to pay attention to a dog is when a dog pays no attention to you.
Later, though, I did enjoy bonding with Smitty, another Dulcie’s resident — a green collar placed in the unit to be a good influence on the less friendly dogs. Carin suggested I take the coonhound for a spin in my car around the canyons — and Smitty seemed to love it, peering intently out the window.
Though we only planned for a day of volunteering, we stopped by Best Friends again yesterday, mainly to take Smitty for another spin.
This time he was even more gung-ho about the ride, throwing his front paws on the back of my Jeep and awaiting to be hoisted the rest of the way. Looking at him in my rear view mirror, I could swear he was smiling.
We tooled around the canyons, stopped and spent some quiet moments at Angel’s Rest, the pet cemetery on the grounds of the sanctuary. We listened to the wind chimes, and sat in the shade of a gazebo. He hardly howled at all this time, instead laying quietly and staring at me.
Were I not on the road for an extended period, or maybe if I had a bigger vehicle, I’d have taken him with me when I left Best Friends Wednesday afternoon. That I didn’t means you still can.
My day and a half as a volunteer at Best Friends may not have saved the world, but I had a good time, and I think Smitty, who’s not yet two years old and still a little shy around most people — did, too.
And while I’m not saying it’s karma or anything, I noticed as I headed back to the highway that my car’s version of the red collar — my malfunction indicator light — was no longer lit. I’d been fretting about it ever since it came on when I rolled into Phoenix last week.
I do believe that doing good things makes good things come back to you — just maybe not that instantly. And if there is such a thing as karma, Smitty — the role model at Dulcie’s, that green collar who lives among the reds — has good times ahead.
Posted by John Woestendiek July 1st, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace does america, adopt, aggression, animal sancutary, animal welfare, animals, behavior, best friends, collar, color, coon dog, coonhound, dog, dog's country, dogs, dogscountry, dulcie's school of dance, kanab, pets, road trip, role model, shy dogs, smitty, utah
A mystery mutt has become an unofficial mascot of the riots in Greece by turning up at every major demonstration in Athens for the past two years.
As this video shows, when there’s violence and unrest — and in Greece, that means almost daily — the dog has a habit of appearing amid the crowds.
Fans have even created a Facebook page for him.
“He doesn’t seem to get scared of tear gas, explosions, petrol bombs and people screaming all over,” wrote one blogger. “He actually seems to enjoy himself a lot!”
The dog wears a blue collar, indicating he’s a stray who has been vaccinated.
Some Athens-based bloggers claim his name is Kanellos, which is Greek for “cinnamon.” But others say that dog died in 2008, and the one pictured is Louk. Still others say his name is Theodorus and he lives in Syntagma Square, which has become ground zero for violent protests.
As for why he keeps turning up at the riots, nobody knows.
Some suspect he belongs to either a photographer or police officer. But in most recent photos, the New York Post says, he seems to be “showing solidarity with hooded rock-throwers and barking at cops in riot gear.”
More likely, being a dog, he’s neutral.
Posted by John Woestendiek May 10th, 2010 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, Athens, blue, collar, demonstrations, dog, dogs, facebook, Greece, kanellos, louk, mascot, news, ohmidog!, page, pets, photographs, photos, riot, riot dog, riots, stray, theodorus, unrest, video, violence
A dog collar that will allow pet owners to map their pets’ location on their computer or other wireless devices will soon be hitting the market, Apisphere, Inc. and AT&T announced.
“The dog collar, with an embedded wireless SIM, will leverage Apisphere’s award winning geo-mobility platform to transmit location-aware data across AT&T’s nationwide wireless network directly to a pet owner’s wireless handset or personal computer,” according to an AT&T press release
In other words, what the communications company is saying, I think, is that the new gizmo will tell you where your dog is.
Apisphere is a provider of “location-smart technologies” for mobile applications and devices.
Pet owners who use the technology will be instructed to register their pets and important contacts as soon as they attach the collar. Owners may establish a “geo-fence” around the home where the pet can roam freely. Through the technology, owners can locate their dog if he strays outside of his established parameters.
Apisphere software will transmit street level data for easy pet location. Owners will have the option to program text, email, video or audio alerts, to be distributed as often as they like.
“There are few things as important to my daughter as knowing the whereabouts of our dog,” said Glenn Lurie, president, AT&T Emerging Devices, Resale and Partnerships. “The peace of mind that a wirelessly connected collar will bring my family and pet owners across the country is long overdue. We’re extremely excited about this product and its possibilities.”
Pricing, distribution, and design details of the collar will be made available at launch, expected later this year.
(Art: From Peterclarkcollage.com)
Posted by John Woestendiek March 24th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, apisphere, applications, at&t, collage, collar, communications, computer, devices, dog, dogs, inc., launch, location, lost, map, news, ohmidog!, peter clark, pets, product, software, stray, tracking, wireless