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
In what will be her first return to the animated big screen since she was the voice of Dory in ”Finding Nemo” in 2003, the Emmy-winning daytime talk show host will be the starring voice in the movie about a stray dog and her misfit friends who shake up the purebred world of a Westminster-like dog show.
Robert Downey Jr. and Tina Fey will also be providing voices for the movie. DeGeneres will also be the movie’s co-producer.
Posted by John Woestendiek February 25th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animated, dog show, ellen, ellen degeneres, entertainment, feature, film, movie, robert downey jr., tina fey, warner bros, westminster
A trainer from Best Friends Animal Society in Kanab, Utah will appear on today’s Ellen Degeneres Show with one of the dogs rescued from Michael Vick’s dofighting operation.
John Garcia, from Fredonia, Ariz., will appear with Georgia, one of 22 pit bulls sent to the sanctuary after being rescued from Vick’s dog fighting operation in Virginia, the Salt Lake Tribune reports.
Vick, the former Atlanta Falcons quarterback, was sentenced to 23 months in federal prison for his part in a dogfighting conspiracy. He and three co-defendants raised and trained pit bulls for fighting. Poor-performing dogs were executed.
Posted by John Woestendiek December 15th, 2008 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal sanctuary, appearing, appears, atlanta falcons, best friends, dog, dogs, ellen, ellen degeneres, john garcia, john polis, michael vick, pit bull, quarterback, show, television, vick