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Tag: facebook

Are there too many dogs on the Internet?

image001Depictions of dogs, as any one who has ever read the wall of a prehistoric cave knows, date back to well before ancient times.

Pharaohs commissioned artworks of their favorite pets. Portrayals of hunting and images of medieval banquets often featured dogs in the background or foreground. In the Victorian-era, aristocrats hired painters to make portraits of themselves and their pooches.

As the 20th Century dawned, as humans came to live ever closer to the species, artists seized upon the idea of depicting dogs dressed in human attire and doing human things, bringing us such classes artworks as the inimitable (but often imitated) work, Dogs Playing Poker.

Well before photography went digital, before somebody flicked that World Wide Web switch on, dog depictions were being shared — if not as instantly, often, ridiculously and (often) demaningly as they are today on the Internet, and social media in particular.

Even in my earliest days in journalism, back in the 1970’s, I remember some newspapers had a pet writer — someone who penned a pet column, usually weekly. He or she was commonly an older person who performed mostly clerical duties, maybe a secretary for some top editor, who, due to his or her love for dogs, had volunteered for the task, likely at no increase in pay.

He or she would probably feature a dog in need of adoption every week, or write about pet care and training, or simply ask readers to submit photos of their pets for publication — an opportunity many readers seized, sending actual photos through actual mail.

One of the differences between then and now — a time when many a website is telling you how much they would like to see photos of your dog — is that the old clerk/pet writer’s request for photos was more than likely at least partly sincere.

pokerThose folks who want to see your dog’s photo now? Almost always, they are after something else. You can trust them about as much as the bulldog sneaking an ace to his friend in that painting to the left there.

Pet food websites, pet toy websites, even (we hate to admit it) pet news websites will commonly beg you for a photo of your pooch — not because anyone actually wants to see it, but because they want to get you on their email lists, get you “registered,” introduce you to their products and enlist your loyalty.

They want, more than anything, your money, and like many other businesses that want your money, they will gladly deceive you and try to capitalize on your love for/pride in your pet:

“We’d love to see a photo of your dog!”

Yeah, right.

I’m not here today to say that there are too many dogs on the Internet — even if never before in the history of man have we been so saturated with dog photos and images. The more the merrier, I say.

But I would argue there is too much dog exploitation and too much dog ridicule on the Internet, much of it carried out via those “adorable” photos of your “fur baby” — sometimes by profit-making concerns, sometimes by dog owners themselves.

Compare and contrast, if you will, our old, likely unpaid, pet columnist with someone like Matt Nelson, who is making a six figure annual salary by posting photos sent in by readers, along with a comment and a numerical rating (based on the dog, not the photo) at @dog_rates.

He is not taking any photos. He is not buying any photos. He’s really not doing much work at all, other than accumulating followers. He is merely sharing other people’s photos on Twitter — and managing to make a handsome living from it.

Nelson — profiled by Money magazine recently — dropped out of college once he saw how popular his dog photo sharing Twitter page had become:

There, WeRateDogs’ operations are relatively simple. Nelson estimates he runs 95 percent of things from his iPhone (which, yes, he confirms, does require a massive data plan to handle all the dog photos). He has two remote employees: Ricci, who culls submissions down to about 20 each day, and Tyler Macke, who manages the WeRateDogs online store. His dad, an executive director of a law firm, advises him on finances.

Nelson says he brings in “a low five figures” every month. At minimum, that puts him over $100,000 a year.

Thanks, Money magazine, for doing the math for us.

While Nelson may not be doing much original or creative work, at least his pursuit is mostly cute and kind and well meaning.

20151016_181413-e1522168748576Other dog photo sharing websites are more distasteful to me — dogshaming.com, in particular.

It features photos of dogs who have misbehaved, along with hand-made signs — all submitted by readers.

But perhaps most troubling of all are the photos and videos that individuals post to their Facebook page showing their dogs doing distinctly human things.

Alexandra Horowitz, the author and researcher who has spent her career seriously studying and trying to understand dogs — despite what seems to be society’s preference to see them as dress-up dolls, movie characters with human voices, or (apologies to those who use the term) “fur babies” — made note of the phenomena in last week’s New York Times Opinion section.

In it, she asked the question:

“Why can’t I stand to look at one more photo of a ‘funny dog?'”

She continued, “In a typical image, the dog is posed in a distinctly person-like way, as if on the phone, seated at a table or wearing headphones and dressed up in human attire — glasses, a dog-size suit and tie, even pantyhose.”

” … These dogs are but furry emoji: stand ins for emotions and sentiment. Each representation diminishes this complex, impressive creature to an object of our most banal imagination,” Horowitz wrote. “Such treatment may not be mortifying to the dog, perhaps … but it is degrading to the species.”

Only the most extreme examples of making our dogs look ridiculous receive any sort of backlash — primarily from people who see the pet as being abused. Like this one on Twitter. Go to the link and read all the comments and you almost think, maybe people are coming to their senses.

It bugs me that society is this way — that it took a species, molded it to its liking, and continually foists its own likeness and peculiarities upon it. It bugs me what people will put their dog through to achieve a Facebook post or Halloween costume that makes their friends laugh. It bothers me that some people are getting rich off it.

It’s like we were blessed with an original Mona Lisa, and 85 percent of us want to draw a mustache on it slap it on their own personal billboard.

Somebody needs to grow up, and it’s not the dogs.

(Photos: At top, The Feast of Dives, about 1510–20, Master of James IV of Scotland, the J. Paul Getty Museum); lower, one of the many reproductions of Dogs Playing Poker, by Cassius Marcellus Coolidge, other photos via Twitter)

Homeless man gets help after video plea for his dog, Meaty

Robert wasn’t homeless when he adopted a pit bull named Meaty from Sacramento’s animal shelter a few months ago.

But not much later, after an eviction, he found himself in that situation, and he returned to the animal shelter for help — specifically, in hopes of finding someone to foster the dog until he got through his rough patch.

Gina Knepp, manager of Sacramento’s Front Street Animal Shelter, thought a video about Robert and Meaty, posted on its Facebook page, might lead to someone stepping forward.

“My name is Robert, I’m 47 years old, I have a family, a career, a master’s degree, a pet – and I’m homeless,” he says in the video, pausing frequently to compose himself.

“I came here in hopes I could find a foster family to care for Meaty until we get on our feet again and get into transitional housing …”

Knepp was so moved by his story — common a situation as it is — that she paid for three nights at a dog friendly motel after the video was made.

“Because few homeless shelters allow dogs, he’s been sleeping in his car with Meaty laying on his chest,” she said in the post. “He refused to take shelter, because he didn’t want Meaty to be cold and alone.”

“I think that pets are very important to homeless people,” Robert says in the video. “They’re their companion.”

Still, he had decided it would be best for everyone if they parted ways until housing was found, and in making the video he was hoping to find someone to care for the dog temporarily.

“I mean, who could resist a big lover like that?” he says as Meaty jumps up to give him kisses.

Within a week of the posting, Robert and Meaty were still together and the outlook was good. Amid an outpouring of support from the community, a rental home was found.

He drove 1,300 miles to return dog to owner

holt

A Maryland man drove 1,300 miles to return an eight-year-old pit bull mix to his owner in Kansas.

Zimba had been abandoned by his owner’s former boyfriend along Maryland’s Eastern Shore before he ended up at the Caroline County Humane Society in November.

The humane society tracked down the dog’s owner, Ikea Mosley, through the dog’s microchip and discovered that Mosley was living in Wichita.

When contacted, Mosley said Zimba had been missing for a couple of months. The dog had gone to Maryland with Mosley’s boyfriend, but when the couple broke up during the boyfriend’s stay, he apparently abandoned the dog.

Mosley ran into difficulties when she tried to make arrangements to get the dog home.

“I’m a single mom, so I wasn’t able to get away from work and get to him. If I could have I would have drove all the way to get him,” Mosley said.

That’s when Zach Holt, a former humane society volunteer offered to drive him from Ridgely, Maryland to Wichita. Holt is a former animal control officer and the boyfriend of Caroline County Animal Control Officer Kaitlyn Noffsinger, who picked up Zimba after she was reported as a stray.

Holt, in conjunction with the humane society, documented his 1,300-mile journey to Wichita on the Caroline County Humane Society’s Facebook page.

returnedHolt and Zimba arrived in Wichita last week, according to the Times-Record.

“I’m very, very thankful, like I’m like speechless, because I really can’t believe you drove all the way here,” Mosley said.

Holt said Zimba was “the best riding companion I’ve ever seen, he was great, he napped the entire way, everything was perfectly fine he had no complaints.”

The humane society is accepting donations to cover Holt’s travel expenses. Donations can be made by visiting www.carolinehumane.org, in person at the shelter at 407 W. Belle St. in Ridgely, or by calling the shelter at 410-820-1600.

“It’ll be for gas, tolls, dog food and I’m sure a few Monster Energy drinks,” Noffsinger said.

(Photos: Caroline County Humane Society, via Facebook)

Police officer refuses woman’s request that he shoot a dog damaging her car

An outraged Georgia woman, displeased that police weren’t doing more to stop a dog who was trying to rip off her car’s bumper, went live on Facebook in an attempt to show what she saw as malfeasance on the part of law enforcement.

Instead, she ended up bringing negative attention, and even death threats, upon herself — mainly because of her insistence that the officer shoot the dog.

The video, taken on November 9th by the car’s owner, Jessica Dilallo, shows a pit bull type dog trying to rip off the new car’s bumper as Dilallo complains that Dalton Police Lieutenant Matthew Locke should be doing more.

At one point she asks him to shoot the dog or throw a rock at it.

Locke calmly declined, pointing out the dog was not being aggressive to any humans.

The dog was apparently after two cats hiding under the car’s hood.

“And so when he finally gets to whatever he’s going to we get to watch him destroy that as well? The cat gets to die, too?” Dilallo complains.

Locke tells her an officer with a catchpole is on his way. As the video ends, an officer can be seen approaching with an improvised catchpole.

A police spokesman said that when Locke arrived at the home, the dog walked “right up to his window and was not aggressive towards people. The dog resumed attacking the car’s bumper.”

“Lt. Locke decided not to try to pull the dog off himself because he didn’t want to be in a position where the dog attacked him and he was forced to shoot the dog,” the spokesman said.

Police later located the dog’s owner, Ben Bonds, and he agreed to pay Dilallo $500 for her insurance deductible. He was issued a warning to not let his dog run loose.

Dilallo spoke with NewsChannel 9 on Wednesday, saying the Facebook posting has brought her harsh criticism.

“I’m like the most hated person right now because I said I wanted to shoot the dog, but I still stand by that.”

Lt. Locke said he stands by his decision, and that using a stun gun or pepper spray on the dog might have made it more aggressive.

“My whole goal was to try to keep it contained, catch it and identify the owner and ultimately that’s what we did,” Locke said.

The dog was taken to a shelter but is now back home — and in a fenced yard.

Scrooged: Shopping mall Santa turns away a little girl with a service dog

A young girl’s hopes to have her photo taken with Santa were dashed when she and her seizure-detecting service dog were turned away from an event at a New Hampshire shopping mall.

Feeling Scrooged, her mother took to Facebook to voice her disappointment about the shopping mall Santa snubbing her daughter, who has a neurological disorder called Rett Syndrome and suffers from seizures, CBS in Boston reported.

olivia“When he said Romeo can’t go in it made me sad,” said 11-year-old Olivia Twigg, whose dog attends school with her, alerts her to oncoming seizures and lays across her chest when she is having one.

“It was horrible. I just wanted to go home from the mall. It was awful,” said her mother, Jill Twigg.

The family waited in line with Romeo at the photos with Santa event at Nashua Pheasant Lane Mall, and had no intention of the dog being in the photo — just Olivia and Santa.

But as they moved up in line and neared that supposedly merry old soul, they were told not to come any closer, because Santa was allergic to dogs.

romeo“The woman taking the pictures told me I needed to remove the dog off the red carpet. I said no I’m not going to move him,'” Jill Twigg said. “He has to be able to see her. She said that was not acceptable.”

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, “allergies and fear of dogs are not valid reasons for denying access or refusing service to people using service animals.”

Jill Twigg said the family was told to return for “pet day,” or for the special needs event.

Twigg said she had no interest in that. “I want her to have a normal experience. She’s on a normal cheerleading team with normal children. We want to make sure she feels completely comfortable going wherever she wants at whatever time she wants.”

Cherry Hill Programs, the Santa experience provider for Pheasant Lane Mall, said they welcome all service dogs and planned to make a special appearance at the Twigg’s home.

It’s not my decision, but if I were them, I’d tell them to stuff it.

Zombie dogs invade Chicago suburb … NOT!

zombiedog1

“Zombie dogs” are invading a western suburb of Chicago.

Makes for a catchy headline, if not an entirely true one. As you might guess, the creatures in question aren’t really zombies, aren’t really dogs, and aren’t really invading.

What they are is coyotes, infected with a type of mange that affects their vision, making them more likely to be active during the day.

The police department in Hanover Park, warning the public to stay away from the animals, characterized their appearance as that of “zombie dogs.”

On its Facebook page, the police department said it has received calls from citizens who have seen the coyotes and think they are neglected, malnourished dogs.

“Recently we have received several messages and posts from citizens concerned about what appear to be malnourished or neglected stray dogs. These are NOT lost pets, but are in fact coyotes. There is unfortunately an increase in sarcoptic mange in the urban coyote populations which has caused these normally noctural animals to become more active during the day.

“Infected animals will often appear “mangy” – which looks just like it sounds. They suffer hair loss and develop secondary infections, eventually looking like some sort of ‘zombie’ dog.

“The infections affect their vision, causing them to look for food during the daylight hours. These infected animals are not normally aggressive, but should be avoided at all times. Please DO NOT approach these animals or allow your pets to approach them.”

There’s some argument over whether the photo police posted is that of a coyote with mange. One comment-leaver insists it’s a dog; another says its a coyote, photographed in California.

Police warned residents to secure their garbage cans and not leave food out, or for that matter, their dogs.

Coyotes are abundant in the southern, southeastern and west-central areas of Illinois, but there hasn’t been a case of a human bitten by a coyote in 30 years, according to the University of Illinois.

Texas dog seems to have a good grasp of emergency preparedness, and his dog food

otis

It’s not clear where Otis was heading when he escaped during Hurricane Harvey and hit the road.

But it is clear he didn’t leave unprepared.

Otis was photographed by a stranger while he was at large — with a giant bag of dog food in his mouth.

Otis, a German shepherd mix, got loose Friday night from a screened-in back porch in Sinton, Texas, where he had been left in the care of 65-year-old Salvador Segovia.

otis2Segovia was watching the dog for his 5-year-old grandson Carter whose family had fled the city due to flooding.

Segovia noticed the dog was gone Friday night when he went to check on him on the porch.

“I kept yelling his name and yelling his name and he wasn’t around,” Segovia told the Houston Chronicle.

When he checked the porch again Saturday morning, he noticed Otis’ bag of dog food was also missing.

A few people in Sinton — a town of about 6,000 — had seen Otis walking down the street with a bag of dog food in his mouth, including Tiele Dockens, who saw Otis, snapped a photo and posted it on Facebook.

The photo of Otis went viral, and Otis himself was tracked down Saturday and is back with Segovia — happily, all before his young master, Carter, returned home.

otis3

The dog has comforted the boy after several hospital visits, Segovia says, and is well-known around town. Wandering the streets is nothing new for him, though this is the first time he has brought his own food along.

Segovia said Otis is the “only dog allowed to lie down in front of the county court house,” and that he sometimes goes to Dairy Queen for a hamburger.

Maybe Otis was trying to get himself, and his dog food, back to his home. Maybe he sensed an emergency had been declared, and wanted to be prepared. Or maybe he just wanted to go for a walk, and knew the DQ was going to be closed Friday night.

We’ll never know, but it’s fun to speculate.

(Top photo by Tiele Dockens, from Facebook; photos of Carter and Otis courtesy of Salvador Segovia)