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Depp and his wife apologize to Australia

Johnny Depp’s wife totally out-acted her more famous husband, or at least came across as more sincere, in this video apologizing to the Australian government for sneaking their two Yorkshire terriers into the country without declaring them.

In what more than a few think looks like a hostage video, the couple talks about the importance of Australia’s strict biosecurity laws — aimed at preserving the islands diverse plant and animal life.

“When you disrespect Australian law, they will tell you firmly,” Depp somberly — almost sleepily — intones.

“I am truly sorry that Pistol and Boo were not declared,” says his wife, Amber Heard.

Clearly, this recorded apology was part of a deal reached between the couple’s lawyers and the Australian government. Heard was initially charged with smuggling, conviction of which can carry a 10-year prison sentence, but she pleaded guilty yesterday only to knowingly producing a false or misleading document.

In exchange for that, and the apology, she got little more than a slap on the wrist. She received a one-month “good-behavior bond,” which means she would be fined ($1,000 Australian dollars) only if she broke that bond.

The apology was posted to Facebook by Australia Minister of Agriculture Barnaby Joyce, who, after the charges were first filed, suggested that the dogs, if they weren’t “buggered off back to the United States,” might otherwise face being euthanized.

After that, during an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live, Depp called Joyce a “weird, sweaty-pated gut man who decided two five- or six-inch teacup terriers would harm the country in some way.”

Quite a contrast with the apology video, yes?

Depp and Heard failed to filed the proper paperwork when they arrived by private jet last year in Australia, where Depp was filming “Pirates of the Caribbean 5.” Normally, arriving dogs face a quarantine period.

After photos of Depp’s dogs going to a groomer in Australia went public, the government began an investigation into how they entered the country.

Joyce told ABC News that he hopes the recorded apology serves as a warning to future travelers to Australia.

“The more widely viewed it is the more we have people who might be unaware of our biosecurity requirements and, as they come into this nation, they say this is one thing that the Australians are red hot about, biosecurity.”

Pit bull reunited with owner’s loved ones

mckenzieandkai

A dog who ran off after a car accident in Alabama that killed her owner was found after a three-day search and driven more than 700 miles home to be reunited with the accident victim’s family in Arkansas.

Sgt. Jonathon Whaley and another officer were at the scene of the single-car accident that killed the driver and injured the passenger when they learned that the victim’s dog — a pit bull named Kai — had also been in the car, but ran off after the crash.

Police in Dothan, Alabama, said Mckenzie Amanda Grace Catron, a University of Arkansas student, was driving the car when it ran off the road and into a telephone pole last Saturday. Catron, 19, was pronounced dead at the scene. Her passenger, also 19, was rushed to an area hospital.

The two were on a spring break trip.

Once hearing from witnesses that there had been a dog in the car, too, Sgt. Whaley said, “We felt we needed to find the dog. We were going to do whatever we needed to do to reunite this dog with this family.”

Dozens of community members felt the same way, Fox 5 in Atlanta reported.

For days, police, firefighters and volunteers searched the area around the crash for Kai. They posted flyers, and started a Help Find Kai Facebook page, through which they stayed in touch with Catron’s family in Arkansas.

One of the volunteers was Benjamin Irwin, a Dothan attorney and animal lover. He and his wife offered a $1,000 reward to anyone who found the missing dog.

“We just really wanted this family to have this piece of their family back, something to help remember their daughter,” he told Al.com.

kairescueKai was found Monday, after two days of searching.

Irwin and another volunteer spotted her from afar.

Joined by others, they pursued her for more than a mile before capturing her in a shed.

“Over the city blocks and miles of both running and driving we found mutual friends who eventually jumped in and helped as well,” Irwin said. “Once our number was up to eight people we were able to get Kia to relax enough … to grab her collar.”

After Kai was taken to an area vet, Sgt. Whaley and his wife Ashley, offered to take her back to Catron’s family in Bentonville, Arkansas — a 12-hour drive.

Kai was reunited with Catron’s family Tuesday, and Kenzie Catron’s funeral was held Thursday.

No one collected the reward money, and Irwin said it would be donated to the animal shelter in Arkansas where Kai was originally adopted.

(Photos: From the Help Find Kai Facebook page)

Who wouldn’t be distracted by Pluto?

Testing how calm he could remain amid the crowds and distractions was exactly the reason Ace, a guide dog in training, was taken to Disneyland.

But throwing Pluto into the mix seems almost unfair.

Ace, who began his formal training with Guide Dogs of America at the end of January, was with his caretaker, Sandy Steinblums, when they bumped into Pluto.

While he might not have followed his training to the letter, Ace did calm down after some initial excitement and, once directed to stay a few times, he did a pretty good job, given Pluto was egging him on.

Steinblums said that, though it’s not in the video, Ace remained in the stay position for several minutes.

A video of the meeting was posted on Disney Dorks, a Disney fan page on Facebook, and it has been shared more than 15 million times in three days.

Ace will undergo six to nine months of training before he graduates and is matched with a human.

Correction: Dogs can wear 4-legged pants

dog-wearing-trousers

Last week we scoffed at the whole Internet debate over dog pants — mainly over the idea that they should be debated at all, but also over the gone-viral graphic that showed a dog wearing pants that covered all four legs.

dogpantsThe latter, we concluded, was a ridiculous idea, for there is no way those pants (see left) would ever stay up, no matter how tightly their belt was cinched.

We should have done more research.

If there’s one thing we should have learned in eight years of dog-blogging, it’s that if there is any conceivable product for dogs that can be marketed to dog owners, no matter how ridiculous, it’s probably on the market.

Not that we’re calling these four-legged pants ridiculous.

????????????????????????????????????????????????Muddy Mutts allow a dog to walk or run through mud puddles without getting his legs or underside splattered

They go for $65 for extra extra small sizes, up to $95 for extra large.

They are held in place by suspender-like straps that loop over the dog’s back.

And, as for the issue that is at the forefront of most people’s minds when they consider dogs wearing pants, these do not cover up those areas that need to remain uncovered.

“Muddy Mutts are designed to allow both male and female dogs to do their ‘business,’” the website says.

Muddy Mutts were designed by a professional dog groomer in rural Ontario, Canada, who was looking for a way to keep dogs from getting so muddy when they go for walks.

They’ve undergone a couple of redesigns since first hitting the market in 2013.

So, not to reignite the whole dog pants debate or anything, but I’ve got to admit these four-legged pants make more sense than two-legged pants on a dog, which after all are doing only half the job — assuming the job is to protect the dog or keep him dry.

If your purpose for putting pants on a dog is only to make him look more human, our position remains the same:

Find a new hobby.

(Photos from Muddy Mutts; graphic from Facebook)

A coldhearted cold cut prank on Facebook

hamdogIn retrospect, it’s hard to see how a photo of a dog with ham on his face left so many people with egg on their’s.

And yet, thousands of good-hearted souls were apparently fooled by a Facebook post of a dog with a slice of ham draped over his eyes and snout.

Two days before Christmas, the photo was posted on Facebook by a man — equal parts grinch and troll, we suspect — who offered this description:

“This poor dog was badly burned and disfigured trying to save his family from a house fire. One like = one prayer. One share = ten prayers.

Many of the animal lovers of Facebook — and their numbers are legion — went on to like it, share it and leave comments voicing their best wishes for the pooch.

Perhaps it’s because the ham slice does look a little like bloodied gauze. Perhaps it was the prayer request that accompanied the photos. Perhaps Christmas spirit had a little to do with the outpouring of well wishes that followed the posting.

With many dog lovers, compassion kicks in immediately — reflexively, even — and long before their cynicism does.

(We’d only hope that none of the well-wishers went so far as to send any donations to the jerk who wrote the post.)

Stephen Roseman, a few days after posting the photo and desciption on Facebook, explained in a comment that it was all a joke:

“People, people this isn’t even my dog, I found this picture on fascistbook, stole it, and decided to use it in a prank to fool these religitards.

“So I did, and low and behold idiots left and right fall for it, and those that didn’t, seem to think they have a superior intelligence or something, for pointing out the obvious.

“Keep in mind, I never told a single soul to like this, that is their choice, I don’t give a f*ck either way.”

Apparently Roseman was trying to pull a fast one — not just on those sensitive and soft-hearted types who fell for the story, but on those more cynical ones who voiced the opinion that the story was clearly fake.

Roseman apparently has no use for either of those.

Fortunately, for him, soliciting prayers (and shares) under false pretenses is not a crime (a sin, maybe, but not a crime). So it’s likely his only punishment — assuming those death threats against him are idle chatter — will be losing some Facebook friends.

“I’ve literally lost count on how many death threats I’ve accumulated because of Ham Dog,” he said in a subsequent Facebook comment. “I’m not concerned, but rather amused, regardless, I’m armed everywhere I go anyways. I find it motivating…”

The prank has since been exposed and straightened out by Snopes.com and several news media outlets.

But not before thousands had responded, many of them voicing sympathy and passing on their prayers. Using his own, shares-to-prayers formula, the dog got 1.3 million of them.

We have only one of our own to pass along: That lo and behold (that’s lo, Stephen, with no “w”) Stephen Roseman might one day grow up.

(Photo: Facebook)

Meme war: The great dog pants debate

dogpants

Not too far into 2015, an amazingly asinine Internet discussion began over what became known as simply “The Dress.”

Millions wasted valuable hunks of life debating what color it was.

Between social media and news media, the dress became one of the most viral images of all time.

Now, as 2015 nears its end, comes an even more asinine debate — over dog pants, specifically over how dogs should wear pants.

As we ring in the new year, the question is getting more attention than many presidential candidates — despite the obvious fact that dogs shouldn’t wear pants at all.

There are few, if any dogs, who are shaped in such a way that pants worn over all four legs would stay in place. (Four separate doggie leggings, held in place by elastic, would be a much better route.) And traditional pants preclude a dog from being free to go to the bathroom.

(Please tell me I’m not seriously discussing this.)

In true “meme” form, we can expect many variations of the doggie pants question to arise. “How should a cat wear a poncho?” “How should a hamster wear a mumu?” And, around the time Donald Trump wins the presidency because we’re all preoccupied, “How should a camel wear a pashmina?”

I’m not a big fan of memes. I like them even less than mimes. And I would prefer to bound into 2016 with a song in my heart, as opposed to a meme on my mind. Memes do seem to get stuck in your head, like bad songs (see below).

This one got its start on Facebook, where it was posted by a 19-year-old techie type from Belgium.

After seeing a dog in pants, worn over the two hind legs, he started wondering if there was another way for dogs to wear pants.

“I thought that pants are a human invention so for us it’s normal to wear them like that. But dogs have four legs so technically, their pants should go on each leg,” the man, identified as Norbert K., told the Washington Post.

(That’s right, the great dog pants debate has made the Washington Post, or at least one of its blogs, called Intersect.)

After appearing on the Facebook page for “Utopian Raspberry – Modern Oasis Machine,” the image was shared and borrowed and ended up on other social media, including Twitter.

Jared Keller, who works at Maxim, played a large role in catapulting the image into the viralsphere — posting it to his Facebook page, then to his Twitter feed, and then writing a piece about it for Maxim, the Washington Post reported.

The Post even invited readers to take part in a poll by the newspaper on how dogs should wear pants.

But when we clicked on the link to vote we were taken to a YouTube video of Rick Astley singing “Never Going to Give You Up.”

As a result, we can share this piece of vital information with you: Rick Astley wears his pants really high up on his waist.

(Image from Facebook)

Man in Thailand faces 37 years in prison after insulting the king’s beloved dog

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A man in Thailand is facing up to 37 years in prison after he insulted the king’s dog — an adopted stray that his highness often uses as a symbol for how Thais should live their lives.

King Bhumibol Aduyadej, 88, is the world’s longest serving monarch and his economic and social teachings are relentlessly promoted in Thailand.

Often, he uses his dog Tongdaeng (Copper) to teach those lessons — as an example of loyalty and obedience and how, in his view, Thailand’s citizens should behave.

Dogs are also known as tolerant and forgiving creatures — but it’s not looking like those will be applied in the case of the man arrested last week following a raid on his home near Bangkok by the military.

Thanakorn Siripaiboon, a 27-year-old factory worker, is accused of posting a sarcastic photo of the monarch’s dog. He’s also charged with “liking” a Facebook page deemed insulting to the king and sharing a diagram on his Facebook page that alleged irregularities in a multi-million-dollar park project being built by the military.

copper“This is absurd, in every sense. They can’t press charges against people who just click like on a post to express their agreement,” his lawyer, Anon Numpa, told CNN. “This is just a means for the military to stop us from digging up on their corruption.”

Numpa was referring to the country’s military rulers, who took control in 2014 after months of protests against the democratically elected government.

A police investigator told CNN Thursday that they will continue to hold Thanakorn while they conduct their investigation, adding that the law allows him to be detained for up to 84 days.

Thailand has strict laws protecting the monarchy from insults or threats. Earlier this year, the ruling junta announced a new security order granting the military sweeping new powers to curb activities it feels undermines or threatens national harmony or security.

The king wrote a book about Tongdaeng in 2002, complete with dozens of portraits of her he had taken.

(Photo of the king and his dog by Reuters; photo of Thanakorn Siripaiboon in custody from Rex Features)