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Tag: fundraising

Talking dogs: A device, from Sweden, that tells you what your dog is thinking

A group of Swedes is selling a device they say can translate your dog’s thoughts into English — and they’re seeking investors to help pay for further development of what they admit is a “work in progress.”

The first of many things we find questionable about this is why the young researchers at Nordic Society for Invention and Discovery — constantly on the lookout, they say, for “cool” and “awesome” things they can do with technology — wouldn’t be translating the thoughts of dogs into Swedish.

The only answers I can come up with are that either they are far more interested in making some money than in figuring out what goes on in a dog’s head, or they view the residents of dog-loving, English-speaking countries as more gullible, and more likely to fall for what they are peddling.

We did buy a lot of Abba albums after all, didn’t we?

Already, they’ve raked in more than $16,000 in their IndieGoGo fund-raising drive.

nomorewoofThe product is called No More Woof. It consists of a headset, worn by your dog, the (non-intrusive) sensors of which pick up EEG signals, and software that translates those signals, via loudspeaker, into thoughts.

Strangely, this company-made video (above) never shows the device in action, yet the inventors are ready to sell you one — either a basic model for $60, or an advanced model for $85, or a more advanced model for $300, or a really, really advanced model for $600.

The development firm also takes credit for inventing a hovering lamp that follows you from room to room, an iPad-charging rocking chair, and “Nebula 12,” described as an indoor cloud. They are currently at work on a flying carpet.

It’s no joke — even if No More Woof sounds pretty laughable.

So far, No More Woof has come up with only four distinguishable statements they can attribute to a dog, based on EEG readings: “I’m excited, “I’m tired, “I am hungry,” and “Who are you?” Once detected by the headset, they are voiced by a loudspeaker.

The bottom line, as we see it, is that they’ve come up with a way — or claim to have, at least – to make the most fascinating animal on earth boring.

Imagine a quiet evening at home, your headset-wearing dog at your side: “I’m hungry. I’m excited. I’m hungry. I’m hungry. I’m hungry.”

And this after you spend hours trying to set the whole thing up, using directions we can only assume will be Ikea-like.

The firm says it is trying to advance human-dog communication. But it doesn’t come across as being sincerely interested in that. It seems much more interested in fund-raising.

nsidNo More Woof’s Indiegogo page repeatedly stresses that the device, while already for sale, is still in development: “To be completely honest, the first version will be quite rudimentary. But hey, the first computer was pretty crappy too.”

They don’t insist that you buy one. If you prefer, you can just send them some money for their continued research.

Our advice would be to hold on to your money, and if you want to communicate with your dog, spend more time with him or her, pay more attention to him or her, look more deeply into him and her, and make your relationship not one of giving and taking orders, but one of learning from each other and exploring life together.

You already know — or at least you should — when your dog is hungry, excited or tired.

Do we really need to be hearing a robot voice tell us that? Do we really need — even if it did work and could develop into something more sophisticated — to turn our intriguing companions into the equivalent of a nagging wife, demanding husband, whining kid, or, worse yet, Siri?

I prefer the silence. And, much as I often wonder what my own dog is thinking, I prefer the mystery.

(Photos and video from NoMoreWoof.com)

Man and his guide dog hiking 1,000 miles

A legally blind North Carolina man and his guide dog are hiking a thousand miles for charity.

Trevor Thomas, of Charlotte, and his guide dog, Tenille, set out on April 6, hiking the Mountains-to-Sea Trail to raise money for Guide Dogs for the Blind, which is where Tenille came from.

“The dogs are very expensive, the school receives absolutely no public funding at all,” Thomas said. “It’s all done on donation.”

blindhikerThomas, who calls himself “Zero/Zero,” a reference to his eyesight, was the first blind person to complete a solo hike of the entire 2,175-mile Appalachian Trail.

He has also completed two hikes through the Shenandoah Mountains, four through the Smokey Mountains, and, according to his website, is the first blind person to hike the length of the John Muir Trail in California.

“Getting Tennille was probably the best decision I’ve made since going blind,” Thomas said. “She has changed blindness from a negative to a positive, especially in my interaction with people. Now that I have Tennille people want to engage us, they want to find out more about this amazing dog that I have.

“She is literally the final piece in the puzzle to be able to undertake this trek working as a team, that’s the only way we’re going to be able to get from one end of this to the other. Just the sheer companionship alone is worth its weight in gold,” he added. “Tennille’s not only a guide, she’s a friend.”

For more information about his hike, visit blindhikertrevorthomas.com

A matter of Faith: Girl, 5, gets service dog


A family in northern Maine says it is “overwhelmed” by the generosity they saw from friends and strangers who donated enough money for them to get a service dog for their 5-year-old daughter, Faith.

Faith has spina bifida and experiences seizures. The new dog — a black Lab named Dandy — has been trained to detect when they might be coming.

Bruce and Beverly McNally, of Island Falls, took Faith in as a foster child, then as their adopted daughter. They quickly realized they needed help monitoring her for the seizures, which could be deadly if not addressed.

“The family became very worried, which is why they wanted to get the dog,” Michele King, Faith’s aunt, told the Bangor Daily News.

King is also the chief administrative officer for Brave Hearts, a nonprofit Christian home for young men in Island Falls, and that organization sponsored a fundraiser last month to try and raise the $2,500 that was needed.

King said that donations came from the more than 100 people who attended a benefit supper, and from people as far away as North Carolina.

“We just couldn’t believe it,” Beverly McNally said. “We eventually had enough money and we had to gently turn people away. We had to tell them that we had enough for the dog, but that we wanted them to donate the money to a charity of their own choosing.”

Dandy came from CARES — Canine Assistance Rehabilitation Education and Services — a nonprofit organization in Concordia, Kansas, that trains and matches assistance dogs with owners.

“Dandy has just been wonderful for Faith,” McNally said on Friday. “She picks up on a chemical change in the body when a seizure occurs. One day when we got back, Faith was very lethargic. She was in the chair with me and needed to be snuggled a lot more. And the dog got up in the chair and started whining. And I didn’t realize what was going on. And 45 minutes later, Faith had a seizure. Then I realized what the dog was trying to tell me.”

(Photo: Michele King)

Why will 500 dogs cross the Brooklyn Bridge?

No, it’s not to get to the other side.

The 500 dogs expected to march from Manhattan to Brooklyn Saturday night are taking part in the second Brooklyn Bridge Pup Crawl — a parade that raises funds for animal shelters and rescues across the country.

“In this difficult economy, shelters and rescue groups need donations more than ever to keep up with the demand for their lifesaving efforts, “said Jane Hoffman, President of the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals, a coalition of more than 150 animal shelters and rescue groups committed to ending the killing of healthy and treatable cats and dogs at New York City shelters.

The march was launched in 2009 to help animal shelters hard hit by the economic crisis.

Proceeds from The Pup Crawl event are shared equally between five non-profit animal rescue organizations: Ace of Hearts (Los Angeles), Bobbi & The Strays (New York), Sean Casey Animal Rescue (New York), Get-A-Life Pet Rescue (Ft. Lauderdale) and Pets for Life NYC, a program of The Humane Society of the United States that provides free and reduced cost hands-on assistance, resources and solutions to help keep pets with their families for life.

“The Pup Crawl walk is a great way to raise awareness and funds for shelter pets,” said Jane Harrell, associate producer of Petfinder.com, the online directory of adoptable pets. Petfinder is one of the event’s major sponsors.

Advance registration is required for The Pup Crawl, which begins in City Hall Park at 5:30 PM on Saturday. Anyone can support The Pup Crawl, though, by attending the event, or purchasing a Pup Crawl (illuminated). The Pup Crawl Leash program provides three dollars to shelters and rescues across the country every time they refer a sale online. Any non-profit shelter or rescue in the United States can participate

The Pup Crawl was conceived as the first-ever nighttime dog parade over the Brooklyn Bridge, an event aimed at raising money to help the one million pets expected to lose their homes to the foreclosure crisis.

For more information on the event, visit www.thepupcrawl.com.

(Photos: courtesy of the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals)

When dogs are behind the camera

Maybe any monkey can’t be a photographer, but any dog can.

At least when its collar is equipped with a camera that’s programmed to snap photos at regular intervals.

The photos from just such experiment are the subject of a new exhibition in New York called “Dogtography: A Dog’s Eye View of New York.”

The idea was dreamed up by McCann Erickson, a public relations agency that was trying to gain some attention for a pro bono client – Mighty Mutts, an animal shelter and adoption service.

The company outfitted dogs with “collar-cams,” small digital cameras that can be mounted on canine collars.

The resulting photos show the world from a dog’s point of view — a lot of “feet and fire hydrants,” Sean Bryan, a group creative director at McCann Erickson told the New York Times blog “Media Decoder.”

The exhibit opens today, with a reception from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., at the Hendershot Gallery at 195 Chrystie Street in Manhattan. Proceeds from the sale of the photos will go to Mighty Mutts. The exhibition is being sponsored by Mighty Mutts along with Biscuits and Bath, a chain of dog-grooming facilities in New York.

Each photo has a title, and the dogs who wore the collar cams get photo credits.

Dogs are invited to the event.

World’s ugliest dog passes away

Miss Ellie, a Chinese Crested who won the 2009 World’s Ugliest Dog Competition, has passed away at 17, but her legacy will live on.

Miss Ellie appeared on The Animal Planet show, “Dogs 101,” was featured on Fox News, seen on billboards and a commercial, captured the ugliest dog contest at the Sonoma-Marin Fair in northern California and was the star dog at The Comedy Barn Theater in Pigeon Forge, Tenn.

She was rescued when she was 7 years old and brought to live with her owner, Dawn Goehring, and 13 other rescue dogs. In her final days, Miss Ellie was continually working on raising awareness and money for rescue animals, according to the Asheville Citizen-Times.

She was entered in the 2010 World’s Ugliest Dog contest at the Sonoma-Marin Fair in Petaluma, and had planned to travel to California next month to compete one more time.

She was also serving as the mascot behind an effort to raise $1 million dollars for the Sevier County Humane Society.

The goal of  “Miss Ellie’s Mission” was to build a new shelter. The current animal shelter was built to hold 1,000 animals a year. It now holds about 5,000. Pigeon Forge Mayor Keith Whaley proclaimed Nov. 12, 2009 as “Miss Ellie Day” in Pigeon Forge for her efforts.

Miss Ellie had been named both the ugliest dog and the cutest, winning a 2009 contest sponsored by the All-American Dog Food Pet Brand. She came out top in online voting, over 60,000 other dogs.

Condolences can be sent to The Comedy Barn Theater at 2775 Parkway, Pigeon Forge, Tenn. 37863, or e-mailed to ComedyBarn@aol.com.

Meet the new mayor — a three-legged dog

A three-legged dog beat out a three-legged cat in the race for mayor of a town in which I once toiled — Divide, Colorado.

Twenty-five dogs and cats entered the race, with each vote they received bringing in a one dollar donation to the local animal shelter, KKTV in southern Colorado reports.

In the end, elections officials report, it came down to a race between Spright, a small female mixed breed, and Walter the cat.

Spright received 4,755 votes; Walter racked up 4,213. Combined with other votes cast, the election raised $14,084 for the Teller County Regional Animal Shelter.

Divide is an unincorporated town on the north slope of Pikes Peak. (I worked there for a few summers during high school at a property development.)

Spright’s two-year term will begin with an official inauguration ceremony at noon Sunday at the Teller County Regional Animal Shelter at 308 Weaverville Road in Divide. There will be a BBQ cookout for all candidates and the public.