Here’s an “infographic” (more graphic than informative, we’d say) that’s popping up a lot on the Internet these days.
It’s from “Knowledge is Beautiful,” a new book by British data-journalist David McCandless.
In it, he crunches data to explain the world, or at least random bits of the world, through graphics that — though they might intimidate those of us who prefer a good old fashioned story — are intended to be entertaining, artful and easy to absorb.
“Every day, every hour, every minute we are bombarded with information, from television, from newspapers, from the Internet, we’re steeped in it. We need a way to relate to it,” his publisher, Harper Collins, writes. The author’s visual presentations ”blend the facts with their connections, contexts, and relationships, making information meaningful, entertaining, and beautiful.”
But we’ve got problems and questions with this particular chart — a ranking of the 87 “best” dog breeds.
(To see a full size version, click here.)
For starters, why — when there are about 180 recognized breeds now — did he limit himself to only the 87 most popular breeds?
Is that a more algorithm-friendly number? Is that the most that could fit on a page before it became so cluttered as to be reader unfriendly, or leave us feeling dog bombarded?
The infographic contrasts the popularity of the breeds with what (according to the formula used by McCandless) are the “best” breeds. The best breed, according to the chart, is the border collie. It concludes the bulldog the most “inexplicably overrated” dog breed.
McCandless ranks the 87 dog breeds based on these factors — intelligence, lifespan or longevity, ailments, grooming, appetite and costs.
In a way, at least four of those factors are cost-related, aren’t they?
How much a dog eats and how much grooming he requires both can make him a more expensive proposition, which we can only assume McCandless attaches negative points to.
The Newfoundland, for example, falls into the “inexplicably overrated” quadrant of the the chart — well, most of him does, a little bit of his big head seems to stick outside that border.
We’d hope McCandless considers a longer life span for a dog to be a good thing, worth positive points, but wouldn’t a dog gaining points in that category be losing them in the appetite, grooming and costs categories?
Of course, our biggest is complaint — on top of the sheer stupidity of picking a best dog breed — is that the chart ignores the “best” (and most popular) dog of all, the mutt.
That would complicate matters though, and infographics are all about over-simplifying. And stereotyping, and quanitfying the unquantifiable, and smugly considering yourself an expert based on what your computer has churned out, which infographic perusers should bear in mind, is only as reliable as the data it was fed in the first place.
(Photos: “Knowledge is Beautiful”)
Posted by John Woestendiek November 19th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: algorithms, appetite, best, best dog breeds, books, border collies, breeds, bulldogs, chart, compare, computers, contrast, costs, crunching, data, david mccandless, dog, dog breeds, factors, graphic, grooming, infographic, intelligence, knowledge is beautiful, longevity, newfoundlands, numbers, popularity, technology, worst
Ace was born and raised a city dog, and however mean one might consider the streets of Baltimore, they (and its sidewalks) always did a good job of keeping his claws filed down to a less than deadly length.
That was a good thing, because, when it comes to a toenail trim, Ace will have no part of it.
Groomers, vets and I have all attempted it, only to receive the clear message from him that — as much as he likes to have his paws played with, as much as he likes to hold hands — bringing any sort of grooming tool near his claws is a declaration of war.
Ace’s claws, for that very reason, have always been too long.
That poses problems, to himself and others. Ace is quick to shake hands, and sometimes does so unsolicited. In Baltimore, when he was working as a therapy dog, I feared he might inadvertenly and with all good intentions rip apart the small children reading to him, and I monitored him accordingly.
They were too long when we pulled out of the city, for a year-long, John Steinbeck-inspired tour of America. But by being constantly on the go, his claws remained at least at a tolerable length during our travels.
They were too long, despite daily walks around the block, after we ended up in Winston-Salem, N.C. and moved into the apartment of my birth.
Once again, I went out and bought some expensive clippers, having misplaced several old and never-used ones. But the latest attempt didn’t work either. No brand, no style, no method of claw trimming seems to work on Ace.
He doesn’t snarl, or bite, he just bucks and flails and, at 115 pounds, overpowers anyone attempting to trim his nails. What’s much scarier is the immense stress it seems to cause him. His heartbeat speeds up. He pants and drools and squirms. His eyes get a frightened look. Maybe I just imagine it, but he even starts to exude an odor. The smell of fear?
Once, back in Baltimore, I asked Ace’s vet to trim his nails. Ace resisted. The vet muzzled him and tried again. Ace resisted more. Then the vet called two burly men into the room to usher Ace upstairs.
From below, I heard the ruckus. It sounded like a professional wrestling match was underway, and about two minutes later they brought Ace back down, saying they’d been unable to accomplish the task — despite their muscles and whatever implements of restraint were upstairs.
It was concluded then that the only way to do it would be by sedating him. The idea of that scares me at least as much as how stressed he gets.
For my my most recent effort, I bought the most expensive professional nail clippers I could find. I let them lay around the living room for a week so Ace would get used to them. Then I recruited a friend, and had her feed him treats as I attempted the deed. Despite even that incentive, he balked. By the time it was over, I was almost fully sprawled atop him while whispering sweet nothings into his ear. He bucked me off, and not a single nail got trimmed. (Anybody need some expensive professional nail clippers?)
I described all that to Ace’s most recent veterinarian, here in North Carolina, at his check-up last month.
He suggested we start jogging on sidewalks. Then, seeing my reaction, he suggested I find a young and energetic friend to jog with Ace on sidewalks.
He also suggested a complete blood work-up that, in addition to checking for any health problems, might also help determine how well Ace would handle sedation.
We didn’t take him up on the second offer, deciding to wait until Ace turns 9 for that.
We did consider his other suggestion — though not to the point of taking up jogging.
Since moving to historic Bethania, and having our own back yard, Ace doesn’t go for a walk every day. Bethania doesn’t have a lot in the way of sidewalks. Three or four times a week we take a short walk — mostly on the street — to the little post office where I pick up my mail. Two or three times a week we walk the dirt trail that meanders through Black Walnut Bottoms, behind the visitor center.
Once in a while, Ace will hear a hunter’s gunshot there, prompting him to turn around and head home. Ace also fears loud, cracking noises — anything from a bat hitting a ball to the crackle of the fireplace. His fears, as he grows older, seem to become more pronounced, but then maybe that’s true of all species. Whatever little fears we have turn into big looming nightmarish ones. Probably, there is a drug to help deal with that. But I am increasingly fearful of pharmaceuticals.
Given the lack of options, I decided Ace needed to spend more time pounding the pavement — and at a pace quicker than the slow one at which I prefer to move along.
So we took some of the vet’s advice, and reshaped it to fit our lifestyle (OK, my lifestyle). We headed down to the golf course where I work as a bartender a couple of nights a week. (Ace not having appeared in a movie in a while, I took my new camera along, too, to test out its video capabilities.)
I’m thinking of making it a twice-a-week routine. The mile-long trot seemed to make an immediate difference. His claws weren’t really any shorter, but they were much less sharp and pointy.
Ace slept great that night, but then he sleeps great every night, with only occasional scary dreams that makes his paws flutter as he emits little whimpers. I don’t think he’s chasing rabbits in his dreams. More likely, he’s running away from scary monsters that want to clip his nails.
Posted by John Woestendiek November 20th, 2013 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: ace, animals, baltimore, bethania, cart, cart paths, city dog, claws, country dog, dog, dogs, golf, golf courses, groom, groomer, grooming, hot to trot, hygeine, jogging, long creek golf club, movie, north carolina, pavement, pet care, pets, problems, refusal, sedation, sidewalks, solutions, stress, toenails, travels with ace, trim, trimming, trot, trotting, veterinarians, vets, video, winston-salem
You can call me Fuddy Duddy. You can call me Party Pooper. This Halloween, like every Halloween, I find myself put off by the effort, and money, we Americans put into dressing up our dogs for the occasion.
In trying to figure out why I feel that way, I can pin down four reasons.
One is the annoyance, and safety risk, elaborate costumes can cause for dogs. Two is that our dogs, though they might register their displeasure, don’t get to vote on being dressed up solely for the amusement of ourselves. Three is we’re tinkering, if only for a night, with something that’s already perfect. Dogs don’t need costumes any more than Mona Lisa needs a makeover.
And four is the pipedreamy thought that the $300 million we spend on costumes for pets every year could do a lot of good if it could somehow be funneled to some worthy dog-related cause.
A not-overly-elaborate costume, worn by a dog for a few minutes, doesn’t bother me. But we tend to take things to extremes when we get into decorating mode — resulting in using dyes to make them look like other animals, or, as in the case above, TV characters.
“Creative dog groomer” Catherine Opson appeared on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” Tuesday night, showcasing five of her designs — a dog transformed into a koi pond, one dyed to resemble a leopard, one zombie, one depicting nearly the entire cast of Sesame Street, and another depicting characters from the Simpsons.
Her work is impressive, and a small part of me thinks it’s kinda cool. She uses safe dyes, and the dogs, at least while on air, didn’t seem too humiliated (though they were mostly poodles).
But the larger part of me (and I’m not referring to my stomach) can’t help but feel a little troubled by what seems our increasing tendency to, more and more elaborately, decorate our dogs.
Every October, the news media, websites and blogs go nuts when it comes to costumed dogs, promulgating more of the activity. (ohmidog! is proud to be the only dog blog in the galaxy that has made it, until now, all the way to Halloween without doing so.)
If there is any creature that is entertaining and endearing enough just as it is, it is a dog. If there’s any creature that doesn’t need a makeover, it’s a dog. If there’s any creature we should be able to accept, savor and celebrate just as it is, it’s a dog.
Posted by John Woestendiek October 31st, 2013 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: 300 million, americans, amusement, animal welfare, animals, behavior, catherine opson, characters, costumes, creative groomer, decorate, decorating, dog, dogs, dyeing, dyes, entertainment, grooming, halloween, jimmy kimmel, jimmy kimmel live, koi pond, leopard, money, pets, sesame street, simpsons, species, spend, the barking dead, zombies
Calling all rich fools: Two British companies have partnered up to offer your dog a spectacular luxury dog holiday.
The cost is $73,000, which we assume covers a week’s worth of boarding along with all the other perks — surfing lessons, reiki sessions, grooming, a new wardrobe, a personal chef and much more.
These, mind you, are services the dog will receive, presumably while his or her owners are on vacation somewhere else, assuming they have any money left to take one.
Behind the ridiculous gimmick are Paw Seasons, a luxury dog hotel in Bristol, England, and VeryFirstTo.com, a company specializing in luxury experiences.
It will be made available to only one dog, said VeryFirstTo.com founder Marcel Knobil.
“It’ll definitely be an individual or couple who enjoy an extravagant lifestyle. While they go off to the Caribbean they want their pet to have an equally enjoyable, extravagant stay where they are,” Knobil said. “It’s for those who enjoy the finer things in life and have a sense of humor. They have a soft spot for their dog and want them to have the best time possible.”
Highlights of the “Spectacular Luxury Dog Holiday” include chauffeured rides by the Paw Season’s hotel driver, a private suite showing dog movies on a screen, a doghouse built to replicate the one the dog has at home, local beach and countryside walks, a running session with hurdles World Champion Dai Greene, a day with author and dog behavior expert Stan Rawlinson, and a grooming at the Pet Spa at Harrods that includes aromatherapy bath and body massage.
No one has signed up yet, but Knobil told ABC News. “We’re pretty hopeful. We know it’s extravagant, but it’s a fabulous time for the dog and benefits two very good causes.”
The companies say $10,000 from the sale of the package will be split between two charities — Cancer Research U.K. and Battersea Dogs Home.
Posted by John Woestendiek June 20th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, dog, doggie, dogs, england, gimmicks, grooming, holiday, hotel, luxury, massage, paw seasons, personal chef, pet industry, pets, rich, spa, spectacular, surfing lessons, travel, uk, vacation, veryfirstto, wealth
Just when you thought the pet gear market couldn’t get any more precious, Martha Stewart and Crate & Barrell have launched new lines of upscale doggie products to further spoil our pooches.
Crate & Barrel is offering “a colorful pet gear line, which includes toys, beds, collars, leashes and more — all under $70,” according to PeoplePets.
It reports: “While we love the patterned cotton bones and catnip-filled mice, our pets are drooling over the dishwasher-safe porcelain bowls ($6.95-$14.95) adorned with conversation bubbles that say “Woof,” “Ruff” and “Meow.” Porcelain treat jars ($14.95-$19.95) are another charming accent for your kitchen. Dog jars feature a black-and-white fire hydrant motif and a bone-shaped handle, while the cat ones have fish and mice graphics and a fish-shaped handle.”
The new line is available in stores and on the Crate & Barrel website.
Martha, meanwhile — shown above during the taping of a commercial — has teamed up with PetSmart to premiere her Martha Stewart Pets line, which includes bowls, feeders, tote bags, toys, collars, leashes, beds and grooming accessories, all “designed with dogs and their owners in mind.”
Posted by John Woestendiek July 29th, 2010 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: accessories, animals, beds, bowls, collars, crate & barrel, dogs, grooming, industry, leashes, marketing, martha stewart, merchandise, merchandising, ohmidog!, pet gear, pet products, pets, petsmart, products, sales
In what’s being described as the latest pet craze in China, dogs are being groomed and dyed to resemble other animals.
You can probably guess what we — being proponents of letting dogs be dogs –think of this. As if humanizing weren’t bad enough, now we’re subjecting them to tiger-izing and panda-izing?
Visitors recently gathered at a local pet market in Central China’s Zhengzhou city to view and photograph dogs who’d been trimmed and painted to resemble pandas and Siberian tigers, according to a report in the Montreal Gazette.
China has also been big on dyeing dogs unnatural colors. Both fads are believed to have started off in the good old USA.
Posted by John Woestendiek June 9th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: alter, appearance, china, dogs, dye, dyeing, fads, groomers, grooming, paint, panda, pets, resemble, siberian tiger, tiger, trends, wild animals, wildlife, zhengzhou
Veterinarians in Boston say a neglected and abandoned Pekingese died from being trapped in his own fur.
The dog was found in Waltham on March 6, unable to move or walk because of severe matting of his fur, WCVB-TV reported. He was taken to Kindness Animal Hospital, but could not be saved and died a few days later.
“This is probably one of the most extreme cases of neglect we’ve encountered in our practice,” said Susan Rosenblatt, chief of staff at Kindness. “We’re concerned that there may be other animals in the same household that are being similarly neglected.”
The Pekingese was between 9 and 12-years-old, tan and blind in his right eye. The left eye had been surgically removed. His fur had become so completely matted around its body that the dog was trapped within itself, veterinarians said.
The dog’s teeth were rotten and his muscles had atrophied because he was unable to move for so long. His nails had grown in a complete circle because they had not been cut in years, the vets said, and he had pneumonia.
The veterinary hospital staff and other animal welfare advocates asked for the public’s help to find the dog’s owners. Anyone with information can contact Kindness Animal Hospital at 718-893-2800 or e-mail email@example.com.
Posted by John Woestendiek March 19th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abuse, atrophy, boston, cruelty to animals, death, died, dogs, fur, grooming, hair, kindness animal hospital, matted, neglect, neglected, news, pekingese, trapped, veterinarians, veterinary, waltham