Reports surfaced this week that Amazon, as it continues to develop its top secret project to someday deliver packages by drones, has obtained a “simulated dog” so they can assess what obstacles dogs might pose to drones, and how to avoid them.
This is a real story. Honest.
It sounds a little like something out of an episode of Robot Wars, but the dangers dogs could pose to drones, and, more important, drones could pose to dogs, are well worth considering if this whole drone delivery idea is going to come to pass.
(Which I’d prefer it didn’t.)
Amazon doesn’t care what I think, though, and it is proceeding very secretly on the drone project, and looking at how to equip drones with enough artificial intelligence (beyond GPS) for them to cope with what postal carriers have long been coping with — everything from dogs to clotheslines.
Ironically, the Amazon simulated dog story came out same day the Postal Service released its latest dog bite figures, which are undergoing the largest increase in three decades.
Dog attacks on postal workers rose last year to 6,755, up 206 from the previous year — but the increase comes amid double-digit increases in the post office’s package business. Postal carriers are visiting more homes more frequently and at all times of day, often burdened with packages, thanks to agreements the Postal Service struck with Amazon in 2013 and 2014.
In other words, the more Internet shopping we all do, the greater burden we put on postal carriers, thereby increasing the chances for them to be victims of dog bites.
Unless of course packages are being delivered by drones, as Amazon — clearly the biggest catalyst in online shopping’s growth — proposes to do.
If there’s a conspiracy theory that might apply to all this, please feel free to apply it. Because I can’t come up with one.
According to the International Business Times, Amazon is using the simulated dogs as it conducts tests with drones in the UK.
It is not known how many simulated dogs there are in Amazon’s pack or what, if any, behaviors they’ve been programmed to imitate — barking, biting, tail-wagging?
Nor is it known whether Amazon created them, procured them from a contractor, or ordered them from themselves.
Amazon has been testing delivery drones since 2015. In July 2016 it signed a partnership with the UK government to explore the safe use of UAV’s (unmanned aerial vehicles) to make deliveries in rural and suburban areas.
There are plenty of rough spots still to be figured out, most of them dealing with the drone’s use of air space.
But, once it comes time for a drone to land, one of the major concerns is going to be dogs. The drones will deliver packages, guided by GPS, and leave them on a special welcome mat the customer has placed on a front porch or a back patio.
Some dogs, I suspect, will cower in fear when a drone appears overhead; maybe a few will take them in stride, but many will see them as humming and hovering monsters, intent on trying to invade their territory.
(Which, to me, is a pretty accurate description.)
A drone’s blades can inflict serious damage, and ingesting a drone’s parts could also be a hazard. And Amazon is not unaware of the potential liabilities.
So now it’s researching how to give drones some artificial intelligence — to equip them with the ability to protect themselves when they sense a danger to themselves or others.
Given it’s a dog friendly company, it’s not likely Amazon will arm drones to spray cayenne pepper when a dog approaches.
Dropping a couple of treats — charming as that would be, and though it works well for postal carriers — probably wouldn’t work, either.
More likely, the drones will be taught to just abort their landing and return to their home base if a dog’s presence is sensed.
That could ruin many a “same day delivery,” but, unless you are ordering insulin, is that really so important?
The best solution is pretty obvious. Drop the fanciful and futuristic pipe dream. Keep the skies clear. Let humans make the deliveries.
I’ll gladly wait another day, or two, or three, for my package in exchange for the benefits that would offer — jobs, peace and quiet, and safer dogs and children among them.
(Photos: At top, an Amazon delivery drone, courtesy of Amazon.com; lower, the Genibo SD Robotic Dog, available from Amazon)
Posted by John Woestendiek April 7th, 2017 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: amazon, animals, biting, blades, dangers, deliveries, delivery, delivery drones, dog, dog bites, dogs, drone, drones, drones and dogs, hazards, incidents, injuries, internet, jobs, liability, online, packages, peace, pets, post office, postal service, prime air, project, quiet, reactions, response, shopping, simulated dog, skies, threat
The University of North Carolina baseball team has welcomed a new teammate this year — a 2-year-old golden retriever named Remington.
Remington isn’t there to be a mascot, though he has learned some mascot-like tricks, like holding his cap for the national anthem, taking balls to the ump, and high-fiving his teammates.
But his larger role is as Carolina’s first athletics training room assistance dog (and the first in the ACC).
UNC reports that the dog’s official title is “psychiatric medical alert facility rehabilitation service dog,” which sounds like a lot of responsibility.
But, cutting through the mumbo-jumbo, what Remington does is help players recover from injuries.
He works with Terri Jo Rucinski, coordinator of the physical therapy clinic and staff athletic trainer for the team.
Rucinski, who has worked with the team for 12 years, met Remington through paws4people, a Wilmington, N.C., nonprofit agency that places customized assistance dogs with clients at no cost.
He began his training when he was just 3-days-old. By 16 weeks, he was learning obedience and disabilities skills training. He also learned basic command sets, and knows more than 100 commands, including written commands from cue cards.
He joined the team last August after passing a series of certification tests.
Posted by John Woestendiek April 3rd, 2017 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, assistance dogs, baseball, baseball team, chapel hill, clinic, coordinator, dog, dogs, golden retriever, injuries, mascot, paws4people, pets, physical therapy, players, rehabilitation, remington, retriever, service dog, service dogs, sports, students, tarheels, team, terri jo rucinski, trainer, unc, university of north carolina
Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar said deputies were called to a home on the morning of New Year’s Eve, where a couple told them that the girl had wandered out of the home the previous night and been attacked by dogs.
Doctors at the hospital where the girl was treated found the injuries were inconsistent with dog bites and that a sexual assault had occurred.
At a news conference Tuesday, Salazar said the girl had suffered “extremely serious and life-threatening wounds consistent with a brutal sexual assault and multiple stab wounds,” CBS12 reported.
“I can’t even begin to describe to you the level of depravity that went into this crime,” the sheriff said.
Deputies arrested 22-year-old Crystal Herrera, described as a relative of the child, and her boyfriend, 23-year-old Isaac Andrew Cardenas.
Cardenas has been charged with super aggravated sexual assault of a child. His bond has been set at $300,000. Herrera has been charged with injury to a child and serious bodily injury by omission.
The 1-year-old girl was in stable condition Tuesday. Upon her release she will be placed in the custody of Child Protective Services.
Initially, county Animal Care Services workers took several neighborhood dogs into custody.
None showed any signs of aggression and they were returned to the owners.
(Photos: Cardenas, left; Herrara, right, Bexar County Sheriff’s Office)
Posted by John Woestendiek January 5th, 2017 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, attack, attacked, bexar county sheriff, blame, blamed, charged, couple, dog, dogs, dogs blamed, girl, injuries, lie, mauled, one year old, pets, san antonion, sexual assault, story, texas
Police arrested Heather Pereira, of Elizabethtown, during a visit to her veterinarian’s office and charged her with three counts of animal torture and obtaining a controlled substance by fraud. She was being held this week at the Hardin County Detention Center on a $5,000 bond.
It was the veterinarian’s office that contacted authorities after Pereira brought her dog in three times in three months for treatment of lacerations. Each time, Pereira asked for the powerful pain medication Tramadol for the dog, a golden retriever.
“Typically, as veterinarians, we see the best of people, people rescuing unwanted pets, people rescuing pets that have been hit on the street,” veterinarian Dr. Chad Bailey with Elizabethtown Animal Hospital said in an interview with WLKY. “Something like this is definitely uncharted territory,” Bailey said.
Pereira, 23, brought her dog to the hospital twice in October for treatment of mulitiple lacerations. On Dec. 4, the dog returned with more cuts and vets suspected, based on “the cleanliness of the cuts,” that they were inflicted with a razor, possibly intentionally.
Police were called and began an investigation, during which Pereira confessed she was injuring the dog to obtain pain medications.
“It was determined she was actually taking them and using those medications for herself instead of for the dog,” said Elizabethtown Police Sgt. Timothy Cleary.
At one point, police said, Pereira told vets she needed more painkillers for the dog because her child had flushed them down the toilet.
Pereira doesn’t have any children.
The dog has been removed from her home and placed in foster care. She’s going by a new name — Alice.
“She’s a great dog, wagging her tail, and, you know, I’m sure the dog has already forgiven, that’s just what dogs do. They love us unconditionally, and she’s a great dog and doing fine,” Bailey said.
Posted by John Woestendiek December 11th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abuse, abusing, animals, arrest, chad bailey, controlled substance, cuts, dog, dogs, drugs, elizabethtown, elizabethtown animal hospital, golden retriever, hardin county, heather pereira, injuries, kentucky, lacerations, medication, owner, pain killers, painkiller, painkillers, pets, police, taking, torture, tramadol, vet, veterinarian, veterinary
A professional wrestler’s dachshund has a broken paw, and a major league pitcher is blaming his torn meniscus on his boxer– both injuries apparently the result of some overly enthusiastic play between athlete and dog.
Former WWE Champ Jeff Hardy — that, in case you couldn’t guess, is him to the left — was playing with his dachshund Sophie when she jumped off the back of the couch and landed on the floor.
Hardy and his wife suspected the dog only suffered a sprain.
But after a few days of limping, Sophie was taken to a vet and diagnosed with a cracked bone in her paw, TMZ reported.
Meanwhile, in the world of real sports, Texas Rangers pitcher Derek Holland had arthroscopic surgery Friday after a run in with his dog.
Holland told ESPN his boxer, Wrigley, bumped him while bounding up the stairs, causing his left knee to hit a step.
The impact tore cartilage in his knee, and he is expected to miss half the season.
“He was running up the stairs and clipped me,” Holland said. “I hit my knee on the step, and if it wasn’t for me grabbing the rail, I might have fallen all the way down the stairs and cracked my head open.”
Posted by John Woestendiek January 15th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, baseball, boxer, dachshund, derek holland, dogs, health, horseplay, injuries, jeff hardy, pets, pitcher, play, professional, safety, sophie, sports, texas rangers, wrestling, wrigley, wwe
Case in point: today’s “Dear Abby” column, in which a reader relates how a 9-year-old visitor to his home climbed aboard his Labrador retriever, possibly causing her permanent injuries.
“Isaac,” the visiting child, who apparently had little experience with canines, was playing with Layla, the retriever, when the homeowner heard him say, “Look, I’m riding your dog!”
“I immediately intervened, but I was too late,” the letter writer said. “A day or so later, Layla was unable to descend our stairway and was clearly in pain. She has been on pain medication for three weeks and is growing progressively worse. The next step is to get X-rays and/or an MRI to see if she has a spinal injury, and then determine her treatment. It’s possible the damage is irreversible.”
The letter writer wasn’t seeking veterinary advice, but wondering how to tell Isaac and his parents about the harm he caused, and keep him from doing it again, without placing “undue guilt on a 9-year-old boy.”
Abby responded to “Heartbroken in New York” this way:
“Children are not mind-readers. If you don’t tell them when they make a mistake, they won’t realize they have made one. Contact Isaac’s parents and explain what happened. If your dog needs treatment, they should be responsible for whatever damage their son did.”
I — though nobody asked — would add only two things to that. First, that any guilt Isaac might feel on learning what he had done isn’t exactly “undue.” Second, that when your dog is meeting someone new — especially a child — you should be in the room, watching and, if necessary, teaching. It’s very easy for a dog owner to assume everyone knows how to behave around dogs, but it’s also very wrong.
Riding a dog, no matter how big he or she is, no matter what the Internet might tell you — and the photo above is just one example of some incredibly irresponsible online “expertise” — should simply never be done. Period.
(Photo: Taken from wikiHow.com’s article on “how to ride a dog”)
(Postscript: The day after this article appeared on ohmidog!, the wikiHow article on “how to ride a dog” was taken down.)
Posted by John Woestendiek March 8th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abby, advice, animal welfare, breeds, children, dear abby, dog, dogs, expertise, health, heartbroken, injuries, injury, internet, irresponsible, kids, kids and dogs, labrador retriever, layla, meeting, new, responsible, ride, riding, riding dogs, rode, safety, wikihow
Anti-dog racing groups say Mardi Gras Casino & Resort in Nitro, West Virginia, has had an alarming number of greyhound injuries over the past six years — more than one a day.
West Virginia Racing Commission records analyzed by Massachusetts-based Grey2K USA show that, in addition to 1.4 injuries a day, 152 dogs were euthanized during that period, only seven of those because of illnesses.
Carey Theil, executive director of Grey2K, the anti-dog racing agency that spent years trying to obtain the records, told the Charleston Daily Mail that the numbers are the highest the group has seen at any U.S. track.
An ASPCA spokesperson called the figures “appalling.”
Track executive Dan Adkins said the number of injuries has dropped the past two years and is near the national average.
Adkins insists dog health is a top priority for the track’s parent company, Hartman and Tyner Inc. of Hallandale, Fla. Out of more than 43,400 racing starts last year, he said, there were only 25 deaths.
The records show about 750 broken bones, and more than 300 career-ending injuries.
Grey2K says the true number could be even higher than state records indicate because more than 13 months of data is missing. The Racing Commission told the Daily Mail it could not find those records.
Posted by John Woestendiek February 23rd, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal cruelty, animal welfare, animals, aspca, carey theil, cruelty to animals, deaths, documents, dogs, euthanasia, grey2k, grey2kusa, greyhound, injured, injuries, mardi gras casino & resort, nitro, pets, racing, records, west virginia, west virginia racing commission