A German photographer is taking some heat — at least on the Internet — for a series of photos capturing dogs in mid-air.
Dogs used in the photo shoot didn’t plummet too far, apparently only a couple of feet or so, after being dropped by their (off camera) owners onto a mattress.
The photos were picked up by more than a few media outlets, including the Daily Mail, which called them “hilarious,” and the Huffington Post, which termed the dog’s faces “precious,” pointed out no dogs were injured and noted, “We’re betting some of them even wanted to go again, since dogs are just awesome.”
Readers, almost unanimously, had, an entirely different view of it. Almost all those leaving comments on the Huffington Post post, called it animal cruelty, with many noting the fear they say is evident in the dog’s eyes.
Nearly 100 dogs and their owners turned up at Christe’s studio after she issued a call for canine models — and none of the owners apparently had any problem holding their dogs in the air and dropping them onto a mattress.
Christe (left) said she was seeking a unique perspective for her dog photos, and that all the dogs who took part seemed to have fun doing so.
“The dogs were dropped by their owners onto a mattress from as low a height as possible, and the impression of flight was enlarged by wind machines,” the photographer explained in the Daily Mail.
But as some commenters noted, even light landings can be hard on small dogs like dachshunds, and — regardless of how far they’re falling — the stress and fear it causes constitutes cruelty, some say.
“It’s actually incredibly dangerous for doxins to jump, let alone be dropped,” wrote one. “Their backs are very fragile and can break. This is more about a photographer wanting the spotlight, than it is art. Shame on you for putting your ego before these dogs’ safety and well being.”
We’d go a step further and say it’s also about websites who pander to dog lovers without pausing to think about what they’re pasting onto their sites — the ones that, in their haste to get more hits, slap an “adorable” label on anything dog-related and share it, failing to apply anything close to critical or responsible thinking.
“I really love animals, and so everything was safe, I would never take a chance on them getting hurt,” Christe said in the Daily Mail article. “…I feel the photographs show off both the grace and elegance of the dogs, which makes them appear in a slightly different way than usual.”
For all those pet photographers who would put a dog at risk so that they may achieve a new artistic perspective, we’d suggest they fling their own selves through the air, or turn their own selves upside down.
Because all those down-to-earth dogs are perfectly happy with the perspective they already have.
(Photos: Julia Christe / HotSpot Media)
Posted by John Woestendiek November 24th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: airborne, animal welfare, animals, art, cruelty, daily mail, danger, dog, dogs, dropped, fear, flying, flying dogs, german, germany, hazardous, huffington post, internet, julia christe, mid air, perspective, pets, photographer, photography, photos, repsonsibility, risk, risky, websites
Surely you can relate to what Bella, the German shepherd featured in this video, is going through.
Think about that beach vacation you didn’t want to come to an end, or your toddler’s hissy fit when the time came to leave Chuck E. Cheese, or those potato chips you always need one more of.
Sometimes, when something just feels so good, or is so much fun, stopping, packing up and going home is just unthinkable.
Such, seemingly is the case with Bella, who, when informed that her lake visit was over, whined, moaned and carried on in a way that made it clear that — despite what her owner was telling her — it wasn’t quite time to leave.
In posting the video on YouTube, her caretaker noted that, after her performance, Bella got to play in the lake a little longer.
“No dogs’ hearts were actually broken in the making of this video,” she added.
Two days ago, she posted another comment on YouTube, alluding to all the negative comments the video has received about her “ill-trained” dog.
“I thought it was funny. I didn’t realize at the time that half of the world’s population would know her better than I do based on a 2 min video. The true story is she has severe HD and we take her swimming in the pond just about everyday for therapy (it’s good for her hip, and helps burn all of her puppy energy).
“… She’s perfectly trained and I do know this isn’t appropriate behavior. I have found people nor animals are 100% perfect all of the time. You can tell from the tone of my voice that I’m not serious and she knew it as well. That’s why she pushed the limits and I allowed her to do so. It was fun banter back and forth between her, my daughter and I.
“Even after explaining ALL of this, there are going to be a million “dog whisperers” that still know her better than me. I posted this video 5 months ago, not thinking it would ever go viral. Based on the negativity of people that cannot see this for what it was — just a funny video of a dog — makes me wish at times that I had never posted it in the first place.”
Not to read too much into it, and even though it was all in the spirit of playfulness, it still makes me wonder: As dogs become more like humans, are they getting better at manipulating us?
And, given how much we’ve manipulated them, is that only fair?
And, as for all those nasty “expert” commenters who can’t tear themselves away from negatively pontificating on the Internet — because to them it’s just too much fun — I suggest they go jump in a lake.
Posted by John Woestendiek October 1st, 2014 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, behavior, bella, dog, dogs, fit, fun, german shepherd, hissy fit, internet, lake, manipulation, pets, play, stop, time to go, video, viral video
Photos of a dog being dragged by a car in China led to an online campaign to track the driver down, his identity being unveiled, and enough harassment to bring him to apologize for what he did.
The photos of the dragging, and some videos, were posted starting Saturday on Sina Weibo, a popular microblogging site similar to Twitter, and quickly went viral.
An online manhunt — or what’s sometimes called a “human flesh search” — for the driver led to him being identified, likely through his license plate number.
His name, address and telephone number were shared on Sina Weibo, where there was also talk among users of visiting him and administering their own justice.
Before that could happen, the driver appeared on a Shantou Television news program on Monday admitting responsibility for the incident and apologizing.
He said the dog is a watchdog at his factory, and had bitten people. He wanted to get rid of the dog, but couldn’t kill it with his own hands, according to China Daily.
“I couldn’t see the dog in my rear-view mirror so I wasn’t aware that it was bleeding badly,” the man, identified only as Zheng, said in his public apology. “I apologize for my actions and hope Sina Weibo users would not to reveal or share any more of my personal information,” he said.
Witnesses said that after the dragging Zheng untied the dog — bleeding and near death — and threw it into some bushes on the side of a busy road in Shantou, in China’s Guangdong province.
An animal rights group has organized a campaign to find the missing dog, a spokesperson for the group told BBC Trending. The driver claims the dog was still alive when left at the side of the road, but volunteers have been unable to find it.
(Photo from Sina Weibo)
Posted by John Woestendiek September 24th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, apology, car, china, cruelty, dog, dragged, Guangdon, human flesh search, internet, pets, photos, Shantou, sina weibo, social media, video, weibo
It’s no secret that a sad dog story, properly promoted on social media, can bring in some pretty huge donations — for an animal shelter, a rescue organization, or an individual.
Whether your dog needs life-saving surgery, or even an intense diet regimen, you don’t have to be a nonprofit organization to ask the public for help — and you shouldn’t have to be.
But with the rise of social media, and online fundraising tools like GoFundMe, IndieGogo, and all those other I-would-like- some-of-your-money-please websites, there are likely more bucks than ever before being donated directly to individual dogs in need.
With all that unmonitored money pouring in, what ensures that it’s going to the rightful place — namely, helping the dog in question? What ensures any surplus won’t end up going to the dog owner’s kitchen remodel? What’s to guarantee that the sad dog story is even true in the first place?
In a word, nothing.
Just as the Internet has made us all published journalists, photographers and autobiographers, it has given us an easy route to becoming professional fund-raisers.
What gets lost in that transition is knowing who we can trust.
We can only cross our fingers and hope that those engaging in outright fraud get caught, that those soliciting funds to help a dog don’t get too greedy, and that money sent in by good-hearted people seeking to help a dog actually goes to helping a dog.
It’s a fuzzy area — legally and morally. What accounting, if any, does a private citizen raising money to help a dog owe those who contribute?
In Oregon, at least, the answer seems to be some, at least in the view of the state Attorney General’s Office.
Since January, the office’s charitable activities section has been looking into how Nora Vanatta spent, and is spending, all the money sent in to help Obie — the 77-pound dachshund she adopted and whose weight loss program became a much-followed story.
Vanatta, a veterinary technician who lives in Portland, never purported to be affiliated with a nonprofit, but she did seek and accept thousands of dollars from people around the world who were inspired by Obie’s story.
Vanatta initially fostered Obie, after reading about him on the Facebook page of Oregon Dachshund Rescue.
After Obie’s story went viral, the rescue sought to get the dog back, and filed a lawsuit. The case was later settled, and Vanatta was awarded permanent custody. (Obie is down to 22 pounds.)
Meanwhile, money — Vanatta won’t say how much — continued to come in, $15,000 of which Vanatta says was spent on lawyers she hired to fight the custody battle. Some of it went to pay for $80 bags of specialty food Obie required, and a $1,500 skin-reduction surgery.
Since January, Vanatta has been answering questions from the Attorney General’s office, which began looking into the matter after receiving complaints about how she was spending the funds, and is now in the process of working out an agreement with her.
“They wanted everything – copies of every penny in, every penny out,” she told the Oregonian.
The Attorney General’s office won’t identify the source of the complaint, and it says no wrongdoing was found in how Vanatta has spent the funds so far. (Apparently, nobody in that office full of lawyers had any problem with all the money that went to lawyers.)
But the office does disagree with how she plans to spend the rest. (Obie’s PayPal account was closed last year.)
Vanatta says the office objects to her using the money to help individual dogs with medical needs, which is maybe a little ironic given the money was raised to help an individual dog with medical needs. The Attorney General’s office frowned upon her giving $2,000 to a family she met at the Tualatin veterinary clinic where she works to help them pay for their dog’s back surgery. Instead, the office wants her to give the money away to established nonprofits, and wants to set a deadline.
The case raises lots of interesting questions, and some disturbing ones.
We’re all for the attorney general keeping an eye on such fundraising drives; slightly less for that office dictating what good causes should receive the remainder of the money, and when.
We agree with Vanatta’s reasoning on that: “I strongly believe you do not have to be a nonprofit to do good,” she said.
What bothers us most, though, next to Obie’s previous owners letting him get so morbidly obese, is how much of the money donated has gone to lawyers — $15,000 on the custody case, another $11,800 for lawyers to represent Vanatta in the attorney general’s investigation.
Obie may be becoming a slimmer dog, thanks in part to donations from the public, but, as always, lawyers — gobbling up the bulk of the donations — just keep getting fatter.
Posted by John Woestendiek September 19th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abused, accounting, adoption, animals, attorney general, campaigns, charitable, charities, crowdfunding, dachshund, dog, dogs, donations, dying, foster, fraud, fundraising, gofundme, internet, investigation, money, monitoring, nora vanatta, obie, oversight, pets, raising, rescue, sick, social media, surgery, trust
There are plenty of rescue groups that likely do as good a job saving, rehabilitating and re-homing stray dogs as Hope For Paws.
But there is probably none better than that Los Angeles-based non-profit at documenting what they do on video.
Above is their latest rescue video — that of a pit bull, since named Bunny, found abandoned on some government property. Shy, skittish and — even we’d admit — looking a little intimidating, she was lured in with hamburgers and trapped in a crate.
Not until she’s transported to safety and let out of the crate do we get the answer to the question that — in addition to the beautiful camera work — keeps us watching: How is she going to react, close up, with a member of the species that treated her so rudely?
Therein lies the beauty of the Hope For Paws videos, and the beauty of dogs.
Bunny, who apparently experienced little kindness in life — with the exception of one good Samaritan who would drop her off some food while she was living in the wild — doesn’t just give humans a second chance, she becomes an instant, gentle, trusting and tail-wagging friend.
After a few shy sniffs, she was resting her head on the laps of her rescuers.
Bunny is now up for adoption through Sevadog, an Oregon organization that helps dogs find forever homes. Hope For Paws often teams up with other rescues. In Bunny’s case, three were involved, including the group Rescue From the Hart, which notified Hope For Paws about the dog’s situation.
Hope For Paws went to the site, found the dog and got her veterinary care — shooting video the whole time.
The videos, which get millions of views on YouTube, help raise funds for the organization, and melt our hearts in the process. But they also bring attention to the issue of stray and homeless dogs, and remind us that, no matter how rough shape a being might be in, hope and love can conquer all.
The Internet age has seen us all become more adept at touting ourselves — as individuals, as non-profit organizations, as corporations. There are downsides to that. One is how easy it has become to mislead the masses. Another is the danger that we all end up spending 10 percent of our time on a project, and 90 percent of our time touting what we’ve done.
On the other hand, for a non-profit organization, showing the public what it does, in a way that touches the heart, can be a key to survival.
So, all things considered, we hope the Hope For Paws videos keep coming, and we urge you to take at some of the others by clicking the link in this paragraph.
You’ll see some dogs in pretty horrid shape, like this one found living in a landfill, but you’ll also get transported from sad to happy on your way to the final destination — hope.
Posted by John Woestendiek September 17th, 2014 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: abandoned, animal welfare, animals, bunny, documenting, dog, dogs, fundraising, helpless, homeless, hope for paws, internet, los angeles, pets, public relations, rescue, rescue from the hart, rescue videos, rescues, sevadog, shelter, stray, touting, video, videos
There are two main reasons I’m against humanizing our pets.
One, it’s messing with nature — dogs (ideal beasts, in my view) should stay dogs.
Two, portraying them as humans, giving them human attributes, or using them as our puppets, implies our species is superior, and worth imitating. Oftentimes, from what I’ve seen of it, it’s not. We’re are way too far from perfect to appoint ourselves role models for the animal kingdom.
I get slightly peeved when I see technology being used to make dogs more human — especially when, because we deem it cute and entertaining, we put our words in their mouths.
So, immensely popular as it is, I’m less than smitten with My Talking Pet, an app that allows us to take a photo of our cat or dog, record an audio message, and get a video of our pet — animated so that mouth, nose and eyebrows move as the pet appears to talk.
From the samples I’ve seen, the words we put in the mouths of dogs are only further proof that we’re not the intellectually superior species we think we are.
“People are obsessed with it,” said Iain Baird, who developed the app with his former school buddy, Peter Worth. “I think it’s really struck a chord with how close people are with their pets.”
The concept, he told Fortune.com, came while he and some friends were in a London pub talking about a YouTube video featuring a “talking dog” that had gone viral. They decided to come up with an app that would make it easy for any pet owner make their dog “talk,” and it hit the iTunes market in early 2013.
It wasn’t until after the app was featured on the “Ellen” show that it really took off.
Last October, Kat Dennings and Beth Behrs, stars of the CBS sitcom “2 Broke Girls,” praised the app while on the show. In the weeks that followed it became the most downloaded paid app in the Apple iTunes store.
Worth and Baird say their company, WOBA Media, began thinking even bigger after that — including offering a “devil mode,” which adds glowing red eyes to the pet, and “angel mode,” in which the pet appears under a halo.
Taken alone, “My Talking Pet” is just a little harmless fun — as is dressing the dog up for Halloween, treating the dog like a spoiled grandchild, or calling them “fur babies”.
The dangers come when our seeing them as humans sabotages our attempts at training, when we start assigning dogs human emotions they don’t have, and holding them to human expectations.
We should be close to our pets. We should see them as family members — only canine ones. To manipulate them, to turn them into something else (humans, or angels, or devils), to put words into their mouths, all takes away from appreciating them for what they are.
Just something to keep in mind as technology marches on — often making bigger inroads than we originally anticipated.
How long will it be, for example, before cutting edge, 21st Century technology, like that used in “My Talking Pet” is turned around on us, and the app takes on a mind of its own, and our pets are giving us their unsolicited opinions on the best brand of dog food, cereal or car to buy?
That could never happen, could it?
Posted by John Woestendiek September 4th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: 2 broke girls, animal, animals, animation, apps, behavior, dog, dogs, ellen, humanize, humanizing, internet, itunes, my talking pet, pets, species, superior, talking, talking dog videos, talking dogs, technology, words
Did a Google “street view” car hit and kill a small dog on a road in Chile?
Some media outlets are suggesting just that, based on evidence that comes from … Google.
Whether the Internet giant was fingered by its own technology isn’t certain, but a look at what the street view car recorded while traveling down the 2800 block of Meza Bell indicates that the lively little dog ran that ran in front of the car was, after the car had passed, apparently lifeless.
Street view cars, driven by independent contractors, travel down public streets recording a 360 degree view of the surroundings for use on Google Maps.
The images show the dog trotting in front of the oncoming car, and laying motionless in its wake.
Most media accounts, like this one on BusinessInsider.com, imply the vehicle did not stop.
Google says it is investigating the images to “understand and inform what happened” and ensure that they have proper guidelines in place to protect people and animals.
Last year, questions arose over whether a street view car had struck and killed a donkey in Botswana. Google said a review of the images proved that didn’t happen.
(Images from Google Maps)
Posted by John Woestendiek August 22nd, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, car, dog, dogs, google, google maps, hits, internet, kills, mapping, maps, pets, street, street view, street view car, view