OUR BEST FRIENDS

whs-logo

The Sergei Foundation

shelterpet_logo

The Animal Rescue Site

B-more Dog

aldflogo

Pinups for Pitbulls

philadoptables

TFPF_Logo

Mid Atlantic Pug Rescue

Our Pack, Inc.

Maine Coonhound Rescue

Saving Shelter Pets, Inc.

mabb

LD Logo Color

Tag: internet

Amazon introduces its own dog food line

wagfoodAmazon (remember when it was a river?) continues its quest to dominate the world (make that the universe) — by selling everything that can possibly be sold, delivering it in ways never before possible, and taking people where they’ve never been able to go.

Now it wants to feed your dog, too.

In its march to ruling every retail category imaginable, Amazon has announced the debut of a dog food line, which will be part of a much bigger step into the highly profitable, nearly inflation-proof world of pet food and products.

According to Bloomberg, Amazon is calling the pet food Wag, named after Wag.com, which Amazon acquired in 2011. Wag.com now redirects to an Amazon landing page.

The food comes in several different varieties, with primarily protein sources including chicken, beef, salmon, lamb, and turkey. It will be available in puppy or adult formula and sold in five-, 15-, and 30-pound bags.

The food line is labeled “no grain added.”

Americans are projected to spend more than $72 billion on their pets in 2018, according to the American Pet Products Association. So the only real surprise here is, what took Amazon, which owns everything from Whole Foods to the Washington Post, which is renowned as a dog-friendly company, so long?

The move is seen as a threat to Petco Animal Supplies Inc. and PetSmart Inc., which purchased Chewy.com last year for more than $3 billion, as well as big box retailers and supermarkets that sell pet supplies online to many of the nation’s 85 million pet-owning households.

So don’t be surprised if you are seeing dog food-toting drones flying over head in your area some day soon.

How much is the dead doggy in the window?

Elegantcorgipuppiesleashes1

Everyone should know by now that there are certain things you just don’t procure online — not that oceanfront condo that looks so good in the pictures, not that Russian wife who looks so good in the pictures, and definitely not that adorable puppy whose photos you keep clicking on.

As effort-free as the online purchase has become — to the point that Amazon can now make items magically appear in the trunk of your car (try that, David Copperfield) — we may forget that we are living in the golden age of scamming, and that what’s too good to be true usually is, or may not even exist at all.

Perhaps nowhere is the scamming more rampant than in pet sales.

ABC7 (aka KGO-TV) in northern California took a look at some of those scams in a recent two-part report, interviewing both directly impacted victims and those on the periphery, such as the woman who saw her dead Corgi being offered for sale on two different websites.

(Find part one here, and part two here.)

“Tens of thousands of consumers, at least in the United States, have lost money to these online pet scams,” Rebecca Harpster of the Better Business Bureau told the station.

A BBB report says the scams are on the rise, and the FTC counted 37,000 reports of bogus online pet sellers over five years. The FTC estimates only about 10 percent of victims reported the crime, so the actual number of victims could be in the hundreds of thousands.

Not only do the scammers accept money for dogs that don’t exist, they then often string along the buyer with additional charges they claim are popping up in getting the dog delivered.

They’ll say they need to insure the dog for transport, or that a special crate needs to be purchased, ask for more money and say the dog can’t be delivered until they receive it.

The BBB recommends never buying a dog based on pictures or videos. Scammers use stock photos and videos, or obtain pictures of their own, and post them on the phony websites, claiming the dogs are for sale.

Wendy Hicks is one of many who say photos of her dog have gone on to be used as fake ads in seedy websites.

Her prized Corgi Abby appeared on Corgi Precious Puppies and Elegant Corgi Puppies — both of which have since been shut down. She suspects there might be more.

“It’s like whack-a-mole. You get them taken down here and they’re going to pop up somewhere else,” Hicks said.

PetScams.com has been tracking this kind of scheme for different dog websites around the world.

ABC7 interviewed the site’s administrator, Paul Brady, who says he gets complaints from people around the world who say they’ve lost money trying to buy all kinds of breeds from different online sites.

Pet Scams forwards any reports it receives about fraudulent pet websites to the company that registered the domain name.

(Image: A screenshot of the website Elegant Corgi puppies, which no longer exists)

Don, the talking dog who started it all

screen_shot_2018-04-20_at_45646_pmleashes1

In this era of talking dogs — from the animated creatures in Wes Anderson’s “Isle of Dogs” to those so easily found “conversing” on the Internet — it might behoove us to remember the first “real” one, the star of a vaudeville act known as Don the Talking Dog.

And since not too many of us were around in 1912 to recall that, we’re fortunate that Smithsonian Magazine writer Greg Daugherty revisited that era and that dog for the magazine recently.

Don the Talking Dog, a setter or pointer from Germany, made his debut in the U.S. in 1912 — during the golden age of vaudeville, the less salty cousin of burlesque, which was traditionally peppered with acts featuring animals doing human things.

There, for a few quarters, you could see rats riding cats around racetracks, dancing elephants, boxing kangaroos, juggling sea lions and monkeys displaying an array of talents.

smithsonianillustrationDon the Talking Dog — proclaimed “the canine phenomenon of the century” — took things a step further. He, or so his name implied, talked.

Only in German, of course. But with a heavy population of German immigrants at the time in New York City, he became a major hit.

He had already garnered attention in Europe by then, with a vocabulary that reached eight words.

His first word was haben (“have” in English), followed by his own name, the word kuchen (cake or biscuit), ja and nein, ruhe (rest) and hunger (which is the same in both languages).

Generally, he didn’t speak in sentences, just one word at a time, and only when prompted by his trainer.

Don arrived in the U.S. in 1912 at the invitation of the vaudeville impresario William Hammerstein.

“Don will sail on the Kronprinz Wilhelm next Wednesday,” the New York Times noted. “A special cabin has been engaged in order to insure his safety.”

When Don’s ship docked, he was greeted by reporters, though they were disappointed not to get any good quotes.

Don stayed in the U.S for the next two years, making appearances in New York and around the country, once performing on the same bill as escape artist Harry Houdini. He then toured the country, performing in Boston, San Francisco, and other cities.

His act consisted of answering a series of questions served up by his regular straight man and interpreter, a vaudeville veteran known as Loney Haskell. Haskell became so attached to Don, according to news reports at that, “that in one-night stands he slept in the dog’s kennel.”

The journal Science, party poopers even back then, didn’t quite buy his act: “The speech of Don is … to be regarded properly as the production of sounds which produce illusions in the hearer.”

screen_shot_2018-04-20_at_45805_pmDespite his dubious skills and limited vocabulary, Don became a pioneering celebrity endorser, for Milk-Bone dog biscuits.

After two years in the U.S., Don retired and returned to his homeland. Haskell once calculated that their stage performances paid Don $92 per word, the equivalent of about $2,300 a word today. He died at home, near Dresden, Germany, in late 1915.

Smithsonian reported, “His last words, if any, seem to have gone unrecorded.”

Other “talking” dogs would follow, including Rolf, a German-born terrier who supposedly communicated by a form of Morse code, and was able to add and subtract, and Queen, who was described as “positively the only dog in the world that speaks the English language.”

Fast forward 100 years and we still have folks making those claims — dog owners, scientists, and entrepreneurs, each group with probably a few hucksters among them, who claim to be on the verge of a device that translates dog to human.

Take them as you would the dogs speaking in this compilation (none of whom can say compilation, by the way) — with a grain of salt.

(Illustrations: Smithsonian Magazine)

Are there too many dogs on the Internet?

image001Depictions of dogs, as any one who has ever read the wall of a prehistoric cave knows, date back to well before ancient times.

Pharaohs commissioned artworks of their favorite pets. Portrayals of hunting and images of medieval banquets often featured dogs in the background or foreground. In the Victorian-era, aristocrats hired painters to make portraits of themselves and their pooches.

As the 20th Century dawned, as humans came to live ever closer to the species, artists seized upon the idea of depicting dogs dressed in human attire and doing human things, bringing us such classes artworks as the inimitable (but often imitated) work, Dogs Playing Poker.

Well before photography went digital, before somebody flicked that World Wide Web switch on, dog depictions were being shared — if not as instantly, often, ridiculously and (often) demaningly as they are today on the Internet, and social media in particular.

Even in my earliest days in journalism, back in the 1970’s, I remember some newspapers had a pet writer — someone who penned a pet column, usually weekly. He or she was commonly an older person who performed mostly clerical duties, maybe a secretary for some top editor, who, due to his or her love for dogs, had volunteered for the task, likely at no increase in pay.

He or she would probably feature a dog in need of adoption every week, or write about pet care and training, or simply ask readers to submit photos of their pets for publication — an opportunity many readers seized, sending actual photos through actual mail.

One of the differences between then and now — a time when many a website is telling you how much they would like to see photos of your dog — is that the old clerk/pet writer’s request for photos was more than likely at least partly sincere.

pokerThose folks who want to see your dog’s photo now? Almost always, they are after something else. You can trust them about as much as the bulldog sneaking an ace to his friend in that painting to the left there.

Pet food websites, pet toy websites, even (we hate to admit it) pet news websites will commonly beg you for a photo of your pooch — not because anyone actually wants to see it, but because they want to get you on their email lists, get you “registered,” introduce you to their products and enlist your loyalty.

They want, more than anything, your money, and like many other businesses that want your money, they will gladly deceive you and try to capitalize on your love for/pride in your pet:

“We’d love to see a photo of your dog!”

Yeah, right.

I’m not here today to say that there are too many dogs on the Internet — even if never before in the history of man have we been so saturated with dog photos and images. The more the merrier, I say.

But I would argue there is too much dog exploitation and too much dog ridicule on the Internet, much of it carried out via those “adorable” photos of your “fur baby” — sometimes by profit-making concerns, sometimes by dog owners themselves.

Compare and contrast, if you will, our old, likely unpaid, pet columnist with someone like Matt Nelson, who is making a six figure annual salary by posting photos sent in by readers, along with a comment and a numerical rating (based on the dog, not the photo) at @dog_rates.

He is not taking any photos. He is not buying any photos. He’s really not doing much work at all, other than accumulating followers. He is merely sharing other people’s photos on Twitter — and managing to make a handsome living from it.

Nelson — profiled by Money magazine recently — dropped out of college once he saw how popular his dog photo sharing Twitter page had become:

There, WeRateDogs’ operations are relatively simple. Nelson estimates he runs 95 percent of things from his iPhone (which, yes, he confirms, does require a massive data plan to handle all the dog photos). He has two remote employees: Ricci, who culls submissions down to about 20 each day, and Tyler Macke, who manages the WeRateDogs online store. His dad, an executive director of a law firm, advises him on finances.

Nelson says he brings in “a low five figures” every month. At minimum, that puts him over $100,000 a year.

Thanks, Money magazine, for doing the math for us.

While Nelson may not be doing much original or creative work, at least his pursuit is mostly cute and kind and well meaning.

20151016_181413-e1522168748576Other dog photo sharing websites are more distasteful to me — dogshaming.com, in particular.

It features photos of dogs who have misbehaved, along with hand-made signs — all submitted by readers.

But perhaps most troubling of all are the photos and videos that individuals post to their Facebook page showing their dogs doing distinctly human things.

Alexandra Horowitz, the author and researcher who has spent her career seriously studying and trying to understand dogs — despite what seems to be society’s preference to see them as dress-up dolls, movie characters with human voices, or (apologies to those who use the term) “fur babies” — made note of the phenomena in last week’s New York Times Opinion section.

In it, she asked the question:

“Why can’t I stand to look at one more photo of a ‘funny dog?'”

She continued, “In a typical image, the dog is posed in a distinctly person-like way, as if on the phone, seated at a table or wearing headphones and dressed up in human attire — glasses, a dog-size suit and tie, even pantyhose.”

” … These dogs are but furry emoji: stand ins for emotions and sentiment. Each representation diminishes this complex, impressive creature to an object of our most banal imagination,” Horowitz wrote. “Such treatment may not be mortifying to the dog, perhaps … but it is degrading to the species.”

Only the most extreme examples of making our dogs look ridiculous receive any sort of backlash — primarily from people who see the pet as being abused. Like this one on Twitter. Go to the link and read all the comments and you almost think, maybe people are coming to their senses.

It bugs me that society is this way — that it took a species, molded it to its liking, and continually foists its own likeness and peculiarities upon it. It bugs me what people will put their dog through to achieve a Facebook post or Halloween costume that makes their friends laugh. It bothers me that some people are getting rich off it.

It’s like we were blessed with an original Mona Lisa, and 85 percent of us want to draw a mustache on it slap it on their own personal billboard.

Somebody needs to grow up, and it’s not the dogs.

(Photos: At top, The Feast of Dives, about 1510–20, Master of James IV of Scotland, the J. Paul Getty Museum); lower, one of the many reproductions of Dogs Playing Poker, by Cassius Marcellus Coolidge, other photos via Twitter)

Bethenny Frankel makes and posts video as her dog goes into seizures

Bethenny Frankel’s need for attention reached new heights over the weekend when she made and posted a video of her dog having a seizure, instead of trying to do anything about it.

The video shows the dog convulsing during what she described as a 45-minute seizure.

During most of the original video Frankel cried and shrieked: “Help me, what do we do? Help us … I don’t know what to do … Someone help me I don’t know what to do…”

“Do I take her to a vet? … What do I do?” she asked, wiping tears off her face. “My daughter’s watching this and we have to do something. The vet is 40 minutes away … I’m in a bad place.”

frankelThe reality TV star posted some additional videos after that, explaining that she felt there was no place to turn — except to her 1.5 million Instagram followers.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to scare everybody, but my daughter and I have been watching the dog have seizures for 45 minutes … The hospital is so far I don’t think we can make it.

“Anyone wondering why I’m doing this on social can fuck off, because all my friends are asleep … I’m freaking out. Why is this happening. I don’t think I can take this.”

Frankel shared the series of videos Saturday.

Later, she took her 17-year-old dog, Cookie, to a vet, where she died over the weekend.

Frankel issued a tweet about the death Monday: “My @cookiedabooboo is gone. Bless her furry heart.”

Frankel has appeared on “The Apprentice: Martha Stewart,” “The Real Housewives of New York City,” “Skating with the Stars,” and was the subject of the reality television series “Bethenny Ever After.” Her talk show, “Bethenny,” premiered in 2013 and was canceled in 2014. She also has written several books, and launched her own line of “Skinny Girl” meals. In 2009, she posed nude for a PETA billboard.

Clearly, she’s someone who loves being in the limelight, and is not above shining it on herself through social media.

This time, it was a pretty unflattering light she portrayed herself in — and it was downright revolting in the view of those who are left to wonder why her hysterics, and the self-made video, took precedence over her dog’s well-being.

Sony working on reincarnating Aibo, this time as a smart home assistant

aiboAibo is coming back, and he hopes to take a bite out of Alexa.

Sony is reportedly re-forming the team behind its discontinued robot dog Aibo, and plans are for him to come back in a form that will compete with Alexa, the artificially intelligent household assistant produced by Amazon.

Aibo made a splash when he was introduced back in 1999, but after a few years consumer interested waned.

In large part that was because, aside from the novelty, he was less than cuddly and really couldn’t do much other than sit and bark.

Nikkei Asian Review reports that Sony is preparing to compete with Amazon, Google and Apple by producing a smart, speaking, more helpful version of the robot dog.

After a 12-year hiatus from robotics, the company announced last year it was turning its attention back to robots. Aibo’s return would be the first of several products brought to the market.

He will engage in all the dog-like behavior the old one did, but this time will be equipped with artificial intelligence, Internet connectivity, and he will speak the human language.

He’ll be able to control home appliances, play music and query the Internet at the command of his owner’s voice. Equipping him with AI will allow consumers to use him the same way they use any other digital assistant, all while being a little more personable, a little more like family, than just a futuristic looking speaker.

Whether the smarter, reincarnated version will be named Aibo isn’t certain yet, but the company says it is a possibility.

What is it? What is it? What is it?

The video above is:

A. Retired Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps’ latest interspecies race challenger, Chewbacca, in training for their upcoming competition.

B. An advertisement for hair conditioner.

C. Cousin Itt, after falling into The Addams Family pool.

D. An Afhgan hound underwater.

“D” would seem the most obvious answer, given the camera eventually reveals a distinctive snout, but the mermaid-ish way the creature’s arms are stroking is not the least bit dog-like.

woof in advertisingIt’s actually an animation — one of a series of ads for Klarna, a Swedish e-commerce company that provides payment services for online storefronts. It’s intended to depict how “smoothly” their transactions take place.

Get it?

Chief Marketing Officer David Sandström said he and is team were trying to think of the smoothest things possible to feature in a video ad. They eventually landed on the idea of a creature with flowing tresses gliding underwater.

“The hair was a big, big part of it,” he told The Daily Dot.

The video floated around for a year on YouTube, receiving little attention.

But when Klarna shared it last month on Instagram, it quickly went viral as people tried to figure out what exactly the swimming creature was.

That — creating the mystery — was the whole idea behind the ad, Sandström said.

“We want to create a feeling of, ‘What the f–k is this?’ It’s important to us that people don’t understand what it is. The internet loves strange things. The internet loves weird.”

And even people who aren’t sure what it is want to know where they can order one, Sandström said.

“People have emailed us saying they want one and asking where they can get one.”