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Tag: japan

In “Isle of Dogs,” canines in a Japanese city are banished to an island of trash

Director Wes Anderson has been secretive about the plot of his new animated movie, “Isle of Dogs,” but judging from a trailer released last week it will be trademark Anderson — bleakly beautiful, deceptively sentimental, more than a little haunting, and unconventional, with a capital UN.

It is set, 20 years from now, in a Japanese city, where canine overpopulation and an outbreak of dog flu has led the local government to banish dogs to an island filled with trash.

A 12-year-old boy hijacks a plane and flies to the island in search of his dog, Spots, and so begins an epic quest (is there any other kind these days?) in which he is assisted by five other exiled dogs (all of whom speak, of course).

“We’ll find him,” one of the dogs reassure the boy. “Wherever he is. If he’s alive. We’ll find your dog.”

It remains to be seen how family friendly the film will be, and whether it, like many other Anderson films, will have dogs dying off as the plot unwinds.

The movie is Anderson’s first feature since 2014’s “The Grand Budapest Hotel.”

Its cast of voice actors includes Bryan Cranston, Edward Norton, Jeff Goldblum, Frances McDormand, F. Murray Abraham, Tilda Swinton, Bill Murray, Courtney B. Vance, Harvey Keitel, Scarlett Johansson and Yoko Ono.

The film is scheduled to hit theaters in March, 2018.

Japanese robot dog can tell you if your feet are stinky

It’s one thing — one seemingly very strange thing — to build a robot whose only job is to tell us if our feet stink.

But to make it in the form of a fluffy little white dog? That’s a pretty odious, and odorous, task to assign to the species, even a robot member of the species, and it’s degrading to robot dogs everywhere — many of which perform far more important duties, like sitting, and laying down, and barking and fetching a ball.

This new odor-detecting technology comes from Japan, which leads the world in producing robot dogs.

Its name is Hana-chan, and the six-inch long robot dog from Next Technology has a built-in odor detection sensor in its nose that assesses just how malodorous you feet may be, according to Japan Times.

JAPAN-TECHNOLOGY-ROBOT-OFFBEATIf your feet are slightly smelly, Hana-chan will bark. If they are truly pungent, Hana-chan will faint and fall over on its side.

But not before spraying a little air freshener on your toes.

Hana is the Japanese word for nose and Chan is a common girl’s nickname.

Next Technology plans to start selling the robot dog in early 2018 — at about $900 each.

Now, as absurd as Hana-chan might seem, the product makes more sense when you consider the cultural context.

Traditional Japanese remove their shoes before entering a home — both their own and those of others.

Traditional Japanese are also respectful, and not as likely as, say, an American friend — or wife — to blurt out, “Jesus! Your feet stink.”

Next Technology says it created the robot in response to a request from a man who suspected he had a foot odor issue.

“He told us his daughter had said his feet were smelly . . . But he didn’t want to know how bad the odor was because he would feel hurt,” a company representative said. “That’s why we developed this cute robot.”

With the robot dog, people can avoid the embarrassment of being told their feet stink, or perhaps the even greater embarrassment of not being told and offending everyone in the room.

(Photo: Next Technology)

Cooking with Dog (It’s not what you think)

A much beloved Internet celebrity has died.

He was part of a cooking team — the less shy half, the English-speaking half, the more comfortable in front of the camera half, the poodle half.

Francis the dog was the host and narrator of “Cooking with Dog,” which also featured the human he lived with, an unnamed Japanese housewife who had never been on camera before a producer friend proposed they put together a cooking show for the Internet.

She was hesitant, as she was a private sort, and felt alone and insecure in front of the camera.

francisandchefWith Francis at her side, though, she was up to the task and the duo went on, over the next 10 years, to rise to Internet stardom — Chef, as she is called, doing all the cooking and making an occasional comment in Japanese, Francis providing the narration, in English, with a French accent.

Francis passed away Sunday at age 14, Gizmodo reported, based on a Twitter post.

“Cooking with Dog” began in 2007 after the producer, who also likes to keep his name private, returned to Japan from Los Angeles, where he had spent several years working in the entertainment industry.

He said he wanted to keep working in film and television, and promote Japanese culture — in a way English-speaking audiences could follow.

“There are many cooking programs on TV and I just wanted to make our show look different and unique. And also I don’t know any celebrities or famous people and I didn’t have a large budget,” he told The Japan Times last year.

Having Francis narrate the show gave it a quirky edge, and opened it up to English-speaking audiences.

“Cooking With Dog” has over 1.2 million subscribers, making it one of the most popular food channels on YouTube. Nearly a third of the viewers come from the United States.

Over the years, its title has raised some eyebrows and led to a little confusion. Some who have stumbled across it thought it might be about cooking for your dog, or about recipes that used dog meat as an ingredient.

Dogs are, after all, raised for their meat and consumed by a small minority of the population in several Asian countries.

But anyone who watched a video quickly became aware nothing nefarious was afoot — it was a just a pure and simple cooking show in which a soft-spoken chef calmly puts together elaborate and often ornate Japanese dishes as her dog looks on.

It’s a refreshing change from American cooking shows, where there has been a distinct shift toward manic hosts, who are generally overseeing some sort of cut-throat competition.

Gizmodo reports it is uncertain if “Cooking with Dogs” will continue without Francis.

If not, we still have the more than 300 episodes that have been produced. You can watch them at the Cooking with Dog, YouTube channel.

Pedaling your dog to better health

I’ve long felt that that the modern day treadmill is a backwards concept.

Instead of using up electricity, they should be be creating it.

If all the energy being expended in gyms and homes across the country could be harnessed, it would be enough to … well, I have no idea, but it would make more sense than all that treadmills and exercise bicycles use up, especially at gyms where the temperature is set at 68 degrees and 20 televisions, all tuned to a different channel, line the walls.

So, silly as this Japanese-made device might look, it makes some sense.

The Doggy Health Run Pet Owner Exercise Treadmill — aka DoggyMan — doesn’t need to be plugged in. A human pedals the bicycle, which in turn powers the treadmill that the dog happily trots along on.

As a result, both human and dog get much needed exercise — much like they would on, say, a walk.

The treadmill — too small to be used with a larger dog — can be placed alongside the exercise bike or in front of it.

“Every dog owner wants their fluffy friend to be in the best of health. But sometimes, it’s just too hot or cold to play outdoors, or maybe your canine pal wants to head out a little too late at night,” the website Japantrendshop.com explains.

“Well, with the Doggy Health Run Pet Owner Exercise Treadmill, your dog can get all the exercise they need … with a little help from their owner!”

You might want to be fairly certain before you purchase it that your dog will like it, and not run away from it.

It comes with a price tag of $2,082.

Japanese spa will cleanse dogs of demons

dplus

A Japanese spa that pampers both humans and dogs has added another service for pooches.

For a fee, a Shinto priest will cleanse your dog of demons.

The exorcisms take place in the spa’s shrine, last about 30 minutes and promise to rid dogs of evil spirits.

The “Pet Dog Exorcism Plan” at the D+ Kirishima spa in Kagoshima Prefecture includes a room for two humans and their possessed dog, breakfast, dinner, and exorcism — all for $430, according to the New York Post.

The exorcism includes prayers for future good health and is conducted at the Shingariyu shrine, located on the premises.

dplus2The spa recommends the procedure for older dogs in their “unlucky health years,” during which they are more prone to being possessed and more prone to age related illnesses and ailments.

After being spiritually cleansed, dogs are encouraged to relax in outdoor tubs.

The spa also boasts massages and gourmet meals, which dogs and owners can share at the same table.

A senior Shinto priest comes to the spa to conduct the exorcisms and blessings.

(Photos: D+ Kirishima spa)

Need silence? Put a dachshund in your ear

plugs

Who wouldn’t want a tiny dachshund running through their brain?

Now you can have it, or the semblance of it, while simultaneously drowning out night time noises — be they the barking dog next door or a snoring spouse.

plugs2Simply plug the dachshund’s front end into one ear, its hind end into the other, and commence to dreaming.

The ear plugs were created by Japanese designer Mao Yamamoto and are made of the same foam as most other ear plugs you’d find at the drug store.

A set of two costs about $11 and they come in five colors: blue, red/orange, yellow, white and gray, Mashable reports.

The Mimi Pet Earplugs, from the Japanese brand +d, can be washed and re-used, and come with a handy storage pouch. They can be purchased online at Koncent.jp.

(Photos from Koncent.jp)

Hachiko resurfaces in black and white photo

hachiko

Hachiko has been memorialized in everything from movies to statues, but a fuzzy, 81-year-old, black and white photograph of the famed Japanese dog is being greeted with excitement on the Internet since it surfaced on the Internet last month.

The old school photo of the Akita who became a symbol for loyalty after his owner’s death was found among the belongings of a Tokyo bank employee who died in 1947, The Japan News reported.

In the rare photo, by Isamu Yamamoto, Hachiko is pictured around 1934 laying on the pavement near the Shibuya railway station ticket counter in Tokyo, where he was known to wait every day for his master, Hidesaburo Ueno, to return home from work.

Ueno, who died in 1925, was an agriculture professor at the University of Tokyo. Hachiko would follow Ueno to and from the train station every day in the early 1920s.

While numerous pictures were taken of Hachiko, most were with other people, or taken as close-ups. Yamamoto’s photograph is reportedly one of the few that shows the train station in the background.

“Hachiko was a familiar sight to those living near Shibuya Station. I hope the photo my father took will be preserved carefully,” Yamamoto’s daughter, Yoko Imamura said.

Imamura said the photograph of Hachiko was found in one of her father’s photo albums.

Yamamoto’s family gave the photograph of Hachiko to Takeshi Ando, who created the second statue memorializing Hachiko. In 1934, Ando’s father, Teru Ando, erected the first bronze statue of Hachiko in front of Shibuya station.

“I have never looked at such a photo that caught the atmosphere of Hachiko’s everyday life at that time so well,” Takeshi Ando, 92, said.

The photo was first shared publicly by The Yomiuri Shimbun, which carried an article in its Oct. 22 edition. It was later translated into English and appeared in The Japan News and on its website on Nov. 5.

Since then the photo has drawn tens of thousands of “likes” on Facebook.

(Photo: Isamu Yamamoto)