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Tag: loyalty

A “loyal” robot dog is headed to the market


There is really only one reason we duly report on the latest robot dogs hitting the market, or headed that way: To show how sadly lacking in intelligence our own species is.

To think that technology — even WiFi-equipped technology — can replace a living, breathing dog is, after all, folly.

Nevertheless, the robot dogs keep coming as toy makers continue their futile effort to duplicate dog.

Expected to hit the market late next year is a dog called CHiP, which stands for Canine Home Intelligent Pet.

CHiP will be the first robot dog that’s able to show something resembling loyalty.

Even with that though, we don’t predict much of a future for CHiP. Still being fine tuned by a company called WowWee, CHiP will likely go the way of all robot dogs, from Sony’s AIBO to iCybee — into the garbage.

How CHiP differs from earlier versions of robot dogs — and there have been a few — is basically this. It has sensors that allow it to locate its ball and its bed and you, and it is equipped with Bluetooth, allowing you to connect with it from a band worn on your wrist.

This means it can do a cheap and phony imitation of one thing that up to now only real dogs could do: Get excited when you walk through the front door (assuming you program it to do so).

How sad a little life does the grown-up person who would do that have?

You get out of your car, pause at the front doorstep, tap your futuristic wrist band a few times, and presto, Chip will be waiting for you with tail a-wagging the second you unlock the door.

The $199 black-and-white robot pup, which won’t hit the marketplace until sometime next year, is said to have more smarts than its predecessors.

The head alone has an array of carefully hidden infrared sensors that give it a 360-degree view, which it uses to find its special ball and charging bed. Yes, it can perform a variaton of fetch. Yes,it can put itself to sleep at night and wake up all recharged and ready to go. Yes, it can even be “trained”.

With its Bluetooth and special “Smart Band,” reports, owners can, rather than displaying real love by petting their dog, send their dog “likes,” reinforcing those behaviors they want to make a regular part of the dog’s repertoire.

Mashable says CHiP looks like a cute, big-headed puppy (we disagree). We think, with it wheels, and shiny white plastic coat, and 360-degree sight line, it more resembles a freakish hybrid between dog and army tank, between Linda Blair in “The Exorcist” and a “Star Wars” storm trooper.

“It does seem alive,” Mashable reports, adding that the robot dog’s tricks include sitting, squatting, shimmying, dancing around and making dog sounds.

We can think of only one proper home for such a dog — with the kind of person who wants none of the responsibility of dog ownership, prefers superficial relationships and probably shouldn’t have a real dog in the first place.

Loyal dog honored by Washington governor

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Tillie, the setter mix who stood guard for a week after the basset hound she was roaming with fell into a cistern, was honored by Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee last week.

Tillie, her basset hound friend, Phoebe, and their owner B.J. Duft were present as Gov. Inslee read a proclamation naming Tillie “Washingtonian of the Day” Thursday.

Inslee urged “everyone in Washington to celebrate the bravery and loyalty of this canine companion.”

Tillie was the first non-human to receive the honor.

“I saw this story and I just immediately said this is something Washington needs to celebrate,” Inslee said. “I grew up with Rin Tin Tin and Lassie and I never thought I’d meet a real dog that had that type of Hollywood character, but Tillie’s right here.”

Both dogs have been enjoying some newfound fame in Vashon, about 20 miles southwest of Seattle, since they wandered off from their home in early September.

A week later they were found — 4-year-old Phoebe stuck in the bottom of shallow cistern, 11-year-old Tillie watching over her.


They were discovered by a volunteer from Vashon Island Pet Protectors, who snapped the photo to the left.

Duft, who said the dogs escaped from his property through a hole in the fence, was ecstatic when he learned they’d been found.

“It really made me think a lot about their friendship and Tillie’s commitment to her companion, that’s for sure,” Duft told the Associated Press.

The governor has bestowed about 70 “Washingtonian of the Day” certificates since taking office.

Duft said both dogs are now sporting GPS collars.

(Top Photo: Duft, second from left, holds his dogs as they visit with Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, far left; AP Photo by Ted S. Warren. Bottom photo courtesy of Vashon Island Pet Protectors)

The true meaning of friendship


After her friend, Phoebe, fell into a cistern that was too deep — by Basset hound standards — to jump out of, an old Irish setter mix named Tillie stayed by her side for an entire week.

The two dogs had wandered from their home in Vashon, Washington, on Sept. 7 during a party.

Their owner, B.J. Duft, suspects Phoebe, picking up the scent of something, led the way.

“Tillie would never leave even if the gate was left open, but she’s best friends with Phoebe, and so when Phoebe follows her little Basset Hound nose, Tillie always goes with her to make sure she’s OK,” Duft said. “They’re best pals — inseparable.”

In the week that followed, Tillie proved that beyond any doubt — leaving Phoebe’s side only briefly, and apparently only to scout around to find some help.

The duo was eventually tracked down by Amy Carey, a volunteer with Vashon Island Pet Protectors, an animal rescue group that runs a no-kill shelter in the area.

Carey said the organization, after posting about the missing dogs on its Facebook page, got a call Monday from a resident who had seen a dog come to the edge of his property several times during the previous week.

phoebeThe dog would stand there for a few minutes, then go back down a trail to a ravine behind the house.

Carey went to the area to investigate and found Tillie standing guard over Phoebe, KING5 reported.

“It was very clear what Tillie had done,” Carey said. “She had not left her friend’s side except for going up to the man’s house when he was there to try and get help for Phoebe.”

Duft and the dogs had a tearful reunion shortly thereafter.

“I was thrilled,” he told ABC News. “I was absolutely not surprised to learn that Tillie had stood by her side the whole time. She’s a very caring, loving and nurturing dog and the two of them are best friends.”

Duft said he has had Tillie, now 11, since she was a puppy. He adopted Phoebe, 4, about two years ago after the two became friends at doggie daycare.

The dogs were hungry and exhausted but otherwise in good health.

Duft said he fed them both a “hamburger dinner,” and let them fall back into their routines.

“Within an hour of getting home, Tillie already wanted to play with her favorite toy — the tennis ball — so we did just that,” Duft said. “The two also hung out on the couch and got some well-needed sleep.”

(Photos by Amy Carey, Vashon Island Pet Protectors)

Will quest for profits bring end to dog park?


Will the city of Watertown, N.Y., pull a fast one and, in a blatant quest for profits, sell land intended for a dog park to a developer?

The city council is considering it, though it took no such action Monday night.

Even though signs announcing the new park are already up, even though citizens have raised $3,000 of the $80,000 needed to open it, even though the land has been designated as parkland and the city accepted grants to accomplish that … a developer’s offer of money for the land is being considered.

Last week, the city received an offer from developer P.J. Simao to buy the land allotted for a dog park at Factory Square, Fox 28 in New York reported.

Simao’s offer came after plans started months ago to turn the site from some unused green space with a trail going through it into what some say would be a focal point for the city’s efforts to revitalize the Factory Square Park neighborhood.

So who will win out? Dogs, dog owners, citizens, community revitalization and the environment? Or one developer, and the city’s hunger for bucks — both from the immediate sale and in terms of future property tax revenue?

“To have that property back on the tax rolls, I think, would be beneficial to us,” council member Steve Jennings said at the Monday night meeting.

The Watertown Daily Times reports that Jennings introduced the proposal to sell the land to the developer, saying the city could use the money generated from the deal for the dog park and relocate it someplace else.

We’ll assume he’s talking about relocating the park, and not the money.

Fortunately, there are a few obstacles in the way of what Jennings probably sees as progress.

And it will probably be one of those obstacles — as opposed to lying to and deceiving dog owners and all those who have donated to the project — that, if anything can, stops the sale.

Factory Square is designated park land and was built with grant money, and selling it would involve going through the state and the National Parks Service.

“I think it’s intentionally made to be a difficult process,” City Planner Ken Mix said. “The purpose for putting the money into park land was to provide park land and to keep it as park land.”

“It’s not that I’m anti-development or anti-free money,” Mayor Jeff Graham said, “it’s just I don’t see that park land hurdle as something the city can overcome.”

The city’s consideration of the offer also hamstrings those trying to raise money for the dog park.

“We’re at a halt right now,” said dog park supporter Erin Gardner, who’s also director of the city’s Parks and Recreation department.

“There’s nothing that we can do,” Gardner said. “I ask that council not delay the decision-making process in this so that we can stay on this momentum.”

A better question to ask might be why the offer is even being considered — given the commitment the city had already made to the dog park. Why wasn’t the developer just told that land is not for sale?

The city council of Watertown should keep its promise — they should take a lesson from dogs and should show those they are serving a little loyalty, no matter how much money drooling developers are dangling in front of them.

(Photo: Watertown Daily Times)

Dog follows owner to death, and beyond, in this moving public service announcement

Here’s a public service announcement that takes the story of Hachiko — the Japanese dog who waited at a train station for his master every day for nine years after he died — and gives it what is possibly an even more tear-jerking spin.

“The Man And The Dog” was created by director Rodrigo Garcia Saiz for Fundación Argentina de Transplante Hepático, Argentina’s liver transplant foundation.

It shows a loyal dog who follows the ambulance that takes his owner away to the hospital — not unheard of in real life — and then waits, and waits, and waits.

We won’t say any more than that, so as not to spoil the ending.

Garcia Saiz, who’s been called “one of the world’s leading Spanish language commercial directors” by Ad Week, has directed other hard-hitting PSAs worth viewing, including the distracted-driving spot “Discussion” and the anti-bullying spot “Playground,” according to o the advertising publication Little Black Book Online.

Ecuadorian stray becomes global celebrity after bonding with adventure racing team


That Ecuadorian street dog who befriended a Swedish adventure racing team after they tossed him a meatball is an official resident of Sweden now.

Arthur, as the team named him, followed the extreme racers for the last 50 or so miles of the 430-mile race — slogging through mud, traipsing through jungle growth, climbing up mountainsides and at one point, after race officials advised the team to leave the dog behind, plunging into a river and swimming alongside their kayaks.

The team had stopped to eat before the final two stages of the race when member Mikael Lindnord noticed the scruffy yellow stray and tossed him a meatball from the can he was eating from.

It was a simple, nonchalant gesture — one Lindnord said he didn’t think too much of at the time.

Clearly, though, Arthur did.

When the four-member team finished lunch and resumed the race — beginning a 24-mile hike through the rainforest — Arthur, named after the legendary King Arthur, got up and followed.

Adventure Racing is a form of extreme sport that combines continuous hiking, trekking, mountain biking and kayaking.

At a checkpoint before the final segment of the race — a 36-mile stretch of river — race organizers warned the team that taking Arthur along was inadvisable and posed a risk to both the dog’s safety and their’s.

Team members agreed to push on without him, but after their kayaks pulled away Arthur jumped into the river, caught up with them and swam alongside.


When Lindnord saw the dog was struggling to keep up, he pulled Arthur aboard.

Spectators standing on shore applauded.

By the end of the race, Lindnord said he had decided to try and adopt the dog and take him back to Sweden.

He admitted in a Daily Mail article that Arthur — due to living a harsh life on the streets — was in pretty bad shape even before accompanying the team on the last two legs of the race.

Once the race was over, Arthur was taken to a vet in Ecuador, and Lindnor applied to Sweden’s board of agriculture, or Jordbruksverket for permission to bring Arthur home. Arthur had already become a media star by then.


“I almost cried in front of the computer, when receiving the decision from in Sweden,” Lindnord wrote on the Facebook page of Team Peak Performance.

They flew home together this week.

“I came to Ecuador to win the World Championship,” he said. “Instead, I got a new friend.”

(Photos: Krister Göransson)

Colombian vice president declines ambassadorship — to stay home with dog

garzon-apColombian Vice President Angelino Garzon says he turned down an ambassadorship in Brazil because the climate there would not be healthy for his dog

And when we say climate, we mean the weather.

Garzon, in a letter to the Colombian president, said he was declining the job for personal and family reasons. He elaborated on those reasons in an interview with the magazine Semana.

Basically, it comes down to one family member – his German shepherd, Orion, who he said wouldn’t be comfortable in Brazil’s steamy climate, and who he refuses to live without.

“I have turned down the ambassador job because the dog you see on that picture is very hairy and the hot climate of Brasilia could harm its health,” Garzon, 67, told the magazine reporter as he showed her a photo of Orion.

“Wherever Angelino goes, it goes,” he said.

We find his reasons perfectly acceptable, even admirable (though calling his dog something other than “it” would be more to our liking).

Some, though, are scoffing at his excuse, including Colombian Foreign Minister Maria Angela Holguin, according to the BBC.

She called Garzon’s rejection of the post “very embarrassing … When he mentioned personal problems, you would expect something deeper than that. It is as though he doesn’t realize the importance Brazil has,” she said.

We may have a duty to our country, but we have a duty to our dogs, too, and — whether or not “it’s too hot for the dog” is his real and total reason for declining the post — we think Garzon has every right to say no thanks for any reason he wants. We especially like this one though.

Garzon announced earlier this year that he would not run for re-election alongside President Juan Manuel Santos. He said he might consider running for mayor of Bogota or Cali. ”In local government, you can have a bigger impact in improving people’s lives than as vice-president,” he said.

(Photo: Associated Press)