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Tag: media

New kids film “Show Dogs” draws fire from parents groups

In the somewhat bizarre world of dog shows, the one traditional practice that most strikes outsiders as weird comes at that point in judging when a judge cops a feel of a male dog’s testicles.

As part of what’s called conformation — or seeing how well a dog conforms to “standards” — the process is usually a quick check, aimed at making sure the dog is intact (not fixed) and that his testicles have properly descended.

But to dog show spectators, who traditionally include families and children, it’s hard to miss.

It is also hard to miss in the new film “Show Dogs,” a family-oriented movie that stars Ludacris as the voice of a talking police dog named Max who infiltrates a prestigious dog show to investigate a suspected animal smuggling ring.

One subplot of the movie involves Max becoming comfortable, as a dog show contestant, with strangers touching his genitals.

In the PG-rated film, Max must learn how to “get used to” the groping, and it’s that aspect that has some parenting groups fuming about the movie.

showdogsWhatever parents teach their children about “inappropriate touching” and sexually predatory behavior, they say, this movie seems to be sending an opposite message: Grin and bear it, accept it, it’s no big deal.

Valid a concern as that may be, it’s funny — to me at least — that the practice is so accepted and goes so unquestioned at dog shows, also aimed at being fun for the whole family, but is proving so irksome in a comedic family movie.

Does that piece of a dog show really have to be performed before an audience of adults and children? Couldn’t it be done backstage, or as part of a behind the scenes pre-show screening procedure?

You don’t hear those concerns voiced so much among the high society dog show crowd — just as you don’t hear too much discussion about why a similarly sized, fully descended pair of testicles is so important in the first place in such competitions.

It’s because the American Kennel Club and other dog show operators see the competitions as a way to select and crown dogs that are prime breeding stock — those healthy and perfect dog that comes closest, appearance wise, to standards. (Standards set, by the way, by the AKC and other groups.)

Standards? How about one that doesn’t require a dog to to through a public groping in front of thousands, or maybe one that doesn’t require him to go through it at all.

From the makers of “Beverly Hills Chihuahua,” the movie opened in theaters May 18. It tells the story of a human detective (Will Arnett) and his canine partner Max, a Rottweiler whose voice is provided by Chris “Ludacris” Bridges. Together they go undercover at the world’s most exclusive dog show to solve a big case involving a stolen panda.

Since it opened, the movie has caught the attention of several parenting blogs, Entertainment Weekly reported.

“Max’s success is riding on whether or not he lets both his partner (for practice) and a stranger (the competition judge) touch his private parts. IN A KIDS MOVIE. WHAT??? Newsflash, folks: THIS IS CALLED GROOMING and it’s what sexual predators do to kids!” wrote Jenny Rapson in the blog “For Every Mom.”

In reality, those who show dogs do condition their dogs to get used to the groping to ensure they will behave properly during the judging practice.

“The movie ‘Show Dogs’ sends a troubling message that grooms children for sexual abuse,” said the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, previously known as Morality in Media. “It contains multiple scenes where a dog character must have its private parts inspected, in the course of which the dog is uncomfortable and wants to stop but is told to go to a ‘zen place.’ The dog is rewarded with advancing to the final round of the dog show after passing this barrier.

“Disturbingly, these are similar tactics child abusers use when grooming children — telling them to pretend they are somewhere else, and that they will get a reward for withstanding their discomfort. Children’s movies must be held to a higher standard, and must teach children bodily autonomy, the ability to say ‘no’ and safety, not confusing messages endorsing unwanted genital touching.”

The filmmakers responded to the concerns with this statement:

“It has come to our attention that there have been online discussion and concern about a particular scene in Show Dogs, a family comedy that is rated PG. The dog show judging in this film is depicted completely accurately as done at shows around the world; and was performed by professional and highly respected dog show judges.

“Global Road Entertainment and the filmmakers are saddened and apologize to any parent who feels the scene sends a message other than a comedic moment in the film, with no hidden or ulterior meaning, but respect their right to react to any piece of content.”

Yesterday, though, the studio announced it would be removing two of the most controversial scenes from the movie, according to CNN.

Guess us kids will have to wait for the next Westminster Dog Show to see the grabbing of the gonads.

“Show Dogs” is clearly not an exercise in reality, what with its talking dogs and all, but it did pretty accurately nail this particular aspect of dog shows.

So why is it people are so quick to jump on, edit and whitewash a portrayal of a reality and fashion it more to their liking — all while not giving a second thought as to whether the reality deserves some scrutiny and reconsideration, too?

Concrete dogs in Barcelona send a message

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Twenty concrete dogs have been tethered to signs, lamposts, park benches and bicyle racks in Barcelona, Spain, as part of an effort to call attention to the problem of abandoned pets.

About 1,400 pets, including 760 dogs, were discarded on the streets of Barcelona last year — a 13 percent increase from 2016 — prompting the city council to launch the campaign.

Called “Dogs S.O.S.,” the campaign hopes to both raise awareness of the issue and help find homes for the 200 dogs awaiting adoption in city shelters.

The city contracted with the advertising firm Ogilvy Barcelona to place 20 life-sized concrete dog statues — cast from 3-D printed molds — around town, tethered to posts, poles and other urban structures.

Each statue includes an ID tag with a code that links to the City Council’s animal welfare site, where viewers can get information about dogs in need of homes.

Two shelter dogs — a 4-year-old mixed-breed named Neula and a 5-year-old American Staffordshire named Samó –served as models for the statues, ADWEEK reported.

“Neula and Samsó represent all the dogs that have been waiting a second chance,” said Jofre Banquells, creative director of Ogilvy Barcelona. “They both waited for at least a year at Barcelona’s animal shelter. Fortunately, Neula has been quickly adopted as soon as the campaign has been launched (on April 9).”

“Installing the dogs attached to lampposts, as if they were really abandoned, helps people visualize the situation,” Banquells said. “People don’t only see a dog, they see the problem. In addition, it gained media attention with no investment at all.”

The sculptures will stay on the streets another week, then be moved to other public spaces, such as libraries.

(Photo: Ogilvy Barcelona)

Dogs like running, therapy dogs make people feel good, and other “oh duh” studies

In my daily perusal of what in the world is going on with dogs, I am constantly amazed at how many studies are done on things we already know — and how quick news organizations are to pounce on those studies and present them as something new.

Take last week’s Washington Post, which tells us in a headline, “Dogs can get a runner’s high, too.”

Pfffft. Dogs invented the runner’s high. We didn’t need a headline to know, least of all one based on a 2012 study.

The article goes on to tell us that running is healthy for dogs and humans, that running “gives dogs an activity and burns energy,” and, of course, that dogs and humans should check with their vets and doctors before beginning an exercise program.

I don’t know how much of this stating of the painfully obvious that goes on today is because we have run out of new things to say, study and report on; or how much is the result of so-called news websites providing dumbed-down “content,” instead of news.

But it seems like everybody — from scientist to journalist — is in repeat mode. Or maybe I’m just old.

SONY DSCAlso making news last week was the “recent finding” that dogs respond best to high-pitched voices.

This, at least, stems from a new study in which scientists at the University of York have shown that using high-pitched baby-talk voices can help us bond with their dogs.

Of course, the study found basically the same thing as others in recent years, including this one from more than a year ago.

Now any scientist will tell you that’s there is value in these studies that tell us what we already know — whether we already know them from common sense, or because of similar earlier studies that found the same thing. It is always good to confirm things

News organizations, on the other hand, will take the findings of any study, hype them up and present them as the most important breaking news of the day — even if they did the same thing last year, and the year before that, and the year before that.

They know, even with Google, our collective memory is short, so they trot out the same old pieces regularly — should you let your dog sleep with you, should you let your dog lick you, why do dogs eat grass? — and they either find experts or studies to legitimize them.

Just last week, with the news that Barbra Streisand has two cloned dogs, the topic of dog cloning became instantly hot, and many a news outlet presented the story in a you’re-not-going-to-believe-this, dogs-are-being-CLONED!!! kind of way.

Having written a book on the very topic seven years ago, I was amused how the news was suddenly a revelation again.

I’m sure scientists somewhere are studying how short our memories and attention spans are becoming, and that I’ll be reading about it soon.

Until then, there will be plenty of other scientific “revelations” to keep me busy, like this one — unearthed by hardworking researchers at the University of British Columbia:

Therapy dogs make people feel good.

acetWell, that’s kind of why they have been popping up everywhere in the past 20 years — to do just that.

And what led to those initial revelations, years ago? Studies.

This new one, published in the journal Stress and Health, shows that exposure to therapy dogs helps boost students’ well-being. Researchers interviewed 246 students before and after cuddle and petting sessions with therapy dogs.

Students felt significantly less stressed and more energized after interacting with the dogs, though the happy feelings weren’t necessarily lasting, InsideHigherEd.com reported.

In other words, the feel-good vibe a dog gives you — like a news report, like a scientific study, like many a book — will soon be forgotten.

(Photos by John Woestendiek / ohmidog!)

Jury finds former sheriff Arpaio wasn’t malicious in prosecution of Sen. Flake’s son

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The son of U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake was not maliciously prosecuted when Sheriff Joe Arpaio sought to bring charges against him in connection with the deaths of 21 dogs at an Arizona kennel, a civil court jury has ruled.

Four people, including Flake’s son, Austin, were indicted on 21 felony counts of animal cruelty in connection with the 2014 deaths, attributed to heat exhaustion.

Then-Sheriff Arpaio urged the filing of the charges against Austin Flake and his then-wife, Logan Brown, who had been supervising the care of the dogs at the Green Acre boarding kennel in Gilbert while its owners, Brown’s parents, were away.

All charges were later were dropped by the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office because the grand jury didn’t hear about issues with the air-conditioning in the room where the dogs were kept.

Flake and Brown sued Arpaio for malicious prosecution in 2015. The lawsuit didn’t ask for a specific amount in damages, but an earlier notice of claim sought $8 million.

Last week a panel of eight jurors in a civil trial against Arpaio decided Flake had not proven the prosecutions were malicious.

U.S. District Judge Neil V. Wake did not issue a final verdict, saying he is awaiting an explanation from defense attorneys on their failure to turn over documents that may have benefited the plaintiffs.

Jurors began deliberating at 5 p.m. Thursday and reached a verdict 90 minutes later, the Arizona Republic reported.

Arpaio and plaintiffs’ attorney Stephen Montoya confirmed the outcome of the case after a six-day trial.

Montoya said Arpaio used the case to boost his image through publicity stunts and by holding repeated press conferences. He pointed to a press conference in which Arpaio showed the media photos of the dead dogs, and a Sheriff’s Office-commissioned helicopter search for one dog from the kennel who had gone missing.

Montoya in his closing arguments said that while there was media interest in the case before Arpaio’s involvement, the lawman inflamed the coverage.

“Would there have been publicity? Sure. Would it have died down but for Sheriff Joe releasing press releases, including the pictures of the dead dogs?… Sheriff Joe wouldn’t let it die down, and then these kids were indicted,” Montoya said.

“I want to thank the jury of my peers for their decision in the Flake lawsuit,” Arpaio said after verdict. “We’ll have more to say about the Flake situation and the politics at the appropriate time.”

Arpaio was pardoned by President Trump in August, sparing the controversial former sheriff a jail sentence after he was convicted of criminal contempt related to his hard-line tactics going after undocumented immigrants.

(Photo: Ross D. Franklin / AP)

Woof in Advertising: Running of the bulldogs

The way they saturate the market, it’s easy to get tired of car insurance ads.

They’ve always tended to air over and over again, until — as imaginative as they might be — we become sick of them.

Perhaps you too have fallen victim to seeing a little too much of the Progressive spokeswoman, or, as I call it, a Floverdose.

Similarly, GEICO’s gecko, cute at first, quickly began grating on my nerves.

woof in advertisingAll this culminates, or at least it does for me, in coming to the decision that I’m not going to be a customer — because their ads annoy me (and because, as much as they spend on advertising, it, somehow, has to be costing me.)

Pretty much every insurance company claims it can save you money — that their rates will save you $318, $412, $562 a year over their competitors — and we all know there’s no way that can be true.

So I no longer look for or expect truth in advertising from car insurance companies; instead I merely expect their commercials to either make me laugh or make me warm and tingly inside — at least until I’ve seen it 20 times.

This new ad from GEICO manages to do both. It’s funny, it’s timely, and it has dogs. Lots of dogs.

On top of that, it’s fresh. The key to keeping viewers from overdosing on a company’s ads is to change them up, which GEICO — though I can’t speak for its insurance — seems to do better than any of the insurance providers.

Their advertising agencies come up with new concepts (otherwise we’d still be watching those cavemen), and provide plenty of variations on continuing themes.

This one, by the Martin Agency, is part of the “what’s not surprising” series. It depicts what looks like is going to be the running of the bulls, but the animals that come charging around the corner in pursuit of the runners are bulldogs.

“The running of the Bulldogs? Surprising. What’s not surprising? How much money Aleia saved by switching to GEICO.”

The actual running of the bulls began earlier this month, ending July 14 at this year’s San Fermin festival in the northern Spanish city of Pamplona.

(This link will lead you to more of our Woof in Advertising posts)

Christie Brinkley unveils the secret to staying young — and it is …

DOGS!

The 63-year-old model says so in PEOPLE, so it must be true.

She tells the magazine/website that her two dogs, Maple Sugar and Chester, are her anti-aging antidotes.

Of course, Brinkley has also credited a few zillion other things with being the secret to her youthful appearance — pretty much any product, it seems, that pays her to do so.

brinkleyanddaughtersBetween her and Cindy Crawford, another 50-plus former model who claims to possesses the secret to staying young, they are shilling not just anti-aging products, but everything from wine to furniture to dog food.

While explaining the secret of staying young to PEOPLE, for instance, Brinkley manages to work in plugs for her book, Timeless Beauty, Purina dog food, and her appearance at 63, with her daughters, in Sports Illustrated’s new swimsuit issue.

Strangely, there is no mention in the PEOPLE article of her line of skin care products that — or so she tells us on television — are her secret to staying young.

The Christie Brinkley Authentic Skincare Bio-Clock Activation System claims to help resist, reduce and reverse the top five signs of aging, according to commercials for the products.

(Try not to confuse this with Meaningful Beauty, apparently made from Italian miracle melons that never rot — the line of anti-aging products touted by Cindy Crawford, who is also managing to remain freakishly young looking despite her advancing years.)

A further parenthetical statement: (Yes, while recuperating from recent surgery I’ve been watching far too much television.)

cb_bio-clock_kit_1aChristie, according to the product’s website, spent four years working with scientists to develop the product. (And yes, she looks good in a lab coat, too.)

“Now,” the website says, “she is sharing her secret with you. It is truly an anti-aging activation or ‘bio-clock’ activation system, containing a proprietary Bio-Copper Complex to help firm, smooth and bring back youthful radiance to skin.”

I’ll admit that Brinkley looks pretty amazing — but given she is saying the secret of staying young is her dogs/her skin creams/her book/even Purina dog food, I’m beginning to suspect the secret to staying young may be selling out.

Perhaps I am being hasty and cynical — or maybe just old and crotchety — but it seems that, for a fee, she’ll endorse any product as being the equivalent of the fountain of youth.

Consider the dog food connection in the PEOPLE article, which took some stretching to accomplish:

brinkley2After praising her dogs, and saying that nutrition is the secret to staying young, Brinkley singles out Purina Pro Plan (but then after all, she is a spokesperson for the company).

It, she says, is keeping her 14-year-old Labradoodle Maple Sugar young.

“That’s why I feed my senior dog Maple Purina Pro Plan,” she tells PEOPLE. “It has enhanced botanicals and ingredients that aid in digestion, things she needs.”

Maple Sugar and Chester, in turn, help keep her young, she says — and I suspect there is more truth in that statement than any of the others.

Your Cindy Crawfords and your Christie Brinkleys are from an era when advertisers and the media set impossibly high standards for women to live up to. That era never ended.

What has changed is those same forces are now setting impossible standards for the over 50 crowd to live up to — especially women. Men, as evidenced by Steve Carell getting good reviews for going grey, and Sam Elliot’s recent movie role as grandfatherly stud muffin, can still somehow get away with visually aging.

But the pressure is there for them, too, even though I — not being one to put too much effort into appearance — never felt it to any great extent. At nearly 64, I’ve given up on finding the fountain of youth. I’d settle for a steady urine stream.

So while I admire the effort your Brinkleys and Crawfords are making — and their willingness to share their anti-aging secrets with the general public — I can’t help but see a little sadness in it all.

They both were and are beautiful women, but you know what? A wrinkle or two wouldn’t really hurt their looks — and might even provide their Stepford-ish faces with some character.

It’s possible to age beautifully without waging an all-out war against that natural process — pouncing on every grey hair, slathering every wrinkle with miracle spackle, tightening, lifting and toning up every sag.

There’s nothing wrong with taking pride in one’s appearance, or working hard at being healthy, but this insistence that all outwardly signs of aging must be fought off at all costs (Brinkley’s Bioclock Anti-Aging system will run you $125) is a fraudulent, manipulative and deceptive bill of goods.

Don’t buy it. Instead, adopt a dog.

(Top photo, PEOPLE; bottom photo, Associated Press)

The 5 most deadly dogs in the world

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“Revealed: The 5 Most Deadly Dogs in the World”

When I saw that headline on Total Dog Magazine’s website, I clicked on it, fully intending to read it, scoff and then rip the author apart — just in print, of course.

Now, having read it, I couldn’t agree more.

SONY DSCGenerally, these top five, top ten, top 12, top whatever most dangerous dog lists pinpoint the same old culprits. Rottweilers will be in there for sure. Pit bulls without a doubt. Maybe Dobermans, Akitas, German Shepherds or Chow Chows.

Sometimes they throw in Great Dane, I guess just because they are so big.

Generally these lists are composed by stupid people relying mostly on stupid websites that tout so-called statistics from biased sources.

But this list put together for the UK publication by Ryan O’Meara gets it right.

Here, in his words, are his top five, in reverse order:

5. Badly fed dog: Badly fed dog is the animal who’s been fueled up with a diet fit for an Olympic weight lifter, but who only ever gets to expend about 20% of the calories he takes in. He’s got lots of energy and his mismatched diet can manifest in bouts of sudden energetic rampaging. Badly fed dog would ask you to consider; how you would feel spending your day in an office when every inch of your body is throbbing and twitching as you crave the opportunity to actually use up some of those excess calories. Badly fed dog would be happier and safer if his diet reflected his lifestyle.

4. Never had any friends dog: Otherwise known as ‘totally under socialized dog’. He was a little naughty when he was a puppy, so his owner decided he’d be better off being kept away from all other forms of animal life. He now spends his days obsessing over what it would be like to chase other dogs around and, by George, one of these days he’s gonna actually do it! Never had any friends dog is going to present his owner with a lifetime of problems, he has no social skills and has never had a chance to learn natural interaction through the teachings of his own kind. He’ll meet new dogs and will be about as socially adept as a 45-year old virgin at a Playboy mansion party. He’s going to blow it. Big time.

3. Shouty: Shouty is the dog who has spent most of his life shouting at folks or being shouted at himself. He sees people on his street, he shouts at them. In turn, his owner shouts at him. Shouty presumes being shouted at is a recognition of his excellent work. In fact, hearing his owner shouting in response to his own shouting encourages his assumption that they’re just as upset, anxious, nervous, angry as HE is about the audacity of other people/dogs/pigeons to walk past his window. Shouty is relentlessly encouraged and endorsed in his shouty behavior and, a bit like no friends dog, shouty spends his days imaging how good it will be when he FINALLY gets his chance to get face to face with the objects of his ire.

2. House proud: House proud dog is SO touchy about people coming to his digs unannounced, he’ll happily maim you for your insolence in trying to visit his abode without obtaining the correct visitation paperwork. House proud dog does a line in dishing out injuries to posties, meter readers and delivery people. Fortunately for house proud dog, his owners absolutely REFUSE to believe he is capable of violence, so leave him completely unattended to dish out his own brand of justice to anyone brash enough to consider entering his domain.

1. Spoilt dog: “That’s mine and these are mine, those are mine, I’m entitled to that, I believe that I saw that first, I lay claim to those, I own all of these, I’m the rightful proprietor of this” … Quite simply, he believes everything he wants, he can have. Woe betide anyone to tell him differently. His timid owners have never had the heart to let him know that in the human world, simply showing your teeth and growling doesn’t constitute a legal contract on the ownership of goods. They let him off and, worse, they let him keep his spoils, which he’ll gather up and place in his own corner of the world.

Sadly, spoilt dog is, one day, going to meet someone who is unaware that he has previously laid claim to every possession on earth. Unfortunately … this person is going to have to find out the hard way just how deep spoilt dog’s sense of entitlement runs. Really hard luck if it happens to be a youngster, blissfully ignorant to the fact that the shiny ball on the floor is spoilt dog’s most prized possession …

O’Meara concludes by pointing out that basing any bad dogs list on breed is ridiculous. Yes, breed can play a role in a dog’s behavior. But nurture plays a far larger one than nature.

Generally, and while there are exceptions to every rule, you don’t have to look that far to see what is responsible for the undesirable, aggressive or anti-social nature of your dog — no farther than the closest mirror.

(Photos by John Woestendiek / ohmidog!)