As of this week, we can add one more item to the growing list of once uniquely human things that we have, with mostly good intentions, bestowed/inflicted upon dogs.
Dogs now have their own television station.
DogTV, which debuted yesterday, features short clips of canines romping and playing. It airs 24 hours a day, and is designed to keep your dog company, providing him with relaxation and stimulation when no one is home. It costs $4.99 a month and is available on DirecTV.
Now they, too, can be couch potatoes — just like us.
Maybe that’s what we want — for our dogs to be human. Maybe we just assume, given their willingness to please, that if we like something, they’re going to love it, when in fact the reason they love it is because we’re doing it. Maybe we just like free, or $4.99 a month, babysitting.
Whatever the case, we keep passing on or making available to them our curious and not entirely healthy habits, quirks, trendy “must haves” and addictions — be they pharmaceuticals, beauty contests, bling, funny haircuts, halloween costumes, spa services, day care, neuroses, high tech health care no one can afford, or gourmet food.
We seem to keep trying — consciously or not – to make dogs more like us, when the actual truth of the matter (and the secret of life) is that we should be more like them.
(Maybe, if we watch DogTV, we can learn how.)
On human TV Wednesday night, NBC ran this feature on DogTV, introduced by Brian Williams, who closely resembles a Bassett hound, and reported by Kevin Tibbles, who dutifully includes about every canine-related pun there is.
As Tibbles notes, pets are a $55 billion industry in America, and the nation’s 78 million dogs could make for a lot of viewers. That, even though dogs don’t have disposable income, could prove lucrative.
DogTV bills itself as ”the perfect babysitter for dogs who have to stay home alone.”
Therein lies the problem.
Dogs don’t want electronic babysitters. Dogs want to be out in the real dirt, bug, critter and scent-filled world. We do, too, though often we don’t realize it, mainly because we get so caught up in and numbed by TV, video games, Facebook and the like.
I do often leave my TV on for my dog Ace when I leave the house, even though he’s never shown a great deal of interest in it. His ears will perk up when he hears a dog whining or barking on television, and he’ll watch for maybe 10 seconds or so before moving on to more important things, like sleep.
I, on the other hand, who grew up being babysat by TV, will stay up past bedtime and sit riveted for 60 minutes watching a “Law & Order” episode I previously viewed less than a month ago.
Who, I ask you, is the superior being?
“For those of us who suffer the guilt of leaving a dog alone for hours each day, the prospect of forking out five bucks a month to allay our dogs’ separation anxiety might sound attractive. It’s certainly cheaper than hiring a daily dog walker,” Ryan Vogt writes in Slate. ”There’s only one problem: It won’t work. ”
Vogt goes on to explain that dogs “see the world at a faster frame rate than humans do … Humans’ flicker fusion rate is about 50-60 Hz, meaning we see the world in 50 to 60 images per second. For dogs, that rate is closer to 70-80 Hz… To them, it looks like a slideshow powered by a dim strobe light.”
I don’t begin to understand that (probably because I’ve watched too much TV), but the article goes on to quote some experts, including Alexandra Horowitz. She explains that, in addition to the “frame rate” differences, the fact that no smells come out of the television keeps dogs from getting too interested. “Dogs are not primarily visual … and what interests them is typically smell first, sight second.”
In other words, they know it’s not real.
I don’t have a problem with DogTV existing — just with the possibility it could be overused by busy dog owners. There are better ways to keep you dog occupied during the day, even when you’re not home. And too much TV – be it forensic drama, cooking shows, or even just watching dogs romp — can’t be good for anyone, two or four-legged.
What we fail to realize as we continue to work the wild out of dogs, continue to make them more human, is that dogs don’t need vicarious thrills.
That’s just us.
Posted by jwoestendiek August 2nd, 2013 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: alexandra horowitz, animals, babysit, babysitter, babysitting, behavior, brian williams, channel, couch potatoes, directv, dog, dogs, dogtv, for dogs, home alone, humanize, humanizing, humans, images, nbc, network, pets, play, relaxation, station, stimulation, television, thrills, tv, vicarious
The American Kennel Club is doing a much better job of protecting bad breeders than it is protecting dogs.
That’s the gist of this investigative report that aired yesterday on NBC’s “Today” show
The accusations aren’t exactly new, and weren’t exactly uncovered by NBC, but it’s good to see the issue getting some national attention.
The AKC, investigative correspondent Jeff Rossen notes, calls itself ”the dog’s champion …
“But critics say there’s an ugly reality you don’t see: Some AKC breeders raising diseased dogs, malnourished, living in their own filth. It’s so disturbing that now two of the country’s largest animal welfare groups, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Humane Society, are condemning the AKC.”
The report included an interview with one dog owner, who purchased a Great Dane from a kennel only weeks after that kennel was inspected by the AKC and found in compliance. The puppy turned out to have intestinal parasites, an upper respiratory infection and a congenital eye defect.
“Law enforcement went into the kennel just two months later, and rescued dozens of dogs,” Rossen reported.
Wayne Pacelle, CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, is featured heavily in the report, and makes the point that the AKC should be working with animal welfare groups to protect dogs instead of protecting bad breeders and fighting laws that would crack down on them.
AKC Director of Communications Lisa Peterson, also interviewed for the report, says she would give the AKC an “A” for its inspection program.
But when the reporter asked how many breeders are producing AKC-registered dogs, she said, “That’s a great question. We don’t know.” And when asked what percentage of AKC registered breeders end up getting inspected, she wouldn’t offer a ball park figure.
“We do thousands of inspections annually,” Peterson said. “We’ve done 55,000 inspections since the year 2000.”
“But what percentage of breeders actually get inspected?”
“… I don’t have that figure,” Peterson said. “I’m sorry.”
Peterson said there are nine AKC inspectors in the U.S. Asked “Do you think that’s an adequate number?” she said, ”That’s the number that we have.”
Posted by jwoestendiek May 2nd, 2013 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: akc, american kennel club, animals, aspca, breeders, breeding, club, conditions, dog, dogs, hsus, humane society, humane society of the united states, inspections, investigative, jeff rossen, kennel, laws, legislation, nbc, news, pets, report, today, today show, wayne pacelle
I wasn’t personally tuned in, but it seems Pup, the accordion-playing pooch vying to win the NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” competition, failed to make much of an impression last night.
Maybe he was overwhelmed by the bright lights, the big stage and the huge Hollywood crowd, but Pup only tugged a couple of times on the elastic strap attached to the accordion, and once it snapped out of his mouth, he stayed away from the accordion altogether.
After Pup balked, the act turned into a solo – basically his owner, Ed, singing and strumming “Ghost Riders in the Sky.”
Pup failed to live up to the expectations of the judges, and his owner, Ed, from Oakhurst, California — and anyone else who saw his impressive audition tape (above).
“If Pup had continued we may have had a sensation on our hands, but we’re never going to know,” said judge Piers Morgan, who “X-ed” the act early on.
“We had some problems,” Ed explained afterward.
Pup’s on air performance — a bit painful to watch — is included in the video below.
Posted by jwoestendiek August 11th, 2010 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: accordion, acts, america's got talent, animals, competition, dog, dogs, ed, music, musical, nbc, performances, pets, piers morgan, playing, pup, reality, talent, television, tv, video
When Conan O’Brien left NBC Friday night, he may have been $32.5 million richer. But he had to leave his dog behind.
Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, like all the other characters showcased during O’Brien’s tenure, will remain the property of those at his former network.
Msnbc.com has put together a nice retrospective on the not very nice dog — featuring some of Triumph’s best known assaults on popular culture and the pompous, including this one from a visit to a Beverly Hills doggie spa.
The plastic pup (pet), created by comedy writer Robert Smigel, debuted on “Late Night with Conan O’Brien” in 1997 and continued with the puppet’s “Tonight Show” appearances.
Posted by jwoestendiek January 26th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: beverly hills, characters, comedy, conan, conan o'brien, dog spa, insult comic dog, los angeles, nbc, robert smigel, television, tonight show, triumph, tv, video
Willow’s owner claims her dog can read — only three phrases, but still.
What do you think? Is the dog actually reading the words? Or is something else at play?
Posted by jwoestendiek October 10th, 2009 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, cards, commands, dog, dogs, learning, nbc, pets, read, reading, reads, skills, today show, tricks, video, willow, words