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Tag: new zealand

Dogs herding sheep, as seen from above

Counting imaginary sheep has never worked as a sleep aid for me, but maybe that’s because I always visualized them at ground level.

A bird’s-eye view (or drone’s-camera, in this case) is something entirely different, and quite fantastic. It may not be sleep-inducing, but it is definitely soothing and mesmerizing.

This footage of dogs herding sheep in New Zealand, captured by a camera-equipped drone, is from Tim Whitaker, a filmmaker and aerial photographer in New Zealand. It was taken at a farm in Rangitikei.

As for the choreography, we can thank dog for that.

As the dogs direct them, the massive herd of sheep wash over the green hills like a wave, spreading and narrowing as they make their way to the destination.

Beautiful as this footage is, it raises the unfortunate question: If you’ve got the drones, do you need the dogs?

(The answer — at least until drones start cuddling and looking up at us with big soulful eyes — is yes.)

That’s not to say drones can’t herd dogs. Paul Brennan of Carlow, Ireland, employed a drone nicknamed “Shep” a couple of years ago to herd sheep from one field to another, capturing the process as Shep saw it from the air.

Unlike the video at the top of this post, it’s not nearly as peaceful and soul-enriching — but maybe that’s just the fast-motion pace and the Benny Hill music.

Bomb detecting dog in training shot and killed at New Zealand airport

grizz

A dog being trained to detect bombs at New Zealand’s Auckland Airport was shot by police — under orders from the airport — after he ran off from his handlers and caused flights to be delayed.

Airport officials said handlers, security staff and police officers spent three hours trying to capture the dog.

But, after 16 flights had to be delayed, they gave police the go ahead to shoot the 10-month-old border collie and German shorthaired pointer mix. They insisted it was a last resort.

The shooting was condemned by animal rights activists and others.

The dog, named Grizz, was training to be an Aviation Security explosion detector and was six months away from graduation, CNN reported.

After handlers tried unsuccessfully to recapture him, and to coax him off the runway, airport staff told police to shoot him.

Then they got on Twitter and reported he had been recaptured.

Not until an hour later did they reveal the dog had been killed.

According to the New Zealand Herald, Grizz was not on the tarmac but on the outer perimeter of the airfield when he was shot.

SAFE for Animals Ambassador Hans Kriek condemned the killing, asking why the animal wasn’t tranquilized, but a spokesman for the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said he “didn’t believe” that had been an option.

Grizz escaped from his handler at around 4.30 a.m. Friday (local time) and ran out onto the tarmac at Auckland Airport, according to the CAA spokesman.

“He was on an initial airport environment socialization program as part of his training … The airport Emergency Operations Center was activated and a full search was commenced,” he said in a statement.

But the spokesman said it was too dark and the area too large to quickly find and contain the puppy.

“We tried everything, food, toys, other dogs, but nothing would work … In these difficult circumstances the Airport’s Emergency Operations Center team decided to have the dog destroyed,” he said

Animal activist Kriek said other alternatives should have been explored.

“Ultimately they have to call the police in to shoot the dog, and the police have access to tranquilizer guns, and there’s also a zoo nearby that would have one as well. So we don’t understand why they didn’t do that,” he said.

An airport spokesman said the question of a tranquilizer gun, and the entire incident, would be reviewed.

Dog rescued from empty yacht, adrift at sea

juanita

 
A retriever mix named Juanita was rescued from an otherwise empty yacht off the coast of New Zealand yesterday.

Juanita reportedly poked her head out of a hatch when a rescue vessel pulled alongside the drifting yacht Tafadzwa, which had been at sea for 17 days.

The 2-year-old dog belonged to the yacht’s missing owner, Paul Janse van Rensburg, according to the New Zealand Herald.

“When we pulled up alongside, she poked her head out for a bit, but went down below again,” said fisherman and diver Floyd Prendeville, of the fishing boat Legionaire, which towed the Tafadzwa to the Chathams.

Prendeville said the dog was shaking and silent as he approached. “She was very wary of me, and then I just pulled her in and gave her a couple of comforting pats, and she was shaking, and then she came right.”

Juanita somehow managed to fend for herself after Janse van Rensburg, 40, was lost overboard within days of setting sail from Tauranga for Gisborne on March 12. The boat drifted from the East Cape to the Chathams.

Juanita was carried to dry land, and after trotting around the wharf for a while, was led to a vehicle and taken to the local constable’s house.

(Photo: New Zealand Herald / Mark Mitchell)

Chihuahua mix serves as mom to kittens

Shyla, a Chihuahua mix in New Zealand, has undertaken the nursing of seven kittens born to a stray.

The kittens were taken in by a Pets n Vets clinic to save them from being euthanized, and Shyla, who has nursed a previous litter of kittens, was called to duty.

Time to eat the authors?

time-to-eat-the-dogNew Zealand professors Brenda and Robert Vale say the title of their book was partly tongue-in-cheek, partly shock tactic.

“Time to Eat the Dog?: A Real Guide to Sustainable Living” — and we’re thankful they at least used a question mark — doesn’t actually propose pet owners eat their dogs and cats, but it does suggest switching to pets like chickens and rabbits, which then can be eaten.

Of course, if their fate is to be eaten, they wouldn’t be pets. They’d be livestock. But the Vales, both New Zealand professors of architecture and non-dogs owners (as maybe you’d guess), don’t seem to see the distinction.

By eating our pets, the Vales say, we’d reduce their carbon footprint.

And dogs and cats, granted, make some pretty big ones — according to the Vales, the amount of land and energy it takes to make one dog’s food for a year makes for twice the carbon footprint of a Toyota Land Cruiser driven 6,213 miles a year.

A cat’s carbon footprint, meanwhile, is  “slightly less than a Volkswagen Golf.

New Scientist magazine, in an editorial, stopped short of backing the authors’ suggestion – that we should recycle our pets by eating them or turning them into pet food at the end of their lives – but it did call for reducing the impact of pets on the environment, and for the pet food industry to be more environmentally responsible.

“In a world of scarce resources, can we justify keeping pets that consume more than some people?” the editorial asks. “… Giving up our pets in the name of sustainability may seem like a sacrifice too far, but if we are going to continue to keep animals purely for our enjoyment then we have to face uncomfortable choices.

“At the moment, pet-food manufacturers thrive by selling us the idea that only the best will do for our beloved animals, but once owners become more aware, what they demand from the industry is likely to change,” the editorial notes. “The first manufacturer to offer a green, eco-friendly pet food could be onto a winner. Sustainable lifestyles require sacrifices, and even cats and dogs can be made to do their bit.”

No charges likely in New Zealand dog barbecue

The SPCA in New Zealand is calling for a change in the law after its investigation into the killing and cooking of a pet dog by a Tongan family in Auckland.

As long as the animal is slaughtered humanely — how’s that for a contradiction of terms? — eating a dog is not illegal  in New Zealand.

The family who barbecued their pet dog say back home in Tonga dog meat is considered a delicacy, and they didn’t realize they were doing anything wrong.

Paea Taufa was found roasting his pitbull mix in a pit at his home. The dog had been skinned and gutted and was partially charred when SPCA inspectors arrived.

Auckland City’s mayor, John Banks, said the family needs to be educated rather than charged with a crime, according to the New Zealand Herald.

Banks, an animal rights activist for years, says better education on local customs and sensibilities is needed. “This activity is deeply offensive and totally wrong in our New Zealand society. For many people, this is absolutely repulsive,” the mayor said. “But the way forward is education. This man has obviously not been taught that killing and eating a domestic pet is not right in New Zealand.”

Casting call goes out for a three-legged dog

Filmmaker Geoff Talbot is looking for a three-legged star.

Through his blog and Twitter, Talbot — an actor, filmmaker, writer, comedian and veterinary surgeon — is searching for a dog to play Scrap, a role in his new movie, “Lucky & Rich.”

The ideal candidate is missing a hind leg, is medium-sized, non-aggressive and has “big cinematic doggie eyes,” according to an entry on his blog, “seven sentences.” The blog entry also carries pictures of the contenders so far.

The movie is described as a “24-hour Bohemian love story between a Czech prostitute called Lucky and a homeless New Zealand bum named Rich.”

The film will be shot in Prague from November 2009 to February 2010 and both dog and guardian will be transported there by the moviemaker. The dog playing Scrap will be under constant veterinary supervision and care, he assures candidates.

Photos of possible candidates can be sent to help.find.scrap@gmail.com.

(Photo: Frankie, one of the dogs submitted for consideration, from Talbot’s blog)