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Tag: pets

It’s safe to say Walter likes the sea

Not every yellow Lab loves the water.

But those that do tend to do so with that kind of all-out, make-the-most-of-the-moment glee that dogs so often display (and we humans could learn from).

This video — made with a Go Pro camera strapped to his back — shows Walter barreling own a path to the Ionian Sea in Sicily, from the moment he is unleashed until he takes his plunge, narrowly missing taking a few humans in with him.

I try to refrain from ascribing emotions to dogs — not because I don’t think they have any, but because we mere humans never really know what’s in their heads and hearts.

In this case, though, I think it’s safe to say Walter likes the sea.

It’s also safe to say people like watching Walter’s mad dash: It garnered nearly 3 million views in its first three days on YouTube.

Today is my birthday, and here’s my birthday resolution: Be more like Walter.

Talk the dog: Humanizing our pets

There are two main reasons I’m against humanizing our pets.

One, it’s messing with nature — dogs (ideal beasts, in my view) should stay dogs.

Two, portraying them as humans, giving them human attributes, or using them as our puppets, implies our species is superior, and worth imitating. Oftentimes, from what I’ve seen of it, it’s not. We’re are way too far from perfect to appoint ourselves role models for the animal kingdom.

I get slightly peeved when I see technology being used to make dogs more human — especially when, because we deem it cute and entertaining, we put our words in their mouths.

So, immensely popular as it is, I’m less than smitten with My Talking Pet, an app that allows us to take a photo of our cat or dog, record an audio message, and get a video of our pet — animated so that mouth, nose and eyebrows move as the pet appears to talk.

From the samples I’ve seen, the words we put in the mouths of dogs are only further proof that we’re not the intellectually superior species we think we are.

“People are obsessed with it,” said Iain Baird, who developed the app with his former school buddy, Peter Worth. “I think it’s really struck a chord with how close people are with their pets.”

The concept, he told Fortune.com, came while he and some friends were in a London pub talking about a YouTube video featuring a “talking dog” that had gone viral. They decided to come up with an app that would make it easy for any pet owner make their dog “talk,” and it hit the iTunes market in early 2013.

It wasn’t until after the app was featured on the “Ellen” show that it really took off.

Last October, Kat Dennings and Beth Behrs, stars of the CBS sitcom “2 Broke Girls,” praised the app while on the show. In the weeks that followed it became the most downloaded paid app in the Apple iTunes store.

Worth and Baird say their company, WOBA Media,  began thinking even bigger after that — including offering a “devil mode,” which adds glowing red eyes to the pet, and “angel mode,” in which the pet appears under a halo.

Taken alone, “My Talking Pet” is  just a little harmless fun — as is dressing the dog up for Halloween, treating the dog like a spoiled grandchild, or calling them “fur babies”.

The dangers come when our seeing them as humans sabotages our attempts at training, when we start assigning dogs human emotions they don’t have, and holding them to human expectations.

We should be close to our pets. We should see them as family members — only canine ones. To manipulate them, to turn them into something else (humans, or angels, or devils), to put words into their mouths, all takes away from appreciating them for what they are.

Just something to keep in mind as technology marches on — often making bigger inroads than we originally anticipated.

How long will it be, for example, before cutting edge, 21st Century technology, like that used in “My Talking Pet”  is turned around on us, and the app takes on a mind of its own, and our pets are giving us their unsolicited opinions on the best brand of dog food, cereal or car to buy?

That could never happen, could it?

Pit bull stabbed at adoption event in Georgia

clara2

A pit bull being shown at an adoption event at a PetSmart outside Atlanta on Sunday got loose from her handler, attacked a smaller dog and was repeatedly stabbed by the smaller dog’s owner.

Clara, a pit bull who was being fostered and who was taken to the event in hopes of finding an adoptive home, was euthanized due to the severity of her injuries, the local humane society said.

The smaller dog, a West Highland terrier, spent a night in an emergency vet’s office and was released to her owner Monday.

As reported in the Times-Herald, Clara, who has been living in a foster home, had been brought to the event by the Newnan-Coweta Humane Society in hopes of finding her a permanent home. The Westie belonged to a customer in the store — one who, according to witnesses, had a low opinion of pit bulls.

Witnesses say the smaller dog growled at the larger one when they walked past each other inside the store. Shortly after that, Clara pulled free from her handler and ran at the smaller dog.

The Westie’s owner tried to pull the pit bull off his dog, kicked her and stabbed her several times with a pocket knife. While doing so, some witnesses said, he was repeatedly screaming, “F—ing pit bulls!”

clara“The guy was just screaming ‘‘f***ing pit bull, why are you even allowed to have these dogs?’” Teresa Reeves, who attended the adoption even with her fiance, Mike Wohler, told the Times-Herald.

Clara was holding the smaller dog by the scruff of her neck or ear,  and both dogs were still, Reeves said. “Clara wasn’t clamped down on the dog. Mike was able to put his hands in her mouth,” she said. “…They were just standing there. It could have easily been broken up.”

After the man started stabbing the pit bull, his son screamed for him to stop. Clara is believed to have been stabbed up to six times.

PetSmart staff also attempted to break the dogs up using air horns and spray bottles.

Sandy Hiser, with the Newnan-Coweta Humane Society, said that once the dogs were separated, Clara’s wounds turned out to be worse than originally thought. She sat back and was wagging her tail when it was noticed she was bleeding, and making a gurgling noise when she breathed.

Hiser said Clara’s injuries were “so extensive that if she did pull through, it would have impacted her quality of life.”

Police responded but no charges have been filed. Hiser said an officer told her that the man “had a right to defend his dog.”

The case is still being investigated by Newnan’s animal warden.

One witness said she heard the Westie’s owner complaining about pit bulls even before the attack.

Clara was being returned to the store from a trip outside when the man said, “If you bring that f***ing pit bull near me I’m going to stab it,” said Erin Burr, who was attending the adoption event.

According to a Facebook page set up in hopes of getting Clara adopted, she’d lived over half her life in a boarding kennel. It also notes she had problems being “dog tolerant.” Posts note that the page was started after she was banned from an earlier adoption event.

(Photos from the “Clicks for Clara” Facebook page)

Bet your dog’s wardrobe doesn’t have this …

dogspacesuit

Even if you consider your dog the best-dressed canine on the planet, he or she probably doesn’t have one of these — a Soviet-made, late 1950′s-era doggie spacesuit.

If your dog simply must have this corset-like, lace-up, oxygen tube-included piece of Sputnik couture, be prepared to bid (in the neighborhood of $10,000) at an upcoming auction to be held in Berlin on Sept. 13. (If you can’t make it to Berlin, absentee bids can be made online.)

According to the website Auctionata, the suit was likely worn by USSR space dogs Belka and Strelka during training sessions for the Korabl-Sputnik 2 mission.

It was made — from cotton, nylon, aluminium, rubber and laces — by RSC Energia, the largest Russian manufacturer of spacecraft and space station components.

Only a small number of the dog spacesuits have survived, and this one is said to be in good condition, according to the auctioneers. The spacesuit is now the property of Collection Andora, in Germany.

Dogs played a key role in the Soviet space program. While the U.S. used chimpanzees to see if humans could survive the effects of being rocketed into space, Russia opted for dogs.

Laika, a Russian dog, became the first animal to orbit Earth in 1957, though he died during the mission from stress and overheating.

Belka and Strelka returned to Earth safely after spending a day in space in 1960.

(Photo: Auctionata.com)

Jiff: The fastest dog on two legs

A four-year-old Pomeranian named Jiff has been named the fastest dog on two legs.

He has four of them, but he only needs two — front or rear — to propel himself so speedily and over such great distances that he’ll be honored for two records in the 2015 Guinness World Record book. The 60th anniversary edition is coming out September 10.

jiffNot that Jiff wasn’t already pretty famous.

Jiff has appeared in several television ads and was featured in “Dark Horse,” a music video by singer Katy Perry. His Facebook page has more than 1.3 million “likes.

Originally from Grayslake, Illinois, Jiff recently moved to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career, according to his owners, who prefer to remain anonymous.

“When Jiff first walked into our offices, we weren’t even sure he was real,” Guinness World Records Editor-in-Chief Craig Glenday said. “He looks like a living, breathing cuddly toy.”

(Photo: from Jiff’s Facebook page)

Is dog meat on the way out in South Korea?

oh

Daegyo, a Seoul restaurant famous for its dog meat-based offerings, is closing shop — just the latest sign that, as the popularity of dogs as pets increases in South Korea, the centuries-old tradition of eating them is on its way out.

Between the rise of a younger generation, with a deeper affinity to dogs as pets, and a burgeoning animal welfare movement, the consumption of dog meat has been declining steadily — so much so that the owner of Daegyo, at least, has come to see there’s no future in serving it to diners.

Oh Keum-il says Daegyo, which opened in a Seoul alley in 1981, will serve its last bowl of boshintang, or dog stew, today.

Oh, both chef and owner of the restaurant, is known for the dog meat dishes she developed and served for over three decades. But she has noticed that the popularity of dog meat  is mostly limited to older customers.

“There is too much generational gap in boshintang. There are no young customers,” she is quoted as saying in an Associated Press report featured in USA Today.

“The closure of Oh’s restaurant, dubbed by a local newspaper as the “Holy Land of boshintang” and frequented by two former presidents, Lee Myung-bak and late Roh Moo-hyun, shows one view of dogs is gaining more traction among young South Koreans,” the article reports.

Oh plans to reopen her restaurant as a Korean beef barbecue diner.

It’s has been estimated more than 2 million dogs are killed each year for their meat in South Korea.

Butcher Shin Jang-gun, who supplies dog meat to restaurants, said the number of merchants selling dog meat  has shrunk to half of what it was. Between 700 and 800 restaurants in Seoul now serve it, he said. Once more than 1,500 did.

“Dog is not an industry with a long-term future,” Shin said. “New generations don’t eat a lot.”

Dogs are still raised as meat on farms in South Korea, and they are still killed and butchered to order at street markets in and around Seoul.

At the same time, about one in five South Korean households now have a cat or dog as a pet, and economic forecasters say that number is increasing. One institute says the pet industry is expected to grow six-fold — from less than a billion to about six billion dollars — between 2012 and 2020.

South Korea is also where dog was first cloned, and the only country in which dogs are being cloned. Farm raised dogs were frequently used as surrogates and egg cell donors as that industry came into existence — not to produce meat, but to allow bereaved pet owners to get laboratory-made duplicates of their dogs.

(Photo: Lee Jin-Man / Associated Press)

CEO caught kicking dog on surveillance cam

It’s not every day that you find Fortune magazine covering a dog abuse story.

But when the apparent abuser is CEO of a prominent sports catering company, and the abuse is captured on an elevator surveillance camera, it raises some questions — including, in this case at least, whether he should remain in that position.

Many a dog lover is calling for the immediate firing of Des Hague, CEO of  Centerplate, a food service company that runs the concessions at several sports arenas nationwide, including those that are home to the Denver Broncos, Indianapolis Colts and San Francisco 49ers.

Many are suggesting a boycott of the food served by Centerplate at the stadiums it has contracts with.

So, in a way, it is a business story — Hague’s atrocious behavior, public as it has gone, could play a role in the future of the company.

But it’s also a dog story, so you should know that the pup was not seriously injured (at least in a physical way) and has been removed from the care of Hague.

While some reports say Hague was watching the dog for a friend, a spokesperson for the BC SPCA  said Hague appears to be the owner of the year-old Doberman Pinscher named Sade.

The BC SPCA is keeping the dog in an undisclosed location, either a shelter or foster arrangement.

deshagueThis week, Hague released a statement of apology, through his attorney, calling the incident “completely and utterly out of character … I am ashamed and deeply embarrassed… a minor frustration with a friend’s pet caused me to lose control of my emotional response … I would like to extend my apology to my family, company and clients, as I understand that this has also reflected negatively on them.”

Centerplate, based in Connecticut, says it “does not condone the mistreatment of animals by any of its employees” — that’s good to know — and that  it was conducting an internal review of the matter.

“Mr. Hague has agreed to attend counseling to address his anger management issues and has publicly expressed he is deeply ashamed and remorseful for his behavior,” the statement continued. “He has apologized to everyone directly involved as well as to the company’s clients and employees, and has pledged a significant, personal, multiyear financial commitment to help support the protection and safety of animals.”

The company’s board of directors says it has ordered Hague to donate $100,000 toward the establishment of the Sade Foundation, named after the dog he mistreated in the elevator, Fox 12 in Oregon reported.

In addition, the board is requiring him to serve 1000 hours of community service at an animal welfare organization.

While those steps might be an attempt to cut off any criminal prosecution, they don’t preclude charges being filed. They do show that the company’s board members — by appointing themselves judge and jury — are aware how serious the public is taking his misdeeds.

Whether the financial donation and community service are voluntary or company-ordered, they still seem a little like Michael Vick’s “redemption” song, which not too many people bought as sincere.

Sorry, rich guys. But forgiveness can’t be achieved by writing a check. Nice as it would be to see Hague pay, and pay, and pay, money doesn’t erase misdeeds. And, as Vick’s dogfighting case showed, dog lovers have a very long and unforgiving memory.