If I had a cat — and I don’t — I would never let it play video games.
Why would anyone want to take an animal that is always so joyously in the moment — in the natural moment — and immerse it in an artificial, non-tactile, monotonously repetitious, pixelated, and quite possibly addicting world where time passes in a blur?
To take the house pet perhaps best known for being able to make a game out of anything — string, toilet paper roll, dust bunny — and put a $200 iPad in front of it so it can paw at virtual fish? That just strikes me as wrong.
It might be fun for you to watch the first time, and it might even be amusing for the feline for a while.
But then it becomes more obsession than play, and your feline, once a wildly imaginative beast with an admirable knack for making anything fun, is stalking the room, zombie-like, Jonesing for his iPad.
Then, when you try to take their iPads away, they become evil tantrum-throwing monsters who no longer see joy, mystery and adventure in something as mundane as a cardboard box or paper bag.
Sure, it is all starting out innocently enough. Remember, though, we humans started with Pong before progressing to virtual murder and mayhem. If history is any indication cat computer play will progress into darker realms — to the point where cats are tuning the real world out and, albeit virtually, engaging in pretend sex and violence, car theft even, on their computers.
Am I exaggerating to ridiculous proportions? Clearly. But seriously, taking the long view, is this best for cats?
Or will we, with all good intentions, slowly drive them insane?
How long, for example, can you watch this before feeling a certain panic in your soul?
Video games for cats have been catching on for several years now — to the point that even some animal shelters have turned to them.
The Regina Humane Society in Canada turned to iPads last year to keep their resident cats occupied and engaged.
“This is just another way, another tool in our toolbox that allows us to keep our animals healthy and happy while they’re awaiting their special someone who’s going to take them home forever,” said Lisa Koch, executive director.
“Owned cats around the world have apps that they play with on their owners [iPads], and it’s something that we’ve adopted here at the Humane Society for cats who don’t have families to make the environment that they’re living in more stimulating for them mentally.”
Koch said these programs are meant to keep cats active and stimulate them mentally.
Stimulate? Maybe. But does laying down and pawing a mouse on a $200 screen keep a cat more active than batting an actual $1.29 play mouse around the room and chasing it?
Lost, too, if we let cats live their nine lives in the virtual world, is interaction with humans. High-tech pet toys that bill themselves as “interactive” have a way of removing a human’s resolve to spend one-on-one time with their pet, to the point where they no longer feel much need to do so. It’s like setting child in front of TV set for three hours.
The Regina Humane Society does good and noble work, and maybe in a shelter situation, where it’s challenging to keep all the animals occupied, something like this is acceptable.
On the other hand, cats are already the ultimate game inventors. We should be pinpointing what is in them — a play gene? — that makes them so able to look at a spool of thread, a pencil, a puzzle piece, and see an amusement park.
Instead, we appear headed to making them as addicted to the computer screen as we are?
Posted by John Woestendiek January 10th, 2017 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animal shelters, animals, apps, canada, cat, cat apps, cat games, cat toys, cats, dangers, fish, games, high tech, interactive, ipad, laser games, lasers, mice, petns, play, regina humane society, screen, stimulation, technology, toys, video
Mention the words “homeowner’s association” and my muscles, sphincters included, tighten right up.
Something bad is bound to follow, because such groups are generally pretty uptight, notoriously rigid with their rules, and they take matters like what breed your dog is, or what color your shutters are, way too seriously.
So I was pleased to hear that the one I’m now a part of (which shall go nameless) recently consented, informally at least, to letting people use the fenced in tennis courts as a dog park.
It’s not the sort of thing your typical homeowner’s association does — showing that kind of flexibility — but it came just in time for my new dog Jinjja and me.
Jinjja can’t be let off the leash yet. (On top of the fact he might take off and never come back, it’s against association rules.)
He’s not good enough on the leash to jog alongside me, which isn’t going to happen anyway because I don’t jog.
Taking him to a dog park isn’t yet a possibility, because he refuses to get into my car.
That leaves him with no place to run.
Except for my hallway, which he has taken to using for those energy-filled sprints dogs generally burst into a few times a day. He zips back and forth between front bedroom and back bedroom for about 15 minutes, at least once a day.
So when a neighbor told me that the association had given an informal nod to allowing dogs to use the tennis courts, in a meeting just last week, Jinjja and I were there the next day.
I brought along a tennis ball, and a big handful of training treats, so I’d be able to get him to come back to me. I checked the perimeter for openings, and then unleashed him.
For the next 30 minutes, he trotted around checking the perimeter for himself, determining it was pretty escape proof.
Though fenced, it was clearly the most freedom he — a dog rescued from a South Korean farm where dogs were being raised for their meat — has enjoyed of late, if not ever. And he seemed overwhelmed by it. He ignored me entirely, ignored the tennis ball entirely, even ignored the treats I held up as he trotted by.
He was either entirely focused or entirely unfocused, I’m not sure, but a good hour passed before he ceased running, slowed down and approached me.
Leashed back up for the walk back home, he jerked at the leash less and stayed at my side more than he ever has.
The tennis court surface may not be the most ideal one for a dog park, especially if multiple dogs are playing roughly, but for a quick run, especially a solo one, it works fine.
You might wonder if tennis players are up in arms about this.
Apparently not, and apparently dog owners this particular community far outnumber tennis players, if there even are any of those.
I’ve only seen the courts occupied once in the nearly five months since I moved in — and there is no reason they can’t be shared, assuming dog owners do a good job of cleaning up after their dogs.
As a fan of the game, though I rarely attempt to play it these days, I even support tennis players getting priority, and requiring dogs to exit in the event someone wants to play.
Around here, tennis players are few, and dogs are everywhere. Several residents on my block have multiple dogs. Two of them have five each.
Apparently, dog owners have been pushing the idea for a while — even though they would prefer an actual dog park with grass.
One thing I’m sure of, Jinjja is grateful for it.
Until I get him past his fear of jumping in the car, or he trusts me enough to let me pick him up, we’ll be regular users.
Posted by John Woestendiek November 25th, 2016 under Muttsblog.
Tags: amenity, amenties, animals, condos, dog parks fences, dogs, exercise, homeowners, homeowners associatons, jinjja, pets, play, recreation, rules, sharing, tennis, tennis courts, townhouses, training
In case you’re needing to see some sort of silver lining behind those snow clouds that socked the eastern seaboard and paralyzed the northeast this weekend, we offer this.
Kago and Kumbali — a dog and cheetah who have become best friends at the Metro Richmond Zoo — got to play in the snow for the first time during winter storm Jonas.
The zoo was closed Saturday, but a zookeeper let the popular duo run and play in the 7-inch deep snow in a large fenced field.
Kumbali was two weeks old when caretakers at the zoo noticed he was losing weight. The runt of a litter born to zoo cheetahs Khari (the mom) and Hatari (the dad), Kumbali was bottle fed and grew healthier, but having been removed from his litter he needed some companionship.
So the zoo got him a dog.
Kago, a 10-week old Lab mix, had been pulled from a high kill shelter in Alabama by The Art of Paws, an animal rescue group in Florida.
Zoo officials report the two have become inseparable.
Kumbali and Kago can be seen at the zoo Monday to Thursday from 12 to 1 p.m., and on Friday and Saturday from 12 to 1 p.m. and 3 to 4 p.m. And you can find their full story here.
Here’s a look at their first meeting, and their younger (snowless) days:
(Photos and videos courtesy of the Metro Richmond Zoo)
Posted by John Woestendiek January 25th, 2016 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: best friends, cheetah, cheetah and dog, companionship, dog, dog and cheetah, first, friends, jonas, kago, kago and kumbali, kumbali, kumbali and kago, metro richmond zoo, play, richmond, richmond zoo, snow, storm, videos, winter, zoo
Surely you can relate to what Bella, the German shepherd featured in this video, is going through.
Think about that beach vacation you didn’t want to come to an end, or your toddler’s hissy fit when the time came to leave Chuck E. Cheese, or those potato chips you always need one more of.
Sometimes, when something just feels so good, or is so much fun, stopping, packing up and going home is just unthinkable.
Such, seemingly is the case with Bella, who, when informed that her lake visit was over, whined, moaned and carried on in a way that made it clear that — despite what her owner was telling her — it wasn’t quite time to leave.
In posting the video on YouTube, her caretaker noted that, after her performance, Bella got to play in the lake a little longer.
“No dogs’ hearts were actually broken in the making of this video,” she added.
Two days ago, she posted another comment on YouTube, alluding to all the negative comments the video has received about her “ill-trained” dog.
“I thought it was funny. I didn’t realize at the time that half of the world’s population would know her better than I do based on a 2 min video. The true story is she has severe HD and we take her swimming in the pond just about everyday for therapy (it’s good for her hip, and helps burn all of her puppy energy).
“… She’s perfectly trained and I do know this isn’t appropriate behavior. I have found people nor animals are 100% perfect all of the time. You can tell from the tone of my voice that I’m not serious and she knew it as well. That’s why she pushed the limits and I allowed her to do so. It was fun banter back and forth between her, my daughter and I.
“Even after explaining ALL of this, there are going to be a million “dog whisperers” that still know her better than me. I posted this video 5 months ago, not thinking it would ever go viral. Based on the negativity of people that cannot see this for what it was — just a funny video of a dog — makes me wish at times that I had never posted it in the first place.”
Not to read too much into it, and even though it was all in the spirit of playfulness, it still makes me wonder: As dogs become more like humans, are they getting better at manipulating us?
And, given how much we’ve manipulated them, is that only fair?
And, as for all those nasty “expert” commenters who can’t tear themselves away from negatively pontificating on the Internet — because to them it’s just too much fun — I suggest they go jump in a lake.
Posted by John Woestendiek October 1st, 2014 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, behavior, bella, dog, dogs, fit, fun, german shepherd, hissy fit, internet, lake, manipulation, pets, play, stop, time to go, video, viral video
This mostly friendly game of soccer between a dog and a turtle gets a little rough at times — but then so does human soccer.
Valeria D’Innocenzo Carlantoni in Civitavechia, Italy, a small town near Rome, posted the video of her dog and an unusually speedy turtle on her Facebook page.
At the very end of it, the turtle, after having the ball taken away, appears to snap at the dog’s hind leg.
Where have we seen that before?
Posted by John Woestendiek July 9th, 2014 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: 2014, animals, ball, behavior, bit, bite, bites, bitten, dog, dogs, funny, humans, pets, play, snap, soccer, sport, suarez, turtle, videos, world cup
Here’s Zeke, a recently rescued pit bull, and his new friend.
Zeke’s owner said the deer approached their backyard fence one day.
After the animals checked each other out, the dance began.
She was able to capture the scene on her cell phone.
Posted by John Woestendiek June 30th, 2014 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, deer, deer and pitbull, deer and pitbull video, dogs, friends, pets, pit bull, pit bulls, pitbull, pitbulls, play, unlikely friends, video, wildlife
It may take two to tango, but fetch is a game that can be played solo, assuming you’re a dog with a catapult in your back yard.
This video was posted on YouTube last month, under the title, “This is What Happens When an Engineer Owns a Dog.”
An anonymous dog owner apparently built the contraption, then taught his dog to operate it.
Rocks, as opposed to softer projectiles, seem to the object of choice for this dog, who places a tennis ball-sized stone on the launch pad then jumps twice on the other end of the board, activating a spring that sends the rock flying across the yard.
The dog fetches it, and repeats the process.
The video was featured on the website of yesterday’s New York Daily News.
Posted by John Woestendiek June 4th, 2014 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, back yard, backyard, balls, behavior, catapult, contraption, dog, dog training, dogs, engineer, fetch, fetching, games, homemade, pets, play, rocks, solo, video