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Tag: poodle

Cooking with Dog (It’s not what you think)

A much beloved Internet celebrity has died.

He was part of a cooking team — the less shy half, the English-speaking half, the more comfortable in front of the camera half, the poodle half.

Francis the dog was the host and narrator of “Cooking with Dog,” which also featured the human he lived with, an unnamed Japanese housewife who had never been on camera before a producer friend proposed they put together a cooking show for the Internet.

She was hesitant, as she was a private sort, and felt alone and insecure in front of the camera.

francisandchefWith Francis at her side, though, she was up to the task and the duo went on, over the next 10 years, to rise to Internet stardom — Chef, as she is called, doing all the cooking and making an occasional comment in Japanese, Francis providing the narration, in English, with a French accent.

Francis passed away Sunday at age 14, Gizmodo reported, based on a Twitter post.

“Cooking with Dog” began in 2007 after the producer, who also likes to keep his name private, returned to Japan from Los Angeles, where he had spent several years working in the entertainment industry.

He said he wanted to keep working in film and television, and promote Japanese culture — in a way English-speaking audiences could follow.

“There are many cooking programs on TV and I just wanted to make our show look different and unique. And also I don’t know any celebrities or famous people and I didn’t have a large budget,” he told The Japan Times last year.

Having Francis narrate the show gave it a quirky edge, and opened it up to English-speaking audiences.

“Cooking With Dog” has over 1.2 million subscribers, making it one of the most popular food channels on YouTube. Nearly a third of the viewers come from the United States.

Over the years, its title has raised some eyebrows and led to a little confusion. Some who have stumbled across it thought it might be about cooking for your dog, or about recipes that used dog meat as an ingredient.

Dogs are, after all, raised for their meat and consumed by a small minority of the population in several Asian countries.

But anyone who watched a video quickly became aware nothing nefarious was afoot — it was a just a pure and simple cooking show in which a soft-spoken chef calmly puts together elaborate and often ornate Japanese dishes as her dog looks on.

It’s a refreshing change from American cooking shows, where there has been a distinct shift toward manic hosts, who are generally overseeing some sort of cut-throat competition.

Gizmodo reports it is uncertain if “Cooking with Dogs” will continue without Francis.

If not, we still have the more than 300 episodes that have been produced. You can watch them at the Cooking with Dog, YouTube channel.

A little too much color coordination

stanley3

Where’s Stanley? Keep looking. Maybe tilt your head a little bit, or squint your eyes, and you’ll find him.

He’s right there — on the carpet, left of the baby.

stanley2As any dog owner knows, when you buy a new rug you want it to be one that will camouflage those inevitably shed dog hairs.

But you might not want this close a match.

Deb Lythgoe and family say they sometimes can’t tell when their dog Stanley is asleep on the rug — and sometimes trip over him because his coat so closely matches it.

As first reported in the Mercury Press, Stanley’s affinity for the rug just adds to the problem. It’s the poodle’s favorite place to nap — perhaps because it resembles his mother or litter mates.

Lythgoe and her fiancé live in the borough of Wigan in Greater Manchester, England, with five children. So that could add up to a lot of tripping.

stanley1Not only do the deep-pile rug and the dog contain the same shades of grey, they have a similar nappy texture.

Lythgoe said she bought the rug in April, without giving the color match much thought.

“We bought the rug a few months ago and put it in the front room. Stanley straight away liked it and started laying on it,” she said.

“When he is there you actually can’t see him. Thankfully we’ve not had any serious accidents though.”

Lythgoe said the photos of Stanley on the rug, which she posted on social media, have been a hit with her friends.

Stanley, The Telegraph reported, doesn’t seem to mind being bumped into.

“Stanley is a really good boy, Lythgoe said. “He is really good with the kids and has a lovely temperament. While he keeps finding himself in trouble with the rug, it’s not his fault and it is the only problem he causes – he’s actually very well behaved.”

(Photos: Mercury Press)

Lost, blind and deaf, poodle gets some help in making the 770-mile trip home

coco

A blind, deaf, elderly poodle who went missing from her home in North Carolina a month ago was to be reunited with her family today after being found on the side of a road in Massachusetts.

Coco, a white miniature poodle, was flown to Johnston County’s airport Sunday morning by Pilots N Paws, a non-profit group of pilots and plane owners around the country who fly rescued, shelter and foster animals to new homes.

Today, her owner, Toby Brooks of Concord, N.C., was scheduled to drive to Clayton, in Johnston County, to pick her up.

According to Brooks, she let Coco out into the yard one day last month and, a minute later, she had disappeared. Coco wasn’t wearing a tag and was not microchipped.

They were still searching for her when Coco turned up 770 miles away.

On Aug. 9, in the small, central Massachusetts town of Belchertown, an animal control officer received a tip about a stray poodle on the road and picked her up, according to the Raleigh News & Observer.

Anna Kuralt-Fenton, an animal control officer in Belchertown, said she later posted a picture of the dog on the department’s Facebook page.

After that, the department received a call from someone in Belchertown who said their neighbor had picked a small dog up from the side of the road while traveling in North Carolina and brought it home.

She said the neighbor, who she wouldn’t identify, realized she couldn’t care for the dog and left her on the street.

Kuralt-Fenton got back on the Internet to try and find the dog’s owners, and began networking with animal control officers in North Carolina.

One of them, Angela Lee, an animal control officer in Clayton, began posting photos of Coco on lost and found dog sites, and that’s when she got an email from Coco’s owner.

Veterinary records confirmed the dog found in Massachusetts was Coco.

Kuralt-Fenton went on to help arrange Coco’s flight back to North Carolina, and Lee was there when the plane landed.

“I can’t believe I’m crying,” Lee said, “This isn’t even my dog.”

Lee kept the dog until today.

“I pick up a lot of dogs that are never re-claimed,” she said. “This is the best feeling ever to know she’s going to be home. That’s where she needs to be.”

(Photo: Clayton Animal Control Officer Angela Lee holds Coco shortly after the dog was flown back to North Carolina, by Lil Condo / News & Observer)

Recognizing a gift when it lands in your lap

Nala isn’t an officially certified therapy dog.

Her presence at a Minnesota nursing home, apparently, didn’t require her owner to navigate a bureaucracy or fill out mounds of paperwork.

She was never trained to make people feel better. She just, like many a dog, magically does.

The tiny teacup poodle, who comes to work with her owner — medications assistant Doug Dawson — makes the rounds daily at the Lyngblomsten care center, somehow figuring out not just how to ride the elevator to get from room to room, but who at the nursing home might most need a visit from her.

It’s another one of those feel-good stories about a dog bringing comfort, hope and smiles to residents of an otherwise impersonal institution.

Let’s hope this one doesn’t get crushed.

On Wednesday, we told you about Ivy — a Siberian husky whose owner, a janitor at a University of Rhode Island dormitory, brings her to work with him everyday. And how Ivy, through bonding with the students who live there, has made it, in the view of most, a better place to be. And how the university, after the school newspaper ran a feature about the dog, banned Ivy from campus — even though she is certified as a therapy dog — citing things like rules and liability concerns.

Today we bring you Nala, who, fortunately, is spreading her magic at a facility that — rather than fretting about pests, bites and liability — seems to recognize a gift when it sees one.

Dawson brings Nala to work with him each morning, then lets her go her own way.

She spends the day popping into the rooms of residents, hopping in their laps and getting petted and nuzzled before moving on to the next room, according to this report by KARE 11

“She’s an angel,” 90-year-old resident Ruth New said. “I love her and she loves me.”

Nala, Dawson says, seems to have an uncanny knack for knowing who needs a visit, and knowing how to get there, even when it involves riding the four-story building’s elevator.

nala“There’s something about her,” said Dawson, who inherited Nala after she failed in her debut as a potential therapy dog at another facility.

He says Nala was too young at the time, and had spent too much time in a kennel.

Now 5 years old, Nala has redeemed herself at Lyngblomsten.

“If you put her down she’ll pick out the person with Alzheimer’s,” said Dawson. “She has a way of picking the sick.”

After the recent death of one resident, Nala entered her room and stationed herself at her side.

“She had died earlier in the morning, but Nala knew and went and sat with her,” said Sandy Glomski, a Lyngblomsten staffer. “It was wonderful and we were all in tears.”

Dawson says he’s constantly amazed by both Nala’s compassion and her ability to navigate the nursing home’s floors on her own.

“She’s here for a purpose,” he said. “She really is doing God’s work.”

That’s kind of what dogs will do when humans — and especially bureaucrats — don’t get in the way,

Is missing Maltese being held for ransom?

bella2When a woman stopped her car a week ago to pick up a Maltese mix who’d wandered away from her family’s yard and into an intersection, it appeared to be the act of a good Samaritan.

Then the family got a phone call that indicated otherwise.

The caller, who claimed to have picked up their lost dog at a Durham, N.C., intersection, asked if there was a reward, and hung up when the answer didn’t please her.

The phone call was made six days ago, and the woman hasn’t called back since, according to the owners of Bella.

“She said she had the dog and asked about money and if we had a reward,” recalled Caroline Wilgen. “I said yes, but we hadn’t decided how much and she hung up.”

Bella, a white Maltese-poodle mix, wandered off last Wednesday as her owner unloaded groceries. She made it to the intersection of Cornwallis and Pickett Road.

“Several cars stopped when she tried to cross the road and the person who was closest to the dog scooped it up and then tried to put it in her car,” Wilgen told WTVD.

The next day Bella’s family received the phone call from a woman who said she had found the owner’s contact information on the dog’s collar.

“We received a call Thursday, around 8:00 pm, from the young woman who picked Bella up,” Wilgen’s husband wrote on his blog. “She said that Bella got into her car voluntarily. She sounded a little worried she may be in trouble. … We have hoped she would call back, but so far, nothing.

“We really hope she calls. We are not trying to get her in trouble, we just want Bella home. Maybe a neighbor or friend will recognize Bella and encourage her to do the right thing.”

Wilgen adopted Bella two years ago,  driving seven hours to pick the dog up from a shelter in Tennessee, where she’d been dropped off with matted fur and rotting teeth.

Now Bella needs to be rescued again.

“She’s already been through a lot so if we could bring her home, that’d be great,” Wilgen said.

The poodle who pays for my Obama Care

lily 086

Oftentimes, when to pursue your own dreams and interests you stop working for “THE Man” — as I did six years ago — you end up, unfortunately, without “THE Salary” and without “THE Benefits.”

That — the no more health insurance part — is why I haven’t seen a doctor in six years.

That — the no more salary part — is why, in addition to being an author, freelance writer, photographer and blogger, I recently became a bartender and, even more recently, a dog walker.

lily 047And that brings us to Lily, the poodle who pays for my Obama Care.

I suppose I should be thanking our President for finally being able to get myself some health insurance. He’s the one who made it possible. But Lily, sweet Lily, made it doable.

If being paid to spend time with Lily makes me a gigolo, then call me a gigolo. True, I come calling on her twice a day, three times a week. I knock on her door, give her a hug when it opens, and then wrap her coat snugly around her, making sure her fluffy white ears don’t get caught inside.

We ride the elevator down to the first floor of the assisted living center in which she and her owner live and go outside for a 20-minute stroll — during most of which she walks daintily along the top of the curb, like a tightrope walker. She fastidiously poops in the same spot each time, in the woods on a vacant lot. She stops when I stop, goes when I go, and has never once caused the slightest tug on her retractable leash.

After the walk — and I’ve never met a dog who’s easier to walk — we go back inside. Then we sit in the lounge area and snuggle for maybe five minutes. That is my favorite part and, though it may be vain of me to think so, her’s too.

My other favorite part is seeing the reaction of residents when a dog comes into the room, the smiles that instantly appear and the hands that reach out. It’s amazing the change in atmosphere one dog’s presence can produce.

lily 094I’ve often thought it would be great to run some kind of program that not only brought dogs into facilities for the elderly, but found them homes there, and provided support and help to residents who wanted dogs of their own, but had concerns about whether they could manage it.

That would be fun, and noble, and help homeless dogs, and assist in bringing immeasurable joy to people.

But it wouldn’t pay my bills — much less provide health insurance for me.

I charge Lily $6.50 for  each session.

In  a month, that earns me enough to pay my $137.67 monthly health insurance premium, as determined by the Affordable Health Care Act, based on my income.

That income pales in comparison to what I made as a newspaper reporter, back when I worked for THE Man. I left my last newspaper job in 2008 to write a book, but also because, amid continued shrinkage and cutbacks, it had become nearly impossible to do a story justice and give it the attention it deserved. After that my dog and I traveled the country, and I tinkered with another book, while continuing to write this blog.

We ended up in North Carolina, and last year moved to the little town of Bethania.

A few months ago I started working the bar and grill at a golf course down the street from my rented house. Not to bore you with my finances, but that two-day-a-week job, coupled with my newspaper reporter pension, makes it possible to pay my rent, bills and other debts. I wasn’t bringing in enough for health insurance, though, and — after countless hours wandering around healthcare.gov — I had pretty much decided I would continue do without, pay the penalty fee, and treat any diseases or disorders that arose with chicken soup and ibuprofen.

One afternoon, at the golf course, the aunt of another employee visited and told me about her dog-walking business — business maybe not being the right word. It’s sort of more in between a business and volunteering. She helps residents of an assisted living center with chores, ranging from shopping trips to dog walking, charging a rate that does little more than pay for her gas.

lily 066She, like me, feels strongly that dogs can improve the lives of elderly people, especially those who live alone. I told her if she was ever in a pinch, and in need of a fill-in dog walker, I’d be glad to help out.

A few weeks later she called, and I began walking Miss Lily — at first temporarily, then regularly.

The insurance plan Lily has enabled me to get is not the kind that pays for everything.

It’s more, as I understand it, the type that, after I spend $3,000 or so I don’t have on doctors, will kick in and pay 60 percent or so of my qualifying medical expenses. Even with it, one good medical crisis will probably still send me into financial ruin. But at least it’s something, and I’m abiding by the law, and it might make me more likely to visit a doctor.

And even if I don’t, I’ll still be reaping some health benefits — between all the dog cuddling, which is good for the heart, and all the dog walking, which is good for the heart.

I’m sure there will be much confusion, red tape and arguing ahead when it comes to my health insurance. There always is. And with my income being of the fluctuating variety — depending on the stories I sell, the dogs I walk, the beers I serve — I don’t understand how we will determine the premium I should pay in the future. Is it  based on last year’s income? Or this year’s income, which I won’t know until the year is finished?

Just last month, two more dogs showed up at the assisted living facility.  First came a Boston terrier named Punkin. I take him for three walks a day, three days a week. Then came Gretel, a miniature schnauzer who is 13, and the fastest walker of the bunch.

lily 064That means more income, which means the amount I have to pay for my Obama Care will go up.

For the record, Republican leaders, that doesn’t sap me of any incentive. I still want to have as much money as you. I’d still like to have the kind of health insurance you have.

But at least I can take a rebellious sort of pride in the fact that I’m not working for THE Man.

No. Not me. I’m working for a kind and gentle, polite and refined, sweet and loving curbwalker. I’m working for THE Poodle.

(Story and photos by John Woestendiek)

Woof in Advertising: Meet the Barkleys

What can sell cars even better than a cute dog?

How about an entire family of them?

Subaru — the automobile company that has long embraced, catered to and capitalized on canines in its commercials — has released a new series of ads that follows the travels of a family of four retrievers. 

And while it’s just in time for the Super Bowl, you probably won’t see the ads during the big game. Once again, Subaru is opting to be a Puppy Bowl sponsor instead.

Subaru’s “Meet the Barkleys” campaign consists of four 30-second spots in which the canine family experience some mini-dramas. In this one, dad ends up in the doghouse for  appearing a little too interested in an attractive female pedestrian.

In the ads, the dogs aren’t just along for the ride, they’re in charge, and on their own. Dad drives. Mom navigates. And they youngest offspring — just a pup — sits in his child seat.

Produced by Carmichael Lynch and director Brian Lee Hughes of Skunk, the ads are enhanced with CGI, but the dogs are real, and Subaru offers a website where you can learn more about them.

WIAAuggie, who plays the role of dad, is a 5-year-old golden retriever from a small town in Canada, with several movie, television and commercials among his credits.

Stevie, a 4-year-old female yellow Lab, plays the mom, and lives with Auggie in real life as well. She was rescued from an animal shelter in Pasadena and started training as an actor just six months ago.

Playing the role of little brother is Sebastian, a 12-week-old (at the time of filming) golden retriever from Moorpark, California.

From the same California breeder came Sadie, six-months-old, a golden retriever who plays the role of the daughter, and who, in another one of the ads, raises dad’s suspicion when she lingers a little too long in the car when her date brings her home.

While that’s one of  two ads that shows the dog family acting out distinctively human type dramas, the other two show their doggie side — as in going ballistic at the sight of a mail truck. Then there’s what happens when the family takes a break from their road trip to stop at a convenience store: