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Corn dog, horn dog, porn dog

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We all know what a corn dog is, and most of us know what a horn dog is, but what about the newest dog-derived term that is popping up in the news media:

Porn dog?

We humans tend to stick “dog” at the end of other words with reckless abandon — hang dog, hot dog, top dog, underdog, salty dog, shaggy dog, lucky dog, sly dog.

We’re prone to sticking “dog” at the beginning of phrases also — dog days, dog-eared, dog tired, dog eat dog, dog and pony show — and it doesn’t seem to matter whether there is any rhyme or reason or logic to it.

Sometimes the phrases are based on supposed traits pertaining to dogs, sometimes not — as in raining cats and dogs.

Today’s etymological discussion, aimed at clearing up such misnomers, will be limited to three dog terms, starting with the corn dog, a simple little invention with a long-running dispute over its origin.

Carl and Neil Fletcher claim they introduced the world to “Corny Dogs” at the Texas State Fair sometime between 1938 and 1942. Pronto Pup, which sells corn dogs at the Minnesota State Fair, says it invented the cornmeal covered, deep fried treat in 1941. Cozy Dog Drive-in, in Springfield, Illinois, claims to have been the first to serve corn dogs on sticks in 1946 — the same year Dave Barham opened the first location of Hot Dog on a Stick.

Possibly, they are all wrong. Author Linda Campbell, in “300 Years of Kitchen Collectibles,” points out that a “Krusty Korn Dog” baker machine appeared in the 1929 Albert Pick-L. Barth wholesale catalog of hotel and restaurant supplies.

And two years earlier, in 1927, a patent was filed for a device for making battered and deep fried foods, wieners included, impaled on a stick.

(Similarly, the origin of the term “hot dog” is hotly debated, with numerous Americans saying they invented the term for what originated as a German (or Austrian) sausage. The exact year the term “hot dog” began being used as a synonym for “show-off” is not known, but my guess is surfers were behind it.)

horn-dogLess disputed — and far more insulting to dogs, we would submit — is the phrase “horn dog.”

Merriam-Webster defines it as a slang term for “a lustful or sexually aggressive man.” It says the term’s first known use was around 1984.

Dictionary.com says that while the word “horny” dates back to the 1300′s, using it to describe sexual arousal didn’t begin until the latter half of the 1800s. Initially, it was used only to describe male excitement — a man was said to “have the horn” — but eventually it was applied to women as well.

Similarly, the term “horn dog” is most often applied to men, though some females have commented online that, hey, they can be horn dogs, too.

Why did we humans feel the need to tack “dog” onto horn? Like many other phrases using the word dog — and I’m being serious for a moment here — it is based on an outdated and negative view of dogs as beasts who live only to sleep, eat and mate.

All of those are worthy pursuits, but admitting they are what we humans live for (when in reality, we also like to make and spend money) is to portray us as animals, and we like to think we are more than that. So calling someone a horn dog, as opposed to a horn human, somehow makes life easier.

What the phrase, and many dog phrases, overlook is that in reality, more often that not, someone “behaving like a dog” is actually an improvement.

Which brings us to porn dogs.

This one is clearly a misnomer. It’s not someone who watches XXX-rated movies that were filmed in seedy motels (fleabags, perhaps?). Although that (given the pre-existence of the phrase horn dog) would make sense.

Instead, it’s being used to describe dogs who are trained to sniff out a certain adhesive used in electronic storage devices, such as thumb drives, hard drives, and SD cards.

You may recall that such a dog discovered the key evidence that led to a guilty plea in the child pornography case against Jared Fogle, the former Subway spokesperson.

That’s when the term “porn dog” first popped up, and now it’s being perpetuated by others. It doesn’t describe what the dogs do at all, but the term has more zing to it, and is easier to say than “electronic storage device adhesive-sniffing dog.”

“It’s extremely catching and fitting, because that’s what it’s there to do, sniff out child pornographers,” said Jon Dumas, whose organization, Montgomery County Crimestoppers, helped buy such a dog for the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department in Texas.

Actually, it’s not fitting at all because the dogs are sniffing out devices, not pornography, and because child pornography doesn’t smell any different from adult pornography, and because any number of things — incriminating and not incriminating — can be stored on a thumb drive.

The specially-trained dog, named Brody, is a chocolate Labrador, KHOU said in this news report:

The new “porn dog” is expected to arrive next month, at which time I’m sure everyone will continue to refer to him as the “porn dog” — to the detriment of dogs, to the detriment of Brody and in defiance of truth.

Humans these days play a little too fast and loose with labels, both in terms of applying them and accepting them. If it’s catchy enough, it doesn’t have to be factual, we seem to think.

Take this year’s hot Christmas gift — the “hoverboard.”

On top of the fact that it is maiming people left and right, it doesn’t hover at all. It has wheels, and it stays on the ground — at least until you fly off of it and break a bone.

Yet everyone — or at least everyone who doesn’t want a drone — wants a hoverboard.

Doggone stupid, is it not?

Greetings from Bellaville, New Yorkie

I’m a proponent of spending more time with your dog, and less with your computer, but here’s an interesting, and interactive,  presentation from WNYC in New York, which has mapped out not just what breeds dominate the city’s neighborhoods, but what names as well.

Citywide, the top three female names for dogs are Bella, Princess and Lola; the top male names are Max, Rocky and Lucky and the top breeds are Yorkie, Shih Tzu and Maltese.

(Actually the most popular dog in New York is the mutt, and WYNC does report that elsewhere. Somehow they didn’t rate getting on the map, though.)

What’s the most fun though is scrolling through the boroughs to see where Lola tops Lucy, where Buddy beats Buster as the name of choice, and what breeds are, from neighborhood to neighborhood, most predominant. While Yorkies dominate most areas, there are enclaves where Labs and Chihuahuas and pit bulls are owned in the highest numbers. There’s a major English bulldog contingent in lower Manhattan, and pit bulls are the highest in number in Bed Stuy.

The list is based on information WNYC obtained from the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, which runs the city’s dog licensing program.

The feature has some other bells and whistles, too, including opportunities to play games and make a t-shirt.

Just after WNYC came out with its map, Gothamist put together an interactive map of its own – this back in January — claiming to show not where the dogs are, but where their poop is, or at least where it’s most complained about. The map shows what neighborhoods have the most barking dog complaints, too.

One wonders what would happen if those two interactive maps were to interact. Would that reveal large dogs named Brutus leave bigger droppings than Chihuahuas named Princess? That Sparky barks more than Snoozy?

Somewhere we have to draw line on all this interactivity with our computers — especially that share of it that’s presenting information that’s just everyday knowledge or common sense or entirely bogus.

In those cases, your time would be better spend interacting with the dog.

Labs still tops; beagles, bulldogs rising

For the 20th year in a row, the Labrador retriever is America’s top dog.

While America’s three most popular dog breeds remained the same — Lab, German shepherd and Yorkshire terrier – the American Kennel Club’s annual list of most oft-registered purebreds had some surprises.

The beagle overtook the golden retriever for the No. 4 spot.

And the bulldog, who has been steadily rising up in rank, took 6th place away from the boxer.

“Not since the early 20th Century has the bulldog enjoyed such sustained popularity,” said AKC Spokesperson Lisa Peterson. “‘Bob’ was the first AKC registered bulldog in 1886, and today the breed enjoys its highest ranking in 100 years at number 6.”

The AKC numbers are based on the numbers of purebreds registered with the organization.

Baltimore’s top five breeds reflected the national averages, except for the presence of the Rottweiler at No. 5.

Chihuahuas, ranked 13th nationally, were the sixth most popular breed for Baltimore.

Some other national highlights from the AKC’s count:

  • The French bulldog made the largest leap in the past decade, jumping 50 places from 71st to 21st. Other breeds with the biggest increase in rankings over the last decade include the Havanese (from 86th to 31st) and the Cavalier King Charles spaniel (from 54th to 23rd).
  • Closing the gap this year, a couple of breeds that had been on the decline over the past decade made double digit increases over the past year — Keeshonden (from 102nd to 87th) and Anatolian shepherd dogs (from 115th to 109th).
  • Three new breeds entered AKC’s registry in 2010, and the larger the breed, the higher they appeared in the rankings. The Leonberger, the largest of the new breeds, was ranked 33rd; the Cane Corso ranked 51st; and the smallest of the new breeds, the Icelandic sheepdog, came in at 82nd.

A dog that sings AND plays piano

The Kennedy family says Tucker, their one and a half year old Schnoodle, plays the piano and sings along at least 3 or 4 times every day, but, despite all the practice, doesn’t seem to be getting any better.

Apparently, the public enjoys the pooch’s musical stylings: In only a month on YouTube, the Tucker video has garnered near a million views.

Tibetan mastiffs all the rage in China

tibetanmastiff

 
China’s hottest dog won’t fit in your lap, drools copiously and was once banned by the Communist party.

With pet ownership booming in China, the must-have dog for the ultra-rich is the Tibetan mastiff — a breed the Communist Party once deemed bourgeois, the Associated Press reports.

How much times have changed was evident at the 6th annual China Tibetan Mastiff Expo this past weekend, where hundreds of the massive dogs were on hand, parading down catwalks like fashion models and strutting their high-priced stuff.

Some carried the names of wealthy Americans like “Warren Buffett,” while others were called “God,” ”Prince,” and “King”  – the latter so prized that one breeding session with him costs $40,000.

“I used to invest in German shepherds, but Tibetan mastiffs are what’s hot right now,” said King’s owner, Sui Huizheng, a businessman who has about 20 of the dogs.

Breeders in China say adult Tibetan mastiffs sell for tens of thousands of dollars, and can even go for more than $100,000.

One of them sold for more than half a million dollars last year to a woman in northern China who then sent 30 black Mercedes-Benz and other luxury cars to fetch the dog from the airport, according to a report in the state-run China Daily.

Tibetan mastiffs, most recognizable by their mane-like hair, can grow to 180 pounds.

After splurging on real estate in Australia, American thoroughbreds and European designer fashions, China’s rich see the Tibetan mastiffs as a new status symbol, the Associated Press reported, and among the must-haves for rich men in northeast China, the official Xinhua News Agency recently said, are a young beautiful wife, a Lamborghini and a Tibetan mastiff, “the bigger and more ferocious the better.”

(Photo: A Tibetan mastiff in South Korea — one who happens to be a clone. By John Woestendiek /ohmidog!)

Spotting trends in the AKC’s breed count

lg_havanese10In the process of tallying the numbers of purebred dogs in America — or at least those that are registered — the American Kennel Club detected some interesting trends, such as how the nation’s most popular dog, the Labrador retriever, is losing ground in some towns.

The fastest climbing breed, meanwhile, in terms of popularity, is the Havanese.

According to the AKC figures, more U.S. cities featured a breed other than the Labrador Retriever in the top spot this year than in 2008.

The German shepherd took over as No. 1 in Columbus, Detroit, Honolulu, Memphis, Miami, Providence and West Palm Beach.

The Yorkshire terrier bumped the Lab in Oakland, Tampa, New York City and Philadelphia.

And the bulldog became top dog in Los Angeles (despite other surveys that say Chihuahuas are the most predominant breed there). The AKC says celebrity bulldog owners — Adam Sandler, Kelly Osborne and John Legend among them — might be a reason behind the bulldog’s rise.

In what strikes me as a particularly odd tidbit, the bull terrier — 57th nationally — is the most popular breed in Newark, N.J. (Please feel free to explain that to me if you know the story behind it.)

To find out where your dog ranks nationally (keeping in mind the nation’s most popular dog isn’t a breed at all, but the mutt), click here.

There was only one city in America where the Labrador retriever didn’t factor into the Top 5 – Providence, R.I. In 2008, the Lab was No. 2 in Providence.

Over the past 10 years, the AKC says, the fastest growing breed nationally is the Havanese, having risen from 92nd to 32nd. Also rising quickly in national popularity have been the bulldog (from 21st to 7th); the French bulldog (from 73rd to 24th); and the Cavalier King Charles spaniel (from 58th to 25th).

Working K-9 breeds favored by law enforcement and the military have shown modest gains as pets over the same period, with the Belgian Malinois seeing its popularity rise from 95th to 81st, the border collie going from 71st to 52nd, the bloodhound rising from 51st to 43rd, and the Doberman pinscher climbing 23rd to 15th.

The AKC suspects easy-to-groom breeds are becoming more popular, as evidenced by the mastiff climbing from 39th to 27th and the Rhodesian ridgeback going from 56th to 48th. Higher maintenance breeds, meanwhile, such as the  Komondor, the Puli, the Irish terrier and the Sealyham terrier, have all seen their AKC popularity ranking drop in the past 10 years.

Even pre-Bo, the AKC, the Portuguese water dog was on the rise in popularity. The breed chosen by the First Family ranked 80th a decade ago and climbed to 60th in 2009.

(Photo: The Havanese, America’s fastest growing breed/Courtesy of AKC)

Labs rule in Baltimore, Yorkies are second

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The Labrador retriever remains the most popular breed in Baltimore, but the Yorkshire terrier jumped three spots to become the city’s second most popular breed in 2009.

The top five breeds of Baltimore, according to American Kennel Club figures released today, are:

1. Labrador Retriever
2. Yorkshire Terrier
3. Boxer
4. Golden Retriever
5. German Shepherd/Poodle/Rottweiler (tied)

“In 2009, the Top 5 also saw the rise of two hard-working breeds with jobs – the poodle and the Rottweiler – perhaps reflecting the nose to the grindstone nature of Baltimore,” AKC spokesperson Lisa Peterson noted.

To see the top breeds in your city (or at least 50 cities), click here.

As for you Baltimore readers, you can return to your grindstones now.

(Photo: Yorkshire Terriers jumped to No. 2 in Baltimore/By John Woestendiek)