Tragedy struck the tragedy that is “Teen Mom 2″ when Chelsea Houska’s French bulldog — left outside unsupervised — was attacked and killed by a neighbor’s Siberian husky.
Houska, one of several single teen mom’s featured on the MTV reality show, had let both of her dogs outside as she rushed to get ready to go take her GED test.
Only one came back.
When she went to look for Frankie, she saw her being attacked by the husky next door.
“It was like the worst thing I’ve ever seen,” she tells her father later. When she called police, she says, she was told they couldn’t do anything and that “if your dog was on a leash she’d still be alive.”
As Houska recounts to her father what happened, her daughter, Aubree, says, ”Mommy’s crying.”
“Yeah, she misses Frankie”
“Where’d Frankie go?”
“He went away for a little while,” says Houska’s dad.
Posted by jwoestendiek January 16th, 2013 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: attacked, chelsea houska, dogs, frankie, french bulldog, killed, mothers, mtv, neighbor, reality, reality shows, show, siberian husky, single, teen mom, teen mom 2, television, tv
Leave it to director Tim Burton to get across the point — in his characteristically gothic manner – that I’ve been trying to make for two years now:
You can’t bring your dead dog back to life, at least not without running into some trouble.
At least that’s a point I selfishly hope his new full-length, 3-D animated movie, “Frankenweenie,” will make when it comes out in October.
As the author of a book on the brave new world of dog cloning, and being generally opposed to the practice, I’ve got some confused feelings about Burton’s new movie, which comes out — unlike his 1984 short film of the same name – at a time when dogs, deceased and otherwise, are being “re-created” in South Korea.
Science has caught up with science fiction, it seems, and sometimes brings equally scary results.
In the movie, a boy named Victor, grieving the death of his beloved dog, Sparky, conducts a science experiment to bring him back to life “only to face unintended, sometimes monstrous, consequences.”
Based on that summary, Burton’s new movie, like the classic work of literature upon which it is based, could have a few things in common with today’s reality, in which the cells of dead dogs are merged with egg cells from donor dogs, zapped with electricity and, after being implanted in surrogates, come to life. The going price is $100,000.
Do bereaved pet owners get the same dog — a reanimated version of their deceased one? Of course not. Do they think they are? Sometimes.
When I started researching “DOG, INC.: How a Collection of Visionaries, Rebels, Eccentrics and Their Pets Launched the Commercial Dog Cloning Industry,” the first book I read, or re-read, was “Frankenstein” — given all the parallels between that classic story and cloning.
Both featured grief, selfishness and laboratories, borrowing parts from one being to assemble another, and plenty of mistakes and deformities along the way. Both relied on a zap of electricity to spur things on. Both related to the stubborn refusal of humans to accept death, and the powerful drive, among some, to bring a being, or at least a semblance of it, back to life.
Burton’s new movie itself is a reanimation. “Frankenweenie” was originally a 30- minute short film. Now he’s done what he originally wanted to do — make it a full-length feature. Here’s the official synopsis:
From creative genius Tim Burton comes “Frankenweenie,” a heartwarming tale about a boy and his dog. After unexpectedly losing his beloved dog Sparky, young Victor harnesses the power of science to bring his best friend back to life—with just a few minor adjustments. He tries to hide his home-sewn creation, but when Sparky gets out, Victor’s fellow students, teachers and the entire town all learn that getting a new “leash on life” can be monstrous.
While much has been written about the making of the movie, and about the stars providing the voices — Winona Ryder, Martin Short, Catherine O’Hara, Martin Landau, among others — what message it delivers hasn’t been written about much. (Not that it must have one, or that it must be the one I’d like to see.)
The original short film — we’ve posted it here — was fantastical and charming. In it, the reanimated dog, though humans outside of his immediate family fear and misunderstand him, goes on to save Victor’s life and become beloved by all.
“The reason I originally wanted to make ‘Frankenweenie’ was based on growing up and loving horror movies,” Burton explains in the new movie’s press materials. “But it was also the relationship I had when I was a child with a certain dog that I had.”
“It’s a special relationship that you have in your life and very emotional,” he adds. “Dogs obviously don’t usually live as long as people, so therefore you experience the end of that relationship. So that, in combination with the Frankenstein story, just seemed to be a very powerful thing to me -— a very personal kind of remembrance.”
The original short film didn’t go into the folly and dangers of attempting to bring the dead back to life, and — being fictional, being fanciful, being art — it, and it’s lengthier animated 3-D remake, shouldn’t be required to.
It should need no “don’t try this at home” warning.
It should be allowed to just be fun, and not be subjected to hand-wringing reminders that resurrecting dead dogs, or at least what’s portrayed as such, is actually going on, or the moral and ethical issues surrounding it, or the sometimes horrific results.
And, or course, not being my movie, it shouldn’t have to make my point — one that wasn’t even necessary to make in 1984:
A dog’s death is final, and cherishing a dog’s memory (not to mention the dog while it is still alive) is a far more meaningful pursuit than trying to artificially recapture its essence in a laboratory.
Posted by jwoestendiek August 17th, 2012 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: 3d, animals, back to life, book, clone, cloned, cloned dogs, clones, cloning, death, director, dog, dog inc., dogs, entertainment, experiment, fantasy, frankenstein, frankenweenie, gothic, grief, horror story, message, moral, mourning, movie, pets, reality, resurrection, science, science fiction, sparky, tim burton, victor
Another dog guru debuts this week, joining the ranks of televised trainers who straighten out the bad behavior of dogs, usually by straightening out their human owners.
“Dogs in the City” follows New York City trainer Justin Silver, who in the premiere episode confronts a celebrity bulldog who doesn’t seem to like his owner’s new wife; a Bernese mountain dog with a weight problem; and an office mutt who doesn’t get along with strangers.
The hour-long summer reality series will air Wednesdays on CBS, at 8 p.m. (Eastern and Pacific time).
Silver, a dog trainer, behaviorist and owner of a pet care company, is also a comedian and founder of Funny for Fido, a nonprofit organization that raises money for homeless animals by producing a yearly stand-up comedy event.
According to the show’s press release, Silver “has a creative and instinctive ability to connect with his canine customers while solving dilemmas for their two-legged masters. In each episode, he meets with clients who present a range of relationship problems, lifestyle changes or domestic issues. Justin gets as imaginative as necessary to reach a satisfying resolution, often finding that the owners can be a special breed themselves.”
Posted by jwoestendiek May 29th, 2012 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: aggression, animals, beefy, behavior, behaviorist, bernese mountain dog, bulldog, cbs, dogs, dogs in the city, guru, issues, justin silver, mutt, new york, overweight, pets, reality, relationships, strangers, television, trainer, training, weight
But here are two reports, gleaned from the webpages of PeoplePets, we feel the need to share:
In the first, we learn that Skechers Fitness has replaced Kim Kardashian in its Super Bowl ad with a dog.
The reality star strutted her considerable stuff in a pair of Skechers “Shape-Ups” during last year’s Super Bowl. This year’ spot will feature a French bulldog wearing Skechers’ “GOrun” shoes.
“We have to establish Skechers as more than a lifestyle company,” Skechers Fitness president Leonard Armato explained. Company CEO Robert Greenberg added that Kardashian’s contract came to an end — “to say that she was ‘dropped’ or ‘replaced’ is misleading and untrue.”
Semantics aside, a dog will do this year what Kim Kardashian did last year — and, even though it’s only selling shoes, we consider that progress, as we do anything that results in less TV-time for reality stars.
In the new ad — and we should point out that USA Today broke the news first – the Skechers-wearing bulldog races a group of greyhounds, and, we can only assume, wins.
The People piece includes a poll asking readers which of the two they’d rather see in a Skechers ad. When I last checked, the French bulldog had a whopping 93 percent of the vote.
Moving on to matters even more mundane — but, we’d argue, also strangely reflective of dog’s increasingly important place in society — People reports that The Bachelor is letting his dog check out some of the contestants vying for his affections.
Ben Flajnik (he’s the bachelor) took his Jack Russell terrier, Scotch, along on his date with contestant Courtney. The three enjoyed a picnic under the redwoods in Flajnik’s hometown of Sonoma, Calif.
It’s not clear if all the contestants will be meeting the dog, but that would be our advice to Ben — choose the one the dog likes best.
Posted by jwoestendiek January 11th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ads, advertising, animals, ben flajnik, dogs, french bulldog, kardashian, kim kardashian, magazine, marketing, people, pets, reality, skechers, super bowl, television, the bachelor, tv
Here’s the story of Slim, as documented by Jenn Aldridge, the human who, with help, gave the one-time fighting dog from Georgia a happy home in San Diego.
Like many a sheltered dog in need of help, Slim ended up on Facebook, along with a report that indicated his days were numbered.
Jenn, who had three other pit bulls — all rescues — saw the photo and couldn’t forget it.
“Because there are so many local dogs needing help, normally I would not rescue an out-of-state dog, but I couldn’t get his emaciated picture out of my head,” she told ohmidog!
“Knowing he had no chance because of breed specific legislation in that county of Georgia, I told my best friend we have to go get him and she said, ‘ok, let’s do it !’”
They flew to Georgia last May, but learned he was not healthy enough to fly. Instead, after getting two rescue groups involved — one in California and another in Georgia – they managed to get Slim placed in veterinary boarding care for treatment of his heartworm and another tick borne disease.
“It was all quite complicated,” she said. “We had to get a rescue here get approved by a rescue out there, to pull him on their behalf, if that makes sense. It was down to the last hour getting it all done. I heard about him on a Sunday and by Wednesday, he would have been in the landfill, dead.”
In June, they returned to Georgia and flew Slim home to San Diego.
There, Slim joined Jenn’s other dogs — Kyra, Teddy and Daffodil. Now about three years old, Slim is 46 pounds, up from the 32 pounds he weighed when she met him.
“I like to share his story because the average person still thinks that a game dog (fighting dog) is vicious to humans …quite the contrary,” said Jenn, who hosts a pit bull meet up group in San Diego that works to improve the image of the breed.
“Their loyalty was exploited and used against them,” she said. “Sadly, only about one of every 800 pit bulls will make it out alive of a shelter in the United States – yet selfish people continue to breed them.”
Posted by jwoestendiek December 1st, 2011 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: dog fighting, dogfighting, facebook, georgia, image, jenn aldridge, perception, pit bull, pit bull lovers, pitbull, reality, rescue, rescued, rome, san diego, slim, stereotypes
In a tank.
That’s what happened to an Arizona man who plans to file a lawsuit against the actor and the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office for killing his dog during a police raid, TMZ reports.
The action film star was participating in the raid earlier this year as part of his new reality show, “Steven Seagal Lawman,” having secured permission from Arizona’s infamous sheriff Joe Arpaio — no slouch himself when it comes to macho-fueled overkill.
Jesus Sanchez Llovera has served notice of his intention to sue to Seagal and Arpaio.
He says Seagal and the sheriff’s department raided his home suspecting to find an illegal cockfighting farm.
Llovera says he raises roosters only for show.
Llovera says Seagal arrived at his home on March 9 with a tank, and rammed through the gate on his property. The tank was followed by officers dressed in riot gear.
He says his 11-month old puppy was shot and killed during the raid, that his home sustained “substantial damage,” and that — between the tank and the storm troopers — more than 100 of his roosters were killed.
Llovera’s lawyer says his client wants $100,000 for the damage and an apology form Seagal about the death of his family’s puppy.
Posted by jwoestendiek August 31st, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: actor, cockfighting, dog, jesus llovera, joe arpaio, killed, law enforcement, lawsuit, maricopa county, raid, reality, roosters, sheriff, show, steven seagal, steven seagal lawman, tactical, tank, television, tv, unit
About four months ago, I gave Petside.com a hard time for choosing Dallas as the second-most dog friendly city in America — this just after the Big D bestowed the key to the city on Michael Vick.
My point — and I did have one — was that a city’s dog friendliness is, or should be, based on more than mathematical formulas that tally how many groomers, pet boutiques, veterinarians, etc., it has per capita.
Now, along comes Dog Fancy magazine with its picks — based on similar criteria — for the five dog-friendliest cities in 2011.
Among them: Santa Cruz, Calif., which for 33 years has banned dogs from part of its downtown area.
True, the ban — finally — has been lifted, conditionally, effective this week. And true, there are other very dog-friendly parts of Santa Cruz, including some beaches, and plenty of fine services as well. But a city that has banned dogs from its main drag for three decades being chosen as among the dog-friendliest in the nation?
Were I one of the other cities vying for the honor, I’d have a bone to pick with that.
The world’s most widely read dog magazine, as Dog Fancy calls itself, named Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, the winner of the 2011 DogTown USA competition, saluting it as America’s most dog-friendly city.
While we couldn’t agree more with Dog Fancy’s top choice last year — Provincetown, Mass., as we showed you during our travels, is indeed highly dog friendly — we have some trouble with this year’s selections.
The other three cities in the top five were Bend, Oregon; Knoxville, Tenn.; and Doylestown, Pa., where, earlier this month, a dog was found to have been given poisoned hot dogs and shot 32 times — allegedly by his owner, the golf course superintendent — while tied to fence of the Doylestown Country Club.
The acts of one deranged person shouldn’t blow a city’s chance at being proclaimed “dog-friendliest,” but we do think the number of animal cruelty cases that surface in a city should be a small part of any formula assessing dog friendliness.
The criteria used to select winners in the Dog Fancy contest — sponsored by Natural Balance Pet Foods and Wahl Clipper – include the amount of dog-friendly open spaces and dog parks, veterinarians, pet supply stores and other services, events celebrating dogs and their owners, and municipal laws that support and protect pets.
“Journalist Barbara Walters has saluted Coeur d’Alene as one of her favorite cities, calling it a little slice of heaven,” Dog Fancy Editor Ernie Slone said in announcing the results — though, Barbara being human, what the heck that has to do with anything I don’t know.
“What we discovered is that whether a dog likes a place to run and hike, loves to mingle downtown, or needs a new home, dogs and their owners have it made in Coeur d’Alene, a little slice of dog heaven.”
Slone traveled to Coeur d’Alene to present $5,000 to the Kootenai County Dog Park Association. Additionally, Natural Balance Pet Foods will donate 1,000 pet food meals to Kootenai Humane Society on behalf of Coeur d’Alene, and 500 pet food meals to each of the regional winners.
Given all that, I don’t want to totally disrespect these lists and the organizations that put them together, but I will suggest that they are not as much about truth or reality as they are about politics, public relations and sales.
Posted by jwoestendiek August 24th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: bend, cities, coeur dalene, contest, dallas, dog fancy, dog fancy magazine, dog friendliest, dog friendly, doylestown, formula, idaho, key to the city, knoxville, kootenai county dog park, list, lists, michael vick, natural balance, petside, picks, politics, provincetown, public relations, reality, sales, santa cruz, wahl clippers
Two journalists, each independently seeking to chart the course John Steinbeck took 50 years ago with his poodle Charley — including figuring out where he slept when — have come to the conclusion that the highly respected author may have taken some liberties with the facts in his classic work of non-fiction.
It’s not stop-the-presses stuff, especially these days, when fuzzily defined terms like “creative non-fiction” and “literary journalism” have taken on enough heft to become college courses.
Like it or not composite characters, re-created dialogue and tampering with timelines have become fairly common practices in non-fiction (though not in my book). But 50 years ago, when “Travels With Charley” was written — five years before Truman Capote’s groundbreaking “non-fiction novel” (his term), “In Cold Blood” — the practice probably would have been given the far less literary label of “making shit up.”
If Steinbeck borrowed from his fiction writing toolbox — and he was primarily a novelist — to craft “Travels With Charley,” he could, on one hand, be viewed as a pioneer. In reality, though, storytellers, even those bound by the tighter confines of non-fiction, have been leaving out the boring stuff and juicing up the truth for centuries.
To Jeff Woodburn, though, who counts Steinbeck among his literary heroes, his discovery that Steinbeck might have made stuff up — and definitely left stuff out — was disheartening.
Woodburn, a New Hampshire-based freelance writer, pitched the idea of writing about Steinbeck’s travels through the state — from Shelburn, west to Lancaster — to the editor of New Hampshire magazine. The editor, being a Steinbeck fan too, liked it. Woodburn set out to retrace the 30-mile route and learn more about the places, and maybe even some of the people, Steinbeck encountered in New Hamsphire.
As Steinbeck recounts it in “Travels With Charley,” on his way to the top of Maine, he drove up a farm road in New Hampshire’s White Mountains, bought some eggs from a farmer and asked permission of him to camp beside the stream on his farm. Later, the farmer visited his camper and they drank coffee, laced with “a good dollop of twenty-one year old applejack.” They talked about Kruschev, and how, that week, he had used his shoe to pound a table during a UN meeting, and whether we should attack the Russians before they attacked us.
When the farmer eventually took his leave, Steinbeck and Charley went to sleep in the camper, parked alongside the stream, according to the book.
Woodburn couldn’t find the farmer, or even the farm. He came up with three possibilities, but none of them panned out. “I really wanted to find him, because he seemed so wise,” he said. When all his research led nowhere, Woodburn began to think that the farmer didn’t actually exist, or that he was a composite of different people Steinbeck met in New England.
Later Woodburn learned that, in reality, on the night in question — Sept. 25, 1960 – Steinbeck apparently slept here:
That’s the Spalding Inn, a luxurious spot in its day, and still moderately fancy, with white tableclothes, well-manicured gardens, orchards and magnificent mountain views. In 1960, it was popular with well-heeled New Yorkers seeking country getaways.
The inn is never mentioned in “Travels With Charley.” Then again Steinbeck admittedly glossed over some of his other stops – Deerfield, Mass., to visit his son in school, and Chicago, where he reunited with his wife at the Ambassador Hotel. “In my travels it was pleasant and good,” he wrote of the latter stop, “in writing, it would contribute only a disunity.”
Woodburn, though his initial retracing of Steinbeck’s route didn’t merit enough for a story, continued to keep a file on Steinbeck, and check out leads when they arose. When he came across a Facebook page about growing up in Lancaster, he put out a query, seeking anyone who remembered meeting Steinbeck 50 years ago.
A local woman responded, saying her mother had met Steinbeck when he stayed at the Spalding Inn, in Whitefield. Woodburn, who worked washing dishes at the inn as a teenager, went to the family that owned it, and they confirmed that Steinbeck was a guest around the time in question.
“It seems as this is where he spend the night,” Woodburn told me over the weekend when Ace and I met him at the inn. “Enough people have said it, that I feel comfortable saying he spent the night here.”
Woodburn, whose piece on Steinbeck’s travels through the state will appear in New Hampshire magazine’s November issue, said he was told Steinbeck went to dinner at the inn, but was refused service because he wasn’t wearing the required jacket and tie. Upon learning who he was, they supplied him with proper attire.
Other than having dinner, Steinbeck did little socializing while at the inn, and it’s doubtful that Charley, his poodle, actually slept inside. More likely, he spent the night alone in the camper.
To Woodburn, who is a third generation New Hampshirite, finding that Steinbeck might have been less that totally honest was disturbing.
“I’m a big fan of Steinbeck. I’m very troubled that he didn’t tell the truth,” he said.
To blogger Bill Steigerwald, who is retracing Steinbeck’s route for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, discrepancies between the book and reality — and he’s found a few — don’t diminish the esteem he holds for the writer.
Steigerwald, who we met on a ferry boat as we crossed the Long Island Sound the same day Steinbeck did — 50 years later — tried a couple of weeks ago to find the “ghost cabins” along the Connecticut River that Steinbeck slept outside of on his way back through New Hampshire
Steinbeck wrote that, although its signs said “open” and “vacancy,” no one was around when he walked into the office 50 years ago. So he and Charley, according to the book, slept in the camper on the lot.
As it turns out, and as both Woodburn and Steigerwald have confirmed, the “ghost cabins” did exist, and were known as Whip O’Will. Today, they’ve been replaced by the Beaver Trails RV Park, and Munce’s Convenience store. Next to that is the Happy Star Chinese restaurant. And across the street live Mike and Sallie Beattie, whose family once owned the Whip O’Will property.
During its conversion to an RV park, the new owners took down the six cabins and offered one (that’s it above) to the Beattie’s, who had it moved across the street so they could use it for storage.
Steigerwald buys the ghost cabin account, but he has serious doubts about the New Hampshire farmer — since that’s apparently the same night Steinbeck apparently stayed at the Spalding Inn.
“It’s clear evidence — and further proof, considering what I and others already know and anyone who reads ‘Travels With Charley’ with a critical eye should suspect — that the book is not nonfiction but a creative mix of fiction and nonfiction,” Steigerwald wrote on his blog, Travels Without Charley.
Woodburn, while less forgiving, also notes that Steinbeck gave some hints that the book wasn’t a straighforward account of the journey. ”It’s easy to confuse reality with romance,” he said. “I think he gave signs that he was making stuff up.”
As Steinbeck himself noted, reality is in the eye of the beholder:
“What I set down here is true until someone else passes that way and rearranges the world in his own style,” Steinbeck wrote. “In literary criticism the critic has no choice but to make over the victim of his attention into something the size and shape of himself.”
I bounced the issue of a professor-friend, a teacher of creative non-fiction writing, who pointed out that the term didn’t exist until around the 1980′s, when the National Endowment for the Arts saw it as a way to give non-fiction writers a chance to win literature fellowships.
Though the term is fairly modern, the practice is not, he agreed.
“There’s been a long and wondrous and centuries-long tradition of made-up non-fiction in literature (the Victorians were particularly good at it), and not even just a few changes of detail.
“Steinbeck was a novelist, not a journalist. If his fibs were limited to whether he stayed in a hotel or not, that’s pretty remarkable restraint,” he added. “It’s not my personal standard for writing nonfiction, but many writers have had worst standards (paging Mr. Capote). It seems a silly thing to lie about, really.”
Posted by jwoestendiek October 14th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: accuracy, america, bill steigerwald, creative non-fiction, dog's country, dogscountry, facts, fiction, jeff woodburn, john steinbeck, lancaster, literary, literary journalism, literature, new hampshire, new hampshire magazine, new journalism, non-fiction, reality, road trip, spalding inn, steinbeck, travels, travels with ace, travels with charley, truth, vermont, whitefield
I wasn’t personally tuned in, but it seems Pup, the accordion-playing pooch vying to win the NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” competition, failed to make much of an impression last night.
Maybe he was overwhelmed by the bright lights, the big stage and the huge Hollywood crowd, but Pup only tugged a couple of times on the elastic strap attached to the accordion, and once it snapped out of his mouth, he stayed away from the accordion altogether.
After Pup balked, the act turned into a solo – basically his owner, Ed, singing and strumming “Ghost Riders in the Sky.”
Pup failed to live up to the expectations of the judges, and his owner, Ed, from Oakhurst, California — and anyone else who saw his impressive audition tape (above).
“If Pup had continued we may have had a sensation on our hands, but we’re never going to know,” said judge Piers Morgan, who “X-ed” the act early on.
“We had some problems,” Ed explained afterward.
Pup’s on air performance — a bit painful to watch — is included in the video below.
Posted by jwoestendiek August 11th, 2010 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: accordion, acts, america's got talent, animals, competition, dog, dogs, ed, music, musical, nbc, performances, pets, piers morgan, playing, pup, reality, talent, television, tv, video
Yesterday we brought you slow-motion dogs. Today we’ll take a look at no-motion dogs — those whose owners like to keep them around, even after death.
As the first episode of “The Marriage Ref” showed, the practice is seen by some, perhaps most, as horrific, while still others consider it a fitting tribute to their pet.
The new show, a Jerry Seinfeld creation that premiered this week, included a segment on a marital spat over a husband’s decision — over his wife’s objections — to “stuff” his deceased Boston Terrier, Fonzie.
The show’s resident fact checker reported that only about 1,000 people a year have their pets “stuffed,” and its panel of “experts,” which included Seinfeld, Kelly Ripa and Alec Baldwin, all sided with the wife in the dispute, concluding that the practice was bizarre and Fonzie shouldn’t be displayed, shrine-like, in the couple’s home.
With that, the husband agreed to move Fonzie to the attic, which is where a lot of “stuffed” animals end up.
The show didn’t get into the specifics of how Fonzie was preserved after death, instead just using the misnomer “stuffed.” But apparently he was freeze-dried, an increasingly common technique being used by taxidermists and others — and at a rate that I think probably exceeds that reported by the “fact-checker,” NBC News reporter Natalie Morales.
I did some research into the practice in connection with my forthcoming book about dog cloning, looking back at the days when “stuffed” animals really were stuffed, the more modern form of “mounting” or stretching their pelts over a plastic form, and the more modern yet version, freeze-drying.
As part of my research, I interviewed Chris Calagan in West Virginia, owner of Perpetual Pet, which has been freeze drying pets since 2002, when he and his wife started with their own cat, Naomi.
Posing the pet and removing the moisture in his freeze drying machine is a process that can take months, depending on the pet’s size, Calagan explained to me.
“We don’t put a hole in it. It’s just through osmosis, very gradual, like drying an orange,” he said. “The moisture comes out through the peeling.”
Freeze drying is the latest variation of a practice that goes back to Victorian times, and one to which many have turned over the years.
Stubby, a pit bull who was the most decorated dog of World War I, was stuffed after his death and displayed at the Smithsonian.
When cowboy star Roy Rogers’ horse, Trigger, died in 1965 at age 33, the Rogers family had him mounted, his skin stretched over a plastic mold, posed proudly in the position of a horse at its liveliest – reared up on its hind legs. Trigger became the main draw at the Roy Rogers/Dale Evans Museum. The Rogers also had Dale Evans’ horse, Buttermilk, and their German shepherd, Bullet, mounted to become museum pieces. Rogers, before his death in 1998, joked about having his own body “stuffed” and placed atop his rearing horse, but he never actually pursued that.
More recently, the mounted pet returned to popular culture in the television show “Scrubs,” in which a lifeless dog named Rowdy had a recurring role.
To some, it’s far to creepy a thing to ever consider. Others pursue it precisely because it is so quirky. But the majority of pet owners do it because of a sincere wish to keep a beloved dog around — in a state they can view and touch.
As with cloning, those who have done it might face a certain amount of ridicule, but, more often than not, they don’t care what anybody else thinks. In fact, they’d probably have two words for those who judge them: Stuff it.
Posted by jwoestendiek March 5th, 2010 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: alec baldwin, animals, coping, dogs, fonzie, grieving, jerry seinfeld, kelly ripa, mounting, mounts, mourning, perception, perpetual pet, pet death, pets, popular culture, public, reality, rowdy, roy rogers, scrubs, stubby, stuffed, stuffing, taxidermy, television, the marriage ref, trigger, tv