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Tag: social media

Boy with Vitiligo meets the dog that has inspired him from afar — Rowdy the Lab

carterandrowdy

An 8-year-old Arkansas boy got to meet the dog who has inspired him from afar for the past year.

Thanks to an anonymous donor, Carter Blanchard, who has Vitiligo, an auto-immune disease that causes skin to lose its pigmentation, flew to Oregon over the weekend to meet Rowdy, a 14-year-old black lab with the same condition.

Rowdy is an ambassador for the American Vitiligo Research Association. He developed Vitiligo more than two years ago, giving the 14-year-old dog’s face the appearance of a panda in reverse.

With his owners, he works to further understanding of the condition, and help children — often embarrassed over and teased about the condition — to learn to be comfortable in the skin they’re in.

Carter, for example, began struggling with his self worth after his appearance changed when he was in kindergarten, his mother, Stephanie Adcock, said.

“He would go from room to room in my home looking at every mirror. I remember the day I picked him up from school when he said, ‘Mom, I hate my face,'” Adcock wrote in a letter to Ellen DeGeneres. “As his mother, it broke my heart that I could not change this situation for him.”

Earlier this year, Carter’s mother saw pictures online of Rowdy. She shared them with her son and contacted Rowdy’s owners, who included Carter in a video about Rowdy that went viral last fall.

When Carter saw the video, “He broke out in the biggest smile, according to his mother, and he said, “Me and Rowdy are famous.”

Carter started looking at his condition differently.

“For the first time in 2 years, Carter was proud of himself and his Vitiligo,” Adcock said in the letter. “He even said, ‘Mom, your skin is boring because you don’t have Vitiligo.’ Rowdy changed my son’s childhood. He changed our home and our lives.”

With Rowdy’s health declining rapidly, his owners decided they wanted Rowdy and Carter to meet, and one of his owners, Niki Umbenhower, started a GoFundMe campaign to allow Carter and his mother to make the trip from Searcy, Arkansas to Canby, Oregon.

carterrowdy2Last week, an anonymous donor from Salem donated $5,000, making the trip possible.

Carter and his mom flew to Oregon Saturday and Carter and Rowdy met for the first time Sunday, KGW in Portland reported.

“The meeting was (and has been) one of the most gratifying, rewarding things I’ve personally ever experienced,” Umbenhower said.

Carter and his mother will return to Arkansas tomorrow.

Rowdy, meanwhile, wasn’t doing so well. On Sunday, he had a seizure.

His owner updated the situation Monday on Instagram:

“Rowdy saw a neurologist in the ER today. They are not sure if it was a seizure or a stroke or something else. They did a lot of tests and without a “much needed” (expensive) MRI and CT Scan, we may never know. He could have a tumor or a mass causing a lot of his issues.

“We left with them prescribing a new medication for seizures as well as some codeine for his pain. This could be age related, an isolated event, or he may have more episodes like today. . I want to thank EACH AND EVERY ONE OF YOU for the prayers, well wishes, and support!”

(Photos: By Niki Umbenhower / Instagram)

Folks lining up to bring home this Picasso

picasso1

Like the subjects of his namesake’s paintings, Picasso the dog has a face that seems to exist on separate planes.

The lower half of his snout lines up just perfectly under his hopeful brown eyes, but the upper half, due to a facial deformity, veers drastically to the right, making his drooping nose look like it’s about to slide off.

picassoandpabloFour of his siblings were sold, but Picasso and a brother (since named Pablo) ended up at the Porterville Animal Shelter in California.

Picasso, due to his lopsided appearance, was put on the euthanize list.

Last month, an Oregon rescue group pulled Picasso and Pablo from the shelter in hopes of finding them homes.

And not long after the first photo of Picasso hit the Internet, he became a celebrity of viral proportions.

“They’re really nice dogs — not just adorable, but wonderful dogs,” Liesl Wilhardt, executive director of Luvable Dog Rescue in Eugene, told TODAY.

picasso2Since their Feb. 11 arrival, Picasso and his brother, 10-month-old pit bull-terrier mixes, have become the stars of the rescue’s social media feeds — and hundreds of people have inquired about adopting them in the last few days.

The rescue is insisting that, because of their bond, they be adopted as a pair.

For now, the brothers are staying with several other dogs in a communal living-style cabin operated by Luvable Dog Rescue.

The rescue says that, while they’re accepting applications, they’re still working to address Picasso’s medical needs, including removing a tooth that’s digging into gums.

That’s not going to alter his unusual appearance, but judging from the response his lopsided mug has received, that’s not going to matter.

(Photos: Luvabledogrescue.org)

Why is it always Jesus and dogs we think we see in toast, wood, grilled cheese, etc.?

doginwood

A recent photo posted to Twitter — of a dog’s image in a piece of wood — gets me to thinking: Why is almost always Jesus (or sometimes his mom) and dogs (or sometimes other animals) that show up in inanimate objects, i.e. inside wood, on grilled cheeses, in potato chips, Cheetos, peirogies, tortillas or cinnamon buns?

lincolnnuggetThe answer’s pretty easy: We tend to see what we want to see; we tend to see the things we love most.

There are exceptions to the Jesus and dogs rule — potatoes that look like George Washington, chicken nuggets that resemble Abraham Lincoln — but even then it’s commonly what we cherish most (such as beloved presidents) that we think we see.

Chris Blundell recently posted the image at the top of this post on his Twitter page.

There, it was quickly joined by more reader submitted photos of dogs in wood:

moredogsinwood

moredogwoodThat dogs are giving Jesus a run for his money — in terms of making appearances in wood, at least — says something about how the species has become ever more ingrained in our hearts.

I won’t sink to pointing out what dog spelled backwards is, but I’ll say this:

If Jesus showed up on my grilled cheese, I’d eat it anyway. If there was a dog visible in my wood paneling, on the other hand, I wouldn’t paint over it.

With the rise of social media, we’re seeing much more of this type of thing.

But it has always gone on — so much so that there are names for it.

Pareidolia is seeing (or hearing) something significant in a random image or sound. The word is derived from the Greek words para, meaning something faulty, and the noun eidōlon, meaning image, form or shape.

Sightings of spiritual or religious images in objects are called simulacra.

ebay-virgin-mary-grilled-cheese-getty-128167414Those are the most famous, and the most often reported — the faces and or bodies of Jesus or the Virgin Mary having been perceived, by both believers and non-believers, in toast, frying pans, grilled cheese sandwiches, the facade of buildings, firewood, rocks, tortillas, cinnamon buns, pretzels and more.

By the way, that grilled cheese Virgin Mary, seen directly above (some people thought the image more closely resembled Bernadette Peters) went on to sell on eBay in 2004 for $28,000.

jesusordogJesus, too, has been seen in grilled cheese sandwiches, including this one — though when I look at it, I see a dog. (Then again, I’m the guy who spent countless hours during my year-long road trip with Ace, looking for the image of dogs in kudzu.)

It’s really nothing to be ashamed of, this spotting of things within other things. To the contrary, I think those who spot them, while they might not be blessed with eternal life, are blessed with an active imagination. They are able to look at clouds and see something else entirely.

Leonardo da Vinci wrote about pareidolia, saying this: “If you look at any walls spotted with various stains or with a mixture of different kinds of stones, if you are about to invent some scene you will be able to see in it a resemblance to various different landscapes adorned with mountains, rivers, rocks, trees, plains, wide valleys, and various groups of hills.”

Georgia O’Keefe used it in her paintings of flowers, embedding hidden images that more often than not left us feeling guilty for having dirty minds.

Psychologists used it with their Rorschach tests, which had us interpret random inkblots that more often than not left us feeling guilty for having dirty minds.

Then again, we tend to see in random objects the things we long for, the things that make us happy.

There are exceptions to that as well. Some hated and feared faces have been spotted in objects over the years — with Satan being the most common.

But far more often we see something that soothes us, like dogs, something that gives us hope, like dogs, something that makes us smile, like dogs.

So, if you’re seeing things within things, don’t rush to a shrink. Don’t join a pareidolia support group. Instead, celebrate and savor your pareidolia — whether it be through pieces of wood, your morning toast or with those fluffy white clouds dancing like … you name it … across a deep blue sky.

(Photos: Twitter, Wikipedia, Imgur)

This is so much better than PokéGo

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This could be the healthiest and least imbecilic fad to hit college campuses in a long, long time.

It’s a simple little idea — taking a photo of a dog who is out in public and posting it online — though the rules, which vary from one Dogspotting group to another, can get much more complex.

It strikes me as a much better use of time than PokéGo, in which people step out into nature and then ignore it while transfixed to their electronic devices, searching for creatures/objects/whatever that aren’t really there, other than virtually.

spotted2And it makes infinitely more sense than gulping goldfish, stuffing humans into a telephone booth, or streaking, all of which have caught the fancy of college students over the years.

Dogspotting has been around, and has had an international following, since 2006, but in the past few years it has caught on as smartphones have evolved. Nationally, it now has more than 300,000 members.

At the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, sophomore Emily Korest started a Facebook Dogspotting group earlier this month. It already has more than 500 members.

“If you miss your dog at home this is the group for you!” she wrote in a post, “A collective to inform on dog sightings, post cute pics of dogs, and for dog owners to let us know when we can hang out with their dogs.”

spotted4“I have a couple friends who go to different colleges that have Dogspotting groups, and I just assumed that we had one and that I wasn’t in it and I realized we didn’t,” Korest told the Daily Tarheel.

“I just really like seeing dogs. I feel like we’re all really stressed — it’s midterm season — and every student deserves to have dogs in their lives.”

It’s not uncommon, when a new photo or video is posted of, say, a dog in The Pit, a gathering area outside the student union, for participating dog-loving students to stop what they’re doing and go meet it.

“I am more in it for actually seeing the dogs on campus,” Korest said. “I like the pictures a lot, but when somebody says, ‘There’s one in the Pit now,’ and I’m in Davis, I can just walk out and see the dog. That’s what I want.”

Nobody seems too interested in the game’s point system — one point for posting a photo, two more points if that dog is eating something — and the UNC group, unlike some others, has a pretty lax set of rules.

spotting3John Savoia, said to be Dogspotting’s founder, came up with the idea of making a game out of it while walking through downtown Boston taking photos of other people’s dogs.

According to The Guardian, he came up with some rules and shared them on the comedy website SomethingAwful.com in 2006. The Facebook group was created in 2009.

“From the very beginning, Dogspotting was something that I thought was cool to share with people in a personal, real-life setting,” Savoia said. “It’s great that, despite the majority of it happening online, people are brought together by dogs.”

Of course, like any pursuit carried out by humans, over the Internet, it has the potential to abruptly turn mean, vicious, perverted or hazardous to one’s health.

At its core, though, it’s a pure and refreshing pursuit.

“I just love dogs,” sophomore Ryan Alderman, a member of the UNC group, explained. “Dogs are such pure, beautiful animals, and I love them so much. We don’t deserve them, and I like that other people feel the same way, and we can point them out and tell you where you can pet them. It’s just so sweet.”

(Photos from the Facebook page of UNC’s Dogspotting group)

A coldhearted cold cut prank on Facebook

hamdogIn retrospect, it’s hard to see how a photo of a dog with ham on his face left so many people with egg on their’s.

And yet, thousands of good-hearted souls were apparently fooled by a Facebook post of a dog with a slice of ham draped over his eyes and snout.

Two days before Christmas, the photo was posted on Facebook by a man — equal parts grinch and troll, we suspect — who offered this description:

“This poor dog was badly burned and disfigured trying to save his family from a house fire. One like = one prayer. One share = ten prayers.

Many of the animal lovers of Facebook — and their numbers are legion — went on to like it, share it and leave comments voicing their best wishes for the pooch.

Perhaps it’s because the ham slice does look a little like bloodied gauze. Perhaps it was the prayer request that accompanied the photos. Perhaps Christmas spirit had a little to do with the outpouring of well wishes that followed the posting.

With many dog lovers, compassion kicks in immediately — reflexively, even — and long before their cynicism does.

(We’d only hope that none of the well-wishers went so far as to send any donations to the jerk who wrote the post.)

Stephen Roseman, a few days after posting the photo and desciption on Facebook, explained in a comment that it was all a joke:

“People, people this isn’t even my dog, I found this picture on fascistbook, stole it, and decided to use it in a prank to fool these religitards.

“So I did, and low and behold idiots left and right fall for it, and those that didn’t, seem to think they have a superior intelligence or something, for pointing out the obvious.

“Keep in mind, I never told a single soul to like this, that is their choice, I don’t give a f*ck either way.”

Apparently Roseman was trying to pull a fast one — not just on those sensitive and soft-hearted types who fell for the story, but on those more cynical ones who voiced the opinion that the story was clearly fake.

Roseman apparently has no use for either of those.

Fortunately, for him, soliciting prayers (and shares) under false pretenses is not a crime (a sin, maybe, but not a crime). So it’s likely his only punishment — assuming those death threats against him are idle chatter — will be losing some Facebook friends.

“I’ve literally lost count on how many death threats I’ve accumulated because of Ham Dog,” he said in a subsequent Facebook comment. “I’m not concerned, but rather amused, regardless, I’m armed everywhere I go anyways. I find it motivating…”

The prank has since been exposed and straightened out by Snopes.com and several news media outlets.

But not before thousands had responded, many of them voicing sympathy and passing on their prayers. Using his own, shares-to-prayers formula, the dog got 1.3 million of them.

We have only one of our own to pass along: That lo and behold (that’s lo, Stephen, with no “w”) Stephen Roseman might one day grow up.

(Photo: Facebook)

Meme war: The great dog pants debate

dogpants

Not too far into 2015, an amazingly asinine Internet discussion began over what became known as simply “The Dress.”

Millions wasted valuable hunks of life debating what color it was.

Between social media and news media, the dress became one of the most viral images of all time.

Now, as 2015 nears its end, comes an even more asinine debate — over dog pants, specifically over how dogs should wear pants.

As we ring in the new year, the question is getting more attention than many presidential candidates — despite the obvious fact that dogs shouldn’t wear pants at all.

There are few, if any dogs, who are shaped in such a way that pants worn over all four legs would stay in place. (Four separate doggie leggings, held in place by elastic, would be a much better route.) And traditional pants preclude a dog from being free to go to the bathroom.

(Please tell me I’m not seriously discussing this.)

In true “meme” form, we can expect many variations of the doggie pants question to arise. “How should a cat wear a poncho?” “How should a hamster wear a mumu?” And, around the time Donald Trump wins the presidency because we’re all preoccupied, “How should a camel wear a pashmina?”

I’m not a big fan of memes. I like them even less than mimes. And I would prefer to bound into 2016 with a song in my heart, as opposed to a meme on my mind. Memes do seem to get stuck in your head, like bad songs (see below).

This one got its start on Facebook, where it was posted by a 19-year-old techie type from Belgium.

After seeing a dog in pants, worn over the two hind legs, he started wondering if there was another way for dogs to wear pants.

“I thought that pants are a human invention so for us it’s normal to wear them like that. But dogs have four legs so technically, their pants should go on each leg,” the man, identified as Norbert K., told the Washington Post.

(That’s right, the great dog pants debate has made the Washington Post, or at least one of its blogs, called Intersect.)

After appearing on the Facebook page for “Utopian Raspberry – Modern Oasis Machine,” the image was shared and borrowed and ended up on other social media, including Twitter.

Jared Keller, who works at Maxim, played a large role in catapulting the image into the viralsphere — posting it to his Facebook page, then to his Twitter feed, and then writing a piece about it for Maxim, the Washington Post reported.

The Post even invited readers to take part in a poll by the newspaper on how dogs should wear pants.

But when we clicked on the link to vote we were taken to a YouTube video of Rick Astley singing “Never Going to Give You Up.”

As a result, we can share this piece of vital information with you: Rick Astley wears his pants really high up on his waist.

(Image from Facebook)

What happens when you fall in love online

joel

It wasn’t the first time someone has fallen in love online.

It wasn’t the first time someone dropped everything to travel across the country to meet and claim the object of his affection.

But it may be the first time that someone has been able to get members of the public to help finance such a trip.

That’s probably because the girl of Joel Carpenter’s dreams was a dog — a husky-shepherd-collie mix named Sadie that he spotted on Petfinder and was so smitten with that he bought a one-way ticket to Minneapolis to adopt her, knowing full well he didn’t have the money to get back home to Maine.

“For whatever reason, Sadie just struck me,” the 23-year-old told the Detroit Free Press. “I felt like I need to fly out to rescue her; at the core, there was just this intense feeling that I was doing the right thing.”

“You could say I’m winging it a little bit,” he added in an interview conducted while he and the dog were stuck in Michigan. “I was just kind of following my heart.”

Joel Carpenter flew from his home in Portland, Maine to Minneapolis on Sept. 22 and adopted Sadie from a local shelter.

While there, what little money he had — what with taxi fares, motels and adoption fees — ran out.

It could be Carpenter is just young and brash and a poor planner, but, more likely, he saw the whole thing as an adventure.

He knew he might have to rely on ride-sharing and couch-surfing on the trip home — and things started out well enough when he got a ride from Minnesota to Grand Rapids in a kindly gentleman’s RV.

There, he found a couple that invited Sadie and him to stay in their home. But when he ran into trouble finding another ride he decided to call a local news station to see if they could help “spread the word that I needed a ride back to Maine.”

Here we have to question whether Carpenter was so gullible as to think a news station would gladly broadcast his ride needs, or so savvy as to know he was sitting in the middle of a pretty good story.

After the news report, Carpenter’s phone started ringing.

“News papers and News stations all curious about my story. What was most encouraging was the positive support for me and Sadie. Many people became invested in our adventure, and wanted to help out any way they could. Many people have told me we should try Go Fund Me … So here we are!” Carpenter wrote on the Gofundme page he established.

Between it and a Facebook page started by his girlfriend, donations and offers of help poured in — food, toys, motel rooms and, finally enough money to buy an airplane ticket.

On Wednesday Joel and Sadie hitched a ride from Grand Rapids to Detroit, where another good Samaritan bought Carpenter and Sadie a hotel room for the night. On Thursday, he and Sadie flew home.

The saga of Carpenter and Sadie raises more than a few questions — including just how loose a screening process that shelter must have had to hand a dog over to someone who lived 1,500 miles away, with no money, and no clear way home. Was that irresponsible, or did they just fall for the romanticism of it all?

I kind of did, and I’m a cynical sort. But then again I uprooted my dog from his stable home to spend a year on the road, traveling across America in a car but on a shoestring, including doing a little couch-surfing and a little relying on the kindness of strangers.

Is the saga of Carpenter and Sadie proof that love conquers all? Is it the epitome of irresponsibility? An excellent adventure? Or is it just the kind of thing dog-crazy people do?

I ‘d love to hear your opinions on all this (and unlike most websites that ask you for that I really mean it) because — other than being happy they are safely back home — I’m not sure what exactly mine is.

(Photo of Joel and Sadie from WZZM)