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Tag: social media

Are there too many dogs on the Internet?

image001Depictions of dogs, as any one who has ever read the wall of a prehistoric cave knows, date back to well before ancient times.

Pharaohs commissioned artworks of their favorite pets. Portrayals of hunting and images of medieval banquets often featured dogs in the background or foreground. In the Victorian-era, aristocrats hired painters to make portraits of themselves and their pooches.

As the 20th Century dawned, as humans came to live ever closer to the species, artists seized upon the idea of depicting dogs dressed in human attire and doing human things, bringing us such classes artworks as the inimitable (but often imitated) work, Dogs Playing Poker.

Well before photography went digital, before somebody flicked that World Wide Web switch on, dog depictions were being shared — if not as instantly, often, ridiculously and (often) demaningly as they are today on the Internet, and social media in particular.

Even in my earliest days in journalism, back in the 1970’s, I remember some newspapers had a pet writer — someone who penned a pet column, usually weekly. He or she was commonly an older person who performed mostly clerical duties, maybe a secretary for some top editor, who, due to his or her love for dogs, had volunteered for the task, likely at no increase in pay.

He or she would probably feature a dog in need of adoption every week, or write about pet care and training, or simply ask readers to submit photos of their pets for publication — an opportunity many readers seized, sending actual photos through actual mail.

One of the differences between then and now — a time when many a website is telling you how much they would like to see photos of your dog — is that the old clerk/pet writer’s request for photos was more than likely at least partly sincere.

pokerThose folks who want to see your dog’s photo now? Almost always, they are after something else. You can trust them about as much as the bulldog sneaking an ace to his friend in that painting to the left there.

Pet food websites, pet toy websites, even (we hate to admit it) pet news websites will commonly beg you for a photo of your pooch — not because anyone actually wants to see it, but because they want to get you on their email lists, get you “registered,” introduce you to their products and enlist your loyalty.

They want, more than anything, your money, and like many other businesses that want your money, they will gladly deceive you and try to capitalize on your love for/pride in your pet:

“We’d love to see a photo of your dog!”

Yeah, right.

I’m not here today to say that there are too many dogs on the Internet — even if never before in the history of man have we been so saturated with dog photos and images. The more the merrier, I say.

But I would argue there is too much dog exploitation and too much dog ridicule on the Internet, much of it carried out via those “adorable” photos of your “fur baby” — sometimes by profit-making concerns, sometimes by dog owners themselves.

Compare and contrast, if you will, our old, likely unpaid, pet columnist with someone like Matt Nelson, who is making a six figure annual salary by posting photos sent in by readers, along with a comment and a numerical rating (based on the dog, not the photo) at @dog_rates.

He is not taking any photos. He is not buying any photos. He’s really not doing much work at all, other than accumulating followers. He is merely sharing other people’s photos on Twitter — and managing to make a handsome living from it.

Nelson — profiled by Money magazine recently — dropped out of college once he saw how popular his dog photo sharing Twitter page had become:

There, WeRateDogs’ operations are relatively simple. Nelson estimates he runs 95 percent of things from his iPhone (which, yes, he confirms, does require a massive data plan to handle all the dog photos). He has two remote employees: Ricci, who culls submissions down to about 20 each day, and Tyler Macke, who manages the WeRateDogs online store. His dad, an executive director of a law firm, advises him on finances.

Nelson says he brings in “a low five figures” every month. At minimum, that puts him over $100,000 a year.

Thanks, Money magazine, for doing the math for us.

While Nelson may not be doing much original or creative work, at least his pursuit is mostly cute and kind and well meaning.

20151016_181413-e1522168748576Other dog photo sharing websites are more distasteful to me — dogshaming.com, in particular.

It features photos of dogs who have misbehaved, along with hand-made signs — all submitted by readers.

But perhaps most troubling of all are the photos and videos that individuals post to their Facebook page showing their dogs doing distinctly human things.

Alexandra Horowitz, the author and researcher who has spent her career seriously studying and trying to understand dogs — despite what seems to be society’s preference to see them as dress-up dolls, movie characters with human voices, or (apologies to those who use the term) “fur babies” — made note of the phenomena in last week’s New York Times Opinion section.

In it, she asked the question:

“Why can’t I stand to look at one more photo of a ‘funny dog?'”

She continued, “In a typical image, the dog is posed in a distinctly person-like way, as if on the phone, seated at a table or wearing headphones and dressed up in human attire — glasses, a dog-size suit and tie, even pantyhose.”

” … These dogs are but furry emoji: stand ins for emotions and sentiment. Each representation diminishes this complex, impressive creature to an object of our most banal imagination,” Horowitz wrote. “Such treatment may not be mortifying to the dog, perhaps … but it is degrading to the species.”

Only the most extreme examples of making our dogs look ridiculous receive any sort of backlash — primarily from people who see the pet as being abused. Like this one on Twitter. Go to the link and read all the comments and you almost think, maybe people are coming to their senses.

It bugs me that society is this way — that it took a species, molded it to its liking, and continually foists its own likeness and peculiarities upon it. It bugs me what people will put their dog through to achieve a Facebook post or Halloween costume that makes their friends laugh. It bothers me that some people are getting rich off it.

It’s like we were blessed with an original Mona Lisa, and 85 percent of us want to draw a mustache on it slap it on their own personal billboard.

Somebody needs to grow up, and it’s not the dogs.

(Photos: At top, The Feast of Dives, about 1510–20, Master of James IV of Scotland, the J. Paul Getty Museum); lower, one of the many reproductions of Dogs Playing Poker, by Cassius Marcellus Coolidge, other photos via Twitter)

Frankel seeks aide to help promote her dogs

bethenny

Bethenny Frankel — entrepreneur, “Real Housewife of New York” and attention who … whoa, don’t say that — is looking to hire an assistant to manage her dogs’ schedules, take photos of them and further propel their fame (and her’s) on social media.

Page Six reports that Frankel placed an online ad seeking an assistant with “thick skin” who would be able to work full time on tasks that would include managing the schedules of her dogs and taking pictures of Frankel and her pets “to provide content for social media.”

It’s not clear from the ad whether all of the duties would be related to her canines.

With some of the described duties for instance — such as “maintain upcoming wardrobe queue,” “coordinate daily looks” and work “onsite with CEOs for glam” — it’s a little fuzzy whether she’s talking about herself or her dogs.

In any case, though, she’s apparently seeking some help to shape up her image. (And what real, limelight-craving person doesn’t need a little of that?) Apparently her 1.6 million Instagram followers — and that doesn’t include her dogs’ accounts — aren’t enough.

Frankel is involved with dog rescue causes, and she had at least three dogs of her own up until October when one died.

frankelCookie, 17, had a seizure, and Frankel made a video of the dog and herself during the crisis and posted it on social media.

That drew some criticism — mostly from people wondering why she was making a video instead of taking the dog to a vet.

The following day, she did, but Cookie died that weekend.

Cookie had her own Instagram account, as do two of her newer dogs, Biggy and Smallz.

Frankel has written several books and launched her own line of “Skinny Girl” meals and beverages. She has also appeared on “The Apprentice: Martha Stewart,” “Skating with the Stars,” and was the subject of the reality television series “Bethenny Ever After.” Her talk show, “Bethenny,” premiered in 2013 and was canceled in 2014.

(Top photo: Frankel with Biggie and Smallz / Bravo TV; bottom photo, Frankel with Cookie / PEOPLE)

Two men jailed in China after insulting police officer who clubbed a dog to death

(The video above is disturbing and may offend some readers.)

 

Two men served five days in jail in China after publicly insulting a police officer who killed a golden retriever on a street in Changsha, the capital of Hunan Province.

The arrests were made Dec. 31, the same day one of the men posted pictures and personal details about the policeman on a Twitter-like social media platform called Weibo.

The second man was arrested on charges of publicly insulting the officer.

The policeman was filmed beating the leashed dog to death with a wooden club.

According to Changsha Police’s social media account, each of the two men was given a five-day detention for disclosing confidential information of a police officer and showing disrespect to a police officer.

The policeman’s actions were praised by some, the Daily Mail reported, while others criticized the “cruel” and “heartless” manner he employed to kill the dog.

The leashed dog had lunged at several people walking by on the sidewalk where he was tethered and bitten at least two of them.

The officer said he did not have access to a tranquilizing gun and decided to use a wooden club to kill the canine instead.

Bethenny Frankel makes and posts video as her dog goes into seizures

Bethenny Frankel’s need for attention reached new heights over the weekend when she made and posted a video of her dog having a seizure, instead of trying to do anything about it.

The video shows the dog convulsing during what she described as a 45-minute seizure.

During most of the original video Frankel cried and shrieked: “Help me, what do we do? Help us … I don’t know what to do … Someone help me I don’t know what to do…”

“Do I take her to a vet? … What do I do?” she asked, wiping tears off her face. “My daughter’s watching this and we have to do something. The vet is 40 minutes away … I’m in a bad place.”

frankelThe reality TV star posted some additional videos after that, explaining that she felt there was no place to turn — except to her 1.5 million Instagram followers.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to scare everybody, but my daughter and I have been watching the dog have seizures for 45 minutes … The hospital is so far I don’t think we can make it.

“Anyone wondering why I’m doing this on social can fuck off, because all my friends are asleep … I’m freaking out. Why is this happening. I don’t think I can take this.”

Frankel shared the series of videos Saturday.

Later, she took her 17-year-old dog, Cookie, to a vet, where she died over the weekend.

Frankel issued a tweet about the death Monday: “My @cookiedabooboo is gone. Bless her furry heart.”

Frankel has appeared on “The Apprentice: Martha Stewart,” “The Real Housewives of New York City,” “Skating with the Stars,” and was the subject of the reality television series “Bethenny Ever After.” Her talk show, “Bethenny,” premiered in 2013 and was canceled in 2014. She also has written several books, and launched her own line of “Skinny Girl” meals. In 2009, she posed nude for a PETA billboard.

Clearly, she’s someone who loves being in the limelight, and is not above shining it on herself through social media.

This time, it was a pretty unflattering light she portrayed herself in — and it was downright revolting in the view of those who are left to wonder why her hysterics, and the self-made video, took precedence over her dog’s well-being.

In badmouthing his human foes, Trump manages to also offend dogs everywhere

misspWhile the hotels that carry his name may be dog-friendly, President Trump is definitely not — as shown not just by his refusal to have one in the White House, but in his word choice.

Examine his insults, his verbal slaps, his testy tweets and you will find unkind references to dogs in many of them.

Newsweek did just that and concluded:

“Not only is President Donald Trump the first White House resident in generations to not have a first pooch, but the very word ‘dog’ is the root of so many of the Tweeter in Chief’s favorite insults.”

Of one of his newest rivals, Republican Sen. Bob Corker, the president recently said, “Couldn’t get elected dog catcher.”

He used the exact same term to describe former New York Governor George Pataki, former New Hampshire Governor John Sununu in 2015, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, Michael Bloomberg and Hillary Clinton.

He said he watched Marco Rubio “sweating like a dog” during his campaign.

He called former Obama administration adviser David Axelrod a dog after he criticized him on Fox News.

Among those he has said were “fired like a dog” were NBC’s David Gregory, Glenn Beck and Ted Cruz’s communications director.

Former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper both choked “like dogs” in Senate testimony in May, he told Time.

Mitt Romney, in his campaign for president, “choked like a dog,” too, in Trump’s view.

William McKinley is the last president to not have a dog, though he had other pets.

Generally, the only photos of Trump with dogs are from when he regularly invited the the winner of the Westminster Dog Show to visit his palatial Trump Tower suite, as is the case with the photo at the top of this post.

At least one citizen graciously offered him a dog, but he, quite ungraciously, snubbed the offer. By the time he informed heiress Lois Pope he didn’t want the dog, she’d already fallen in love and decided to keep it.

Further evidence of Trump’s distaste for the species — at least non-pedigreed members — can be found in a memoir, “Raising Trump,” written by his ex-wife Ivana.

“Donald was not a dog fan,” she wrote. When Ivana brought home a poodle named Chappy, to Trump’s displeasure, she said she gave him this choice — “It’s me and Chappy or no one!”

He gave in, but never showed much fondness for the poodle — and the feeling was mutual, she wrote.

In point of fact, dogs don’t sweat. In point of fact, dogs don’t lie. In point of fact, dog catcher is not an elected position — at least not in modern times. Yet he uses references to dogs, repeatedly and erroneously, as a metaphor/simile for lowly behavior, or to describe anyone he doesn’t like.

News flash, Mr. President, (of the non-fake variety): Dogs are probably held in higher regard in America than either you or the presidency.

I did not want to see Trump elected anything, least of all president. And I don’t think he’d make a good “dog catcher,” either. As experienced as he is at shoveling the you-know-what, he’d probably be good at cleaning out kennels.

But hey, he — unfortunately — has a country to run.

Woof in Advertising: Quarterback and his dog appear together in State Farm ad

Dogs in advertisements — even those cast in fairly superfluous supporting roles — have a way of stealing the show.

We’d say that’s the case in this new ad from State Farm Insurance, in which Rigsbee totally outclasses the ad’s human stars, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers stars and his teammate Clay Matthews.

In the ad, Rigsbee and Rodgers find the windshield of Rodgers’ truck has been damaged by a drone.

woof in advertisingThat prompts memories of the seven years of happy times Rigsbee and Rogers shared on the road: Playing football at the beach, driving across sand dunes, hanging their heads out the car windows.

State Farm, of course, shows up to assure Rodgers the truck will be good as new — as does Clay Matthews who, it turns out, was piloting the drone by remote control.

Rigsbee is described in news reports as Rodgers’s dog in real life — but, if so, their trips down memory lane have to be pretty short.

And since the ad shows him both as a pup ad in a full grown state, it can only be surmised that Rigsbee grew up very, very fast.

chancefrankAs of this spring, when Rodgers and actress Olivia Munn were ending their three-year relationship, the couple had two dogs — Chance and Frank. Chance, a Cavalier King Charles spaniel puppy was adopted by Munn, a big proponent of adoption, in 2014. Frank, a Jack Russell terrier mix, joined the couple more recently. Both dogs had their own Instagram accounts.

There’s no mention on social media or in news reports of any Rigsbee before that — so, with Munn taking custody of Frank and Chance, it appears Rigsbee joined Rodgers after the split and, unlike Rodgers, has kept a pretty low profile since.

In any event, the dog described as belonging to Rodgers does a fine job — both the puppy version and the larger version. Between him (them?) and the song, the humans just sort of fade into the background.

The song is Joey Scarbury’s “Believe it or Not,” which might be doubly appropriate for this ad, given the lack of any history of Rigsbee and his phenomenal growth spurt.

(For more of our Woof in Advertising posts, click here.)

Customers say supermarket’s chocolatey kindness poisoned their dogs

chocolate1

To thank its loyal customers, the UK supermarket chain Sainsbury’s sent complimentary chocolates through the mail to holders of the store’s reward card.

Now, it’s hearing back from some customers who are feeling less than rewarded — and who are “thanking” Sainsbury’s (sarcastically) for poisoning their dogs.

As anyone who receives their mail through a slot in their door knows, dogs are generally curious — and not above tearing into — anything the postal carrier delivers that looks or smells interesting.

As most dog owners know (or should) chocolate can be toxic to dogs.

So, thoughtful as it might seem delivering unsolicited chocolates — a selection of Green & Black’s chocolate bars — was a lame-brained move that has now evolved into a public relations’s nightmare.

A Sainsbury’s spokesperson said the company was “extremely sorry for the distress caused,” the BBC reported, and that it is investigating complaints “as a matter of urgency.”

The spokesperson added, “We know chocolate is unsafe for pets to eat and that’s why we had measures in place to safeguard against pet owners receiving this promotion.”

The company didn’t say what those safeguards were — only that “we are urgently investigating what went wrong.”

Those whose dogs have fallen ill have taken to social media to express their rage.

choc2Sarah Hayward’s cocker spaniel Jarvis was rushed to the vet after he tore into the promotional box while she was at work.

“My parents, who came home to let the dogs out at lunchtime, found the empty packet on his bed … They realized it was chocolate and the second they called the vet they were told to rush him straight in. He was put on various drips to flush fluids down him to try and induce him to be sick and, yes, it was a bit of a worry”.

“My eight month old puppy is currently having its stomach pumped and is being hospitalized at the vets this evening due to your utter foolishness, wrote another dog owner, Sammy Taylor. “I was out for less than two hours to return home and find three bars of dark chocolate devoured at my front doorstep and a very hyper puppy having heart palpitations … Chocolate is poisonous to dogs… it is well well known fact!”

Dan Dugdale, a 27-year-old designer from York, told The Daily Telegraph that he had arrived home on Monday to find his two two miniature dachshunds had eaten the contents of the package.

He said the two dogs were “completely hyper,” and he and his partner rushed them to a vet’s office, where the dogs were determined not to have had a significant negative reaction.

Dugdale said he’s not a Sainsbury’s rewards card holder and that the parcel was addressed to a previous occupant.

Photo: At top, Dan Dugdale’s dachshund with the box of chocolates he tore into; lower, Sarah Hayward’s cocker spaniel, Jarvis, who also became ill after eating the chocolates; Twitter)