Meet GeriJoy. He’s a virtual dog. He’s a talking dog. He’s even described as “a compassionate” dog.
He was developed by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to be an interactive companion for older people with dementia or memory problems, serving to provide what his makers call “continual stimulation.”
But there’s something about GeriJoy, noble as the idea may be, that I find a little bit patronizing, a little bit insulting, and highly phony. His creation also seems an awfully circuitous and robotic route to take to provide a virtual experience with an animated creature when the real thing is so abundantly available.
Clearly, I’m cynical, or at least wary, when it comes to technology — and perhaps more. It was only yesterday, after all, that I cruelly bashed soft and fuzzy stuffed animals.
Despite that, techno-wizards keep trying, intent, it seems, on trying to capture a no-shed, no-drool, no bark, no worries version of dog — be it stuffed, virtual, or mechanical — and then convince you that their inanimate, or animated, object will love you unconditionally forever.
The truth is, close as they might come — and cloning probably comes closest — they never will. Ha ha. Take that.
If GeriJoy, the virtual dog, is making some old person happy, even if it’s a delusional kind of happy, we’re all for it. If it’s being used as a substitute for human attention, we’re not. With all the growth in and demands on senior services and facilities for the elderly, there’s a tendency to look for quick and easy shortcuts, when the keys to doing job right are already obvious — caring staff, ample staff, staff with hearts.
And maybe some dogs — real dogs.
What I’d rather see is not a nursing home where dozens of residents are lined up in wheelchairs, stroking animated images on their hand held devices, but one that’s taking advantage of programs — or even creating some — in which dog ownership among residents is encouraged, and assistance with those dogs is provided; ones where dogs live under communal ownership, or short of that, therapy dogs visit regularly; one that’s investing in building a qualified and caring staff, as opposed to investing in devices that substitute for real human, or dog, contact.
Here’s how the GeriJoy website touts the product: “Have an older loved one who is lonely and suffers from dementia or geriatric depression? GeriJoy can help. We provide talking pets that are intelligent, compassionate, and available 24/7 to talk about anything, including photos and updates from family.”
The virtual dog can be displayed on a computer or other Internet-connected device. The virtual dog, the website claims, ”provides all the availability and unconditional love of an adorable pet, combined with the ability to talk with true intelligence and compassion … It’s as if it lives inside a picture frame, so you get the benefits of pet therapy without any smells, allergies, cleaning up, bites, or food and veterinary bills.”
The virtual dog can provide around the clock stimulation, his developers say, and, in the video snippet above, GeriJoy certainly sounds stimulating, or stimulated, almost orgasmically so. “Oh, you’re so good,” GeriJoy coos as an elderly man strokes the image on the screen.
We’re not sure if that’s what GeriJoy told the Senate Special Committee on Aging’s Healthy Aging Forum this month when he appeared before it. He’ll also be on exhibit at the AARP Health Innovation@50+ Tech Expo on May 31 at the Las Vegas Convention Center, according to the AARP blog.
To get GeriJoy, one must subscribe, and pay from $99 to $129 a month. The hardware costs up to $349 for the most sophisticated, Internet-connected version.
GeriJoy was co-founded by Victor Wang, a former Canadian Army officer who did research on human-machine interaction for NASA while at MIT. He says he was inspired to develop the virtual dog by his grandmother in Taiwan, who became depressed while she was living alone.
Wang says GeriJoy can even serve as a watchdog. In one case, a user’s human caregiver was being verbally abusive, and GeriJoy “contacted the user’s daughter to let her know about it.”
“Whatever your loved one wants to know, the companion can find out and report back,” the website says. “It can send and receive messages and photos between you and your loved one, also via the Internet. All this is done through the intuitive metaphor of a talking dog. Your loved one doesn’t even need to know what a computer is.”
We don’t care if the day comes when a virtual dog can cook dinner, push a wheelchair, administer medications or help you understand your health insurance.
A real dog is better — even with his shedding and drooling. Real dogs bring one into, and keep one in, the moment. Real dogs can help you keep a grip on reality, as opposed to pulling you into fantasy land. And real dogs offer a true form of love and validation — even if they can’t say, at least with words, “Oh, you are so good.”
Posted by jwoestendiek May 24th, 2013 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: aarp, aging, animals, animated, app, assisted living, computer, dementia, dog, dogs, elderly, gerijoy, health, image, internet, memory, mit, nursing homes, pets, talking, technology, unconditional love, virtual, virtual dog
In fact, he’d prefer it if you’d keep your dog to yourself — out of the park he wants to read in, away from the cafe where he enjoys his Frappuccino, and definitely not in the gym in which he works out.
It was a case of the latter that triggered a well-written, semi-playful, anti-dog diatribe he wrote for Slate last week.
Manjoo argued that dogs are getting too many privileges. He pointed out that not everybody enjoys their presence, cited health hazards they could conceivably pose, and suggested all those people who take their dogs everywhere start leaving them at home.
Not sharing one’s dog? To me, that’s the equivalent of hiding a Van Gogh behind an ironing board in the basement. Or putting a newfound cure for cancer in a time capsule. Or shielding your eyes — just to be safe — from a blazing sunset.
Still, we’d defend Manjoo’s preference to live life without somebody else’s dog in his face. That’s his right. It’s his loss, but it’s also his right.
Manjoo is Slate‘s technology columnist and the author of True Enough: Learning To Live in a Post-Fact Society. So it doesn’t surprise me — he being caught up in all things digital — that he has failed to catch on to or be captivated by the wonder of dogs.
Microchipping aside, dogs and technology are best kept separate. They don’t always get along, maybe because they are the antithesis of each other. Technology may be the cure for everything, but dogs are the cure for technology. We’ll get back to this point, but first let’s look at what Manjoo said — after an unwanted encounter with a Doberman inside his gym.
“The dog came up to me, because in my experience that’s what dogs do when you don’t want them to come up to you. They get up real close, touching you, licking you, theatrically begging you to respond… I guess I was fairly sure he wouldn’t snap and bite me, but stranger things have happened — for instance, dogs snapping and biting people all the time.
“Why was this dog here? And why was no one perturbed that this dog was here?
“…No one was asking because no one could ask. Sometime in the last decade, dogs achieved dominion over urban America. They are everywhere now, allowed in places that used to belong exclusively to humans, and sometimes only to human adults: the office, restaurants, museums, buses, trains, malls, supermarkets, barber shops, banks, post offices… Dogs are frequently allowed to wander off leash, to run toward you and around you, to run across the baseball field or basketball court, to get up in your grill. Even worse than the dogs are the owners, who seem never to consider whether there may be people in the gym/office/restaurant/museum who do not care to be in close proximity to their dogs. …”
Manjoo admits to not being a dog person, but at least — unlike most anti-dog types — he has a sense of humor about it.
“It’s not that I actively despise mutts; I just don’t have much time for them, in the same way I don’t have time for crossword puzzles or Maroon 5,” he writes.
“But here’s my problem: There’s now a cultural assumption that everyone must love dogs. Dog owners are rarely forced to reckon with the idea that there are people who aren’t enthralled by their furry friends, and that taking their dogs everywhere might not be completely pleasant for these folks.”
And seldom, he points out, does anyone whose dog accosts him say they’re sorry.
“… I can promise you she won’t apologize for the imposition. Nor will she ask you if you mind her dog doing what he’s doing. Nor will she pull on its leash, because there won’t be a leash, this being an office, where dogs are as welcome as Wi-Fi and free coffee.”
The same holds true, he notes, at coffee houses.
Here we should point out that the dog pictured atop this post is mine, and that, in the photo, Ace is enjoying an iced coffee product at Starbucks, offered to him by a customer whose behavior indicated she wanted him to visit her table.
When I take Ace to a Starbucks, or most anywhere else, it’s usually pretty apparent who wants to meet him and who doesn’t, and I restrain him accordingly. I don’t have to compile any data or crunch any numbers, I can just tell. It’s not brain surgery, or computer science.
Even though most people go to Starbucks for the free Wi-Fi, or the expensive coffee, I’d estimate about one of two customers wants to meet my dog. Ace — and this isn’t true of every dog — has a way of figuring that out himself, and generally will avoid those who show no interest in him, unless they are in the process of eating a muffin or pastry, in which case he’s willing to overlook the fact they may not be dog lovers.
What makes the numbers even more impressive is that 8 of every 10 customers at your typical Starbucks are under the spell of their computer device and not at all cognizant of what’s going on around them.
Ace is sometimes able to break that spell, at least he does for me.
As for me, I’d rather have access to Fido then Wi-Fi anyday. Fido will soothe me. Wi-Fi will likely, at some point, make me angry and frustrated. Fido will focus me. Wi-Fi will distract me. Wi-Fi will accost me with uninvited and intrusive messages, and send me alerts, and remind me of all the things I need to do today. Fido will remind me all those things aren’t really that important and can wait until tomorrow. Wi-Fi will take me out of the moment; Fido will keep me in it. Wi-fi has no soul. Fido does, and his presence allows our souls – those of us who have them — to be refreshed. Dogs keep us from becoming an entirely manic society.
No one, if I have my laptop on, will want to come up and pet it, except maybe Farhad Manjoo, who — while not having the least bit of interest in my dog — is probably curious about my gigabytes and apps.
On this much I will agree with Manjoo: There are dog owners who seem unaware that not everybody will delight in their dog, oblivious to the fact that some might find their dog annoying and intrusive. Similarly, though, there are parents of children who don’t realize not everybody will delight in their antics. Similarly, too, there are grown-up people who fail to realize that they themselves are annoying and who we’d prefer not to have inflicted upon us.
Unfortunately, we can’t just ban them. Our choices are limited. We could work on being tolerant – of all ages, sizes, shapes and species, despite their noise, intrusiveness and abrasiveness levels. Or we could go somewhere else. Or we could complain.
Sometimes, when visiting a Starbucks or other coffee place, I wonder if I should lodge an official complaint with management about Wi-Fi — objecting to its omnipresence, and how it seems to be turning people into keyboard-pushing zombies.
“No,” I’d say, “I’m not technically allergic to it, but I’m uncomfortable with it near. I’ve had some bad experiences with it. Sometimes it bites people when they least expect it, and I’m pretty sure it harbors germs.”
“But it’s wireless,” the manager might say.
“Exactly,” I’d say with a huff. “Put a leash on it.”
Posted by jwoestendiek May 14th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, apps, behavior, cell phones, coffee, common sense, computers, culture, devices, digital, dislike, dog, dog friendly, dogs, dominion, farhad manjoo, fear, gyms, hate, laptops, leash, leashed, love, manners, parks, pets, place, privileges, public, rights, slate, society, starbucks, technology, unleashed
Our book is done, so Ace and I — Lord willing and the creek don’t rise — are starting a new chapter.
For two years — yes, two — I’ve been assembling the book version of “Travels with Ace,” which documents the year my dog and I wandered the country, tracing the path John Steinbeck took with his poodle Charley and venturing down some of our own.
Unlike “Travels with Charley” (the literary classic), ”Travels with Ace” (the book in search of a publisher) is a more lighthearted account of road tripping with a dog across America. It’s more laden with dogs, dog lore and dog facts, and delves more deeply into just what it is that makes you, me and America so bonkers over dogs.
Written by a former newspaper journalist (that would be me) whose massive mystery mutt altered the course of his life, the book looks at how we and our country have changed in the 50 years since Steinbeck and Charley circumnavigated America in a camper named Rocinante.
One recurring theme — as you might expect from a newspaper guy who watched his industry shrink and crumble, and who’s approaching old manhood — is my grumbling and anxiety over technology, and where, besides unemployment, it might take us.
That theme showed up in my first book, too – about cloning dogs, a technology that, at least when it comes to pet owners, would be better off never having been invented, in my opinion.
It was, in large part, that first book that led to the second one. Seeing the lengths to which dog owners go upon losing, or learning they’re about to lose, their dog — cloning being probably the most extreme of them — I decided that the best time to celebrate one’s dog (and one’s people) is while they’re still alive.
So I showed my dog America, and came to the conclusion, among others, that while full speed ahead is sometimes fine, slowing down (which dogs can help with) and stepping backwards can be good, too.
Ace and I ended up in North Carolina — moving, backwards, into the same apartment unit my parents lived in when I was born. We stayed there until last week when — because the landlord sold it to a new owner — we were required to vacate the premises.
It was by accident, or maybe fate, that we ended up in Bethania, the oldest planned Moravian settlement in North Carolina, established in 1759.
Looking at boring apartment developments, Ace and I made a wrong turn, or two, or three, and found ourselves going down its bucolic Main Street, which is lined with historic homes. Bethania, while surrounded by Winston-Salem, is an independent jurisdiction, with a population of about 350. It feels like another world, and a very peaceful one at that.
Bethania is not to be confused – but often is — with Bethabara, which was the first Moravian settlement in North Carolina, established by 15 church members who walked here from Pennsylvania. Fleeing religious persecution, the German-speaking Protestants first came to the U.S. when it was still a group of British colonies. Once Bethabara became a thriving village, and became overcrowded with refugees, a second Moravian settlement was laid out — Bethania
After that, a third settlement was founded – Salem, which would become the congregation’s headquarters and the biggest and best known of the villages of what was called Wachovia. Today, Bethabara is an historic park, Bethania is a little town, and Old Salem is a tourist attraction, where one can learn about the old ways
The Moravians were known for doing missionary work with local Indian tribes, and avoiding, on principal, violent conflict. Their cemeteries, such as God’s Acre in Old Salem, are highly regimented affairs where the grave markers, in addition to being in neat rows and grouped according to the Moravian choir system, are all of the same size — a reminder that, as much as we might like or think we deserve a big ostentatious tombstone, we’re all equal. I like that.
Bethania seems to reflect an attention to detail as well. Church members built their houses in the middle of town, and the orchards and farms they worked were on its periphery. I’m pretty sure my house was once orchard area.
It’s quiet, and it feels like I’m out in the country, even though it’s only 7 miles from downtown.
I knew I made the right decision on our new location when, at the town’s visitor center, I inquired whether it would be okay to take my dog, on a leash, down the hiking trails behind it.
“You don’t need a leash,” came the reply.
Almost every home in Bethania has a front porch with two rocking chairs — and, while I’m pretty sure it’s not required by local ordinance, I plan to follow suit
My little white house with a green tin roof has a fireplace in the living room, a grapevine in the backyard, room to plant lots of vegetables and a shed in which I plan to tinker with things. I’m not sure what things, but I definitely want to tinker.
I have a neighbor to one side, an empty lot on the other, and judging from the vines in the trees, I think I’ll have some kudzu to look at, which some of you might remember I have a thing for.
In addition to the visitor center, and the trails, there’s a public golf course, Long Creek Club, just down the road (owned by my landlord); and the old mill in the center of town has been refurbished and sports several shops, studios, and the Muddy Creek Café, a dog friendly spot with live music on weekends.
I’m just a newcomer, but I suspect the biggest social hub is the Moravian Church, just a few hundred yards from my home. (In a bit of a coincidence, it’s interim minister once graced the pages of ohmidog!)
I am not now a Moravian and have never been one, but I do have a family connection. She was considered my great aunt, though she wasn’t a blood relative.
Kathleen Hall was born to another family, but grew up as a sister to my grandmother. We called her “Tan,” believed to be derived from a mispronunciation of “aunt.”
Every Easter, my mother instructs me to put a flower on Tan’s grave at God’s Acre in Old Salem — preferably purple, Tan’s favorite color. I did that on Easter, and noticed, as in previous years, another flower, a white lily, was already there. Who leaves it every year is a mystery to us.
There’s also a memory of her in my living room — her stitchwork covers a footstool my mother passed along to me years ago.
Given that connection, and the fact that the Moravian church is just a few hundred yards away from my new home, I may check it out — at least once I get my boxes unpacked and my Internet set up.
They do have that here — even though several internet/cable companies told me my address in Bethania doesn’t exist.
One who uses Bethania as their mailing address can’t get mail delivered. I could use Winston-Salem or Pfafftown as my mailing address, but I’ve opted to go with Bethania and avoid getting a mailbox. Instead, I’ll walk three houses down to the little post office when I want my mail, which, given it’s mostly bills, I usually don’t.
Other than that, Bethania isn’t one of those places stuck in the past, just a place that honors it. It’s not like an Amish community. I’m pretty sure people aren’t churning butter and blacksmithing. But there does seem to be a respect for times gone by, and the older I get, the more frustrated I get with my computer, and apps, and talking to robots on the phone, the more important that has become to me.
Despite my growing techno-anxiety, I will admit — after moving 20 or so boxes of books — that the Kindle might not be an entirely bad idea.
After the Saturday move, I woke up pretty sore on Easter Sunday.
I’d fully intended to take Ace to the Moravian sunrise service here in Bethania.
But the sound of rain on my new tin roof lulled me back to sleep.
Once I did wake up, Ace and I had Easter lunch with my mother, then dropped by God’s Acre in Old Salem to pay respects to Tan and drop off a purple hyacinth. Then we headed back home.
So that’s the tale of our new place, and a long way of saying our new address is:
PO Box 169
Bethania, NC, 27010
Posted by jwoestendiek April 5th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, animals, bethabara, bethania, church, dog inc., dogs, hiking, history, home, house, john steinbeck, mill, moravians, move, moving, muddy creek cafe, north carolina, ohmidog!, old salem, pets, religion, salem, settlement, simpler, technology, trails, travels with ace, travels with charley, walking, way of life, winston-salem
Here’s another silly app my dog and I can live without.
Fujitsu Ltd., a Japanese company, is launching a “pet management service” that allows dog owners to monitor on their cellphones their dogs’ every step, their stress levels, and even the surrounding temperature.
The electronics company calls the product Wandant — a combination of “wan wan” (a Japanese term for dog) and the word “pendant,” which is what the monitored dog wears around its neck to transmit the information via the Internet.
It’s about half an ounce and the size of a business card.
According to the Wall Street Journal, “the service is another step in Japan’s long-running fascination in better understanding their pets.”
Though not quite as far-fetched as “Bowlingual,” touted by toy company Takara as a dog-to-human translation device, Wandant, claims it can provide dog owners with a series of graphs showing everything from how many steps a dog has taken to when he’s feeling itchy.
“Consumers can also manually add information such as how much food the dog ate or when it went to the bathroom to help manage its weight, while also keeping a daily diary of that day’s activities,” according to the WSJ report.
Customers can use their Android smartphones — its’ not yet available as an iPhone app — to check their dog’s up-to-the-minute profile.
The company described the motivations for making product in a press release:
“Given the demographic shifts in modern Japan, where there are fewer children and more people living longer, as well as a growing number of single-member households, pets have become increasingly important as family members and companions … The aging of pets and their care, as well as problems such as obesity, are becoming increasingly prominent issues. In response, Fujitsu developed the Wandant-based cloud service to support health monitoring in dogs.”
It went on the market Wednesday, but only in Japan.
(Photos: From Fujitsu’s website)
Posted by jwoestendiek November 30th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: android, animals, app, apps, cloud, collar, conditions, device, dog, dogs, fujitsu, graphs, internet, iphone, itchy, japan, japanese, monitor, owners, pedometer, pendant, pets, smartphone, steps, stress, technology, temperature, wandant, worn
Having drawn my line in the technogical sand — though it’s subject to being moved — I am managing to get through life for now without texting, or using any mobile apps at all.
But I’ll admit I sometimes wonder what — other than being annoyed more often — I’m missing out on.
If this app is any indication, not much.
“Ever wondered just what your pet would look like as a baby?” read a press release sent to ohmidog! “Well wonder no more.”
Now, thanks to a new app called Petbaby, we can turn a picture of our dog into one of what he or she would have looked like had he or she been born human.
According to the press release, the new cellphone app allows you to “take a photo of your favourite furry friend and turn it into a little human with the simple click of a button! Whether your pet is a dog, cat or even a rabbit bring your pet to life with Petbaby!!”
I’m not sure why anyone would want to do that, or what we’re supposed to do with the finished product. Frame a copy for our desk at the office? Use it on our Christmas cards? Nor do I understand why Petbaby thinks our dogs, already pretty lively, have to be transformed into humans to be “brought to life.”
Merging animals and humans has a long history, most of which, fortunately, is in the realm of science fiction and fantasy, and now apps. Let’s hope — in a world where dogs are being cloned, where human “furries” dress up and pretend to be animals at conventions, where technology has a way of trampling right over reason — it stays there.
Because the result of such morphing — even if it’s just taking place on your iPhone — is creepy.
Even Fierce Mobile Content, a website that keeps up with apps, named Petbaby a “worst entertainment app,” called it “an exercise in extreme stupidity,” and noted in its review the parallels to Dr. Moreau, the fictional mad doctor who created new beings from vivisected animals:
“There’s nothing cute or cuddly about slapping Fido’s eyes and snout on a random baby’s head. In fact, if you saw some half-infant/half-schnauzer mutant on the street, you’d kill it with fire and not a jury in the land would convict you. Babies? Cute. Dogs? Even cuter. But Pet Baby? Ugh. It’s the most warped photo-warping app on the market.”
Posted by jwoestendiek November 30th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: android, animals, app, apps, babies, cellphone, cloning, dogs, furbabies, furries, humans, iphone, morphing, pet baby, petbaby, pets, photos, technology, warping
Here’s a simple do-it-yourself project I won’t be doing.
I’m not totally against technology. I just think something as simple and basic as walking a dog should stay simple and basic. And this device that records how far your dog has walked — at least the home-made version — seems a whole lot of work to go to for that information.
In this video, Becky Stern of Adafruit Industries — sort of a Martha Stewart for the geek set – shows how to make a GPS collar that shows how far your dog walks on a typical trip around the block. It also displays a progress bar “to make sure you and your dog achieve a set goal.”
I got dizzy just watching it. Maybe, technologically, I’ve been left behind.
After viewing this, I’m pretty sure I don’t want to catch up.
Posted by jwoestendiek July 17th, 2012 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: adafruit industries, animals, collar, device, do-it-yourself, dog, dog collar, dogs, geeks, gps, gps collar, pedometer, pets, project, technology, video, walking
Ahhh, the many noble uses of DNA testing — to free a wrongly convicted prisoner from death row, to nail down a rape conviction, to match a baby daddy to a baby and make him take some financial responsibility.
Then there’s using it to determine ownership of dog poop.
Call it the science of waste, or a waste of science, but increasingly apartment and condo management companies are considering and in some cases signing up for a service that, through DNA testing, matches unscooped dog poop to the offending dog who left it behind.
A recent report in the Pioneer Press says the service arrived in the Twin Cities area two months ago.
Rosedale Estates North, a 180-unit apartment complex in Roseville, is now sending samples of unscooped poop to a laboratory in Tennessee, where it’s compared to DNA that has been supplied by every dog owner in the complex, usually via a swab that has been swiped in the dog’s mouth.
The first offending sample was picked up Tuesday, May 15. Once the dog who dropped it is determined, its owner will face a $100 fine. Second offenses bring another $100 fine. A third offense leads to an order to get rid of the pet.
Jim Simpson, owner of BioPets Vet Lab in Knoxville, said the company started offering the dog-DNA service called PooPrints in 2008. He charges $30 for each DNA sample to be registered and $50 for each stool sample that is tested later.
In some cities, the service is managed through Rent 411, an apartment-finding company. Its owner says there are seven PooPrint customers in Minnesota.
Another townhouse complex considered signing up, according to the Pioneer Press, but dropped the plan when a volunteer offered to pick up poop herself every week.
Sometimes, it seems, we turn to technology when far simpler, cheaper, less intrusive solutions are available. Do we really need forensic poop spies when we could just pick it up?
(Photo: Tenant Daniel Allen cleans up after his 6 1/2-month-old puppy Creed at the Roseville apartment complex. Allen supports the “PooPrints” program and says the complex is cleaner since it started; by John Doman / Pioneer Press)
Posted by jwoestendiek May 24th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, apartment, biopets, biopets vet lab, dna, dog poop, dogs, droppings, feces, fines, knoxville, lab, laboratory, management, minnesota, owners, pets, poop, pooprints, property, registry, samples, science, science of waste, stool, technology, tennessee, testing, tracking, twin cities, waste, waste of science
Three days after we bemoaned the seemingly trending practice of putting words in dogs’ mouths via animation, a new Internet e-card company has launched, offering just that service.
It’s pretty much the same schtick as Pedigree’s “Denture Your Dog” ad campaign for “DentaStix” – upload a photo of your dog, position the talking mouth, type in what you want your dog to say, click, wait and, voila, you have a talking dog video you can distribute via Facebook, Twitter and email.
To hear what Ace thinks of it all, click on his picture above, then click on play on the page to which you are taken. (I swore I’d never do it, but then again, I also swore I’d never use the word “trending”.)
Pet-a-Greeting launched Tuesday, calling itself the first-ever site that allows members to upload a photo of their dog, cat or other pet and create a customized talking message to share.
“We’re taking the e-greeting card experience to a whole other level,” said Gregory Baker, co-founder of Pet-a-Greeting. (Confession: I tried to find a photo of Baker online so I could use his website to make him bark, but there are too many Gregory Bakers.)
“We developed Pet-a-Greeting because we love our animal friends,” Baker continues in a press release, “and we want people to be able to share a unique experience with their friends and families, while giving a voice to those that typically don’t have one.”
If that’s not noble enough for you, consider this: Pet-a-Greeting says it has a strong commitment to helping animal welfare organizations both locally and nationally. “By becoming a member and sending Pet-a-Greetings, you are supporting the welfare of companion animals.”
No details, or percentage, or beneficiary is mentioned in the news release, so I guess we have to just take their word for it.
Pet-a-Greeting offers a 10-day free trial, where members can send unlimited personal greeting cards. A year’s membership is $9.95, and a two-year membership is $14.95.
Posted by jwoestendiek September 8th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, animals, animated, anthopomorphic, denture your dog, dentures, dogs, email, facebook, greetings, gregory baker, internet, launch, make your dog talk, new, pedigree, pet-a-greeting, pets, talking dogs, technology, twitter, video, website, words
An apartment complex in New Hampshire is the latest entity to turn to DNA testing of dog poop in an attempt to catch scofflaws who aren’t picking up after their pets.
The manager of the Timberwood Commons in Lebanon has turned to a company called PooPrints, run by a lab called BioPet in Knoxville, Tennessee.
Residents have been told that they must submit a sample of their dog’s DNA for the apartment database. After that, any offending anonymous droppings can be sent off to the Knoxville lab to be matched to their source through further testing.
When an offender is pinpointed through his or her poop, his or her owner will be required to pay for the lab test, and face further, still to be determined, action.
This, mind you, in the “Live Free or Die” state.
Such testing programs have been going on for a couple of years now in other parts of the world, like Petah Tikva in Israel.
Last year, a luxury condominium complex in Baltimore was on the verge of establishing a similar poop testing program, but changed its mind.
Posted by jwoestendiek June 28th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: amok, animals, apartment, big brother, biopet, complex, dna, dog, dogs, droppings, feces, forensics, investigation, lab, laboratory, lebanon, live free or die, new hampshire, pets, pick-up, poo prints, poop, pooprints, scofflaws, scoop, technology, testing, timberwood commons, waste
In our eighth month of bouncing about this expansive and expensive country, Ace and I seemed headed for our most frugal stretch yet – thanks mainly to lucking out and finding some free housing upon our return to Baltimore.
For the first time, in our continuing effort to see America while spending less than what we were while sedentary and housed – about $1,500 for rent, food and utilities – we were looking at a three digit number instead of four.
Now, thanks to my stupidity, and with an assist from Verizon, we’ve blown it, and somebody has some explaining to do.
Before we left on our journey, I canceled my home Internet service (through Verizon) and signed up for wireless mobile broadband (through a different part of Verizon), allowing us to get online no matter where we were for $59 a month – the package they suggested for a heavy user.
It worked pretty great. There were only two or three locations in our 22,000 miles of travels, where service was non-existent or spotty.
I was so pleased, I even eventually sent Verizon the payment they were seeking from me for home Internet service for the month following the date I moved out of my house. It was basically a choice between paying the money I didn’t really owe, being regularly harassed by the credit agency to which they turned the matter over, or spending far too much time on the phone, holding and then some, to try and straighten it out.
All was going smoothly with my wireless mobile broadband — or so I thought until last week, when Verizon informed me that for the past two months I’d gone over monthly limit, and that I owed them more than $400. Read more »
Posted by jwoestendiek February 14th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: a team, access, baltimore, bills, broadband, budget, chat, communications, device, dog's country, dogscountry, expenses, free, frugality, gigabytes, giggedtybyes, hold, hot spot, house, household, hulu, internet, limits, maryland, mobile, money, on hold, overages, savings, techno-whipped, technology, television, travel, traveling, traveling with dogs, travels with ace, tv, tv on the internet, tv watching, verizon, verizon wireless, website, wi-fi, wireless