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Tag: television

Clifford, that big red dog, coming back to TV


Clifford the Big Red Dog has found his way back to television.

Scholastic Entertainment announced yesterday that the new series, inspired by the books of Norman Bridwell, will run concurrently on Amazon Prime and PBS Kids, starting in the fall of 2019.

The rebooted show will have a strong emphasis on social-emotional skills such as empathy, along with a curriculum designed to boost early literacy and encourage imaginative play, Scholastic said.

“There is something enduring in Clifford’s gentle, loyal spirit that touches fans even after they become adults,” Iole Lucchese, the executive producer of the series, said in a statement. “We see it in tributes on social media and in fan art, and of course, in every parent who grew up with Clifford and now shares their love of him with their preschoolers.”

The Clifford books began being published in the 1960’s, relating the story of the loveable red dog who grew from a small pup to larger than a house.

The original version of the series debuted on PBS in 2000 and ran for three seasons, airing in 110 countries and picking up several Daytime Emmy nominations. John Ritter provided the voice of Clifford until his death in 2003. He was posthumously nominated for an Emmy in 2004.

A spinoff series, “Clifford’s Puppy Days,” starring Lara Jill Miller and Henry Winkler, ran from 2003 to 2006.

The new series will offer fresh and colorful new locations, as well as introduce all-new designs for main characters Clifford and Emily Elizabeth, according to Scholastic.

To accompany the series, Scholastic Entertainment will launch a global publishing, broadcast, merchandise and licensing program.

Scholastic published the first “Clifford The Big Red Dog” title in 1963. There are dozens of titles and more than 133 million Clifford books in print in 16 different languages.

Bridwell was a freelance artist who found little success with children’s book publishers until one suggested he make his own story to accompany one of the sketches.

(Image: Courtesy of Scholastic)

Western Kentucky weather dog passes away

Radar the Weather Dog — voted Bowling Green’s best television personality for nine years in a row — passed away Christmas morning at age 16.

Julie Milam, general manager at WNKY, broke the news to staff at the end of the station’s morning news program Tuesday, the Bowling Green Daily News reported.

“It’s a very sad and somber day at our station,” she said. “It is a great loss at our station for every employee and the community as a whole.”

A shelter pet, Radar was rescued from the Bowling Green-Warren County Humane Society in 2005. He was introduced as the station’s weather dog, appeared in forecasts with the meteorologist and lived at the station full time up until two years ago.

radarThe purebred border collie was a friendly dog who would roam about the station and greet visitors. When the time came for the weather report though, “he knew to be in that chair (and) be still,” Milam said. “He would bark on command.”

Radar gained additional fame at various community events, including his appearances at the annual Fur Ball that benefits the humane society.

Radar would go home with various members of the staff on weekends, and there were often arguments about who would get to take him home.

Eventually, he moved in full time with Marilyn Gardner, her two dogs and her foster kittens.

“He was a very loyal and sweet and funny character,” she said.

From 2008 to 2017, Radar was voted Bowling Green’s best television personality by Daily News and Amplifier readers as part of the annual Best of Bowling Green poll.

Radar’s adopted sister, SOKY, has taken over some of his station duties. She was also adopted from Logan County through the Bowling Green-Warren County Humane Society.

Lorri Hare, the shelter director, said Radar’s celebrity did wonders for promoting animal adoption.

“You can find great dogs here at the shelter every day,” she said. “He’ll be missed by a lot of us for sure. He lived a great life. A lot of people loved him.”

A public memorial is planned for February, according to WNKY.

Real housewife’s pink dog food is drawing some less than stellar reviews

sparkledogWe’re sure she meant well, but “Real Housewives of Dallas” star Kameron Westcott’s new dog food line is getting some harsh reviews.

Westcott is new to the series, and one of the plot lines it follows has revolved around her efforts to develop and market a bubblegum pink dog food brand called SparkleDog.

The new line supports the Susan G. Komen Foundation, but even that worthy cause isn’t keeping some critics from declaring the product gagworthy.

As the SparkleDog website explains it, Kameron noticed that the dog food industry has “overlooked the purchasing power of women. She has made it her mission to create packaging that would appeal to women using bold pink colors, a unique shape and easy to carry bag. Her pièces de résistance was adding pink heart shaped kibbles.”

westcott“Kameron has continued her passion for animal welfare by convincing her husband Court to invest in the first company that is going to bring kill free meat to the world,” the website adds.

(I’m a little bit baffled by just how the forms of chicken and fish listed as ingredients end up in the dog food without being killed … unless maybe they have all died of old age.)

In reality, the product is mostly brown with pink kibble bits. Cranberries help provide the pinkish coloring, along with Red Dye #3.

While the website lists the ingredients, it doesn’t specify what portion of profits will be passed along to the Komen Foundation. It has promised the foundation $10,000, though.

Kameron recently lost her grandmother to cancer, according to the website, “and when she reminisced about her grandmother, she realized her love for pink and her love for being a woman came directly from her.”

On Amazon, the dog food has an average rating of 3.3 out of 5 stars, but a number of reviews are pretty harsh.

“Make sure you buy a tarp to keep your dog on, cause you will have diarrhea everywhere!!!” Another claimed the food left her dog dehydrated and weak with diarrhea. One calls it “nausea in a bag.”

A review in the Dallas Observer, however, says the two dogs who tired it under their supervision enjoyed it very much and had no ill effects.

Westcott told Page Six that the 1 star reviews are fake.

“The 1 star reviews were done by people who never purchased the product and [are] meritless. Based on internal tests we have found that dogs bowel movements are unaffected by our food,” she said.

The dog food is not organic, says Westcott, who has been described as a real life version of Reese Witherspoon’s character in “Legally Blonde.”

SparkleDog_front-bagMaking it organic, she says, would have required charging an exorbitant amount for it.

The price strikes me as a little hefty, but then I’m not a Real Housewife.

An 8-ounce bag sells for $28 on Amazon.

(Photos: Kameron Westcott, her Yorkie Louis, and her dog food, from the SparkleDog website)

Some older dogs will get a chance in the lead-up to next year’s Puppy Bowl

After 13 years of celebrating youthful dogs in their annual “Puppy Bowl” extravaganza, Animal Planet is finally going to give older dogs a chance to show off their stuff.

Leading up to Puppy Bowl XIV, the network will show the “Dog Bowl,” a one-hour special hosted by Jill Rappaport that — while it may not prove to be as rambunctiously action-packed as the Puppy Bowl — is aimed at giving older dogs a chance to be adopted.

Its contestants won’t be limited to senior dogs, but the program will feature adult dogs living in rescues and shelters.

The program likely won’t be the ratings grabber that the Puppy Bowl has been as an alternative to the Super Bowl. And it may not satisfy an audience seeking mega-doses of playful cuteness.

But it will likely lead to some calmer, wiser, been-around-the-block-a-time-or-two dogs finding forever homes.

And that’s what the Puppy Bowl is all about. Well, that and ratings. Well, that and ratings and advertising and sponsoring.

“Puppy Bowl’s goal is to promote animal adoption so as many animals as possible can find their forever homes,” Patrice Andrews, General Manager of Animal Planet, says in a release.

The formula — dogs competing on a miniature football field — has proven to be a succesful one, both in terms of ratings and in leading its contestants to get adopted.

As is the case with any successful TV show, it’s now being duplicated. Hallmark’s Kitten Bowl will be back for its fourth year.

And then there’s National Geographic’s Fish Bowl, which we’re pretty sure isn’t about adoptions at all.

The new Dog Bowl will be part of Animal Planet’s Road to the Puppy Bowl coverage. It’s good to see the makers of Puppy Bowl branching out and becoming a little more inclusive and diverse.

Last year’s Puppy Bowl featured a three-legged pup and two other special needs dogs — one deaf and one sight and hearing impaired.

It’s about time more mature dogs got some attention, especially in an industry that is so focused on youth, be it human or canine.

After all, an older dog can still be pretty entertaining.

(Video: A promotion for Animal Planet’s 2017 Puppy Bowl, which turned out to be the second highest rated ever)

Poking a little more fun at Audible For Dogs

We poked a little fun at Amazon’s new Audible For Dogs yesterday, but, as we see, the campaign is so lame there’s plenty of room for more poking.

So up there above is what Conan O’Brien’s writers did with it.

Audible has teamed up with Cesar Millan, and their effort is receiving a truly inordinate amount of media coverage, especially when you consider it’s really no effort at all — rather, it’s just featuring some audio books they already offer on a new web page.

Given it’s just another way for them to move existing merchandise, and given most of us dog owners already knew that turning on the television or a radio (both of which cost you less than an audio book) could help keep home-alone dogs company, there’s nothing there but some slick marketing.

Not to rub their noses in it, but the campaign by Audible and its parent company Amazon deserves every bit of ridicule it gets.

Dogs are greater motivation for buying first home than children or marriage, study says

flipflop

If you’re flipping houses — and based on my television viewing I surmise pretty much everyone in America is — you might want to give a fenced back yard the highest priority, higher even than that “en suite” master bathroom.

A study commissioned by Sun Trust, a mortgage company, shows that Millennial-age Americans are motivated to buy a home more because of their dog — or the possibility of someday having one — than they are by marriage of the birth of a child.

So forget that nursery, flippers — whether you’re in Orange County, Atlanta or Las Vegas. Don’t worry so much about those his and her walk-in closets. Instead, make sure the home you’re flipping has a nice sturdy fence.

True, if you’re one of those countless flippers who have combined your flipping with your own flipping TV show, watching a fence get built doesn’t make for riveting television. But then (sorry) neither does the laying of sod or the construction of a kitchen island. (Despite that, I keep watching for some reason.)

But back to the study … A full 33 percent of millennials between ages 18 and 36 said that canine-related concerns are what motivated them most to buy a home.

That’s more than the number who said they made the jump to home ownership because of marriage (25 percent), a new baby (19 percent), or to get a washer and dryer (18 percent).

A desire for more living space was the top motivator (at 66 percent), followed by a desire to build equity (36 percent). Third, though, were the needs of the dog, or a potential dog — including a fenced yard.

The survey was restricted to millenials who recently bought their first home.

It asked about their motivations for doing so, as opposed to the house features they were looking for.

So things like stainless steel appliances and granite counter tops — both of which seem vital based on my watching of too many television shows featuring spoiled people looking for a new house — were not factors.

The survey found that 42 percent of millennials who had never bought a home said that their dog, or the desire to have one, would be a key factor in their decision to make the jump from renting to owning.

The study found that 60 percent of first-time home buyers are millennials. It’s expected that, within the next five years, 80 million millennials will embark on their house-hunting journey, said Dorinda Smith, president and CEO of SunTrust Mortgage.

She said restrictive pet policies among landlords add to the numbers of pet owners seeking their own place.

“Some rental properties don’t allow pets and most rental properties are limited in space,” Smith said. “There’s also additional effort in keeping a dog in rental apartments.”

(Photo: Tarek and Christina El Moussa, hosts of “Flip or Flop, are separated with a divorce pending, but the show goes on, from HGTV; graphic from SunTrust Banks, Inc.)

Inspired by Michael Phelps and that shark, I arrange an inter-species race of my own

phelpsshark

Some of you might have caught Michael Phelps in his dramatic and courageous race with that great white shark, shown in a Discovery Channel special the other night.

It was yet another inspiring moment in the career of the Olympian, who is a close personal (Facebook) friend of mine.

So inspiring it was that it led me to challenge some creatures from another species to a fully legitimate, no trick photography, race of our own.

Since I write about animals, and am a pretty major celebrity myself, it seemed worth doing, or at least as worth doing as your typical Discovery Channel, Learning Channel, History Channel program.

And humans racing animals has a long and stupid history. Jesse Owens raced a horse. Several athletes have tried to outrun cheetahs. Others have gone up against dogs and ostriches.

True, I am not exactly at my athletic peak these days. I’m still getting over having a kidney removed and, as a result, I’m moving a little more slowly and with a little more discomfort than usual.

satireBut — being a competitive soul (like Mike) — I wasn’t about to let that stop me. I carefully researched and chose the creatures I would competing against.

To capture the contest on video, I hired someone to film it. Being a little strapped for funds, what with hospital bills and all, my videographer was actually a wino I found downtown who, once he got the camera pointed the right way, seemed up to the task.

Unfortunately, he framed the shots in such a way that I don’t appear in them as I glide down the asphalt at what is now my full speed. Don’t let that make you doubt the authenticity of all this though, for my journalistic ethics are every bit as solid as the Discovery Channel, or for that matter, the History Channel, or the Learning Channel.

To further uphold the integrity of the event, I arranged for four judges with unimpeachable reputations to oversee the race — Ryan Lochte, D.B. Cooper, Yeti and Amelia Earhart.

I won’t put off the suspense any longer, because I know you are all dying to see it. Here is the footage:

While the snail broke out to an early lead, the slug managed to stay right behind it, and I was right behind the slug, though out of the camera’s frame.

Eventually I passed the slug — you’ll just have to take my word for it — and pulled even with the snail. I had opened up a pretty good lead when, realizing one of my sneakers had come untied, I bent over to re-tie it.

Before I was able to get upright, I was swallowed whole by a giant anaconda. I thought escape would be impossible, as if I was in Al Capone’s vault. But, a few minutes later, I managed to reach up and tickle his throat until he coughed me up.

By the time I was able to get back on my feet — not without a few groans — both the snail and the slug were way in front of me, leaving trails of slime behind them that made getting my footing difficult.

I reached deep down inside, near where my kidney used to be, and summoned up the strength for a final burst. Sadly, as I caught up with them, the camera still didn’t have me in the frame.

Now I could have played with the video, and used CGI, so you’d see all three of us in the race, but how honest would that be?

Documentaries should be honest, after all — a straight recounting of the facts with no misrepresentations, deceptions, schmaltzy staged reenactments or trick photography.

I am nothing if not honest, and far be it from me to manufacture drama where none really exists, or to drag out any suspense.

Suffice to say the results of that historic race — John vs. slug vs. snail — left many with their jaws dropped, their hearts pounding and the realization that they had seen something truly special. Some say it will become a legend for the ages. The winner was …

Fade to commercial.

To purchase the CD of John’s race with the snail and the slug, moderated by Morgan Freeman, send $89.99 to Phake Newz Documentaries, 8999 N. 8999th St., NY, NY. Do so in the next hour and you’ll also receive the envelope it comes in.

Oh yeah, you’re wondering who won. The truth — trust me — is that I pulled out a come-from-behind victory that left the thousands, no make that tens of thousands, of spectators all on the edge of their seats, cheering wildly, including a recently paroled O.J. Simpson, a contingent of leprechauns and more than 100 members of my mermaid fan club.

(Photo representation at top from The Washington Post; video from YouTube, posted by M77174)