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Tag: toy

Say what, AlphaPup?

A toy that’s supposed to help kids learn the alphabet may be teaching them a dirty word.

At least that’s how a couple in the UK is hearing it.

Stuart and Diane Gravenell from Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, bought the Leap Frog AlphaPup toy for their 18-month-old granddaughter, Iris.

alphapupThe singing dog helps teach young children the alphabet and phonics, and features three educational songs, one of which the Gravenells say, includes a word that sounds a whole lot like something a dog would never say. It sounds a whole lot like f***.

(F*** is generally how us old-fashioned types write “fuck,” but if a baby toy is saying it now, why should we hold back?)

The Gravenells told the Daily Mail their daughter, Jessica Sollars, took the toy out of the box for her granddaughter and turned it on, playing some of the songs.

In one, the dog sang, “One, two, chew on a shoe, three, four, bark at the door.” But instead of “bark,” it sounded like f*** to the parents and grandparents.

gravenell“When Jessica heard it she phoned us up and asked, ‘Is this some kind of joke?'” Gravenell said. “And then when she played it to us we both heard it and I just thought, ‘oh my God!’… These things are supposed to teach children to speak properly, so you’d think they would over-enunciate correctly.”

The toy is widely available in the UK and the U.S., where retailers including Walmart, Amazon and Toys R’Us offer it.

In the American version of the toy, the dog has no British accent, so “bark” doesn’t sound like f***.

The couple said their daughter has taken the toy away from Iris.

Said Gravenell, “It has been a naughty dog, so Jessica has put it into quarantine.”

(Photos and video from the Daily Mail)

What happens when you dress up for Halloween as your dog’s favorite chew toy

For your Halloween viewing pleasure we present a California dog named Jolene, coming face to face with a life-sized version of her favorite chew toy.

Jolene’s owner, Emily Crisp, thought it might be fun, for Halloween, to have her boyfriend, Ben Mesches, dress up in a Gumby costume.

He walks into the room as Jolene is enjoying some time with her Gumby chew toy. Jolene looks up and registers a look of what can only be described as wonder and amazement.

She cautiously, at first, approaches the life-sized Gumby, jumps up on him, and proceeds to go crazy with joy.

Mesches, of Petaluma, initially posted the video to his Facebook account. On YouTube, it has gotten, nearly 4 million views in two weeks.

Happy Halloween, Jolene, and everybody else.

Another fun thing to do with your dog that won’t require your actual presence

playdate

Here’s another special report from your favorite worry wart.

No sooner do I bemoan one high-tech invention for dog owners than another comes rolling along, equally worth fretting about.

This one is a 3-inch remotely controlled orange ball, with a high-def camera inside, that you can watch and listen to on your cell phone.

Its makers boast it will “usher in the future of human-pet interaction.”

Let’s hope not.

It’s called PlayDate, now in the Indygogoing stage, and like many other contraptions hitting the market, it’s designed to make all the time your dog spends alone more bearable for him, and more entertaining and guilt-free for you.

The problem I have with that, as I’ve stated before, is how it lets dog owners shrug off the responsibility of dog ownership and diminishes the bond between dog and owner.

What I fret about is that the “future of human-pet interactions” could be long-distance, computer-assisted, virtual and heartless — exactly opposite of what dogs need, and exactly opposite of the reasons for having a dog in the first place.

A Manhattan inventor has come up with what the New York Post called “the next big thing for man’s best friend.”

Company co-founder Kevin Li says he got the idea for PlayDate after adopting his Rhodesian ridgeback-Lab mix, Hulk, three years ago.

“Looking at his sad face every time I left for work, I realized he … needed more time with his best friend.”

So Li (and we hope he worked from home at least a little bit) invented a ball for Hulk to play with — one he could control remotely, issue commands through, observe his dog through, and make squeak.

An adjunct computer-science professor at Columbia, Li described the $249 gadget as “Fitbit meets iPhone localization.”

He has already raised more than $200,000 on Indiegogo and has sold out of pre-orders.

With the rechargable ball, a pet owner can watch and listen to their pet, take photos, and record video, all from their iOS or Android device.

A stabilized camera inside provides real-time HD images. And a clear, replaceable outer shell protects the inner workings while allowing the camera — slobber aside — to see out clearly.

There are just three simple steps, its makers say: Download the free app, connect to wi-fi and “usher in the future of human-pet interaction.”

Sorry, but talk like that scares me, as do a few other things.

The shell of the ball is made of a strong, chew-resistant polycarbonate, designed to withstand rambunctious play, according to its makers.

I hope that has been well tested, because I’d prefer not to think about what swallowing a little camera and a lithium polymer battery might do to a dog (or cat).

In the world of pet products, many a toy marketed as indestructible has proved otherwise.

Even PlayDate’s makers are saying that part might take some fine tuning:

“As we put PlayDate’s smart ball in front of more dogs and cats, we may discover the need to make aspects of its design more robust; any pet owner will tell you there’s no such thing as an indestructible toy. We have purposefully designed features like the replaceable outer shell with this in mind. Additional design changes may be required as we perform more testing.”

And what, I wonder, will be the effect of communicating with — and issuing orders to — your dog via an orange ball? Seeing an orange ball wandering around the house on its own, and hearing a disembodied voice come from it would, at the very least, be confusing, I’d think.

I’m all for keeping a dog active, engaged and feeling loved when the owner is away. But it’s a mistake to assume that technology can make up for failing to give your dog adequate attention.

And — needless to say — one shouldn’t get a dog in the first place if one is unwilling or unable to give him or her their time.

Face-time, I mean, with no cameras, or wi-fi, or remote controls involved.

Before we usher human-pet interaction “into the future,” it might be wise to question whether we really need to take that trip.

Didn’t we pretty much have it down just fine already — most of us, anyway?

(Photo: from PlayDate’s website)

A case of mistaken identity?

charlotteA mastiff that killed a terrier-Chihuahua mix Thursday at Charlotte’s Frazier Dog Park mistook the smaller dog for his favorite chew toy, according to the man who brought the mastiff to the park.

On Thursday, Maran Heatwole walked into the dog park with her 12-pound dog, Presley. Witnesses said the mastiff, about 140 pounds, picked up Presley and shook her from side to side, reports the Charlotte Observer.

The man who brought the mastiff to the park told the newspaper that the dog had been playing at the park with his favorite toy, a brown stuffed bear. When Presley walked by, he said, the mastiff picked her up because they looked similar.

The newspaper did not identify the man by name, and he declined to give the dog’s name, but he did provide a photo of the toy in question.

He said he feels sorry for Presley’s owner, but pointed out the park has a separate area designated for small dogs, and that Presley should have been there. He said the mastiff was not his, but belongs to his girlfriend’s relatives in Tennessee.

Heatwole drove Presley to Dilworth Animal Hospital after the incident but veterinarians were unable to save the dog.

Heatwole passed the man’s name on to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Animal Care and Control. Officials there said Sunday night that the case is under investigation.

Parks officials said this is the first fatal incident they know of at one of the county’s five dog parks, which have been open for eight years.

Joseph Hawley, Heatwole’s fiance, said the couple is devastated by the loss and plans to lobby for stricter safety regulations for aggressive dogs in parks. “We’re gonna do as much as we can to make sure no other owner or family has to go through this.”

Arriving soon: The doggie sex doll

sex-doll-for-dogs-doggie-lover-dollA Brazilian company called Petsmiling — and you’ll understand the smiling part in a second — has created a new toy for dogs: a sex doll.

Complete with a functioning female sex organ, the Doggie Lover Doll, was introduced at a pet expo in South America and will be hitting the market soon.

 “I had the idea to make this doll when my Maltese started to grab everybody’s legs. I did some research and couldn’t find anything like it, anywhere in the world. I decided to make it!” said Marco Giroto, owner of the PetSmiling company.

scruffyhotdollActually a doggie sex doll was announced in 2007 as a product that was soon to, um, arrive on the marketplace, but a visit to the Scruffy website reveals little information.

The website for the new Doggie Lover Doll is under construction.

To read the company’s full press release — and I understand if you don’t want to — feel free to continue.

Read more »

Bark 3: “Bowlingual” gadget translates barks

bowlingualSo, if there’s no deep meaning behind barks (not that we buy that study), how do you explain this?

Japanese toymaker Takara Tomy is coming out with a new “Bowlingual” gadget that can translate dog barks into the human language, AFP reports.

The new model analyzes six emotions, including joy, sadness and frustration, and speaks phrases such as “Play with me!” — an improvement on the original which just showed them on a screen.

The original version of the toy, which has a handset and a microphone attached to a dog collar, won the Ig Nobel Prize in 2002. The awards, a parody of the Nobel Prizes, celebrate achievements that make people laugh and think.

The new Bowlingual Voice, priced at about $212, will be launched in Japan next month, Yamada said.

Initially, it will be only available in Japanese. The original non-speaking version is also available in English and Korean.

Bobama Beanie Baby beckons buyers

Bo — the Beanie Baby version — is officially on the marketplace, and the maker says a portion of proceeds will be donated to local animal shelters.

They’re made by the the same company that got in some trouble when it comandeered the images of the Obama children and released two dolls as part of its Ty Girlz collection with the names “Marvelous Malia” and “Sweet Sasha.”

After Michelle Obama said using her daughters’ names was inappropriate, the dolls were renamed “Marvelous Mariah” and “Sweet Sydney.”

Oak Brook-based Ty Inc. introduced Bo, the First Dog on April 16, two days after the Portuguese Water Dog made his White House debut.

“We are very proud of the First Family and wanted to join in celebrating their choice of a family pet,” Ty chief executive officer Ty Warner said in a statement.

The “Bo” doll’s suggested price is $4.99. It auctioned Wednesday on eBay for between $5 and $139.95.