As I suspected when the story broke, video of a frightened dog being … let’s say, strongly encouraged, to get into a pool during the filming of a “A Dog’s Purpose” has led to an explosive response from dog lovers on the Internet.
What I didn’t suspect was so many saying we should withhold judgment.
Here’s an example from my own Facebook page — a comment in response to either my ohmidog! post, or a previous comment from a reader who had decided not to see the movie. It urges viewers of the video not to “rush to crucifixion”:
“I also know that there are HOURS of footage to the contrary which this was conveniently edited from, and calculatedly released just prior to the film’s premiere. A PETA plant, I believe. I also personally know several people behind this film. I know how shocked, appalled, stunned, mortified they were. I know they immediately sought answers, spent all of yesterday viewing all TRUE, raw film from this exact scene shoot as well as several prior rehearsals … Closed minds, open mouths, soapboxes, rushing to judgment, social media & MEDIA are DANGEROUS TO GOOD PEOPLE.”
Peruse social media and you’ll find, for every 10 people expressing outrage, at least one saying the video was edited (as it clearly was), that there’s a conspiracy afoot (as is likely) and that we shouldn’t have an opinion about what we see on the video until we see it “in context.”
Guess what? I don’t, in this case, need context. Show me hours of footage of Hercules, the German shepherd, being pampered by his handlers and it won’t make a whit of difference.
Even the author of the best-selling book the movie is based on, while admitting mistakes were made, is spinning things as positively as possible.
“…When I was on set, the ethic of everyone was the safety and comfort of the dogs,” W. Bruce Cameron wrote on his Facebook page. “I have since viewed footage taken of the day in question, when I wasn’t there, and it paints an entirely different picture.”
“The dog was not terrified and not thrown in the water — I’ve seen footage of Hercules earlier that day joyfully jumping in the pool,” he added.
Again, it’s the argument that the dog was mostly treated right. That’s good to know, but not the least bit relevant.
The 45 seconds showing the handler nudge, push and lower the dog in the water against his will make it clear he was frightened, resistant and stressed — and that should have been enough to call off the stunt, at the outset.
That eventually they maybe did, for that day, or for that dog, doesn’t change the 45 seconds.
The producer, the director, and one of the stars have all said they found the video disturbing. The American Humane Association agrees, and they’ve placed the representative they assigned to monitor the movie on leave.
And yet the apologists — motivated maybe by their love of the book, or by their hate for PETA, or by their ties to industries that exploit dogs — keep saying it is too early to say anything bad occurred.
That said, what the video shows is only borderline abuse, if it’s abuse at all. Hercules was not physically harmed. In the history of animals in the entertainment industry, far worse things have happened, which is why this IS a story and why vigilance and monitoring are necessary in movie productions involving live animals.
Pursuing criminal charges, or a boycott of the movie (as PETA is calling for), may be over-reactions. I won’t say what the video shows meets the legal definition for animal cruelty.
But stating this is not proper treatment for an animal in a movie? I have no qualms with doing that. And I have no problem pointing out perfectly realistic results could have been achieved with computer graphics.
After Hercules went in and out of the churning water — outboard motors were used to create the effect of river rapids — the video cuts to another scene showing a German shepherd in the water, and going under it, for long enough that someone on the set shouted “cut it” and handlers rushed to his aid.
Some reports suggest that part of the video was taken on a different day, and could have even involved a different dog.
That second part of the video, I’d agree, though it does seem to convey a little bit of alarm on the set, is so short and blurry that it does require some context.
But pointing out flaws in the video, or the questionable motivations of those who provided it to TMZ (probably for a fee), does nothing to excuse the behavior on set — or the movie maker’s bottom line responsibility for it.
Cut through the haze of Internet hubbhub, sparring, intrigue, and guesswork and what we can see in the first part of the video — in or out of context — is enough to remind us that animals in the entertainment industry need to be protected, and that they should never be forced to pursue stunts against their will.
That, I suggest, should be step one in sorting through this episode — seeing the underlying concern, not obfuscating it — whether you were a party to it, or just watching from the outside.
Step two? The movie’s makers need to accept responsibility, and none seem to have gotten anywhere close to doing that.
Instead, they almost all seem to be saying “I was disturbed by video. I didn’t see it when it happened. I wasn’t there. Mistakes were made. I would have stopped it. Why was the video just now leaked?”
Movie fans, dog lovers, and most of all Hercules, deserve something better than that.
(Photo: Amblin Entertainment)
Posted by John Woestendiek January 23rd, 2017 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: a dogs purpose, amblin entertainment, american humane association, animals, animals in movies, book, churning, context, controversy, cruelty, director, dogs, encouraged, entertainment, fear, forced, fright, german shepherd, handlers, hercules, industry, judgment, lasse hallstrom, leaked, movie, opinions, peta, pets, pool, responsibility, stress, tmz, trainers, treatment, video, w. bruce cameron
Spurred on by a viral video of a Long Island dog trainer viciously poking a crated pit bull with a broomstick, two New York legislators are calling for state regulation of dog trainers.
On Monday, Sen. Todd Kaminsky, Assemblywoman-elect Missy Miller and members of the Nassau County SPCA proposed a law that will require a license for dog obedience trainers.
The proposed legislation was announced at the home of Tommy Marrone, the Oceanside man who posted the video online.
(The video was removed from YouTube yesterday for violating its policy against “violent or graphic content.”)
“I am horrified by the animal abuse that has taken place in our backyard,” Kaminsky said. “… What happened in Oceanside can happen anywhere, and it is our job to protect consumers and their dogs from devious and abusive practices.
“When consumers send their pets to training school, they have no assurance of the trainer’s credentials or professional experience – and that’s simply unacceptable,” he added. “By creating streamlined licensing practices for dog obedience trainers, we are protecting our four-legged family members who cannot speak and shield themselves from abuse.”
The proposed legislation will deny licensing to any individual convicted of animal abuse and allows for enforcement of violations by police officers and professionals who specialize in detecting animal abuse, such as the SPCA.
“I treat my pets as members of my family. We simply cannot allow another animal to be abused and have a duty to protect innocent consumers,” said Assemblywoman-elect Miller, who intends to sponsor this legislation in the Assembly.
The call for regulation is in response to the furor created by the video of a man abusing a pit bull, according to LongIsland.com.
The man in the video is reported to be Brian De Martino, the owner of NY Dogworks. DeMartino runs the business out of his home.
The video was recorded by De Martino’s girlfriend, and was originally made public by Marrone, a former NY Dogworks customer.
“My dog was beat worse than that dog,” Marrone told PIX11 News. Marrone said that he’d posted the video online in an attempt to warn others.
On Monday afternoon, Nassau County police and building inspectors visited DeMartino’s home — just hours after DeMartino appeared in court on charges of assaulting the woman who recorded the video.
PIX11 News reports that De Martino is being investigated for illegal use of his home, operating without a permit, and possible animal abuse charges.
Posted by John Woestendiek December 22nd, 2016 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abuse, animals, assemblywoman, broomstick, crate, crated, cruelty, dog, dog trainers, dogs, legislation, legislature, long island, missy miller, nassau county spca, new york, ny dogworks, obedience, pets, pit bull, proposal, senator, Todd Kaminsky, tommy marrone, train, trainers, training, video, viral
In terms of its story line, White God isn’t too different from any other movie in which the bullied rise up and get even with the bullies.
What makes it different — and makes it shine — is that in this case the bullied are abused and mistreated dogs, a species that already knows (perhaps better and more instinctively than us) that there is strength in numbers.
Perhaps the most talked about scene in the much talked about Hungarian film — winner of the Cannes Film Festival’s Prize Un Certain Regard Award and an official selection of Sundance Film Festival — is when a pack of 250 dogs, all mutts, stampede through the streets.
And what makes that scene even more impressive is that it was achieved not through computer graphics, but with dogs.
Director Kornel Mundruczo first issued a casting call for 100 dogs for the scene, then decided bigger would be better. More than 200 dogs ended up being involved, many of them from local animal shelters.
The scene serves as the movie’s climax, and it was a first of its kind achievement for the dog trainers involved.
Under the leadership of Hungarian dog trainer Árpád Halász, a team of humans was able to train the dogs to stampede in a pack in what was, in reality, a massive rush for treats.
One of the dog trainers involved, Teresa Ann Miller — daughter of a trainer who worked on films like Beethoven and Cujo — was interviewed about the movie on NPR this week.
Miller helped cast and train the two dogs who shared the role of Hagen.
The movie’s story begins when a young girl is forced to give up her dog, Hagen, because it is of mixed-breed heritage. Her father, unwilling to pay the fee required to keep a mutt, abandons Hagen in the streets.
Young Lili tries to find him, and Hagen tries to find her, but eventually he joins forces with, and becomes the leader of, hundreds of other abandoned, abused and mistreated dogs living in the streets.
As a pack, they rise up to seek revenge for the indignities they’ve suffered at the hands of humans.
(If the film has one fault, it’s the notion that dogs would seek revenge. They’re better than that.)
Miller told NPR that director Mundruczó wanted the stampede scene to look as real as possible — a goal complicated by the fact that no one has ever seen hundreds of domestic dogs running as a pack.
It was first rehearsed with 100 dogs running together.
Trainer Halász watched and then said, “What about 150?” Miller recounted. “And 150 looked so good that he says, What about 200? And each time Árpád learned, as he acquired the dogs and introduced other dogs into the pack, that it was possible.”
It took four months to prepare for the scene, she added.
“And that was amazing to see; that was fascinating. I’ve never seen it done. I’ve never seen such a large pack of dogs run together. And, quite honestly, I don’t think we’d ever do it here (in the U.S.) just for the time that it takes. It’s so much easier just to CGI it, but the director didn’t want that effect at all.”
Posted by John Woestendiek July 30th, 2015 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: abandoned, abused, animals, dog, dog training, dogs, entertainment, film, hagen, hungarian, hungary, mistreated, mixed breeds, movies, mutts, neglected, pack, pets, revenge, stampede, streets, trainers, training, white god
I am not a professional dog trainer; nor do I play one on TV. But this week — with my cast of visiting holiday dogs — I’ve been forced to call upon the techniques of Cesar Millan, Victoria Stilwell and all the other dog trainers whose books I have read and whose television programs I have viewed.
I have employed their methods, and experimented with a few of my own. (Don’t worry, friends who have left their dogs with me — none of those involve electrical shocks.)
While I am a strong proponent of quietly and patiently addressing bad canine habits, of redirecting a misbehaving dog’s energies elsewhere, I’m also trying to get some work done during the holidays. So I can’t devote full time to the task. Also, I’m just providing room and board, and — even if some of my wards may be exhibiting behavior in need of correcting — it would be presumptuous of me to take on the role of dog trainer.
Nevertheless, to avoid total chaos, I have had to enforce some discipline, and being as I’m often in the next room, there are times a simple “tsssst” just won’t cut it.
Instead, after four days working with my visiting dogs, I have become … (insert theme song here) …
“The Dog Shouter.”
It will probably be a few months before my Dog Shouter* (trademark pending) books, videos and magazine hit the market, but for now I will share with you what I have found to be the singlemost effective tool in my dog training arsenal: yelling at the top of my lungs.
My most miraculous results — and I regret that I didn’t videotape this — came with Lucas, the barker.
Lucas goes into barking sprees for no apparent reason. Sometimes, he will stare at me and bark for three minutes or more, not stopping when I pet him, or talk to him, or try and soothe him, or even when I shout No!” But when I screamed no, as loud as I could, I mean really, really loud, he immediately went silent, and stayed that way. I don’t know if my scream established my dominance, or just scared him. But it worked.
My techniques also met with astonishing success in dealing with Darcy, the visiting Boston terrier who has taken to leaving reminders of herself about the house. She knows better, and I’m pretty sure she’s doing it to assert herself amid all the larger dogs. Twice, she has pooped within minutes of coming back in the house from outside.
Yesterday, though, I was watching her — again just a minute after coming back in — as she squatted down, looked at me defiantly, and, pardon my vividness, began to open the gate to drop her load. Immediately, I screamed a really deafening “NOOOOOOOOO!!!!.” Amazingly, the package that visibly was on its way out reversed direction, returning home for delivery at a later date.
Apparently my sphincter-sealing roar had lasting effects. Normally, she won’t go outside on her own, only on a leash. But this morning when I saw her trot into the next room, I inquired — not in a shout — what she was doing. She trotted back in, ran to the door, actually stepped outside when I opened it, and pooped in the yard.
Yet more proof that my Dog Shouter* techniques really, really work.
There is a downside to using the Dog Shouter* techniques with multiple dogs. While it manages to correct, or at least forestall, bad behavior in the dog being shouted at, the other dogs all end up feeling wrongly accused. When you shout at one — say the one chewing into tiny bits the hard rubber things the sofa wheels sit on — the others all assume “hey what’d I do?” looks and start sulking. My own highly sensitive dog Ace heads upstairs and climbs in the futon. It has to be even more confusing to Cheyenne, my blind guest, who has no way of knowing who my mouth is pointed at when I shout a blood curdling “NOOOOOO!!!!!”
Thus, employing Dog Shouter* techniques when there are multiple dogs in the household requires one to spend a lot of time comforting and reassuring the dogs to whom the screams were not directed.
I tried to specify the dog I was shouting at, saying their name before roaring, but I’d get their names confused in the heat of the moment — much like my mother used to when scolding me and my two siblings.
To be a proper Dog Shouter* — especially if one’s full attention is being devoted to their writing or, say, watching a Scrubs marathon — one must learn to identify suspicious sounds from the next room, perhaps a blanket being shredded, correctly assume who the perpetrator is, and tailor the shout to that dog: “DARCY! NOOOOOOO!
Similarly, when things get too quiet in the next room, a good Dog Shouter* — much like a good parent — will assume something is up and issue a precautionary shout: “Hey! What’s going on in there!” Or perhaps, even something more specific, even if it’s just a guess: “Darcy, you better not be humping my pillow!” The Dog Shouter* knows that, while it’s best to shout during the actual misbehavior, an out-of-the-blue shout — even if all three are peacefully resting — will serve to bring a quick halt to the hijinks and indiscretions they are most assuredly quietly planning.
I’m sure you want to know more about by Dog Shouter* techniques, but you’ll just have to wait until the books, magazine, infomercials and DVDs come out. I figure the best way of establishing my Dog Shouter* empire is to send out an audition tape of me, The Dog Shouter*, in action:
“WHAT IN GOD’S NAME ARE YOU DOING? DROP THAT, DROP IT AT ONCE!! BAD DOG. SHAME ON YOU! WHO SAID YOU COULD PLAY WITH THAT? NO NO NO! STOP CHEWING ON THAT, WHATEVER IT IS!!! DON”T EVER TOUCH THAT AGAIN!!! DON”T MAKE ME COME IN THAT ROOM!!! I MEAN IT!!! OK, HERE I COME!!! YOU’RE IN TROUBLE NOW!!! Oh … It’s just your bone … never mind.”
Who wouldn’t want to watch 30 minutes of that? Granted, it could get a little repetitious, but then so do all those other doggie discipline shows.
Animal Planet, my lines are open.
(To read all of the “Company for Christmas” series, click here.)
Posted by John Woestendiek December 26th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, animal planet, animals, behavior, cheyenne, company for christmas, darcy, dog shouter, dogs, guests, holidays, lucas, multiple dogs, pets, television, the dog shouter, the dog whisperer, trainers, training, visitors
The debate raging here on ohmidog! — and in the rest of the world, too — just had a little more fuel thrown on it: A new British study says dominance-based dog training techniques such as those espoused by Cesar Millan are a waste of time and may make dogs more aggressive.
Researchers from the University of Bristol’s Department of Clinical Veterinary Sciences, after studying dogs for six months, conclude that, contrary to popular belief, dogs are not trying to assert their dominance over their canine or human “pack” and aren’t motivated by maintaining their place in the pecking order.
One of the scientists behind the study, Dr. Rachel Casey, in an interview with ABC News, said the blanket assumption that every dog is motivated by some innate desire to control people or other dogs is “frankly ridiculous.”
Posted by John Woestendiek May 22nd, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: aggression, aggressive, behavior, behaviorists, british, cesar millan, critical, criticizes, debate, disagreement, dog, dog training, dog whisperer, dogs, dominance, leader, mentality, methods, noise, owners, pack, pinning, rewards, ridiculous, study, techniques, trainers, training
CNBC takes a look at the most famous dog competition in the world tonight in an hour long special on the business side of Westminster.
The report, “American Originals: Westminster Dog Show” is anchored by Trish Regan and delves into the inner workings of the competition, which opens Monday at New York City’s Madison Square Garden.
Regan explores the cost of doing business at Westminster, the return on investment, and America’s love affair with dogs that has helped turn the pet industry into one of the largest retail sectors in the country.
Featured in the program are “Uno,” the 2008 “Best in Show” winner (the first beagle ever to secure the honor), and “James,” the prior year’s title-holder, who visit hospitalized children as part of the Westminster Kennel Club’s Angel on a Leash charity. Interviews with experts include Westminster Kennel Club historian William Stifel and dog show judge Don Jones.
It airs on CNBC at 9 p.m. Live opening night coverage of Westminster begins Monday at 8 p.m. on the USA Network before switching to CNBC at 9 p.m.. USA will broadcast the complete closing night competition, starting at 8 p.m. on Tuesday.
Posted by John Woestendiek February 5th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: american originals, breeders, breeds, business, cnbc, competition, dog, dog show, dogs, kennel club, madison square garden, news, opening, pet industry, pets, purebred, trainers, trish regan, tv, usa network, westminster
(Today, ohmidog! kicks off a new feature, a monthly column on dog training and behavior, written by Lauren Bond and Carolyn Stromer of B-More Charming School for Dogs. To keep up with their reports, click on the Behave! tab on the right side rail.)
I’m sure that by now just about every dog person has seen the movie “Marley and Me.” We laughed, we cried, then we cried some more.
Some experienced dog owners, and trainers like ourselves, have even offered our two cents about Marley’s upbringing, saying that his owners were irresponsible, that if we owned a dog like that we would most certainly have put him in his place. We wouldn’t have allowed our couch to be eaten, or our drapes to be torn down, or our gold necklace to go in one end of the dog and come out of the other.
But the truth is we have all been there.
We’ve all been first-time dog owners, overwhelmed, unsure where to turn. Some of us, even by our third or fourth dog, remain that way.
Why won’t he get off of the furniture? Why do my shoes, hairbrush, wallet, cell phone, (insert object of choice here) always wind up in his mouth? Why can’t I come home, just once, to the trash can being upright, untouched, with all of the trash still inside? How come my “NO’S!” and “STOP ITS!” only lead to a game of catch-me-if-you-can? Is it really too much to ask of man’s best friend that he just be calm, listen to what I tell him and lay quietly at my feet waiting for further instructions?
To be completely honest … yes, it is.
Think back to the day you brought your first puppy home. He didn’t come with an instruction manual. Maybe, at best, the shelter gave you a brochure, or some information on his vaccine record and what kind of food and toys he liked. But there was nothing on how to influence his behavior, no foolproof tips for getting him to stop jumping all over guests when they walk through the front door. Or teaching him to walk nicely on leash. Or keeping him from chewing up your new Blackberry.
You might have tried staying one step ahead by reading up on dog behavior before you brought him home. There’s a ton of conventional wisdom out there, books galore, dog magazines and an entire Animal Network. How could you go wrong?
Posted by John Woestendiek January 19th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: advice, b-more charming, behave!, behavior, carolyn stromer, chewing, column, communicate, destruction, dog, dogs, housetraining, language, lauren bond, marley & me, monthly, no!, obedience, ohmidog!, puppies, scolding, train, trainers, training, wisdom