As of this week, we can add one more item to the growing list of once uniquely human things that we have, with mostly good intentions, bestowed/inflicted upon dogs.
Dogs now have their own television station.
DogTV, which debuted yesterday, features short clips of canines romping and playing. It airs 24 hours a day, and is designed to keep your dog company, providing him with relaxation and stimulation when no one is home. It costs $4.99 a month and is available on DirecTV.
Now they, too, can be couch potatoes — just like us.
Maybe that’s what we want — for our dogs to be human. Maybe we just assume, given their willingness to please, that if we like something, they’re going to love it, when in fact the reason they love it is because we’re doing it. Maybe we just like free, or $4.99 a month, babysitting.
Whatever the case, we keep passing on or making available to them our curious and not entirely healthy habits, quirks, trendy “must haves” and addictions — be they pharmaceuticals, beauty contests, bling, funny haircuts, halloween costumes, spa services, day care, neuroses, high tech health care no one can afford, or gourmet food.
We seem to keep trying — consciously or not – to make dogs more like us, when the actual truth of the matter (and the secret of life) is that we should be more like them.
(Maybe, if we watch DogTV, we can learn how.)
On human TV Wednesday night, NBC ran this feature on DogTV, introduced by Brian Williams, who closely resembles a Bassett hound, and reported by Kevin Tibbles, who dutifully includes about every canine-related pun there is.
As Tibbles notes, pets are a $55 billion industry in America, and the nation’s 78 million dogs could make for a lot of viewers. That, even though dogs don’t have disposable income, could prove lucrative.
DogTV bills itself as ”the perfect babysitter for dogs who have to stay home alone.”
Therein lies the problem.
Dogs don’t want electronic babysitters. Dogs want to be out in the real dirt, bug, critter and scent-filled world. We do, too, though often we don’t realize it, mainly because we get so caught up in and numbed by TV, video games, Facebook and the like.
I do often leave my TV on for my dog Ace when I leave the house, even though he’s never shown a great deal of interest in it. His ears will perk up when he hears a dog whining or barking on television, and he’ll watch for maybe 10 seconds or so before moving on to more important things, like sleep.
I, on the other hand, who grew up being babysat by TV, will stay up past bedtime and sit riveted for 60 minutes watching a “Law & Order” episode I previously viewed less than a month ago.
Who, I ask you, is the superior being?
“For those of us who suffer the guilt of leaving a dog alone for hours each day, the prospect of forking out five bucks a month to allay our dogs’ separation anxiety might sound attractive. It’s certainly cheaper than hiring a daily dog walker,” Ryan Vogt writes in Slate. ”There’s only one problem: It won’t work. ”
Vogt goes on to explain that dogs “see the world at a faster frame rate than humans do … Humans’ flicker fusion rate is about 50-60 Hz, meaning we see the world in 50 to 60 images per second. For dogs, that rate is closer to 70-80 Hz… To them, it looks like a slideshow powered by a dim strobe light.”
I don’t begin to understand that (probably because I’ve watched too much TV), but the article goes on to quote some experts, including Alexandra Horowitz. She explains that, in addition to the “frame rate” differences, the fact that no smells come out of the television keeps dogs from getting too interested. “Dogs are not primarily visual … and what interests them is typically smell first, sight second.”
In other words, they know it’s not real.
I don’t have a problem with DogTV existing — just with the possibility it could be overused by busy dog owners. There are better ways to keep you dog occupied during the day, even when you’re not home. And too much TV – be it forensic drama, cooking shows, or even just watching dogs romp — can’t be good for anyone, two or four-legged.
What we fail to realize as we continue to work the wild out of dogs, continue to make them more human, is that dogs don’t need vicarious thrills.
That’s just us.
Posted by jwoestendiek August 2nd, 2013 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: alexandra horowitz, animals, babysit, babysitter, babysitting, behavior, brian williams, channel, couch potatoes, directv, dog, dogs, dogtv, for dogs, home alone, humanize, humanizing, humans, images, nbc, network, pets, play, relaxation, station, stimulation, television, thrills, tv, vicarious
A woman who didn’t want to tell a TV news team “how she felt” about her daughter being shot threw a rock at them, shook a baseball bat at them, and then sent her dogs after reporter Abbey Niezgoda of ABC 6 News in Rhode Island.
The crew was on assignment in Providence, seeking to interview the mother of a teenage girl who was shot at a graduation party over the weekend.
Instead of politely declining to speak on-camera, Melissa Lawrence hurled a rock at ABC6 photographer Marc Jackson, then went inside for a baseball bat. Seconds later, she told her dogs to attack.
As Lawrence shouted commands, the dogs chased Niezgoda into a backyard a few houses away.
Niezgoda was a treated for a bite on her forearm.
Melissa Lawrence was charged with two counts of felony assault with a dangerous weapon.
Lawrence’s daughter, who was shot in the lower back, has since been released from the hospital.
Posted by jwoestendiek June 7th, 2013 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: abbey niezgoda, animals, bite, bitten, chase, crew, dogs, interview, media, mother, news, pets, providence, reporter, rhode island, shooting, team, teenager, television, tv, victim
The Oklahoma tornado victim whose missing dog emerged from the rubble in the middle of a TV news interview may get another prayer answered.
Barbara Garcia’s Scottish terrier, Bowser, was spotted under a pile debris by the news team interviewing her after she lost her home in Moore.
“Well, I thought that God had just answered one prayer, to let me be OK,” Garcia said after freeing her dog. “But he answered both of them.”
Now, those touched by the scene, which went viral on the Internet, have donated enough money to make a new home a possibility.
A fund set up to help her get back on her feet and under a new roof was approaching $40,000 as of Monday night, just $10,000 short of its $50,000 goal.
“We’re still looking for a corporate sponsor who will match funds donated, so we can make the dream of building a new home for Barbara and Bowser a reality. Not only did Barbara lose her home, her daughter did as well,” said Erin DeRuggiero who’s spearheading the fund drive.
According to CBS News, the clip of Bowser emerging from the rubble has been viewed more than 3 million times.
“All of the other things … you know, one by one they can be replaced. A lot of it wasn’t even important, but I couldn’t replace him,” Garcia said in an interview.
Garcia didn’t have homeowner’s insurance.
“I was really just compelled, personally, to do something,” said DeRuggiero. In the first five days of the fundraiser, more than $35,000 was raised.
“Before the CBS piece aired, I didn’t know Barbara Garcia personally, but was incredibly moved by her story and of her reunion with her sweet dog,” DeRuggiero wrote on the Gofundme page. “… My goal is to ease her recovery, raise enough money to help her start to rebuild or relocate her life, and above all else, to show her that ‘life in the big city’ also means helping one another, even from 1500 miles away.”
Garcia says she’s overwhelmed by the support: “I didn’t know I was that important. Really, truly, I didn’t. I just thank everybody,” Garcia said in a follow-up interview with CBS News.
The “Build Barbara Garcia a Home” fundraising page can be found here.
Posted by jwoestendiek May 28th, 2013 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, barbara garcia, bowser, bowsie, campaign, dog, dogs, donate, donations, drive, fund, interview, live, money, moore, oklahoma, pets, raised, scottish terrier, television, tornado, tv, victim, viral
After 14 years on the world’s longest running children program, Mabel, a border collie mix, has died.
Seen by millions of children on “Blue Peter,” Mabel was the BBC program’s first rescue dog.
“She was dearly loved and that’s a credit to her quirky character. She’ll be sorely missed by the presenters and viewers alike,” said Helen Skelton, one of the program’s co-hosts.
Mabel, who retired last year, was the second-longest serving dog on the show. Another, named Petra, appeared on the show for 15 years.
Her death came barely a month after the death of her canine co-star Lucy, according to the Daily Mail.
Mabel was originally featured on the program in 1996 when then presenter Katy Hill met her while making a film about the RSPCA. She joined the show a month later. Her name came from the letters MAB1 which were written on her RSPCA kennel.
Mabel, who was thought to be 16, was notable for her different colored eyes – one brown, one blue – and a folded-over ear. She starred alongside 14 different presenters in hundreds of studio shows.
After retirement, she lived with a former member of the show’s production team
The BBC show’s presenters announced the news about the border collie to viewers last night.
Posted by jwoestendiek May 5th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, bbc, blue peter, border collie, childrens, childrens show, death, died, dog, dogs, helen skelton, mabel, mix, pets, program, rescue, rspca, shelter, show, television, tv
A year ago he was a hapless stray, dodging traffic on Chicago’s Eisenhower Expressway.
Ike, as he was dubbed after his rescue, is no longer living life in the fast lane, but instead enjoying all the comforts of a new home, the Chicago Tribune reports. He’s even had some face time with the governor, Pat Quinn.
“He’s very, very happy and very healthy,” said Steve Zorn, who owns Precious Pets Almost Home, which handled Ike’s adoption.
A year ago, those who viewed video of the black and brown pit bull dodging morning traffic — for two days in a row, as TV helicopters tracked him — wondered if he’d make it out alive.
A Broadview police officer finally snagged him when Ike exited the expressway. When no one claimed him, he was put up for adoption and now lives in the north suburbs, where his best friend is the family cat.
“They cuddle up and sleep together,” Zorn said.
Ike has his own Facebook page, which features this photo and more.
(Photo: Ike and the governor, by Steve Zorn, of Precious Pets Almost Home)
Posted by jwoestendiek April 22nd, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adopted, animals, cars, chicago, dodging, dog, dogs, eisenhower, expressway, governor, highway, ike, ike update, illinois, news, pat quinn, pets, pit bull, pit bulls, pitbull, precious pets almost home, rescue, rescued, steve zorn, traffic, tv, update, video