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Tag: twitter

Are there too many dogs on the Internet?

image001Depictions of dogs, as any one who has ever read the wall of a prehistoric cave knows, date back to well before ancient times.

Pharaohs commissioned artworks of their favorite pets. Portrayals of hunting and images of medieval banquets often featured dogs in the background or foreground. In the Victorian-era, aristocrats hired painters to make portraits of themselves and their pooches.

As the 20th Century dawned, as humans came to live ever closer to the species, artists seized upon the idea of depicting dogs dressed in human attire and doing human things, bringing us such classes artworks as the inimitable (but often imitated) work, Dogs Playing Poker.

Well before photography went digital, before somebody flicked that World Wide Web switch on, dog depictions were being shared — if not as instantly, often, ridiculously and (often) demaningly as they are today on the Internet, and social media in particular.

Even in my earliest days in journalism, back in the 1970’s, I remember some newspapers had a pet writer — someone who penned a pet column, usually weekly. He or she was commonly an older person who performed mostly clerical duties, maybe a secretary for some top editor, who, due to his or her love for dogs, had volunteered for the task, likely at no increase in pay.

He or she would probably feature a dog in need of adoption every week, or write about pet care and training, or simply ask readers to submit photos of their pets for publication — an opportunity many readers seized, sending actual photos through actual mail.

One of the differences between then and now — a time when many a website is telling you how much they would like to see photos of your dog — is that the old clerk/pet writer’s request for photos was more than likely at least partly sincere.

pokerThose folks who want to see your dog’s photo now? Almost always, they are after something else. You can trust them about as much as the bulldog sneaking an ace to his friend in that painting to the left there.

Pet food websites, pet toy websites, even (we hate to admit it) pet news websites will commonly beg you for a photo of your pooch — not because anyone actually wants to see it, but because they want to get you on their email lists, get you “registered,” introduce you to their products and enlist your loyalty.

They want, more than anything, your money, and like many other businesses that want your money, they will gladly deceive you and try to capitalize on your love for/pride in your pet:

“We’d love to see a photo of your dog!”

Yeah, right.

I’m not here today to say that there are too many dogs on the Internet — even if never before in the history of man have we been so saturated with dog photos and images. The more the merrier, I say.

But I would argue there is too much dog exploitation and too much dog ridicule on the Internet, much of it carried out via those “adorable” photos of your “fur baby” — sometimes by profit-making concerns, sometimes by dog owners themselves.

Compare and contrast, if you will, our old, likely unpaid, pet columnist with someone like Matt Nelson, who is making a six figure annual salary by posting photos sent in by readers, along with a comment and a numerical rating (based on the dog, not the photo) at @dog_rates.

He is not taking any photos. He is not buying any photos. He’s really not doing much work at all, other than accumulating followers. He is merely sharing other people’s photos on Twitter — and managing to make a handsome living from it.

Nelson — profiled by Money magazine recently — dropped out of college once he saw how popular his dog photo sharing Twitter page had become:

There, WeRateDogs’ operations are relatively simple. Nelson estimates he runs 95 percent of things from his iPhone (which, yes, he confirms, does require a massive data plan to handle all the dog photos). He has two remote employees: Ricci, who culls submissions down to about 20 each day, and Tyler Macke, who manages the WeRateDogs online store. His dad, an executive director of a law firm, advises him on finances.

Nelson says he brings in “a low five figures” every month. At minimum, that puts him over $100,000 a year.

Thanks, Money magazine, for doing the math for us.

While Nelson may not be doing much original or creative work, at least his pursuit is mostly cute and kind and well meaning.

20151016_181413-e1522168748576Other dog photo sharing websites are more distasteful to me — dogshaming.com, in particular.

It features photos of dogs who have misbehaved, along with hand-made signs — all submitted by readers.

But perhaps most troubling of all are the photos and videos that individuals post to their Facebook page showing their dogs doing distinctly human things.

Alexandra Horowitz, the author and researcher who has spent her career seriously studying and trying to understand dogs — despite what seems to be society’s preference to see them as dress-up dolls, movie characters with human voices, or (apologies to those who use the term) “fur babies” — made note of the phenomena in last week’s New York Times Opinion section.

In it, she asked the question:

“Why can’t I stand to look at one more photo of a ‘funny dog?'”

She continued, “In a typical image, the dog is posed in a distinctly person-like way, as if on the phone, seated at a table or wearing headphones and dressed up in human attire — glasses, a dog-size suit and tie, even pantyhose.”

” … These dogs are but furry emoji: stand ins for emotions and sentiment. Each representation diminishes this complex, impressive creature to an object of our most banal imagination,” Horowitz wrote. “Such treatment may not be mortifying to the dog, perhaps … but it is degrading to the species.”

Only the most extreme examples of making our dogs look ridiculous receive any sort of backlash — primarily from people who see the pet as being abused. Like this one on Twitter. Go to the link and read all the comments and you almost think, maybe people are coming to their senses.

It bugs me that society is this way — that it took a species, molded it to its liking, and continually foists its own likeness and peculiarities upon it. It bugs me what people will put their dog through to achieve a Facebook post or Halloween costume that makes their friends laugh. It bothers me that some people are getting rich off it.

It’s like we were blessed with an original Mona Lisa, and 85 percent of us want to draw a mustache on it slap it on their own personal billboard.

Somebody needs to grow up, and it’s not the dogs.

(Photos: At top, The Feast of Dives, about 1510–20, Master of James IV of Scotland, the J. Paul Getty Museum); lower, one of the many reproductions of Dogs Playing Poker, by Cassius Marcellus Coolidge, other photos via Twitter)

United Airlines kills another dog

united

United Airlines is admitting a flight attendant violated policy by insisting a passenger place her dog in an overhead bin during a flight from Houston to New York.

The dog was found dead in its carrier after the flight landed at LaGuardia Airport Monday night.

In a statement, United called the dog’s death a “tragic accident.”

Spokesman Charlie Hobart told CNN a flight attendant should not have told the passenger to put the dog in the bin used for carry-on bags.

“We assume full responsibility for this tragedy and express our deepest condolences to the family and are committed to supporting them,” the airline said Tuesday. “We are thoroughly investigating what occurred to prevent this from ever happening again.”

The death occurred after a passenger brought the dog, identified as a 10-month-old French bulldog, on board in a TSA-approved pet carrier.

After the passenger took a seat, a United flight attendant insisted that the carrier — and dog — be stowed in an overhead bin, according to at least one witness.

Maggie Gremminger said the traveler with the dog protested the attendant’s order to put the pet carrier into the overhead bin, but that the attendant persisted.

Gremminger posted a photo of the grieving woman on Twitter (above) after the flight.

“The passenger adamantly refused but the flight attendant went on with the instruction,” Gremminger wrote. “At the end of the flight – the dog was found dead in the carrier. I am heart broken right now.”

united2United and other airlines generally allow pets to be carried on board provided they’re in carriers that can fit under the seat in front of the owner. Of all airlines, United has the worst pet safety record.

According to a recent U.S. Department of Transportation report, 24 animals died in the care of U.S. carriers last year. Three-quarters of those, 18, died while being handled by United. Of 15 reported injuries, 13 occurred with United.

The airline is the largest transporter of animals, carrying 138,178 animals in 2017. Alaska Airlines, which transported the next-highest number of animals (114,974), had an incident rate of 0.26, one-tenth of United’s industry-leading rate of 2.24 for every 10,000 animals transported.

Several of the animals had pre-existing health issues, the report said, and some incidents happened before the animals were put on planes.

A United spokeswoman said the airline has been in contact with the passenger who owned the dog and offered to pay for a necropsy.

(Photo: Maggie Gremminger/Twitter)

There’s more than one way to trim a dog

oliverA Minnesota man came up with a novel way of trimming the nails of his Boston terrier, Oliver, a little fellow who squirmed and struggled mightily when nail-trimming time came around.

Get an old purse. Cut four holes into the bottom corners. Insert dog in purse. Hang up purse and dog on a sturdy rod, such as one of those exercise bars you put in the doorway.

Then as the doggie dangles, just trim away.

Patrick Peifer said the idea came from something similar he once saw, but clearly he has an inventive mind.

We bet he could also come up with a way to pick a peck of pickled peppers — one that calculates exactly how many pickled peppers Patrick Peifer picked.

As his daughter Kendal explained, “It was his DIY project for the night.”

Oliver, Kendal told BuzzFeed, doesn’t cooperate when the time comes for a manicure. “It’s very difficult to keep him still while clipping nails,” said Kendal.

She said her father “literally” went to Goodwill and bought a purse, cut four holes in it, placed Oliver into the purse with his legs sticking out and hooked it through some gym equipment on a door.

Kendal tweeted out her dad’s invention and got a huge response.

“A lot of people are saying how genius the idea was,” said Kendal.

In the photos, it looks like Oliver is pretty calm, as if he doesn’t mind being suspended in the air. Then again, maybe he’s just petrified.

We’re not recommending this technique, but, if you do try it, make sure you’re using a bar that is well anchored. Make sure you’re not doing it with a big dog. And make sure your wife doesn’t start using the purse you sawed holes into.

(Photo: Twitter)

Dog’s ear cyst resembles Donald Trump

trumpear

I’ve written before about that distinctively human tendency to see images in inanimate objects — everything from Jesus on a grilled cheese sandwich to a dog in a piece of wood.

My theory on that whole phenomenon is that we see, with only the slightest hint or suggestion, what our subconscious wants us to see, such as Abraham Lincoln in a chicken nugget; or what it fears seeing, such as Satan in a storm cloud.

But Donald Trump in a dog’s ear? I won’t attempt to explain that.

BBC reported that Jade Robinson, 25, of Jarrow, Tyneside, was photographing her beagle’s infected ear when a friend spotted the 45th president’s face in the dog’s cyst.

chiefThe dog’s name? Chief.

Robinson said she was taking the picture to pass along to her vet. Chief would have to be sedated for the vet to properly examine the ear — and she was short of the funds necessary to do that.

Amazingly enough, her photo going viral led her to launch a crowdfunding campaign, which has already raised 80 percent of its £450 goal.

Hail to the chief!

On the justgiving.com website, Robinson warns that goal amount will likely increase depending on what treatments the vet prescribes — up to and including removing the president from Chief’s ear.

Robinson said she has always made it a point to keep Chief’s ears clean, but beagles are notorious for picking up dirt, which, as we all know, can lead to infections.

“If you know anything about beagles you know how intelligent, active and curious they are and Chief certainly lives up to that – he’s full of mischief.

“As he has the very distinctive long ears, they spend a lot of time scraping the ground sniffing for lovely smells; unfortunately this leads to his ears picking up a lot of dirt.”

Robinson said she never saw Trump when she was taking the photo.

“…It was my eagle-eyed friend who pointed it out.”

Readers: Please note how I, despite my political leanings, presented that whole story without implying the current president is in any way a cyst in need of removal. Nor did I comment on how awful it would be to have Donald Trump constantly in one’s ear — mainly because, between his tweets and the news media, we already know that.

In badmouthing his human foes, Trump manages to also offend dogs everywhere

misspWhile the hotels that carry his name may be dog-friendly, President Trump is definitely not — as shown not just by his refusal to have one in the White House, but in his word choice.

Examine his insults, his verbal slaps, his testy tweets and you will find unkind references to dogs in many of them.

Newsweek did just that and concluded:

“Not only is President Donald Trump the first White House resident in generations to not have a first pooch, but the very word ‘dog’ is the root of so many of the Tweeter in Chief’s favorite insults.”

Of one of his newest rivals, Republican Sen. Bob Corker, the president recently said, “Couldn’t get elected dog catcher.”

He used the exact same term to describe former New York Governor George Pataki, former New Hampshire Governor John Sununu in 2015, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, Michael Bloomberg and Hillary Clinton.

He said he watched Marco Rubio “sweating like a dog” during his campaign.

He called former Obama administration adviser David Axelrod a dog after he criticized him on Fox News.

Among those he has said were “fired like a dog” were NBC’s David Gregory, Glenn Beck and Ted Cruz’s communications director.

Former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper both choked “like dogs” in Senate testimony in May, he told Time.

Mitt Romney, in his campaign for president, “choked like a dog,” too, in Trump’s view.

William McKinley is the last president to not have a dog, though he had other pets.

Generally, the only photos of Trump with dogs are from when he regularly invited the the winner of the Westminster Dog Show to visit his palatial Trump Tower suite, as is the case with the photo at the top of this post.

At least one citizen graciously offered him a dog, but he, quite ungraciously, snubbed the offer. By the time he informed heiress Lois Pope he didn’t want the dog, she’d already fallen in love and decided to keep it.

Further evidence of Trump’s distaste for the species — at least non-pedigreed members — can be found in a memoir, “Raising Trump,” written by his ex-wife Ivana.

“Donald was not a dog fan,” she wrote. When Ivana brought home a poodle named Chappy, to Trump’s displeasure, she said she gave him this choice — “It’s me and Chappy or no one!”

He gave in, but never showed much fondness for the poodle — and the feeling was mutual, she wrote.

In point of fact, dogs don’t sweat. In point of fact, dogs don’t lie. In point of fact, dog catcher is not an elected position — at least not in modern times. Yet he uses references to dogs, repeatedly and erroneously, as a metaphor/simile for lowly behavior, or to describe anyone he doesn’t like.

News flash, Mr. President, (of the non-fake variety): Dogs are probably held in higher regard in America than either you or the presidency.

I did not want to see Trump elected anything, least of all president. And I don’t think he’d make a good “dog catcher,” either. As experienced as he is at shoveling the you-know-what, he’d probably be good at cleaning out kennels.

But hey, he — unfortunately — has a country to run.

Bill O’Reilly’s dog will never take a knee

DHYRcn_XYAAJzJ1You wouldn’t expect a “leg man” to own a breed of dog that barely has any.

But that is the case — ousted Fox News loudmouth, bestselling historian and accused sexual harrasser Bill O’Reilly is the proud owner of a Corgi, who he has been spending a lot more time with since leaving his job, and featuring regularly of late on his Instagram account.

Holly is her name, and he’s posted photos of her 11 times since August, according to AVclub.com.

O’Reilly these days is keeping busy producing a self-broadcasted (and we’d guess self-important) vlog, through which he continues to offer his conservative opinions on matters of politics and more.

O’Reilly, who also tweets, recently posted this photo of Holly, pointing out that she would never take a knee during the National Anthem — “even if she had knees.”

holly2

Not willing to let him get away with such a blatant distortion of fact, AVClub points out, for the record, that corgis do have knees.

Fox News let O’Reilly go in April amid mounting allegations against him of sexual harrassment. Between him and Fox, $13 million in settlements were paid to five women who made such claims against him, according to the New York Times.

Even more accusers surfaced after that, and advertisers began withdrawing, leading Fox to send him home to spend more time with his dog.

Watching this eclipse won’t melt your eyes — only your heart

For those of you who missed the Great American Eclipse — aka the day the moon photobombed the sun — here, via Twitter, is a highly scientific reenactment, staged by two pug puppies and their owner(s).