Leave it to us humans to introduce dogs to the joys of working hard and getting nowhere.
The American Pet Products Association (APPA) reports that about 3 million dogs across the country were using treadmills in 2010.
Given widespread obesity in the species (I think we taught them that, too), it’s not an entirely bad thing for dogs to be getting workouts on treadmills.
But there is a monotony to it that strikes me as running counter to what dogs are all about. Show me the dog that prefers a treadmill to running outdoors — in nature, free to veer this way and that, to stop and sniff when the spirit moves him — and I’ll show you a dog that, quite possibly, has become too human.
On the other hand, if the treadmill is the only exercise a dog is going to get, I guess we’ll just have to accept that the times are changing.
According to the Associated Press, the latest APPA survey of pet owners marked the first time the treadmill question was included, based on reports that doggie treadmills were selling briskly. The survey found 3 million dogs made use of them, which is about one of every 25 dogs in the country.
The reasons for resorting to a treadmill are many, and often valid – when it’s too hot out, too cold out; when a pet’s human has become temporarily, or permanently, immobile; when an injured dog needs a controlled form of exercise.
While the AP article explored only the upside of dog treadmills, it strikes me that — like most technology — they carry a high probability of being misused.
Putting your dog on the treadmill could become the equivalent of putting your child in front of the TV set — a way to keep them occupied and quiet. All us folks who seem to think we’re too busy for a walk in the park could come to over rely on them.
The argument could be made, and maybe will: If you don’t have the time and energy to walk a dog, don’t get one — at least not one that requires a lot of exercise.
The AP article mentions one woman in Las Vegas whose rescued dog had dropped from 115 pounds to 80 using a treadmill. That impressed her so much that she bought her own dog treadmill, which is now used by all four of her dogs — too many, she said, to walk at one time.
“I want to make sure the rest of their lives are the healthiest we can make them. If the treadmill promotes a longer life, then it’s easy to do it each day … Whatever we can do now to help them lead a healthier, better life is worth it,” she said.
All that’s true, as long as its not the only activity the dog is getting. Frolicking in the grass and socializing with other dogs also makes for a healthier dog. So while I don’t want a doggie treadmill in my home, or, worse yet, a human one, it’s clear they do have their place.
Dog trainer April Suhr of Las Vegas believes shelters across the country could make good use of them. Getting out of their kennels and onto a treadmill a few times a week could keep shelter dogs from going “cage crazy” and make them healthier, happier and more adoptable, she says.
Suhr has a treadmill at home for her three pets and her foster dogs. Giving them the same amount of exercise by walking and running with them would take several hour and many miles, she noted.
Doggie treadmills, which are built smaller than human ones, come in a range of sizes and prices, starting at nearly $500.
DogPacer, maker of one of the newest and least expensive on the market at $499, has plans to start producing a less costly treadmill for toy dogs in September. Pennsylvania-based GoPet sells canine treadmills and a treadwheel, ranging from $475 to $1,225.
Interestingly, dogs being forced to run on treadmills was one of the first causes taken up when America’s animal welfare movement was finding its footing.
Until the late 1800s — and here’s where we get to the ugly part – dogs were bred and put to work at many a restaurant and inn as turnspit dogs. They were placed in wooden wheels, similar to that you’d see in a hamster’s cage, and encouraged to walk. The wheel powered a chain drive that rotated a spit above a fireplace, ensuring that the meat on the spit cooked evenly.
The short-legged dogs, bred small enough to fit in the wheel, would often be leashed in a way that made them choke if they stopped. Often, a hot coal would be tossed into the wheel to speed a dog up.
When Henry Bergh established the ASPCA in the 1860s, one of his first campaigns was to end the practice.
That a device similar to one once used to enslave and abuse dogs is now being sold — for $1,000 and more — to pamper them and keep them healthy is ironic to say the least. Though it’s with kinder, gentler intentions, we seem in a way to be, after 150 years of stepping forward, back in the same place.
I think that says something; I’m just not sure what.
(Photo: A Belgian Malinois works out on a treadmill at LA Dog Works in Los Angeles; by Grant Hindsley / Associated Press)
Posted by jwoestendiek August 21st, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: american pet products association, animal welfare, animals, appa, benefits, concerns, dog, dog treadmills, dogs, equiipment, exercise, health, humans, increasing, pet products, pets, products, running, sales, survey, treadmills, turnspit dogs, use, walking
The Wake County SPCA, which received a finger-wagging warning from a wealthy music conglomerate after it had the audacity to use an Abba song to try and save animals’ lives, has managed to get their inspiring lyp-synch video back online.
We showed you the video not long after it was posted on YouTube. And we told you about it when Universal Music Group, the world’s largest music content company, polititely instructed the Wake SPCA, in Raleigh, to take it off.
The SPCA did so, but now it’s taking another chance on “Take a Chance on Me,” the Abba song which staff and volunteers lip synch in the video, all while showing off adoptable pets.
Performing a little magic of its own, the SPCA returned the video online in a silent version, providing instructions on how to link simultaneously to a recording of the Abba song that’s already on YouTube, one that has somehow avoided the wrath of the corporate giant.
If you time your click right, you can hear the song from the other source while watching the SPCA video, which is silent except for a few barking dogs in the background, and the voices of staff and volunteers singing at the end.
The SPCA explains on its website that it came up with the solution after trying to convince UMG that its video was not a commercial, that it was similar to hundreds of other user-created YouTube videos using the same song, and that, as a charity, it was using the song for noble purposes.
“So we begged, we pleaded, we promised to single-handedly bring Abba back to the U.S. pop charts, and finally we tried to purchase the license. The animal loving music rep in Calilfornia reported that the songwriters actually watched the video, and the answer was still, ‘no, it’s a commercial.’ But like we said, we don’t blame them. After all, homeless pets and animal shelters aren’t everyone’s cup of tea.”
Because of its popularity during its short life — 65,000 viewed it on YouTube in six days — the SPCA came up with the alternative viewing method, which, though it requires a little more work, is still worth the effort.
The SPCA says it holds no ill will toward the production company:
“We don’t blame them really. Who could believe that our total budget was only $32? Who could believe that an incredible production company would be so committed to helping animals that they would work for hours and hours without pay? Who could believe that more than 50 volunteers and staff would be so dedicated to helping homeless animals that they would come together and pretend to sing and dance and be silly for the animals? Well, we all can believe this, but lawyers in Sweden can’t.”
Posted by jwoestendiek November 8th, 2011 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: abba, adopt, adoption, animals, charity, commercial, dogs, homeless, lip-synch, non-profit, ownership, pets, production, rights, shelter, song, spca, staff, take a chance on me, umg, universal music group, use, video, volunteers, wake county, warning, youtube
The University of Utah has announced that it will no longer purchase dogs and cats from North Utah Valley Animal Shelter (NUVAS) — or any other animal shelter — for use in medical experiments.
The decision was praised by PETA, which has waged a lengthy campaign against the practice.
“PETA is thrilled for the dogs, cats and people of Utah now that the University of Utah has stopped using animal shelters as dirt-cheap sources of living lab equipment, marking the complete end of pound seizure in the state,’’ said Kathy Guillermo, PETA’s vice president for laboratory investigations.
Until last year, animal shelters in Utah were required to sell cats and dogs in their custody to the university under a practice known as pound seizure. A change in state law made it voluntary for shelters to participate. The North Utah Valley Animal Shelter, however, continued to supply animals for research in the belief that it was helping to ease human suffering and advance medical knowledge.
NUVAS sold the university about 100 dogs and cats a year, Director Tug Gettling told the Salt Lake City Tribune.
The practice, over the years, saw hundreds of former pets and strays sacrificed for purposes of medical experimentation — though not all that were used in experiments were killed. Last year, a pet owner who turned her dog, Sheena (above) over to the shelter was shocked to learn — when she called to see if she had been adopted — that the dog had been sold to the university for experimentation. Later, with help from PETA, she launched a successful campaign to get the dog back from the university and into an adoptive home.
According to the Tribune, the decades-old practice of buying animals from shelters was halted by the university in mid-January.
Thomas Parks, the university’s vice president for research, said the decision was aimed at bringing an end to the campaign against the shelter by animal welfare advocates. Parks said the university will instead obtain dogs bred for laboratory use by certified breeders — a costlier but less controversial method.
PETA’s Guillermo said she hoped the added cost of specially bred animals would lead the university to seek alternatives to using live animals in its experiments.
Parks said employees at the non-profit municipal shelter “have been suffering a lot of harassment” and that the shelter has received thousands of hostile emails and phone calls, several bomb threats and at least three public protests.
A Salt Lake Tribune investigation a year ago found that about 60 percent of all shelter animals the shelter provided to the university between 2007 and 2009 were killed after being experimented on, while the rest entered an adoption program.
Posted by jwoestendiek March 3rd, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal welfare, animals, anti-vivisection, biomedical, campaign, cats, dogs, experimental, experiments, laboratory, labs, medical, north utah valley animal shelter, nuvas, people for the ethical treatment of animals, peta, pound seizure, practice, rescue, research, shelter, strays, university of utah, use, utah, vivisection