Suddenly, it seems, that video of a dog being coerced into a pool during the filming of “A Dog’s Purpose” is not so “disturbing” at all.
When the video was first leaked, by TMZ, even the makers of the movie — all avoiding any responsibility for what might have happened — all said at least some aspects of it appeared disturbing.
But in the week leading up to the film’s release, the reassurances that nothing bad happened have poured out — from the author of the popular book of the same name, from the star of the movie, Dennis Quaid, from its producer, even from Ellen Degeneres.
And now even the CEO of the non-profit organization that is supposedly “investigating” the incident(s) seems to be saying — before the investigation is even concluded — that nothing inappropriate happened.
Dr. Robin Ganzert, CEO of the American Humane Association — the agency that monitors the safety of animals in movie productions — said in a piece written for Variety that the leaked video was “misleading” and “edited” and reflects no wrongdoing on anyone’s part.
“The beautiful story opens at the box office this weekend mired in controversy stemming from the release of an edited video manipulated in an effort to mischaracterize the behind-the-scenes treatment of the film’s four-legged stars,” she wrote.
The film’s official release date is today.
The viral video has provoked a call for a boycott of the movie by PETA, and some conflicting feelings even among dog lovers — both those who insist the German shepherd, named Hercules, is being mistreated, and those who say the edited video is not to be trusted.
The video shows the dog being nudged and coerced to get into a churning pool of water. He had performed the stunt gladly in rehearsals, but the location of where he was entering the pool had been changed on the day of filming.
He clearly resists getting in, and struggles to get out during the first 45 seconds of the video. Another piece of video was edited onto that, showing the dog, on a different day, swimming in the pool before going underwater, at which point someone yells “cut it” and the dog is helped out of the pool.
To restate our take on all this: That second snippet of video is too short, out of context and blurry to draw any conclusions from. The first 45 seconds, in our view, shows a dog being pushed more than a dog performing a stunt in a movie should be pushed. The stunt was called off that day, but not soon enough.
Is that a crime? No. Should it result in the movie being boycotted? We vote no, but that’s up to you. Should there be repercussions — say a warning, or a fine? Probably, but the agency that would impose that appears to have already made up its mind.
Should the makers of the movie, somewhere along the line, admit to an iota of responsibility for what was a small mistake on the set of the movie they were making? Should they make some amends, maybe offering a percentage of opening week receipts to dog-related charities (likely not PETA)?
Well, that would be classy — a whole lot classier than circling the wagons, denying responsibility, and launching a public relations effort to rescue, not a dog, but their movie.
Yesterday, Dennis Quaid defended the movie on The Today Show, and then did the same on Ellen.
Meanwhile, in her piece for Variety, Ganzert acknowledged that the dog “appeared to show signs of resistance” to getting in the water. The rest of the piece is a defense of the movie, a diatribe against PETA and more questioning of why the video was leaked a year and a half after it was taken.
But what about those 45 seconds?
“People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) swiftly called for a boycott of the film, and has since continued to exploit — and further sensationalize — the controversy as an opportunity to argue that the animal actors who enchant and educate audiences don’t belong on the Silver Screen,” Ganzert continued.
But what about those 45 seconds?
“A full spectrum of rigorous safety measures was in place to protect the dog throughout this particular scene,” she added. “In addition to one of American Humane’s Certified Animal Safety Representatives, five individuals –including scuba divers and animal handlers — were present on the set at the time to ensure the safety of the dog.”
But what about those 45 seconds?
Here is what I would like to hear from the AHA — were the methods used trying to get Hercules in the water during those 45 seconds acceptable to them? Was the level of stress the dog was allowed to reach acceptable? Should a dog be allowed to get stressed at all during the filming of a movie stunt?
AHA suspended the monitor it had assigned to the film pending the results of the “third-party” investigation it says has been launched.
But with the publication of his Variety article, it’s pretty clear what Ganzert and the AHA want that “ongoing” investigation to find.
Dog’s can’t talk. Dogs don’t have a union. If the American Humane Association has appointed itself as their guardian in Hollywood — and is soliciting our donations to carry out that mission — we’d like to think it is objective, vigilant and doesn’t give a hot damn about the profit margins of movie makers.
In that respect, Ganzert’s article, on the eve of the movie’s release, is not too reassuring.
As for the movie’s makers, we’d like to think that your production treated dogs in a manner as sweet as your movie’s message and that, if you didn’t, even in small way that has been blown out of proportion, you are at least a little bit sorry it.
Posted by John Woestendiek January 26th, 2017 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: a dogs purpose, actors, american humane association, animal welfare, animals, apology, article, ceo, churning, defend, defense, dennis quaid, director, dog, dogs, edited, ellen degeneres, film, german shepherd, hercules, investigation, lasse hallstrom, leaked, misleading, monitor, movie, ongoing, organization, peta, pets, pool, producer, protection, public relations, regret, responsibility, robin ganzert, sorry, stunt, tmz, variety, video, videos, water
Have you resolved to spend less time watching funny dog videos in the New Year?
This one, for instance, will take up 45 seconds to watch, and you’ll never get that time back. On the other hand, it’ll probably make you smile.
We’d suggest devoting the amount of time to watching silly dog videos that seems right to you.
If you’re in need of saving some time, we’d suggest not reading the text that accompanies silly dog videos, because they most often just describe what you’ve just watched, in a very wordy manner, throwing in lots of description but no facts you haven’t already discerned from watching the video you just watched.
Here’s an example from the Daily Mail, one of many media outlets that scour the internet for pet videos they think have viral potential, and then put together — based on no other facts — some words to fill space. (If that weren’t repetitious enough, they generally post numerous stills, taken from the video they just showed you.)
So as you watch this dachshund joyfully consume the bright yellow banana he holds between his paws while lying on his back, keep all that in mind.
And know we resolve — firmly, as with all our resolutions — to never fall victim to that practice.
Posted by John Woestendiek January 2nd, 2017 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animal, animal videos, dog, dog videos, funny, internet, media, new year, online, pet, pet videos, resolutions, silly, videos, watching
Just in time for the Olympics, Farmers Insurance has come out with a new series of ads featuring dogs making the best of a flooded home.
The venue? The living room of a home that flooded after one of the dogs turned on the kitchen faucet, causing the sink to overflow.
That part of it, Farmers says, is based on a real claim.
The “Mer-Mutts,” as they are becoming known, are featured together and in separate spots featuring the dives of each — complete with commentary.
You can find all of them here.
Oscar winning actor J.K. Simmons introduces the ad, calling the event a combination of “form, grace and ill-behaved dogs.”
(You can find more of our Woof in Advertising posts here.)
Posted by John Woestendiek August 9th, 2016 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: ads, animals, commercials, compete, diving, dog, dogs, dogs in advertising, events, farmers, farmers' insurance, flood, flooded, home, marketing, mer mutts, mermutts, olympics, pets, synchronized swimming, videos, woof in advertising
If you were built like a bowling ball, you too might have a propensity for rolling.
Bulldogs sure seem to.
Sophie was just a two-month old pup when her owners noted how much she liked rolling, caught it on camera and posted it on YouTube. It would turn out to be the first in a series of rolling Sophie videos.
“Usually she just throws herself onto her back and rolls around but the first few times she did it she happened to be on a sloping hill … I just set her down to go potty and as you see in the video, she threw herself down on the ground and rolled down the hill,” her owner wrote in a YouTube post.
“I picked her up, terrified that she had ‘fallen’ down this hill but I put her back down and she just did it again and again, 4 more times with such gusto we realized she was just having a ball! We were a bit afraid that she had ‘issues’ but she’s perfectly fine. We contacted the breeder and it turns out Sophie’s mother did the same thing.”
More recently, another rolling bulldog debuted on the Internet and quickly went viral:
So what’s behind it?
One plausible theory could be, in addition to seeming to enjoy the activity, they may be scratching some itches.
Given how humans have shaped the breed, an English Bulldog — with its short legs, short neck, and non-existent snout — isn’t able to reach too many parts of its body with its paws or mouth.
Human manipulation of the breed has led to far more severe, and less laughable, problems than that, including having heads so large most have to be born through C-sections. But they’ve adapted to the shape we’ve given them — at least in this regard.
They let the ground be their back scratcher. They roll over and squirm around on their backs — even though getting in and out of that position is sometimes a struggle.
To cope with that, they find a good hill, allow momentum do its job, and let the good times roll.
Posted by John Woestendiek May 9th, 2016 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, back, breeding, breeds, bulldog, bulldogs, dogs, hills, manipulating, pets, reason, rolled, rolling, rolls, scratch, video, videos
I have a theory that there are many things dogs would like us to know, and that dogs even give us some hints in hopes of making us see the light, and that we humans, being humans, often just don’t get it.
These videos are a perfect example of what could be one of them:
Dogs left alone in cars — with the windows cracked if they’re lucky — sounding the car horn.
In the one above, posted on YouTube five months ago, an Airedale leans on the car horn for a good long time, while another Airedale waits more patiently in the back seat.
The dog’s owner returned to the car and said the two “love going for rides, but apparently they don’t like waiting,” according to the Pennsylvania woman who shot the video.
Here’s another one, from a few years back. This boxer reportedly sounded the horn for 15 minutes while her owner was in an art gallery in Scotland:
Here’s one more, where a barking dog, encouraged by a stranger to honk the horn, complied.
You can find many others on YouTube. Judging from them, the first response of humans — after grabbing some video footage, of course — is to laugh and label it “hilarious.”
Sure it’s funny. But might it be something more? Along the lines of a wake-up call? Along the lines of, “Hey, stupid, don’t leave us closed up in cars for extended periods of time. How much barking and honking will it take for that to sink into your thick human skull?”
If you’re old enough to remember Lassie, the TV show, you’ll recall how hard the collie — aware of some unfolding disaster — had to work to alert humans to the urgency of the situation. She’d bark, go in circles, run a little ahead and look back, clearly saying “hurry, follow me!”
The humans would watch, but precious time was lost, it always seemed, as they absorbed the signal she was sending.
“Wait, look at Lassie,” they’d say. (Long pause.) “I think … could it be …. is she is trying to tell us something?”
And this even though they’d all been through this same drill with her many times before.
We humans can be a little slow to catch on — even when the signs are staring in our faces … or blaring in our ears.
Posted by John Woestendiek April 25th, 2016 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, car horns, cars, communication, dog, dogs, honk, honking, horns, humans, lassie, message, parked, parked car, pets, videos
In case you’re needing to see some sort of silver lining behind those snow clouds that socked the eastern seaboard and paralyzed the northeast this weekend, we offer this.
Kago and Kumbali — a dog and cheetah who have become best friends at the Metro Richmond Zoo — got to play in the snow for the first time during winter storm Jonas.
The zoo was closed Saturday, but a zookeeper let the popular duo run and play in the 7-inch deep snow in a large fenced field.
Kumbali was two weeks old when caretakers at the zoo noticed he was losing weight. The runt of a litter born to zoo cheetahs Khari (the mom) and Hatari (the dad), Kumbali was bottle fed and grew healthier, but having been removed from his litter he needed some companionship.
So the zoo got him a dog.
Kago, a 10-week old Lab mix, had been pulled from a high kill shelter in Alabama by The Art of Paws, an animal rescue group in Florida.
Zoo officials report the two have become inseparable.
Kumbali and Kago can be seen at the zoo Monday to Thursday from 12 to 1 p.m., and on Friday and Saturday from 12 to 1 p.m. and 3 to 4 p.m. And you can find their full story here.
Here’s a look at their first meeting, and their younger (snowless) days:
(Photos and videos courtesy of the Metro Richmond Zoo)
Posted by John Woestendiek January 25th, 2016 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: best friends, cheetah, cheetah and dog, companionship, dog, dog and cheetah, first, friends, jonas, kago, kago and kumbali, kumbali, kumbali and kago, metro richmond zoo, play, richmond, richmond zoo, snow, storm, videos, winter, zoo
Five incoming students at Hiram College in Ohio will be receiving $1,000 scholarships, and all they have to do is prove how much they love terriers.
Through the end of this month, the private liberal arts college will be accepting applications for the “Terrier Scholarships,” which must include a photo or 15-second video that depicts a student’s love for terriers.
“Be creative!” the application advises. “Show us how your terrier is part of your family, a loyal friend or a fast learner. Show us why you love terriers!”
The terrier, you may have figured out by now, is the school mascot. But school officials say the type of dog also embodies “many of the qualities we love to see in Hiram College students,” including being playful, curious and loyal.
The terrier has been the school mascot since 1928.
Before that the school, founded in 1850 as the Western Reserve Eclectic Institute by members of the Disciples of Christ Church, used the nickname “Farmers,” and later, “Mudhens,” for its sports teams.
In 1928, the nickname “Terriers” was adopted after coach Herb Matthews, speaking at a sports banquet, described Hiram athletics as “a little bull terrier that holds on until the end … No name would seem more appropriate to me than just the Terriers.”
While the school’s mascot is a bull terrier, any breed of terrier is acceptable in the scholarship contest.
The college says scholarship submissions should show “what makes terriers special: how they are a part of the family, a best friend, a fast-learner — and more.”
“The Terrier Scholarship is our way of paying tribute to our long-time mascot, the bull terrier, and rewarding prospective students for their creativity and drive to become a Hiram student,” said Vice President of Enrollment Lindajean Heller Western. “We know how special our Terrier is, and now we want to see what makes other terriers great!”
A panel of Hiram media and photography specialists will choose the winners based on the creativity and originality of photo and video submissions. Scholarship recipients will be notified in February 2016.
Posted by John Woestendiek December 4th, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, application, bull terrier, bull terriers, college, contest, dog, dogs, hiram college, hiram terriers, love, ohio, pets, photography, scholarship, terriers, videos