Testing how calm he could remain amid the crowds and distractions was exactly the reason Ace, a guide dog in training, was taken to Disneyland.
But throwing Pluto into the mix seems almost unfair.
Ace, who began his formal training with Guide Dogs of America at the end of January, was with his caretaker, Sandy Steinblums, when they bumped into Pluto.
While he might not have followed his training to the letter, Ace did calm down after some initial excitement and, once directed to stay a few times, he did a pretty good job, given Pluto was egging him on.
Steinblums said that, though it’s not in the video, Ace remained in the stay position for several minutes.
A video of the meeting was posted on Disney Dorks, a Disney fan page on Facebook, and it has been shared more than 15 million times in three days.
Ace will undergo six to nine months of training before he graduates and is matched with a human.
Posted by John Woestendiek February 11th, 2016 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: ace, animals, blind, character, disney, disneyland, dog, dogs, facebook, guide dog, guide dogs of america, pets, pluto, service dogs, training, video, viral
Not too far into 2015, an amazingly asinine Internet discussion began over what became known as simply “The Dress.”
Millions wasted valuable hunks of life debating what color it was.
Between social media and news media, the dress became one of the most viral images of all time.
Now, as 2015 nears its end, comes an even more asinine debate — over dog pants, specifically over how dogs should wear pants.
As we ring in the new year, the question is getting more attention than many presidential candidates — despite the obvious fact that dogs shouldn’t wear pants at all.
There are few, if any dogs, who are shaped in such a way that pants worn over all four legs would stay in place. (Four separate doggie leggings, held in place by elastic, would be a much better route.) And traditional pants preclude a dog from being free to go to the bathroom.
(Please tell me I’m not seriously discussing this.)
In true “meme” form, we can expect many variations of the doggie pants question to arise. “How should a cat wear a poncho?” “How should a hamster wear a mumu?” And, around the time Donald Trump wins the presidency because we’re all preoccupied, “How should a camel wear a pashmina?”
I’m not a big fan of memes. I like them even less than mimes. And I would prefer to bound into 2016 with a song in my heart, as opposed to a meme on my mind. Memes do seem to get stuck in your head, like bad songs (see below).
This one got its start on Facebook, where it was posted by a 19-year-old techie type from Belgium.
After seeing a dog in pants, worn over the two hind legs, he started wondering if there was another way for dogs to wear pants.
“I thought that pants are a human invention so for us it’s normal to wear them like that. But dogs have four legs so technically, their pants should go on each leg,” the man, identified as Norbert K., told the Washington Post.
(That’s right, the great dog pants debate has made the Washington Post, or at least one of its blogs, called Intersect.)
After appearing on the Facebook page for “Utopian Raspberry – Modern Oasis Machine,” the image was shared and borrowed and ended up on other social media, including Twitter.
Jared Keller, who works at Maxim, played a large role in catapulting the image into the viralsphere — posting it to his Facebook page, then to his Twitter feed, and then writing a piece about it for Maxim, the Washington Post reported.
The Post even invited readers to take part in a poll by the newspaper on how dogs should wear pants.
But when we clicked on the link to vote we were taken to a YouTube video of Rick Astley singing “Never Going to Give You Up.”
As a result, we can share this piece of vital information with you: Rick Astley wears his pants really high up on his waist.
(Image from Facebook)
Posted by John Woestendiek December 30th, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, clothing, debate, dog, dogs, facebook, how should dogs wear pants, humor, image, meme, pants, pets, ridiculous, social media, the dress, twitter, viral, wear
Amid a police investigation and a public outcry, animal rights activists have returned the puppy they seized from a homeless man in Paris last month, according to news reports.
Activists from Cause Animale Nord, an animal rights group based in Lille in northern France, snatched the puppy in September from a homeless man on a street in central Paris. Members later said the homeless man had drugged the dog and was using it to assist him in begging.
The incident was caught on camera and, since being posted on Facebook and elsewhere, it has been viewed more than 1.7 million times.
A petition on the website Change.org calling for an investigation into Cause Animale Nord’s actions has been signed by nearly 250,000 people.
A police inquiry was launched a on September 25, according to The Telegraph.
The president of Cause Animale Nord — seen taking the dog on the video — was brought in for questioning, but released after promising to return the dog to its owner.
The group had placed the dog in foster care, and was offering it for adoption for a fee of €175.
Posted by John Woestendiek October 6th, 2015 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animal rights, cause animale nord, dog, france, homeless man, investigation, lille, organization, paris, petition, police, puppy, return, returned, returns, seized, taken, video, viral
You’d think, as regurgitory (is that even a word?) as the Internet is, photos and videos of Eugene Bostick’s doggie train in Fort Worth would have gone viral years ago — given it is about the cutest thing ever.
Now, thanks to Facebook, Buzzfeed and the like, what Bostick created 15 years ago to give a joy ride to his rescued dogs (nine at last count) is finally getting the attention it deserves.
Twice a week, Bostick, 80, cranks the train up and allows his dogs — Wally, Buddy, Daisy, Jack, Mickey, Ms. Nell, Chubby, Clyde and Bonnie — to take their place in their assigned seats for an hour-long ride around his 11-acre property.
If you think that sounds like a lot of work for an 80-year-old, don’t worry — Eugene gets help from his 87-year-old brother Walter “Corky” Bostick.
Eugene, a retired Union Pacific railroad employee, built the train cars with 55-gallon fiberglass barrels, and his John Deere tractor serves as the engine.
“Oh, they just love it,” Corky Bostick said. “Every time he takes the covers off, they start jumping and barking, ready for the ride.”
Eugene Bostick hooks a wooden ramp to the cars to help some of the older dogs in.
Only two of the dogs have ever tried to jump out — Bonnie and Clyde, brother and sister, who are now kept leashed into their cars.
While you can find videos of the train on YouTube from nearly as far back as three years ago, it was only last week that the train claimed its place in popular culture.
“We got a call from New York one morning telling us the video had gone viral,” said Patricia Bostick, Eugene’s wife. “The phone hasn’t stopped ringing.”
Most of the calls are from the news media, which somehow didn’t learn about the train until social media helped them out.
“Oh, I’m in good health,” Eugene told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “So I guess I’ll be driving them around for as long as I can.”
The Bosticks have collected the dogs over the years as strays, some of them abandoned around their property near downtown Fort Worth.
Eugene and his brother also tend to more than 30 other animals — domestic and not so domestic — including goats, rabbits, geese, ducks, fish, cats, squirrels, raccoons and coyotes.
(Photo by Bob Booth from the Star-Telegram)
Posted by John Woestendiek September 28th, 2015 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, barrels, bonnie, buddy, buzzfeed, chubby, clyde, daisy, dog, dog train, dogs, eugene bostick, facebook, fort worth. texas, jack, mikey, ms. Nell, pets, photos, rescued, ride, social media, strays, train, video, viral, wally
I eschew anthropomorphism. I eat meat. I am neither touchy nor feely. Yet even I, a (mostly) cynical and unemotional sort, couldn’t help feeling some emotions rise up in me when watching this video of a Rottweiler seemingly grieving the death of his litter mate.
It was posted on YouTube last month, by a Seattle man who says he awoke to find one of his Rottweilers dead, and the other resting his head atop the deceased dog, refusing to move.
“Clearly you can see in his eyes, he is crying for his brother who had passed as his world around him just crumbled. We both grieve and cry for our brother … This is proof that animals DO have emotions and feel pain just like we do,” Brett Bennett wrote in the YouTube post.
I, being a cynic, question some of that, particularly the crying — I’m not sure dogs shed actual tears of emotion. But I do believe dogs have emotions, and can feel sadness.
What I question much more than whether Brutus is truly grieving, though, is how Bennett is using the video to get online donations to buy himself a house in the country.
On the post, he provides a link to an Indiegogo page he created, seeking donations he says will be used to provide housing for himself (he says he’s homeless) and his dogs (he says he has four).
In fairness, he began the campaign before Hank died in late January, initially seeking enough money for a security deposit and first and last month’s rent required to rent a home.
Since reaching that goal, and since the death of Hank, he has apparently set his sights higher:
Under the headline “Help Grieving Rottweiler Buy a New Home ,” he explains, “before Hank passed, we had started a fundraiser to help us into a nice warm home and off the streets … We have succeeded in our goal, but have been approached by animal lovers from around the world to reach for the stars and to ask for donations to not rent, but to own a home.
“As everyone knows, it is very hard to rent a place with a Rottweiler or with several rescue animals. It would give us the option to rescue as many animals in need or as possible. Our mission goal, our dream, is to buy a house out in the country, on some acreage, with the ability to freely rescue and foster as many animals that we can…”
I applaud his stated intentions — to rescue more animals — and I have no problem with people who are experiencing hard times seeking the public’s help, or with the public providing it.
But even assuming Bennett and his plea are all on the up and up, it still strikes me as a rather bold request. Asking for help to pay for a life-saving veterinary procedure is one thing; asking us to help buy a house in the country for him and his dogs is quite another. And recording and broadcasting the heartstring-tugging reaction of Brutus to the death of Hank may be laying it on so thick as to border, in my opinion, on exploitation.
(Then again, the same could be said of those ultra-sad ads some animal welfare organizations use in their quests to raise funds.)
“Don’t let Hanks passing die in vein (sic )with him,” Bennett asks, “Please share our story.”
So I’m kind of doing that, with obvious reservations.
Being cynical, I’m a little wary of pleas by dog owners appealing to the public for financial help via crowdfunding websites like Indiegogo. There’s really no way to know — short of playing detective yourself — which ones are legit, and which ones are scams.
With his video of Brutus going viral — more than 2.5 million views as of last weekend — and with it bringing in advertising revenue as well, I suspect Bennett is on his way to amassing a decent down payment, and he’s definitely showing some initiative.
But as with another dog-related story I’ve covered at length, pet cloning, there’s something distasteful about turning people’s tears and grief into big bucks.
Bennett says on his Facebook page for the dogs that he suspects Hank died of a broken heart.
“I’m so sorry you guys … I wasn’t strong enough and had a breakdown in front of the dogs. Hank was right by my side with his Therapy Dog service and grieved with me as I was so upset. He looked so sad. I noticed Hank never came out of his grievance and stopped eating. He was still drinking and nibbling on food so I thought he was okay. A week later Brutus and I awoke to his peaceful body next to us as he passed in the night in his sleep.”
He says the video was shot “about 30 minutes after we woke up and were missing our baby. I normally don’t video record my real life catastrophes or share but decided I needed to send a message to the world and show how much pain my dog was in as he loved his Twin so much.”
Bennett says Brutus is weeping on the video. And, in it, you can hear Bennett sobbing himself. I’m not suggesting any of it is fake. I’m no expert on human emotions, or animal emotions. Is there really any difference between the two? I don’t know, but my hunch is, based on how the video is so blatantly being used to raise money, that it’s the reaction of Brutus that may be more sincere.
Posted by John Woestendiek February 3rd, 2015 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, anthropomorphism, campaign, crowdfunding, crying, dog, dogs, emotions, fundraising, grief, grieving, grieving dog video, hel, house, indiegogo, internet, mourning, pets, plea, rottweiler, seattle, video, viral, youtube
Here’s a video that has been posted and reposted to YouTube in recent days, showing a shiba inu (or is it a golden retriever?) in Thailand (or is it Taiwan?) trying to save (or bury?) a fish out of water.
Yes, we humans are at it again. We all think we know — despite the lack of any factual foundation, despite living on the opposite side of the planet, despite being of another species, despite our inability to get straight what few facts there are — what this dog is doing, and why he’s doing it.
How do we know? Because we’re humans, dammit.
On its surface, through human eyes, it seems a most touching scene — as if the dog, by splashing water on the lifeless fish, and nudging it with his nose, is trying to revive it. (All this, we’d note, as humans stand by idly, giggling and taking video.)
And maybe that’s exactly what he’s doing.
But we do not know that.
We don’t know that, and yet, in our vanity, we are willing to express our interpretation as indisputable fact — whether we are the original observer, a watcher of the video, or a blogger in search of hits.
“This Dog Trying To Save A Fish Will Make You Say Aww” reports BuzzFeed
“Kindest Dog Ever Tries to Save Fishes by Splashing them with Water!” says the Inquisitr.
I’ve bemoaned this phenomenon before, and will bemoan it again — because it’s a little presumptious, and a little vain, to proclaim we know what’s motivating the behavior of animals. And it’s a little disingenuous of us to to let ourselves be moved to tears based on a rash, and possibly erroneous, interpetration.
It’s as if we don’t want to let facts or reason get in the way of our “awwwws,” or when something is going viral.
The video, and snippets thereof, have been posted on YouTube by dozens, all it seems in the last couple of days.
One of those post reads, “In the city of Phetchaburi in Thailand, a dog discovered the fish out of the water and unconscious on the pavement. It will try not to let them die by spraying water with its snout. Besides the fish are few puddles. The dog will then sprinkle the fish, as if he wished they would not die. Touching!”
The original poster of the video, or at least someone claiming to be such, explained on LiveLeak “Hello we took this video on a short trip to asia. The dog here … hangs out at the docks (and) is trying to keep the fish alive. He understands they need water to live and it made me a little sad inside.”
(A short trip to Asia? Could they be less specific?)
Others who have posted the video say it happened in Taiwan. Some describe the dog as a golden retriever; others suspect it’s a shiba inu, but they all agree the dog is engaged in a valiant rescue effort.
Some of those commenting on YouTube are pointing out that may not be the case:
“Sorry to burst your bubble but.. the Dog isn’t trying to save the fish. He think’s he is burying it. He’s using the water to bury it but doesn’t realize that water is not dirt, and hence he cannot successfully do the job properly. Canines are not intellectual enough to know that a fish needs water to breathe or survive.”
Others — caught up in the “awwww” of it all — refuse to accept that theory, or even consider it: “He is trying to save the fish,” asserts one. “He’s nudging it with his nose at 0:39. He’s trying to get the fish to move again and doesn’t understand why it won’t.”
There’s nothing wrong with speculation — as long as we admit it’s speculation, and don’t get too carried away by it.
Here’s mine. Assuming this dog is a regular at the wharf, maybe he discovered one day that he could revive dying fish by splashing them with water, and maybe he remembers that. Maybe he is trying to get them to move again. Maybe that’s because death saddens him, or maybe it’s because they’re more fun to play with when they’re flopping around.
Most of us are taught — in school, and in training for careers — to avoid using the word “maybe,” as it could maybe make us appear uncertain and plagued by self-doubt, the sort of person who would flip flop.
Not to splash water in your face, but I think, just maybe, that’s a mistake.
Posted by John Woestendiek August 14th, 2014 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, awwww, buzzfeed, certainty, docks, dog, dog and fish, dog trying to save fish, dogs, emotions, fish, fish and dog, humans, internet, interpretations, maybe, pets, reality, rescue, revive, save, speculation, taiwan, thailand, truth, video, viral, websites
Lately, it seems, hardly a month goes by without either some viral video or paper-writing scientist suggesting that — contrary to what scientists and the media think we think — dogs feel emotions much like our own, or at least a doggy version of them.
If it’s not a video, like the one above — which is being described in the news media as a dog not just feeling remorse, but atoning for his misdeed — it’s a new scientific paper proclaiming, yes, dogs do feel … you name it … joy, fear, anger, guilt, pride, compassion, love, shame.
(If you didn’t already think dogs feel joy, you may not be the world’s most perceptive person.)
(Some, apparently, get so overwhelmed by it that they pass out.)
This month’s emotion? Jealousy.
Dr. Christine Harris, a psychologist at the University of California, San Diego — after a study involving dogs, their owners, stuffed animals, jack-o’-lantern and children’s books — concluded that dogs showed a “primordial” form of jealousy, meaning, I guess, not as evolved, twisted, complex, nasty and, sometimes, fatal as the human form.
According to an article in the New York Times, the dog version of jealousy is “not as complex as the human emotion, but similar in that there is a social triangle and the dog is trying to make sure it, not the rival, receives the attention.”
In the study, as it’s described in a a PLoS One paper co-written by Harris, researchers compared the reactions of dogs when their owners petted and talked to a jack-o’-lantern, read a children’s book aloud, and petted and talked to a stuffed toy dog that barked and whined.
The dogs paid little attention to the jack-o’-lantern or the book. But when dog owners petted and talked to the stuffed dog, their dogs reacted, coming over, pushing their noses into the owner or stuffed dog, sometimes barking, and sniffing the rear end of the stuffed dog.
I’m not sure that’s proof of jealousy — it could just be proof that dogs are smart enough to investigate when humans are trying to dupe them. On top of that, most dogs have experience playing with stuffed toys, as opposed to plastic pumpkins and children’s books. So it’s not too astonishing they would have a more excited reaction to them.
In that way, the findings of this study aren’t really too surprising, or revealing, but they are indicative, I think, of a trend — in the scientific community, in the news media, and among normal members of society — of seeing dogs more and more as humans.
The “dogs feel jealousy” study, for example — flimsy as its findings sound — was picked up by most major news organizations.
“Study: Jealousy Is So Universal Even Dogs Feel It,” reported the New York Times.
“Study: Dogs Can Feel Jealous, Too,” said a CNN headline.
At least NPR phrased their headline as a question: “Does Your Dog Feel Jealous, Or Is That A Purely Human Flaw?”
These days, the news media doesn’t need a legitimate study to draw sweeping conclusions; a viral video will do.
The headlines all presume to know what the beagle is feeling, and some go so far as to explain the goal of his behavior as well: “I’m Sorry! Charlie the guilty dog showers crying baby with gifts to apologize for stealing her toy,” reads the headline in The Daily Mail.
My problem is not with attributing emotions to dogs. I believe they have most of the ones we do, or at least most of the desirable ones. I believe they have other magical gifts and skills we haven’t even begun to figure out. I believe studying what’s going on in their heads is a good thing — at least when it’s done by dog experts. I can even handle a little anthropomorphization; given we’re humans we tend to interpret things in human terms.
What bothers me, for starters, is presenting such findings as new, when dog owners have known most of them all along. Sometimes, it’s as if scientists and the news media are saying, oh wait, we’ve discovered dogs are not unfeeling blobs of fur, after all. Well, duh.
The problem I have is not so much ascribing emotions to dogs as it is the vanity of assuming emotions are something only humans feel.
And feel free as well, video posters, to share your dog’s interesting and seemingly human-like behavior, and to offer any theories you might have.
But let’s not leap to wild conclusions, based on how things look through our human eyes. Let’s not forget that dogs have had emotions all along. Let’s not assume they are “catching up” with us in terms of their emotions and behaviors. Maybe they’ve been ahead of us all along.
And let’s not be so surprised — given the centuries man has been choreographing their evolution, and the half century or so they’ve been mostly living inside with us — that they’re picking up some of our habits, good and bad.
While we’re at it, let’s let dogs remain, at least in part, dogs.
Let’s keep in mind, during all this, what we can learn from them. Are dogs lagging behind us, in terms of developing a sense of jealousy, or are they exhibiting a purer form of what we homo sapiens have taken to ridiculous extremes?
And let’s at least keep our minds open to the possibility that, when it comes to what dog and man can learn from each other, we may not always be the teachers, or the role models, in that equation.
(Photos: Ace in Monterey, California, at home on the couch, and with a panhandler in Portland, Maine; by John Woestendiek / ohmidog!)
Posted by John Woestendiek July 30th, 2014 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, anthropomorphization, cognition, dog, dogs, emotions, feelings, guilt, internet, jealousy, media, news, pets, pop culture, remorse, science, society, studies, study, trend, videos, viral, what dogs feel