Harried New York subway riders can now stop and play some fetch — throwing digital tennis balls to digital dogs at a digital dog park on the wall of a vacant storefront at the Columbus Circle subway station.
The storefront beneath 57th St. and Eighth Ave. has been transformed into a virtual dog park — with dogs included.
It’s like a Nintendo Wii game, the New York Daily News reports, with a screen that’s 64-feet long and 6-feet high.
It’s all part of a Beneful dog food advertising campaign — but one commuters are finding to their liking.
“This is awesome,” said Zeinabou Banks, 38, as her two pre-schoolers tossed tennis balls that two digital dogs retrieved. “It’s ingenious.”
Daily News columnist Pete Donohue described it as:
“… a perfect and unexpected antidote to all the dismal sights in the subway: a woman panhandler sitting on the floor at Grand Central with an infant cradled in her arms; a madman in filthy rags looking like he escaped from a leper colony; a middle-aged man in a suit keeling over and dying of a heart attack on the dirty floor of a crowded No. 4 train; a teen-age mom with a neck tattoo cursing out a crying toddler for acting like a toddler.”
“In the Columbus Circle passageway,” he noted, “the sun shines, birds chirp and the wind rustles the green grass.”
The interactive advertisement is only the second of its kind in the subway system, but more are expected to be showing up underground.
(Photo: Andrew Savulich / New York Daily News)
Posted by jwoestendiek May 15th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ad, advertising, animals, balls, beneful, columbus circle, digital, dog food, dog park, dogs, fetch, interactive, marketing, mta, new york, new york city, pets, riders, subway, subway riders, tennis balls, throw, virtual, wii
In the virtual world, you can, with a few well-placed clicks, pick your house, your car, your clothes, your physique, hair style and persona.
You can go out for a night on the town, in the setting of your choice, looking for love, or a fight, or any of thousands of other adventures — all of which are under your control.
Or you can spend a quiet evening at virtual home with your virtual pet — like a Panda-chow, or a tiger-husky, whose behavior, traits, appearance and even species combination are all changeable at your whim.
The video above is a preview for Sims 3 Pets, hitting the market today.
At the risk of sounding like an old man (one can’t criticize video games or apps without sounding like an old man), at the risk of being told by countless commenters that it’s only a game (yes, I realize that), I find it bothersome (and I don’t just mean that annoying narration).
In a way, I find what Sims 3 Pets does with dogs and cats nearly as troubling as that dogfighting app that led to so much controversy.
It’s a reflection of the same wrongheaded (in my view) mindset that we can do whatever we want to with dogs as long as it (A) entertains us, (B) makes money, (C) makes our lives easier, or (D) is done in the name of science.
It’s that mindset that leads to dogs as fashion accessories, dogs being abandoned when fads change, cruel laboratory experiments, greyhound racing, dogfighting, puppy mills, over breeding and, yes, cloning.
It’s thinking that dogs and all animals exist to serve our whims — however fleeting, selfish or bizarre those whims may be.
“Lighten up dude, it’s just a video game,” you might say. “It’s just a fantasy.”
And you’d have a point.
But (A) experimenting with and exploiting dogs doesn’t just happen in video games; and (B) Sims is not really the target of my tirade, for the game is just the latest rendition of a recurring theme in our society.
Of course, if it weren’t for man’s self-serving tinkering, we wouldn’t have dogs at all. It was man that shaped the wolf into all the diverse shapes and sizes we have now — and I’m not for doing away with any of them.
But somewhere — at least in real life, if not in video games — all the tinkering needs to stop.
We don’t need tiger-retrievers, or panda-chows — whether it’s the result of creative hair-styling and dye jobs, or inter-species experiments, or cell manipulation.
We don’t need robot dogs, or gladiator dogs, or fluorescent dogs, or dogs so inbred that they are unhealthy caricatures of themselves, or dogs created in a laboratory from the harvested cells of a deceased pet.
We don’t need to reinvent the dog, redesign the dog, ressurect the dog or even fine tune the dog. It’s fine as it is, and much of man’s meddling — whether it’s to make dogs more predictable, produce look-alike, act-alike cookie cutter versions of them, or invent new versions that are low-drool or non-allergenic — is an insult to that.
It’s even more of an arrogant pursuit when you stop and consider that the species that probably needs the most work is us. Maybe it’s our inability to control what happens among our fellow humans that makes us so prone to inflicting control over dogs, nature, or whatever else we can.
Here is something I said before, somewhere: If there is even a remote chance of controlling something, humans wanted to control it, preferably remotely.
In Sims 3 Pets, players can create and control over a hundred different kinds of cats and dogs, and can breed and share them with friends providing endless possibilities to create “new and exciting” breeds.
One can customize the pet’s coat, shape, pattern, color; the size of its ears, tail, snout, eyes, and more. You can also choose their behavior pattern, traits and control their bodily functions.
Dogs can even get jobs and make money.
And most creepy of all, pets can be shaped via virtual interspecies breeding, resulting in skunk-cats and panda-chows.
(If you think mixing species, fluorescent dogs and cloning are too far fetched to ever happen, I’d refer you to my book, DOG, INC.: the Uncanny Inside Story of Cloning Man’s Best Friend. They all already have.
It would be too much to ask, given that pesky First Amendment and all, that gamemakers refrain from virtual interspecies breeding.
But wouldn’t it be nice if we could somehow limit all forms of novelty dogs — and other bad human concepts like war — to the confines of computerized games?
Unfortunately, that seems out of our control.
Posted by jwoestendiek October 18th, 2011 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, breeding, breeds, cloned, cloning, control, creating, design, designer, dog, dog inc., dogfighting, dogs, domain, experiments, fluorescent, game, greyhound racing, interspecies, laboratory, manipulation, mindset, nature, novelty, over breeding, panda-chow, pets, robot, SIMS, SIMS Pets, SIMS Pets 3, simulation, tiger-husky, tinkering, video game, virtual, whims
Holy Formaldehyde! Times are changing. As of this fall, thousands of Catholic school students in the Philadelphia area can opt out of that once mandatory, highly stinky rite of passage — dissecting a frog in biology class.
The Archdiocese of Philadelphia has established a policy under which students in its 20 high schools who have concerns about traditional animal dissection are allowed to use alternatives to frogs, cats and other actual animals.
As an increasing number of high schools and universities are realizing, there are plenty of options to cutting up an animal, and students can learn just as much about biology through models and computer graphics.
“As the 21st century evolves, greater use of virtual dissection experiences will be encouraged and eventually replace the use of scientifically preserved animals,” said Mary E. Rochford, Superintendent of Schools for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. “With the availability of virtual lab experiences and other Internet instructional tools, students can arrive at the same learning.”
The Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s policy is modeled after the Pennsylvania Students Rights Option, a law established in 1992, which enables public and non-public students from grades K-12 who do not want to harm animals as part of their coursework to use an alternative instead.
You can learn more about the Pennsylvania law here.
“The Archdiocese’s student choice policy can serve as a model for other schools in the state of Pennsylvania, in addition to other dioceses across the U.S,” said Laura Ducceschi, Director of Animalearn, a project of the American Anti-Vivisection Society.
Tens of thousands of cats, frogs, and other animals are killed annually, specifically for dissection and other educational purposes, despite available alternatives and studies showing that students learn as well or better by using virtual dissection and other humane alternatives, according to Animalearn.
Animalearn’s website offers a searchable database of over 450 alternatives to dissection, downloadable software, and other humane science tools. A free resource to students and teachers nationwide, The Science Bank offers interactive models, videos, and virtual dissection CD-ROMs and DVDs.
Posted by jwoestendiek October 7th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: aavs, alternatives, animalearn, animals, anti-vivisection, archdiocese, biology, catholice, cats, choice, class, computer, dissect, dissection, education, free, frogs, graphics, high school, humane, models, options, philadelphia, schools, science, science bank, students, tools, virtual
To the growing list of once uniquely human phenomena that have made the transition to the dog world — anti-depressants, day care, therapists, diet pills, legal representation, designer clothing and gourmet meals, to name but a few — we can now add newspaper obituaries.
One appeared Friday on bostonherald.com, under the header “Obituary for a canine,” right between the death notices for two recently departed humans, Bridget Connolly and Stephen M. Loud Sr.
The obit announced the death of Kross Monsta Giles, 9, of Saugus, who ”passed on February 3, 2009, with his loving family by his side.” It listed his survivors, including his human sister and his canine siblings. (He came from a litter of 10.)
The nine-year-old German shepherd, who succumbed to cancer, the obituary reported, was best known as the face of A Better Companion, a canine recreation center in Melrose, where he served as official greeter. The obit concluded with an announcement of the services, to be held today at the Gately Funeral Home, 79 W. Foster St., Melrose from 10 a.m. to noon.
Gately Funeral Home owner John Gately, a dog lover himself, donated the space for the service. He will bring an urn with Kross’ ashes, and those who knew Kross can offer condolences. An obituary for Kross also appears on the funeral home’s website.
The Boston Herald, in a story about the obit, called the funeral home services “a Massachusetts first.”
“From my heart,” said Gately, “it was just me helping a family grieving over the loss of a companion and a great friend to them. How could I turn them away?” Gately said no one has complained about the obituary and service.
The dog’s owner, Kris Giles, said she was turned down by one funeral home owner worried about “public backlash.” She thinks the wake will help bring closure to her, her husband and 7-year-old daughter. “It just felt so good having something for him,” she said. “It’s making me feel better. It’s making the loss a little bit easier.”
We’re liking the idea. Opening obituaries and funeral services up to dogs could give both industries — newspapers and funeral homes, which kind of share the same ambience right now – a much needed boost.
It’s not exactly a new idea. There are numerous websites that allow pet owners to memorialize, eulogize and wax nostalgic about lost pets (see, for instance, rainbowbridge.com, rainbowbridge.org, petloss.com, critters.com, youns.com or peternity.com). Some of them, apparently figuring it’s high time Rainbow Bridge started collecting tolls, charge a fee.
There’s no reason newspapers couldn’t, crass as it may sound, cash in on pet death as well, allowing canine death notices to appear right along with the humans.
As for the funeral services, we have only one problem with them — or at least the one today in honor of Kross Monsta: Dogs are not allowed.
Posted by jwoestendiek February 14th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, boston herald, death, dog, dogs, eulogize, eulogy, funeral, funeral homes, funerals, gately funeral home, giles, journalism, kross, memorial, memorialize, monsta, news, newspaper industry, newspapers, obit, obituaries, obituary, online, pets, rainbow bridge, remembrance, virtual