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
A German shepherd was forced against his will into a churning pool of water and disappeared underneath it during the filming of “A Dog’s Purpose.”
Footage leaked to TMZ shows the German shepherd resisting efforts by a trainer to get him into a pool of water.
Once in the pool — whether it was by choice or force — the dog can be seen sinking under the water, which was being churned by eight outboard motors.
An alarmed voice yells “cut” and the dog is pulled out of the pool.
The footage — depending on how dog lovers react and how viral it goes — is likely to damage how well the movie fares at the box office after its release this month.
At the very least, it may earn its makers reputations as hypocrites, given the film’s dog-loving, feel-good message.
As of yesterday, there had been no reaction to the video from major animal welfare organizations, including the American Humane Association, which monitors productions and bestows the “No animals were harmed …” tag on the finished product.
The movie is based on the 2010 novel, “A Dog’s Purpose,” by W. Bruce Cameron, currently No. 1 on USA Today’s best-selling books list.
In the film, a dog’s story is told from the perspective of a dog (voiced by Josh Gad) who finds the meaning of life through the lives of the humans he teaches to laugh and love.
The German shepherd was one of at least five dogs used in the film, TMZ reported. The movie’s director, Lasse Hallstrom, was present during filming of the scene, TMZ said.
In the scene, a police dog rescues a young girl who has fallen into a rushing river.
The footage at the pool was shot outside of Winnipeg, Canada, in November 2015.
It shows a handler pushing an obviously frightened German shepherd into the churning pool of water. The dog manages to claw his way out. Later, the dog is seen back in the pool and, at one point, going under.
After a few seconds, someone yells, “Cut it!” and handlers rush to help the dog.
Amblin Partners and Universal Pictures say they have seen the video and are investigating.
“Fostering a safe environment and ensuring the ethical treatment of our animal actors was of the utmost importance to those involved in making this film and we will look into the circumstances surrounding this video,” they said in a joint statement.
The movie debuts on Jan. 27. It stars Britt Robertson, Dennis Quaid and Peggy Lipton.
According to USA Today, the book “A Dog’s Purpose” has sold 2.5 million copies. It is the first publication about a dog to top the chart since “Marley & Me,” which was also adapted into a film, in 2006.
Posted by John Woestendiek January 19th, 2017 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: a dogs purpose, amblin pictures, animal welfare, animals, book, box office, churning, cruelty, dennis quaid, dog books, dog movies, dogs, entertainment, film, footage, forced, frightened, german shepherd, goes under, humane, investigation, lasse halstrom, leaked, movie, movies, novel, outboard motors, pets, pool, sinks, tmz, trainer, universal pictures, water
Gotta hand it to Max.
The German shepherd has come up with a far healthier alternative to toilet bowl water.
His owners posted this video on YouTube a couple of weeks ago.
We can only hope that they are as vigilant at keeping his water bowl full as they are at posting on social media.
In any event, Max shows himself to be one smart dog, who has learned not only where to find cool, freshly filtered water, but knows his left from right well enough to avoid being bombarded with ice cubes.
… And for even more happiness, watch it in full screen.
Surely by now you’ve heard about all the inconveniences visiting journalists from the west are facing in Sochi — a town that in its rush to get ready for the Olympics didn’t quite get ready for the Olympics.
As a member of that breed, or at least a former journalist, I can’t help but have empathy for their plight.
They have an important job to do, and how can we expect them to do it when they are facing obstacles like hotel rooms with no Internet, fallen drapery rods, faulty doorknobs, or tap water so discolored one journalist reported she had to resort to washing her face with Evian?
Life can be so cruel sometimes.
Sochi’s shortcomings are being blasted all over the Internet — by journalists, by Tweeters, and by tweeting journalists.
Arriving early, and finding the amenities weren’t all they could be, journalists got the ball rolling, bellyaching about conditions and posting their complaints and photos online. Olympics guests picked up the ball, voicing their discontent; and even a few athletes — though they’re less likely than journalists to whine, or so we’d hope — have broadcast the problems they’ve encountered, including one who was forced to punch his way out of the hotel room bathroom he was locked in.
Others arrived to find that their rooms, despite being reserved and paid for, weren’t ready, or weren’t even there, forcing them to wait, bunk with someone else, or seek shelter elsewhere.
Fortunately, no journalists (to our knowledge) were forced to sleep in stairwells or alleyways.
Others tweeting their discontent have complained of unappealing food, and menus whose Russian to English translations are sometimes laughably off the mark, which leads us to worry whether journalists are getting the all-important nourishment they need to do their jobs.
I’m sure there will be much inspiration ahead in the 2014 Olympics, and perhaps even a few things to love about them. For the first few days though, it has been an embarrassment — for Sochi, for Russia, for Putin, and for all those journalists who came across as spoiled Westerners, partly because they are spoiled Westerners, partly because they have the modern-day need to self-broadcast every little bump in the road they encounter.
While most reporters are there to cover the sporting side of it all, and while many have been preoccupied by their lack of creature comforts, some have gotten around to writing about what we think is probably the most shameful Olympic-related story of all. In case you haven’t yet gotten our drift, it’s what the city is doing to stray dogs.
The city of Sochi has hired a pest control company to rid the streets of dogs, another piece in its failed plan to look good for the Olympics. Capturing and killing strays, as if that’s not bad enough, seems all the more cruel when you consider that many of the dogs are homeless because of all the new construction for the Olympics, some of which sent dog-owning families into apartments where dogs aren’t allowed.
Sochi promised it wouldn’t conduct the cull, then it did. The extermination was well underway by the time the media caught on, but eventually it was reported by, among others, the Boston Globe, Radio Free Europe, and, eventually, the New York Times. It took awhile, but the public outrage is, appropriately enough, snowballing now.
When that happens, the silly and tired old question always pops up, “Does the world care more about dogs than it does humans?” That was pretty much the headline on an op-ed piece in The Guardian about Sochi’s strays this week — silly because it implies people can’t care, get outraged and fight for both species.
But, to answer it only for myself , yes, I sometimes care more about dogs than humans, depending on the circumstances, depending on the dogs, and the humans, and depending on the hardships at issue. Yes, I care more about a dog being exterminated for no good reason than I do about a TV reporter who has temporarily lost his or her access to hair conditioner.
The inconveniences reporters, guests and athletes might face in Sochi aren’t enough to cast a pall over the entire Olympics.
What’s happening to the dogs is.
(Photos: A dog checks out a trash can across from the Olympic stadium / Twitter; a dog drinks from an icy puddle outside of Sochi / Reuters; dogs and volunteers at a makeshift shelter / The New York Times; dogs napping on the street / Twitter; a starving street dog in Sochi / Getty Images/iStockphoto )
Posted by John Woestendiek February 11th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: 2014 olympics, amenities, animals, athletes, complaints, construction, contract, cull, displaced, dog, dogs, embarassment, exterminate, homeless, hotels, journalists, killing, killing dogs, lacking, olympics, pets, plumbing, preparations, problems, putin, reporters, russia, Sochi, sochi strays, spoiled westerners, stray dogs, strays, water
Throw a dog who has never gone swimming into a pool and, pretty much instantly, he’ll start moving his four legs in a series of motions we’ve come to call the dog paddle.
Throw a human who has never gone swimming into a pool and — though the possibilities are much higher for helpless flailing about, cussing, drowning, or becoming traumatized for life — he may eventually come to his senses enough to try and work his way back to the side of the pool. He’ll do so not using a butterfly stroke, breast stroke or Australian crawl, but by doing what dogs do.
The dog paddle: It’s seemingly instinctual. It’s primitive. And though we humans mostly outgrow it, it remains sort of the default mode of propelling ourselves through water.
Just how primitive it may be is under investigation by Dr. Frank Fish, a professor of biology at West Chester University who — maybe because of his name, maybe not — has spent most of his career studying how marine mammals swim.
Most recently, he has been studying the swimming motions of dogs, and he has concluded that they are very similar to the motions dogs use in trotting. That explains the ease with which most dogs can make the transition from land to water — requiring no lessons, and (generally) little coaxing: They basically propel themselves the same way in water as they do on land.
That their stride and strokes are nearly identical is interesting in itself, but Fish thinks it could also help explain how whales and dolphins ended up in the ocean.
Fish subscribes to the theory that marine mammals were intitially four-legged land dwellers who ventured into the water one day (likely dog paddling at first), decided they liked it better there, then evolved into such super swimmers that they no longer needed legs, or, for that matter, land.
He borrowed a swimming pool used to rehabilitate horses at the University of Pennsylvania.
Analyzing the video, Fish and fellow researchers saw that dogs swim much like they run — with diagonal pairs of legs churning in unison, according to Science Daily. Fish presented his findings at the 2014 Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology (SICB) meeting in Austin.
While there’s plenty of dog research we’d categorize as a silly waste of time, we find all this pretty intriguing.
First, it reminds us that practice makes perfect — to think that long, long ago there might have been a couple of four-legged dolphins who didn’t know how to swim, hesitating at the edge of the water: “I dunno, it looks dangerous … should we go in?”
Second, in an era when we’re increasingly relying on computers to do our thinking for us, it serves as a warning that those muscles we don’t use can disappear. It raises a host of interesting questions about our future, and our past.
Why is it we humans tend to dog paddle in our first encounters with water? Is that some sort of instinctual nod to a past when we got about on four legs, instead of two?
If cavemen had spent more time at the swimming hole, might we homo sapiens have evolved into something more amphibious?
Given that, might mermaids really exist?
It’s kind of inspiring to think there might have been a day when dolphins, the planet’s most graceful swimmers, were total klutzes in the water — that they started off splashing about with some awkward looking dog paddling and progressed to the point where they could actually leap out of the water.
It reminds us that, maybe, anything is possible with enough hard work — even when it comes to behaviors we might think are genetic and therefore unchangeable. Do we sometimes wear our genes too tightly, and allow them to restrict us from leaping into new things, and getting over old ones?
We wish Fish luck in unraveling how four-legged terrestrial forms evolved into no-legged, finned ones. And as long as the dogs involved in his research are having a good time — given Fish is letting his own dog be used in the study, we assume they are — we have no problem with them helping the professor prove his point.
In other words: Go Fish!
(Top Photo, Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology; bottom photo, from the book Underwater Dogs)
Posted by John Woestendiek January 16th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, biology, dog paddle, dogs, dolphins, evolution, frank fish, genes, genetics, instinct, land, legs, mammals, marine, motions, movement, nature, research, science, study, swim, swimmers, swimming, water, west chester university, whales
For his Christmas gift, the owners of a beagle named Maymo stacked 210 empty plastic water bottles in the shape of a Christmas tree.
Then they let Maymo have at it.
The result? Hours of entertainment for the dog. Hours of entertainment for them. And, in the year since the video was posted, nearly 2 million views on YouTube.
Posted by John Woestendiek December 23rd, 2013 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, beagle, bottles, christmas, christmas tree, dog, dog gifts, dogs, gifts, gifts for dogs, lemon beagle, maymo, pets, plastic, play, present, stacked, video, water, water bottles