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
Ten million viewers have listened to the astute ramblings of these “sad dogs” since they were posted on YouTube a year and a half ago by someone calling himself Ze Frank.
“Sad Dog Diary” is the sequel to Sad Cat Diary, and while it’s laden with poop and pee references, it offers some hilarious insights into how dogs might see the world — were they as logical and unexcitable as the moderator who provides their voice.
Here’s a scenario that — even before I saw this frightening video — has flashed through my mind often since I became a dog walker.
As a natural-born worrier (I suspect it’s in my genes), I’m prone to assessing the situation I’m in — even when it’s an entirely pleasant one — and picturing the worst thing that could possibly happen, no matter how unlikely it is.
After six decades, I still haven’t totally gotten over my fear of being sucked under the escalator grate as the step I’m standing on flattens out and disappears.
In my dog walking job, I visit three small dogs at an assisted living center, take them down the elevator, out for a walk, and then back up the elevator to their masters’ rooms.
The possibility of this happening, or something like it, popped into my head my first day.
What if, as the elevator doors closed, a dog darted out, ending up on the opposite side as the elevator went down?
I’ve kept a firm grip on the retractable leash — and kept it in the locked position — ever since having that mental image. After seeing this video, I’ll keep an even firmer one.
Tamara Seibert, a college student in Toronto was riding the elevator March 2 with two dogs — hers and a friends. They were heading from her condo unit down to the parking garage. As the doors closed, the end of her dog’s leash was caught outside the elevator.
Vado, her five-year-old, 110-pound Rottweiler, was violently jerked upward as the elevator descended, and Seibert struggled to remove his collar, breaking two fingers in the process, she told the Toronto Sun.
“I thought I was going to watch him die,” Seibert said.
Thankfully, the clasp on Vado’s leash snapped under pressure, and he fell to the floor about the same time the elevator came to a stop and the doors opened. Thankfully too, Vado’s prong-type collar had been put on with the prongs on the outside.
Seibert, a student at Ryerson University, obtained video from the surveillance camera and posted it on her Facebook page as a warning to others.
It was reposted to YouTube, where it’s drawing all sorts of insensitive comments from people who would rather get in a good jab than learn something from someone else’s experience.
Painful as it is to watch, it’s a teachable moment, and one that proves not all my unnatural fears are that unnatural.
I, for one, have become even more cautious on the elevator, and I’m contemplating switching to the stairs — especially if I’m ever taking two dogs with me at once.
As for Vado, he’s fine.
“I can’t believe its been almost a month since I went through one of the most traumatic experiences of my life,” Seibert wrote in a Facebook post. “I thought I was about to lose the love of my life (my puppy) and seriously mangled my hand in the process … I want to warn people how fast something so simple can go horribly wrong.”
Posted by John Woestendiek March 28th, 2014 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, canada, caution, danger, dog, dog on elevator, dogs, elevator, elevator dog, elevators, facebook, hazard, leashes, pets, rottweiler, tamara seibert, toronto, vado, video, warning, youtube
With help from an Olympic luger, Twitter and a dog who is at least part wolf, Jimmy Kimmel has once again put one over on the news media.
Then again, fooling the news media has a very low degree of difficulty these days.
Kimmel conspired with 21-year-old luger Kate Hansen, under whose name the video was posted on Twitter and elsewhere.
“I’m pretty sure this is a wolf wandering my hall in Sochi,” she said in a comment accompanying the video on YouTube.
Pretty much every major news outlet quickly picked up the story Thursday, echoing the Olympian’s cry of wolf, and apparently forgetting the entire moral of that fable.
USA Today was among those setting the record straight today — generally in a humorous vein that didn’t focus on how any laziness on the media’s part might have contributed to being duped.
Hansen, who finished competing Feb. 11 and is staying at the Olympic village, tweeted the video with the hashtag #sochiproblems and #sochifail. The hashtag was commonly used by visitors to Sochi for complaints surrounding the Games, including some about stray dogs.
Kimmel came clean last night, revealing the set created in the studio to resemble the dormitory corridor, and the wolf-dog, named Rugby.
Hansen appeared, via Skype, on the show as well, and said she has experienced some repercussions for the role she played.
Posted by John Woestendiek February 21st, 2014 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, dogs, dormitory, frenzy, hansen, hoax, kate hansen, luge, luger, media, olympics, pets, prank, Sochi, twitter, video, wolf, wolves, youtube
You know how frustrated you get when you have to tell your dog something over and over again?
Come here. Come HERE. Listen to me. Get over here right now. Don’t make me say it again. COME HERE!
In this video, the shoe is sort of on the other paw.
John Ventresco, of New Hampshire, is trying to persuade his 11-month-old husky, Blaze, to get into her crate.
Not only does Blaze physically (but peacefully) resist, refusing to budge, but she says what sounds like “no” — 30 times by my count, at least 10 of those quite clearly:
Posted on YouTube just two weeks ago, the video is approaching 5 million views, meaning a lot of people are getting a chuckle, and learning how not to train a dog, and debating whether Ventresco — as gentle and good-humored as his urging is — is going to get bitten one of these days, and, if so, will he have deserved it.
Eventually one of them will have the other properly trained, I’m just not sure if it will be Ventresco or Blaze. Right now, it appears to be a draw.
The bigger question it raises, to me, anyway, is whether the day will come when dogs really do talk. I predict it will — that they will someday talk, on their own, without the aid of implants, headsets, devices that monitor their brain waves and apps that translate what they’re thinking into words.
Several projects are underway that do just that — because we humans want to know what’s going on in their heads, and we want to know now, and somebody somewhere thinks it might make some money.
We’ll take advantage of technology to bring that about and get it on the market as soon as possible, rather than wait a few hundred or thousand more years when, I’d venture, dogs will have evolved to the point that they’re talking on their own anyway.
It’s only natural for that to happen, with them living so closely to us, observing us around the clock, and watching too much TV. They will continue to pick up our skills – learning to operate a remote control, warming up some chicken nuggets, uttering words, then entire phrases.
Mark my words. By the year 2525 (and that’s just a wild guess), dogs will be saying “yes” and “no,” and more:
I want to go outside for a while.
But wait, there’s more. Details at 11. Ohmigod, they killed Kenny. Live from New York, it’s Saturday night.
Put me in that damn crate again and, I swear, I’m going to call my attorney.
They may never have as sophisticated a vocabulary as us, may never be as erudite, snotty, self-promoting and adept at making barbed comments as us. But the day will come that they use words.
The question is not whether dogs will someday learn to talk. It’s whether, when they do, we’ll listen.
We already stink at that — in terms of listening to our fellow humans, and in terms of hearing what our dogs are silently saying. We’re so dependent on words we don’t hone our wordless communication skills, even though that mode is often more honest and meaningful.
My fear is that, through continued domicile-sharing with humans, dogs are going to learn to talk, but also – like Blaze, like Ventresco — not to listen.
It all brings to mind some lyrics from a song that has nothing to do with dogs — Don McLean’s “Vincent.” When you think about it, the misunderstood artist and modern day dog have much in common. We wonder what they’re trying to say, fail to see their brilliance, and don’t appreciate them fully until they’re gone.
Instead, often, we taunt, ridicule and shame them.
How much shorter might Van Gogh’s career have been, how many appendages might he have lopped off, were he around in the Internet age, reading nasty comments from people about his paintings?
How much quicker might the civil rights movement have progressed if people had shut up and listened to Martin Luther King, Jr., the first time?
Are we getting any better at listening, or quicker to turn a deaf ear?
As the song “Vincent” says:
They would not listen, they’re not listening still.
Perhaps they never will…
Let’s give it a listen.
Posted by John Woestendiek January 20th, 2014 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, apps, artist, behavior, biology, blaze, civility, cognition, comments, communication, crate, devices, dog talk, dog training, dogs, don mclean, evolution, headsets, humans, husky, impatience, implants, internet, kennel, listen, listening, martin luther king, martin luther king jr, misunderstood, mlk, mlk day, no!, noooo, persuasion, pets, refusal, repetition, resistance, siberian husky, skills, starry starry night, stubborness, talking, talking dogs, technology, thoughts, training, translation, van gogh, video, vincent, viral, vocabulary, vocalizing, what part of no don't you understand, words, youtube
Believe it or not, the poster of this video is a dog trainer — though, if you’ve got an infant in the house, you might not want him to teach your dog this particular trick.
Alex Garcia, a dog trainer based in Brooklyn, jokingly says he posted this video on YouTube “in part to discourage friends from asking me to baby-sit.”
According to his website, CivilPet.com, he works with dogs, cats, and companion parrots, providing dog training, dog walking, and pet sitting services.
The website contains videos of several “useless dog tricks” he has taught his dog, Raja.
He also writes a blog, and did an entire entry that features step-by-step directions on how to teach your dog to put a baby (or at least a baby doll) into the oven:
“Step 2: Use shaping to get her to put the (toy) baby in the oven. Hold the baby in the position you want it to land, click your dog for investigating it, then grabbing it. When she grabs it, click and shove food in her face so she’ll drop it in the same position. She should hold the baby, you click, she drops it, then gets fed, then withhold the click until she drops it, then click. Gradually, start with the baby further away from the point in which you want the dog to drop it, then you’ll eventually be able to put the baby on the floor …”
In a disclaimer at the end, he writes: “This is not an actual How-To guide; I’m just going over what I went through to train this for anyone who is curious. If you attempt to train this to your dog, you’re doing so at your own risk. I am not responsible if: your dog opens or closes the oven while you’re cooking; your dog puts an actual baby in the oven; you get bit trying this with your resource guarding pet; your oven breaks somehow; anything bad happens.”
We’re guessing Garcia isn’t so quick to shirk responsibility when he’s on the job; otherwise his repeat customers would be few. As he sees it, he’s just making training a little more fun through his useless pet tricks.
“Training provides great mental stimulation, even when the behaviors themselves have no practical application in the real world,” he says.
Other videos on his website are somewhat cuter and not quite so worrisome, including this one entitled “The Police are Coming.”
Posted by John Woestendiek November 7th, 2013 under videos.
Tags: alex garcia, animals, baby, baby in the oven, brooklyn, civilpets, dog trainer, dogs, doll, infant, instructions, new york, oven, pets, raja, raja takes care of the baby, really stupid pet tricks, responsbility, stupid pet tricks, take care of the baby, video, youtube
Here we see a duck and a dog peacefully sharing a meal — at least until the food runs out.
Then the duck gets a little peckish.
The dog, who looks like he might have a little pit bull in him, takes it all in stride before nonchalantly walking off.
We won’t cast judgment, since we’re not sure if the food actually belonged to, or was meant for, the duck or the dog.
There’s no explanation of the video by the person who put it on YouTube — other than “quack, quack, quack.”
Interestingly, the comments that have been made about the video indicate there’s some sort of argument going on between humans, who sometimes have trouble sharing, and get a little peckish, too. Apparently someone thinks the video was “stolen.”
“Please stop stealing other people’s videos,” reads one comment.
It’s not clear — to me, anyway — whether they’re complaining about the video being stolen and put on YouTube, or they think it was “stolen” off of YouTube, for use somewhere else, as we have done, via the embed code that most all YouTube videos have, for the express purpose of sharing.
The comments are of no help in figuring things out — instead they consist of the kind of not-so-witty banter we’ve grown to expect from comments on the Internet (except those left on ohmidog!, of course.)
Whose video is it? Whose food was it?
Dunno. But I’m happy to share.