Sunday, December 6, 2009

Should Poodle Bitch be Worried About H1N1?

Poodle Bitch was pleased to discover that yahoo had a gallery of canine-related photos for her perusal. "Dogs at Work and Play," was the headline. There is little that gives Poodle Bitch more joy than to see her fellow dogs working and playing.

Unfortunately, Poodle Bitch began to lose her appetite with the second photo in the gallery:

Original caption: Randel Pride of Peoria, Ill., playing Santa Claus, gets his beard cleaned by an affectionate five-month old Yorkshire Terrier named 'Ella' during pet pictures with Santa at My Dog's Bakery and Boutique in Peoria, Ill., Saturday, Dec. 5, 2009. Over 100 dogs and one cat had their portraits taken with the Jolly Old Elf, with proceeds to benefit local shelters.

Poodle Bitch cares little for the enforced jollity of the "holiday season," although she does not begrudge others for enjoying it. Most especially the children and puppies, and according to the caption, the yorkshire terrier depicted in the above photo is "an affectionate five-month old." (And what if she had been an irritable five-month old? Or irascible? Would the picture still have made it into the gallery?)

However, Poodle Bitch loses her appetite whenever she sees a dog licking someone else's hair. Especially when that hair is fake. What do they use to simulate the whiskers of "the Jolly Old Elf?"

But later in the gallery, Poodle Bitch was appalled to discover something far more disturbing.

Original caption: Pet dogs are seen wearing masks after local media reported that two dogs were infected with H1N1 flu virus in Beijing, Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2009.

Poodle Bitch must pause a moment to take this in.

Dogs are now becoming infected with the virus formerly known as "swine flu"? Poodle Bitch was aware that LOLCats were susceptible, as an Iowa cat was supposed to have caught the virus. This after the ASPCA suggested that Poodle Bitch and other dogs, and cats, had little to fear from the virus.

Naturally, Poodle Bitch was alarmed. As she does when she becomes alarmed, Poodle Bitch took a deep breath, counted to ten, and then started gnawing on her forepaw. This calms her, although her humans sometimes mistake it for OCD. Next, she went back to the photo's original caption, which reads that "local media" reported that dogs had become infected. This is local media in China.

Already, Poodle Bitch begins to feel less threatened. The "local media" in China is notorious for its inaccuracy and alarmism. And sensationalism. Remember just a couple of months back how the "Chinese media" was reporting on a Swedish town full of attractive human lesbians-- who beat to death the human men who accidentally enter:
Several Chinese media outlets have published reports claiming that 25,000 women live together in Chako Paul City, which is said to have been built in the forests of northern Sweden in 1820.

The residents have turned to same-sex relationships to satisfy their desires, and any men attempting to gain entry risk being "beaten half to death" by the blonde sentries at the gates, according to the reports.

The far-fetched fantasy appears to have been swallowed by many Chinese men, forcing Swedish officials to issue a formal denial that the town exists, or ever existed.

Now having been mollified somewhat, Poodle Bitch took to google to find any stories about dogs contracting H1N1. She found an article at a site called "China Daily," which seemed to confirm the story.
Health experts in China have assured pet-lovers they need not panic following the discovery of two dogs infected with the deadly H1N1 flu at the weekend.

The animals were diagnosed in Beijing and, while it is possible for pets to transfer viruses to their owners, scientists said there is no evidence to suggest pets are already spreading the illness.

"If animals can get infected from humans, then the reverse is also true," said Feng Zijian, director of emergency response for the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

"But there is no need to panic in this case."

Poodle Bitch appreciates that there is no need to panic in this case. Now excuse her while she gnaws on her forepaw.

She recalls that in Egypt thousands of pigs were slaughtered, because that would make officials there appear to be doing something positive to prevent the spread of what was then called "swine flu." So, whether it is true or not that dogs are getting H1N1, they are all potentially at risk for death at the hands of overzealous public officials.

So, while Poodle Bitch is unlikely to begin worrying for her health based on the word of untrustworthy sources, she is worried about what the word of untrustworthy sources might do to humans who panic without thinking. She takes solace from the following at the American Veterinary Medical Association website:

So far, there haven't been any reports of dogs infected with the 2009 H1N1 flu virus. Based on what's been reported, ferrets and two cats – and probably dogs, if they can become infected with the virus – have shown signs of respiratory illness. These signs can include lethargy, loss of appetite, fever, runny nose and/or eyes, sneezing, coughing, or changes in breathing (including difficulty breathing).

Keep in mind that dogs currently have their own flu virus, the H3N8 influenza (canine influenza) virus, going around. So far, this flu virus has only been spread from dog to dog. Dogs infected with the canine influenza virus show the same symptoms as dogs with kennel cough – fever, lethargy, loss of appetite, coughing, and maybe a runny nose.

Poodle Bitch is relieved to know that, should she decide to worry about anything, she can stick with the H3N8 virus. For now, at least.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Poodle Bitch is Irritated by the Latest Episode of "Glee"

"Glee" has become one of Poodle Bitch's favorite shows. Overall it is a well-written, well-acted, and well-sung look at human high school life that is surprisingly sensitive and complex. With some exceptions, of course. Poodle Bitch feels that they have yet to fully explain why Will Schuester would have married the venal, manipulative Terri in the first place (other than the fact that she bears a superficial resemblance to Jessalyn Gilsig, the actress who portrays her), while at the same time the writers seem to be trying too hard to "humanize" the entertainingly venal, manipulative Sue Sylvester.

However, for this week's episode, "Ballad," there was not a single moment that rang true. It felt as if Poodle Bitch were watching just another television show, in which some of the characters occasionally break into song. Awkwardly.

For starters, why would Mr. Schuester break everyone up into pairs to sing ballads to each other? Poodle Bitch is a close watcher of shows she likes, and she cannot for the life of her remember his justification for doing this. Moreover, why was it that Mr. Schuester felt the need to offer himself up as a "partner" to one of the students? There seemed no reason for him to not just say "We'll wait for Matt to return," or "We're going to have one group of three." He's the teacher, the authority figure-- this despite the fact that he is young, hip, and clearly portrayed by an actor who is only a few years older than the students.

But even accepting that he allowed himself to be selected as a partner by one of the students-- and Rachel, no less-- why would he allow her to bully him into performing "Endless Love" with her? He knew the song well enough to sing it, so he knew the lyrics before they started. It is one of the most effective expressions of over-ripe teenaged emotions ever put to music ("you will always be my endless love"); of course it was going to have a hypnotic effect on a teenaged girl whose hormones are aimlessly raging.

Poodle Bitch questions the judgment of a teacher who would sing this song with one of his students.

Mr. Schuester's decision to sing "Endless Love" with a student was especially moronic and irresponsible given his past experience with student crushes. As he explains to the delightful Emma Pillsbury later in the episode, he can't just tell Rachel to stop and leave him alone because the last time he did that with one of his students, she attempted suicide.

Poodle Bitch is not joking. But the writers were; for, in a flashback scene played for laughs, the brokenhearted object of Mr. Schuester's previous rejection, Suzy Pepper, attempts to kill herself by ingesting the world's hottest hot pepper (she'd ordered it from somewhere in South America, Poodle Bitch believes). Paramedics are barely able to save her in time, and she requires years of psychotherapy and an esophagus transplant.

Poodle Bitch wonders why it is that the writers found this to be suitable comedy fodder. There is certainly a layer of darkness to some of the episodes, but she found this subplot to be bleak and insensitive.

However, for plot purposes it was necessary to explain why Mr. Schuester couldn't just tell Rachel to straight up "cut it out and leave me alone." He's worried about another attempted suicide. (Poodle Bitch would wryly note that, given the fact that Mr. Schuester married the abominable Terri, and has yet to realize, after several months of living together and sleeping in the same bed that she is not actually pregnant, there is perhaps little need to explain his lapses in judgment.) For this reason, Emma Pillsbury, who has her own crush on Mr. Schuester and, not surprisingly, her own decision-making problems, suggests that Mr. Schuester express his feelings in song. To let her down gently.

To that end, Mr. Schuester creates a mash-up of the songs "Young Girl" and "Don't Stand So Close to Me," altering the lyrics of each to make them even more combative and abrasive. Just so Poodle Bitch has this straight: Hearing the object of her crush sing to her, "Young girl, you're out of your mind, your love for me is way out of line," and "Don't stand- don't stand so- don't stand so close to me" is intended to be the sensitive way of letting her down. (As an aside, Poodle Bitch would like to note that any power contained in the song "Young Girl" by Gary Puckett and the Union Gap rests in its idea that the narrator did not realize that the object of his affection was so young-- she's deliberately misrepresented to him her age-- and he is therefore struggling with his desire for her, which he now realizes on a rational level to be inappropriate. What Mr. Schuester did to the song, in addition to awkwardly "mashing" it into "Don't Stand," was to turn it into an angry diatribe that would belittle anyone with even a little self-awareness.)

Is this song creepy? Poodle Bitch would like to point out that the narrator is attempting to distance himself from the girl who led him to believe she was old enough to give him love. He isn't inviting her back to his hot tub for champagne and quaaludes.

Of course this terrific plan doesn't work. Rachel lacks the self-awareness necessary to see that Mr. Schuester was belittling her, and Emma Pillsbury, who was also there to watch his performance, sits in dazzled awe of his skills as a performer.

It's not until Suzy Pepper, who apparently has returned to the school following her therapy and transplant (Poodle Bitch is unaware of how human schools work, but she wonders why anyone, from the psychiatrists to the administrators to parents, would believe it a good idea that she return to the school where Mr. Schuester teaches) corners Rachel in the bathroom and admonishes her about the dangers of becoming too attached to Mr. Schuester that she comes to realize how poorly she's been acting.

For his behavior, Mr. Schuester is let off the hook.

Meanwhile, there is pregnant Quinn. She has yet to tell her parents that she's pregnant (although most of the school already knows and anyone with access to the internet and Jacob's gossip blog can find out), and is, in her first scene of the episode, trying on her gown for the "chastity ball" (good golly Miss Molly-- isn't the term "chastity ball" oxymoronic?), with her mother's help. Mother, mildly tipsy, notes that the gown doesn't fit as well as it did last month, and Quinn explains that she had a big lunch that day.

It is clear that Quinn's mother realizes her daughter is pregnant, but is in a state of, perhaps, alcoholic denial. And, of course, she is a Christian who is preparing her little girl to attend a "chastity ball."

Quinn's father staggers into the room declaring Glenn Beck is on television, drink in his hand (Poodle Bitch does not watch Glenn Beck, but she has just googled him and discovered that his program airs at 5 PM weekdays, which means Quinn's parents have started getting drunk before five o'clock. This seems early to Poodle Bitch.), offering words of pressure about his lovely, chaste daughter.

Poodle Bitch harbors no particular animus toward religious people, nor conservatives, nor those who watch conservative television programs. Nor does she have any particular affection for them. But she wonders why it is that the writers of this show, who have displayed real sensitivity toward, as an example, Kurt's father, should present Quinn's parents as little more than typical right-wing caricatures?

And speaking of Kurt, Poodle Bitch notes that he, too, became a cliche in this episode-- the sensitive gay man in love with the dumb jock he can never have, who nevertheless offers advice and encouragement to said dumb jock in his pursuit of the woman he kinda-sorta loves. Although in this case, Kurt's advice was universally bad. Of course, in the ballad pairings Kurt was paired with Finn, who believes he is the father of Quinn's child. He is upset because Quinn is planning on giving up the baby for adoption (to the execrable Terri Schuester), and so he won't get to be part of his daughter's life. Kurt suggests that he sing a ballad to his daughter-- his suggestion is The Pretenders's "I'll Stand by You," which is a song Poodle Bitch admires, but has been used so often in movies and television shows as to have become an obvious cliche. Why not select "My Baby," or "Kid," or "Hymn to Her" (Poodle Bitch's own personal favorite) instead?

There were plenty of Pretenders songs to choose.

But that doesn't compare to the monumentally bad advice Kurt gives Finn later in the episode. When he encourages Finn to serenade Quinn-- during a dinner with her parents-- with the song "You're Having My Baby."

"You're a woman in love and I love what's going through you." Poodle Bitch is happy she has been fixed.

Perhaps the high school student Kurt is too young to realize this, but Poodle Bitch's humans are certainly old enough to know that that particular song has been a punchline almost since it was recorded. Poodle Bitch wonders if perhaps Cal Smith's "Country Bumpkin," or Terry Jacks's "Seasons in the Sun," or The Captain and Tennille's "Muskrat Love" will be sung in upcoming episodes?

And why did it take two verses for the parents to realize their daughter was pregnant? The very first line of that painful song is "You're having my baby." It doesn't get much more obvious than that.

The less Poodle Bitch says about the Glee Club's serenading Quinn and Finn with "Lean on Me," the better. But she would be remiss if she did not further add that Puck's admission to Mercedes that he is really the father of Quinn's child did little to advance her opinion of either character.

Over all, a very weak episode of what has been a very entertaining and uplifting show. Poodle Bitch is hopeful that next week's episode won't be quite so bad. Poodle Bitch is an optimist.

Glee cast photograph source.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

RE: Owen Wilson as Marmaduke

Poodle Bitch rarely reads comic strips. She prefers the humor of authors such illustrators as Roland Topor and Edward Gorey. She is not a snob, but she does readily admit to having refined taste. She also readily admits to having no idea what exactly about this is supposed to be funny:

That is today's, November 3's, installment of a daily newspaper comic strip called "Marmaduke." First of all, Poodle Bitch will suppress the urge to make a joke about newspapers being good for nothing more than picking up her dirt during walks. Plenty of people still read newspapers. But she has to wonder how much enjoyment they get from them, when comics such as the above appear in their pages. Poodle Bitch has studied this illustration for far too long already, and still she cannot see where the humor is supposed to be. Is the humor solely to be found in the fact that the dog is so monstrously larger than the human girl? Is it somehow contained in the dog's mannerism, with the right forepaw pressed to his forehead? Is it in the caption-- is the little girl being ironic? Is the dog?

Poodle Bitch cannot understand.

Nor can she understand why it is that such a comic strip might inspire a feature film.

[I]t’s being reported that Owen Wilson has signed on the dotted line to voice the role of Marmaduke, a giant clumsy CGI dog based on the 1954 comic strip of the same name. ... The plans for a Marmaduke movie have apparently been around for a while now as it has a cast of known names that will surely regret ever agreeing to appear in it down the road. The names include William H. Macy, Judy Greer, and Lee Pace as live-action characters, while Steve Coogan, Emma Stone, Damon Wayans, George Lopez, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Marlon Wayans, and Fergie will all voice CG characters.

Poodle Bitch has only read a few "Marmaduke" comic strips, while composing this blog entry, but one thing she has noticed about every one that she has seen is that the dog does not "speak." She is unsure therefore as to why anyone would bother to create a film based on a comic strip and then change something so fundamental about it. There are plenty of comic strips in which animals "speak." No, Poodle Bitch cannot name any of them, because she does not read comic strips. But she knows at least one human who does with alarming regularity. So she knows a little something about this. But she wonders why it is that the filmmakers don't just purchase the rights to one of these other talking animal comics.

Then again, she wonders why filmmakers don't create original material themselves.

And why is Owen Wilson, a talented and charming performer whose work Poodle Bitch has admired in the past, making yet another cute dog movie? Poodle Bitch reminds the reader that Mr. Wilson recently appeared in the execrable "Marley & Me," in which an obnoxious Labrador seems to take forever to die. (Poodle Bitch did not offer a spoiler alert warning because "Marley & Me" is so rotten that it cannot be spoiled.) The film made light of canine mental illness and neurosis to the point of being offensive. It also manipulated the viewer in the most casually cynical way.

But at least "Marley & Me" starred real dog actors. Poodle Bitch notes that "Marmaduke" will feature CGI, or "computer generated imagery" dog characters. Poodle Bitch wonders about the future for animal performers. Soon they will all be out of work; CGI dogs don't need to be paid scale, don't need to be fed, and don't need to be picked up after.

They also don't turn up their noses at material based on manipulative, treacly books and unfunny comic strips.

Exasperating Nonsense from Massachusetts

Massachusetts is the state which, as Poodle Bitch recalls, wanted to increase its animal companion licensing fees by $3.00. At the time, Poodle Bitch wondered about the soundness of demanding more money from responsible animal companions during what is being called an economic downturn-- but now, Poodle Bitch has the disturbing answer as to what it is that animal control authorities in that great state do with their money.

In one case, they steal animal companions and present them as gifts to police officers' girlfriends.

It was not until [Janet] Torren threatened to call police last month that she learned the Stoughton official in charge of finding stray dogs had given away her “little princess,’’ a 4-year-old Yorkshire terrier that Torren calls Shai.

The story is almost too exasperating for Poodle Bitch to relate. Apparently, young Shai slipped out through a back gate at the home of Ms. Torren's son. Shai was then taken to "the pound," where she was then presented to a police officer's girlfriend by the head of animal control, a reprehensible creature called Kristin Bousquet.

But Torren did not learn for 12 days that the dog had been brought to the pound and she spent nearly every one of those days knocking on doors and making phone calls in search of her beloved pet. She called the Stoughton pound many times, but was told they did not have her dog.

“I was frantic,’’ she said. “Our children are grown, and Shai is a baby to us; we treat her as our little princess. She’s a family member. She’s absolutely loving.’’

Shai had an identifying microchip implanted behind one of her ears, and Torren called one microchip company, thinking they would know if it had been scanned by a pound or a veterinarian. They had not received any reports. On Oct. 1, Torren called another company and learned the microchip had been scanned, by the town pound in Stoughton, on the day the dog was lost.

So, once again, Torren called Kristin Bousquet, the town’s animal control officer. There was no answer. After Torren left a message threatening to call police, Bousquet called back and tried to suggest someone else at the pound or the local rescue league may have scanned Shai’s microchip, even though Torren said the company told her that Bousquet had registered Shai.

Finally, Ms. Torren contacted the chief of police, who was able to locate the dog. Shai and Ms. Torren were reunited-- a happy ending to a story that Poodle Bitch finds very disturbing. Except. There is something within the article that causes Poodle Bitch to be still unsettled.

After Bousquet said the dog was about to be taken to Florida, Torren gave her a half hour to return her dog. Then Torren met with Chief Thomas Murphy of the Stoughton Police Department. They chatted in his office for a few minutes, and he walked out and came back carrying Shai.

“It was a huge relief,’’ she said. “It was like this whole, horrible story was over.’’

After a brief investigation, Murphy found that Bousquet had given the dog to a police officer’s girlfriend, who was planning to move to Florida with Shai. He found that the dog was well fed and in good condition. The officer and his girlfriend, neither of whom Murphy identified, did not know that the dog had been missing, Murphy said.

Perhaps it's just that the article is inartfully written, but Poodle Bitch wonders what the police chief did while he was out of the office? Did he know which of his officers' girlfriends had been given the dog? Where did he get the dog he was carrying when he returned to his office? And, perhaps most important, Poodle Bitch wonders why Ms. Torren, who was likely so overcome with relief that she was not thinking straight, should trust anything that any city officials tell her regarding her animal companion?

Poodle Bitch has been very lucky. She has, for the most part, encountered humans who have treated her with respect and decency. She has always felt relatively safe with her humans, and is of a sufficiently contrary nature that very few humans would want to spirit her away from her regular human companions. But she understands that this is a constant source of anxiety for many dogs; they worry over their treatment by humans, for they are essentially at the mercy of humans.

Poodle Bitch suspects that Shai will be a long time recovering from this sense of abandonment she felt when she was taken from Ms. Torren. And for that, Ms. Torren should do something.


Torren has decided not to press charges against Bousquet.

Again, Poodle Bitch believes Ms. Torren is allowing her relief to cloud her judgment. The reprehensible Kristin Bousquet scanned Shai's chip at the pound, gave Shai to someone else, and then repeatedly and over the course of 12 days lied about the fact, knowingly preventing Ms. Torren and Shai being reunited. Poodle Bitch believes there's a fine line between being polite and being a sap. It doesn't matter that the town manager fired the reprehensible Kristin Bousquet from her job in animal control. Of course she should have lost her job. But this human exhibited a pattern of deviousness that merited punishment beyond that.

The reprehensible Kristin Bousquet was drawing a salary that was paid for with taxpayer money. If Poodle Bitch were a resident of Massachusetts, she would compose a harshly-worded letter to Ms. Torren, telling her to press charges, if only for the other taxpayers.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Some Dogs are Annoying Drunks; But Giving Alcohol to a Pup Dog is Always Wrong

Poodle Bitch has rarely imbibed. She has little taste for alcoholic beverages, and tends to dislike the tingling sensation she encounters when she has more than a few sips. To her, most liquor smells of cleaning fluids; and Poodle Bitch does not wish to drink cleaning fluids. It's for this reason that Poodle Bitch is often conscripted into the job of "designated driver."

That said, she has known dogs that have enjoyed the flavor of alcohol, and who enjoy the festive sensations inspired by being in their cups. Poodle Bitch has no problem with this-- she believes that life is short enough, and cares not to judge how others spend their free time.

Of course, Poodle Bitch does not care to be around certain types of drunks. Labradors, that most obnoxious of breeds, tend to be particularly loud and boisterous when they've drunk too much. Malteses's voices become even higher-pitched and more irritating, and they tend to cry about past wrongs-- former romantic partners who have left them, for instance. Beagles tend to become restive, and angry at the slightest provocation; especially if they believe they are being made fun of. Pugs almost inevitably start wheezing on and on about politics, and anyone who disagrees with them is simply asking to be bitten.

Poodle Bitch's musings on the behaviors of certain types of drunks was inspired by the story of a man in a place called "Iowa City," who has been charged with providing alcohol to an underage dog:

While the owner was away, [Jared Levi] Colony poured UV brand flavored vodka into [4 month-old Puggle puppy] Pip’s bowl and encouraged the dog to drink it, police said.

When the dog’s owner returned to the residence, Pip was unresponsive, his tongue was hanging out and the dog was barely breathing. Police said Colony told the owner, “Pip’s just a little drunk right now.”

Poodle Bitch notes that, because the pup in question was a "puggle," and therefore contained aspects of both the pug and beagle breeds, the pup most likely required little encouragement. The beagle parts of Pip are unsophisticated and boorish. The pug parts of course are, well, more coarse.

Poodle Bitch has not met a puggle, and has never seen one drunk. She wonders if the dog would obnoxiously expound on tiresome political matters, or would become belligerent over some perceived slight against his "honor."

But of course this is a moot point anyway, since the dog in question was merely a pup. No pup dogs, not even beagles or pugs, should be drinking. Their bodies are too small and undeveloped to handle it.

Police said Pip received critical care for nearly two days at Bright Eyes and Bushy Tails veterinary hospital and barely survived alcohol poisoning.

Poodle Bitch has led a relatively charmed life, compared to the fates that befall many dogs. She has never had occasion to see a drunken pup dog; nor would she care to. She has to wonder at the mentality of the human who would give alcohol to an underage dog.

Once a dog gets to be two or three years old, she is capable of making her own choices about whether to drink or not. Until that time, she must rely on a sensible human to use proper judgment about what to feed her. Apparently, that is a scary prospect.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

RE: Human-Dog Mouth-to-Mouth

The AP has another misleadingly headlined article: "Pet owners willing to go mouth-to-muzzle."

A careful reading of the article (and, if Poodle Bitch can be so bold, "careful" is the only way Poodle Bitch reads anything), reveals that a perhaps more accurate title might have been "Some Pet Owners willing to go mouth-to-mouth." For, as the second paragraph states,

Fifty-eight percent of pet owners — 63 percent of dog owners and 53 percent of cat owners — would be at least somewhat likely to perform CPR on their pet in the event of a medical emergency, according to an Associated poll.

Poodle Bitch finds it appalling that a full 42% of "pet owners" would not even be at least "somewhat likely" to perform a basic life-saving action on their "property." Poodle Bitch wonders about that 42%. If their beloved animal were seen choking to death, would he stand over his charge and cackle? Would he say, "Well, it was nice knowing you"? Would he at least fret, as young Fido's (which is a derivative of the word "fidelity," Poodle Bitch notes) life force ebbed from his body?

Poodle Bitch is immeasurably appalled by this idea. Even if you see yourself as an "owner" of a pet, would you not do everything you could to protect your property? Poodle Bitch wonders what is the percentage of people who would attempt to prevent their Wiis or Playstations from choking to death?

Poodle Bitch has already written of the casual cruelty of which pet "owners" are capable; nonetheless, she is surprised that they are capable of such depravity. Not only that-- the headline and story are composed in such a way as to suggest that humans should be proud of the fact that 42% of pet companions would allow their animals to die a slow and agonizing choking death, without even attempting to revive them. The first paragraph is comically slanted:

Most pet owners would leap into action for an injured pet, even if it meant risking dog breath by going mouth-to-snout.

How wonderful that a bare majority of pet "owners" would risk "dog breath" in attempting to stop their pet dying! Poodle Bitch is barely touched. She believes the article could have delved into the motivations, or lack thereof, of the 42% who would allow their animal companion to die without attempting to help him.

Of course, the article does not do this. The article, Poodle Bitch notes with weary unsurprise, is strictly ho-hum.

The reader is introduced to a few "pet owners" who take their animal companions seriously, and is then admonished to have disaster plans in case of fire or earthquake. Directing "pet owners" to a website that offers instruction on animal-specific CPR-- or that tells "pet owners" where they can find classes in the subject-- might have been a good start.

Instead, the article merely congratulates humans on the fact that most of their species would be willing to at least try to prevent their animal companion dying horribly. Poodle Bitch wonders at just how far the bar that measures compassion has been lowered.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Somehow, and Against Her Better Judgment, Poodle Bitch Has Fallen Under the Spell of John and Edward

Poodle Bitch is both appalled and fascinated by the antics of "X Factor" contestants John and Edward. There is something about their enthusiasm that almost makes up for their lack of talent. And Poodle Bitch has to admit that she has a high tolerance for true, earnest kitsch. It is both tragic and hilarious-- and more than a little inspiring.

The above clip shows their take on the only Britney Spears song that Poodle Bitch is able to tolerate. Poodle Bitch notes that it is not nearly so good as Richard Thompson's version, but it is still quite exquisite. Exquisite as a painting of a crying clown. Drinking Old Crow.

It is making the rounds now because Simon Cowell called it the worst performance he'd seen on "X Factor." Poodle Bitch doesn't see how this could be. She notes that their Britney Spears-inspired performance (complete with shiny PVC outfits and "Titanic" reference) is not nearly so tragically bizarre as their evisceration of Robbie Williams' "Rock DJ":

Not to be cruel, but Poodle Bitch did not realize it was possible to ruin a Robbie Williams song. Yet Poodle Bitch finds it more than a little unsettling to hear a pair of androgynous halflings of indeterminate age singing,

"Gonna stick it in the goal
It's time to move your body."

Poodle Bitch notes that Danii Minogue spends more time talking about the twins' food-stealing antics than the performance itself. "Not the best vocals," she declares. "But I love the way you entered." Cheryl Cole tells them she admires their perseverance in the face of criticism. She then says, wonderfully, "It's not your fault you're in the final twelve."

Chin up, boys!

Simon Cowell further twists the knife by complimenting their "thick skins." He then tests said "thick skins" by telling them their performance was "a musical nightmare."

The judge who seems most enamored of them, Louis Walsh, then offers his own encouragement: "Not all the pop stars on the charts are great singers."

Poodle Bitch concurs.

Not great singers. But they make a good entrance.

Photograph source.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Poodle Bitch Has Almost Given Up on Project Runway

Poodle Bitch had high hopes for "Project Runway" this season. She has always been a fan of the show, ever since she was an adorable puppy during the first season. She saw it as that rare televised reality competition where merit was rewarded. Where skill was treated with respect.

To be sure, there were designers who advanced in the program who did not deserve to do so. But always, the show managed to keep around those top skilled designers who were most deserving.

This season, however, the program seems to have gone off the rails, almost from the very first episode. There is no way, for instance, that Ari should have been sent home before Mitchell. In fact, Mitchell should have been sent home in each of the first three episodes. The fact that Poodle Bitch actually felt relief when Mitchell did not make it into the fourth episode says much about the judging this season. It has been eccentric. Poodle Bitch does not feel that there is any way that Louise, but most of all Epperson, or Shirin, should have been sent home this early. Not when Christopher, Logan, Gordana, and Althea remain.

Christopher designed something shoddy, and constructed it badly. Saying he should have gone home this week is slightly unfair; he should have gone home long before this.

The poodle companion Irina Shabayeva is so clearly ahead of everyone else that Poodle Bitch has begun to worry she will be sent home next. The only mitigating factor is that Poodle Bitch notes in the teaser for next week's episode, the program will be cut to show that Irina is to be this season's "Kenley."

Yes, in the most recent episode, Irina was called a "b*tch" by Nicholas-- who admitted Irina was a good designer. Poodle Bitch knows that Nicholas intended "the b-word" as an insult, but of course Poodle Bitch does not see it that way. Based on the teaser for next week, Irina will be the "villain" for the duration of her stay. This is rather unfortunate, but it is a television competition. The viewers, Poodle Bitch included, understand the producers can manipulate their days' worth of footage however they want to create a single episode.

Which leads to Poodle Bitch's main problem with the show this year. The producers-- who, according to the program's disclaimer, have a hand in judging decisions-- have been far too visible an influence on the judges. Clearly, Mitchell was kept around for dramatic purposes. Logan was kept last week, while Epperson sent home, to protect the "distracting" dynamic between him and Carol Hannah. Shirin was sent home this week to maintain gender equality. There is no other explanation.

True to form, Logan presented an outfit designed with seemingly no one in mind (no one real, anyway), and stitched it together as if he were lacking opposable thumbs. But the woodland sprite girl Carol Hannah finds him "distracting," so he must be kept on the show.

That said, Poodle Bitch has been utterly mystified by Althea's continued presence. She has done nothing of interest, and has indeed created a couple of quite egregious outfits. Moreover, the producers have found very little footage of her to use the last couple of weeks. One would be forgiven for thinking Althea had already been sent home.

Poodle Bitch is happy to note that she is not the only one to notice the problems with this season. The ratings have taken a serious tumble since the first episode's high.

One factor is that "Runway" has run headfirst into the start of the broadcast fall season, whereas its final Bravo round aired during the summer. Still, "Runway" usually climbs as the finale draws closer no matter what time of year it airs.

Poodle Bitch believes an even more important explanation for the show's continued decline in fortunes is that it has lost sight of what it was. A competition based mostly upon merit. Yes, one or two instigators would get judged less harshly, but the producers' manipulations were always more subtle than they've been this year. The fan base for this show does not come to it for "Flavor of Love" style dramatics. We want to see fantastic garments created by talented designers. Especially this late in the competition. Keeping Mitchell for three episodes was our first sign, but we could only suspect. Sending home Epperson and then Shirin two weeks in a row made it obvious. The producers were trying to make "Project Runway" a different program. Perhaps this was because of the move to Lifetime, or the move to Los Angeles, but whatever the reason, they are losing viewers who are unlikely to return.

As a viewer, it is difficult to take the show seriously anymore. Clearly the producers and judges do not.

Clearly not Shirin's finest moment (and to be fair to her, she was not helped by her sourpuss model), but this rather eclectic look was miles ahead of both Christopher and Logan.

Designs photographs source.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Sexualization of Dogs Continues

The proverbial ink is not yet dry on Poodle Bitch's most recent lamentation of the sexualization of puppies, and already she has seen something else to cause her further consternation.

"Matching sexy dog costumes for humans and pets."

Poodle Bitch knows of no dogs who want to wear bustiers. That is a uniquely human desire. When it is cold, and a small dog is forced to leave the dwelling in order to "go potty," or if there is a problem with the furnace, then a sweater or other tasteful garment is very much to be appreciated.

This is not tasteful. Poodle Bitch notes the expressions on the faces of the dogs- they betray feelings of confusion mingled with irritation. Clearly, these are dogs that are not in the height of the sexual tickle.

These are dogs being forced by their human companions to partake of fetishes they do not share. These are dogs being treated as props.

Poodle Bitch would like to suggest these humans get a purse. At least then they would have something in which to tote their multiple packages of condoms and lubricants.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Poodle Bitch Wonders if Jessica Simpson's Maltipoo, Daisy, Committed Suicide

Poodle Bitch has already written of her lack of sympathy for Jessica Simpson. It is with Ms. Simpson's now lost Maltipoo Daisy that her sympathies lie. And yet, Poodle Bitch cannot help but note that Ms. Simpson is still attempting to solicit sympathy over the loss of the Maltipoo she used as an accessory:

"Daisy meant the world to me," the star, 29, told at the FFANY Shoes on Sale QVC event in NYC Tuesday. "I hold her memory very, very close. It was an unfortunate thing what happened. That I don't have her every day... It's a very hard thing to talk about."

Yes, Ms. Simpson is having such a difficult time of it that she could barely muster the inner courage to attend the "FFANY Shoes on Sale QVC event in NYC." Poodle Bitch wonders, with no small amount of irony, just how it is that Ms. Simpson is able to continue.

Poodle Bitch has been curious about Ms. Simpson ever since her Maltipoo disappeared so mysteriously. Supposedly, the poor creature was carried off by a coyote. To be honest, Poodle Bitch was wondering if it was possible that someone so fame-obsessed might have done away with the Maltipoo herself, in order to get attention.

Poodle Bitch fancies herself the less fussy, poodle version of the television detective Monk.

However, after doing a bit of online research, Poodle Bitch has come to a quite different conclusion: The Maltipoo Daisy might have committed suicide, running headlong into the gaping maw of the coyote rather than have to spend another day as Ms. Simpson's security blanket:

"She won't leave her parents' house," a source says. "Whenever things went wrong, she reached for Daisy. Daisy was her security blanket."
"Jessica has a very small inner circle," the friend said. "But she always had Daisy. Daisy gave her the unconditional love she needed."
Whenever she was out at night, Jessica Simpson called home and had "someone put Daisy on the phone so she could say goodnight."
When Jessica Simpson was having relationship problems, the friend said "she would cry herself to sleep at night, using Daisy as a pillow."
Daisy filled a void because "Jessica is very needy. She is very clingy. She is so sweet, but sometimes she's hard to be around."

"It's not always easy. She hates to be alone. That's what happened with Tony. Jessica smothers people. She doesn't really have hobbies."

Clearly, Daisy the Maltipoo was under a great deal of stress. Poodle Bitch has no doubt that the poodle half of Daisy had little patience with such "clinginess." She has no idea how the maltese half of Daisy felt about the situation. Poodle Bitch cannot imagine the unmitigated hell with which Daisy had to deal, as part of the Simpson household, being used a snot rag whenever Ms. Simpson's heart was broken over one of her ongoing romantic or professional disappointments.

Poodle Bitch shudders- and would not blame a Maltipoo for wanting to end it all. In such case, Poodle Bitch finds Ms. Simpson's insistence that Daisy would want her to get another dog to be especially touching:

Simpson still is unsure if she will get a new dog.

"I haven't really thought about another dog yet, but maybe sometime," she told Us. "[Daisy] would want that."

Indeed, Daisy would have wanted that. She would have wanted Ms. Simpson to have gotten another dog a long time before.

This poor puppy never had a chance-- did she eventually decide to take her chances with a coyote rather than spend another minute as Jessica Simpson's snot rag?

Photograph source.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Project Runway 6 Episode 8: Why, Judges-- Why?

Before Poodle Bitch gets started with this week’s episode, she feels compelled to mention three Project Runway-related stories that caught her eye this week. First on her list is the announcement that there will be a Project Runway video game on Nintendo Wii. Not having opposable thumbs, Poodle Bitch derives little pleasure from the playing of video games, so she does not. But she knows that there are some games that come equipped with prop machines, such as the ever-popular “Rock Band,” so perhaps the new Project Runway game will come equipped with a button-filled “sewing machine” attachment. She cannot see how a video game would be of interest otherwise, as much as she enjoys the show.

She is not old enough to remember “Fashion Plates,” the toys from the 1980s that allowed users to “design” outfits by placing tiles in a random order, and then placing a paper over said tiles, then rubbing them with a piece of- actually, Poodle Bitch does not know what it was that one rubbed over the tiles. But she wonders why it is that some enterprising company doesn’t bring out a Project Runway Fashion Plates edition. She imagines that there would be much more interest in that than a video game. The PR audience most likely remembers Fashion Plates; how many of them play video games?

The second story had to do with former Project Runway guest judge Lindsay Lohan, who made her debut as an artistic advisor for Emanuel Ungaro, with predictable results.

Poodle Bitch has to admit that the entire show, which can be seen here, is not the complete train-wreck that she thought it would be; the designs presented there were like middling Project Runway creations-- the types of garments that might land a contestant in the bottom three during the first few episodes, but not get her eliminated. Poodle Bitch doubts that is what the Ungaro collection aspired to.

One of the Ungaro designs on which Lindsay Lohan "advised." Poodle Bitch is not surprised.

The third story is the most sinister, and it has caused Poodle Bitch to wonder if she would ever again watch Project Runway. Recently, fugitive Roman Polanski was arrested in Switzerland on an outstanding warrant issued when he left America just before he was to be sentenced for his guilty plea, in a case in which he admitted to having physical relations with someone not very much older (chronologically) than Poodle Bitch is now. After his arrest, Project Runway producer Harvey Weinstein began circulating a petition for Mr. Polanski’s release.

Poodle Bitch believes Mr. Polanski should be in jail. Mr. Polanski is an admitted attacker of human children, and should be punished. But she understands there are some who believe that somehow Mr. Polanski was victimized by an unjust court system, and an overzealous prosecutor and judge. Fine. Poodle Bitch can agree to disagree on that; she is not a lawyer.

However, rather than leave the matter at that, Mr. Weinstein then went on to say-- when challenged by others who do know something about the American legal system-- that people in Hollywood, such as himself, have a unique insight into the unfairness or fairness of Mr. Polanski’s situation, because they have “the best moral compass:”

"Hollywood has the best moral compass, because it has compassion," Weinstein said. "We were the people who did the fundraising telethon for the victims of 9/11. We were there for the victims of Katrina and any world catastrophe."

Poodle Bitch has spent some time in Hollywood, and has known many people in and around the entertainment industry. She can tell you that, based on the way they treat their assistants, makeup and hair people, boom operators, marketing people, craft services, and etc, their “compassion” does not always extend to those with whom they directly come into contact. In fact, they are capable of a great deal of cruelty toward those they consider "underlings". Moreover, Poodle Bitch knows plenty of people outside of entertainment who gave a great deal of their time and money for victims of the attacks of September 11, 2001, Hurricane Katrina, and the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. And for them, their compassion required more than just the rearrangement of the schedule so that they could sit for hair and makeup, and appear on a television program exhibiting just how "compassionate" they were.

To Poodle Bitch, Mr. Weinstein’s comment about Hollywood’s “moral compass” had the feel someone who has admitted he might have made a mistake in his initial assessment of a situation, yet is too proud to back away from it, and insists on doubling down rather than admit he might be wrong. She has never met Mr. Weinstein, so she of course has no way of knowing exactly in which direction his “moral compass” points, but she does know that attacking a small child has earned for those less famous life-damaging punishment.

She wonders, where is Mr. Weinstein’s compassion for those people- especially in light of revelations in Mr. Polanski’s own autobiography that he engaged in at the very least "questionable” behavior with very young women- some might even say girls- on other occasions.

Poodle Bitch decided that, despite her misgivings over Mr. Weinstein’s participation, she would watch, for the sake of the poodle companion Irina. She cannot resist- she must see how Irina does with the competition. Early in the episode, she interviews that she understands that there are some who are worried about her, as she has already won two challenges, while many of them have won nothing.

Yes, the other contestants should be worried by the talent and taste of the poodle companion Irina, who has shown with each week that she is one of the top designers.

And Logan interviews that “Irina seems to have this more sophisticated taste that’s been appealing to the judges.” To which Poodle Bitch would reply, in a word that even Logan can understand, “Duh.” She would also add that poodle companions are known for their sophisticated taste. Otherwise, why would a poodle associate with them?

For this week’s challenge, the designers had to create new garments out of divorcee’s wedding dresses. They had their pick from among nine women who had been divorced or in the process of getting divorced for a period of months or several years (more than ten, in a couple of cases). Irina, having won the last challenge- and rightly so- had first pick, and chose the woman whose dress had the most lace.

Shirin, who chose last, had no real choice at all, and was stuck with a simple white 100% polyester dress that yielded very little material for her to work with. Moreover, her “client” wanted something like a Cher “Half-Breed” costume. Shirin, who is Poodle Bitch’s second choice, has better taste than that.

Shirin's "client" wanted something like this. WANTED something like this. Happily, Shirin has taste.

That said, Shrin spent so much of the episode crying, whining, and complaining about it that Poodle Bitch was sure she would either win or be sent home. “It’s hard to show design when you don’t have any fabric.”

Then Gordana, who last week had the benefit of working with Irina on the team challenge, spent a good deal of time crying and recalling her own divorce, and wiped away tears with dye-stained hands as she left a phone message for her children.

Christopher’s design “worries” Mr. Gunn. Christopher attempts to reassure him, but Mr. Gunn remains skeptical.

Mr. Gunn, having fine taste, loves what Irina is doing. “How did you get this gorgeous color?” he asks her. “I think what you’re doing is very exciting. Keep going.”

He is no fool, and Poodle Bitch heartily agrees with his assessment.

Nicolas showed contempt for his "client's" taste, and it showed in this reckless monstrosity of ugly pants topped by a doily.

Mr. Gunn wonders about Epperson’s design. The core of the garment has to be the wedding dress. Ominously, he adds, “You have a lot of decisions to make.” And Epperson’s decision is to totally scrap what he’s been doing and create an entirely new garment. Perhaps, he wonders, he misunderstood the challenge.

Logan says that his “look” is “sort of a play on a tuxedo feel,” with a mumbly voice and little conviction. “This worries me,” Mr. Gunn says, as ominously as he’d said to Epperson. For some reason, Logan is making pants out of wool, or something- something that is not material from the wedding dress, which had a surprisingly long train.

Poodle Bitch wonders what a designer of real skill and talent, such as the put-upon Shirin, might have done with it.

Logan designs ugly clothes, then constructs them poorly. He is a double threat.

Gordana’s work gets a “beautiful” out of Mr. Gunn, and Poodle Bitch has to agree with him. “I want you to keep saying to yourself ‘I’m going to win, I’m going to win,’” he tells her. Poodle Bitch would not go that far, not with Irina in the room, but she appreciates that Mr. Gunn is attempting to inspire Gordana.

But Gordana got to work with Irina last week- shouldn’t that be inspiration enough?

Mr. Gunn offers Shirin a shoulder on which to cry. As she explains what her divorcee wants, the other designers laugh at her. “What?” Mr. Gunn asks, incredulous at the thought of someone wanting to look like Cher’s “Half-Breed” in 2009. “She’s not at risk of going home,” Mr. Gunn tells her. He adds that she should remove the textiles she’s placed on the mannequin and “just play, like it’s a big giant paper doll.”

Or, a Fashion Plate?

Althea's silly blue dress was not the worst this week. Poodle Bitch believes it was a bad week.

Mr. Gunn is not shown speaking to the talentless Althea, the annoying and casually cruel Nicolas (who says that he hates his garment, then tells his “client” that is is “so you”), or the woodland sprite Carol Hannah (who says that she makes her living creating wedding dresses, and so tearing them up to create something else is akin to running into a church and shouting an obsenity). Poodle Bitch does not feel she’s missing much.

Carol Hannah eschewed Woodland Sprite for Flapper Knockoff. Far from Poodle Bitch's least favorite, yet equally far from Poodle Bitch's most favorite.

Michael Kors is still back, but Nina Garcia is nowhere to be found. In her place is a Marie Claire editor, Zanna Roberts, and the president of Jimmy Choo and a board member of Halston, Tamara Mellon. This is off-topic, but upon hearing that Ms. Mellon was a board member of Halston, Poodle Bitch was unable to get the Billy Joel song “Big Shot” out of her head.

There are worse songs to get stuck in one’s head, she supposes. Cher’s “Halfbreed,” for instance.

Given the trauma induced by the lack of material-- and said material being 100% polyester and therefore, according to Shirin undye-able, Poodle Bitch believes that Shirin at least deserved second place after Irina.

Irina’s garment is first down the runway, and that is fitting, because it is Poodle Bitch’s favorite. Next is Shirin, which is again appropriate, since it would have been Poodle Bitch’s second choice. Then comes Logan’s matronly top and wool pants. Poodle Bitch does not wish to be cruel, but these garments have the look of something designed and executed by an incompetent dullard- which is what they are. She feels bad for the “client.” Next is Carol Hannah’s flapper update- Poodle Bitch feels she is flashing back to Gordana’s dress of two weeks ago, updated just slightly enough to keep Carol Hannah out of the bottom three. Althea’s design is a silly light blue dress with dark blue bosoms. She claims that “seeing my dress come down the runway made me feel good,” which should get her disqualified on the spot. At least it is not “stripper chic” such as she sent down the runway last week. Nicolas shows enough self-awareness to claim that his granola-inspired pants and doily shrug top was “a hideous thing,” and Poodle Bitch finds herself liking him in spite of herself. Next is Gordana’s dress, and Poodle Bitch very much likes this one, too. It is both well-made and edgy. Then, Christopher sends down his “client” in a trashbag cinched at the waist. It makes Poodle Bitch feel terrible to look at. Finally, Epperson sends down his voluminous pirate dress.

Gordana's dress is declared the winning design. Poodle Bitch agrees it belonged in the top three- but to win? Over Irina and Shirin?

Gordana is declared the winner, and Poodle Bitch cannot get too upset over that. Irina and Shirin also make the top three, which is a rare moment of good taste from the judges.

Christopher sent his "client" down the runway in a trashbag. This was terrible, but it was not the worst garment this week.

The bottom three are Epperson, Christopher, and Logan. The judges had too many choices for the bottom- in fact, Gordana, Irina, and Shirin had the only garments that Poodle Bitch would consider “good.” The bottom two should have been Christopher and Logan, with Logan, whose work and attitude make Poodle Bitch wonder if he is not mentally challenged, going home.

Instead, the bottom two are Logan and Epperson, and Epperson is the one who gets the boot. Poodle Bitch wonders if Logan is too good-looking to send home this early in the competition. That is the only reason that she can see for sending home Epperson. She truly has no interest in seeing what Logan comes up with in the future.

Poodle Bitch invites the reader to decide- Was this truly the worst design of the week? Or was Epperson cast aside because he handled himself with too much aplomb, and not enough "sex appeal"?

Fashion Plates photograph source.
Project Runway designs photographs source.
Cher Half-Breed photograph source.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Daily Kibble "Muttisse" Pet Bed Giveaway

The Daily Kibble email newsletter and website is holding a drawing for something called a "Muttise" Pet Bed.

The Smucci Muttisse Pet Bed features a handpainted design inspired by Henri Matisse’s “Woman Sleeping on a Corner of the Table in 1939.” The woman in the painting (and on the bed) appears as if she has fallen asleep suddenly, perhaps during the middle of her day. There is a slight smile on her face which suggests she did not fall asleep from exhaustion or stress, but rather intended to merely take a “cat nap.”

Poodle Bitch is unsure if the cutism "Muttisse" is clever or sickening. But she cannot argue with the idea of a bed inspired by fine, capital-A Art. Unfortunately, the photograph accompanying the press release reveals little in the way of detail:

It is so small as to cause Poodle Bitch eyestrain. She went to the smucci website and learned,

Each Smucci Matisse Bed is created one at a time, and no two beds are exactly alike. Variations will occur which contribute to the intrinsic beauty and overall feel of this exquisite masterpiece for your pet!

Poodle Bitch further likes the idea of said capital-A Art inspired bed being a one-of-a-kind creation (Poodle Bitch considers herself a one-of-a-kind), but she again can't help but wish there were larger photos available.

Interestingly, when Poodle Bitch did a google search for "Woman Sleeping on a Corner of the Table in 1939," the only references she found were to this giveaway. She could not find any pictures of the Matisse work that inspired the beds, nor could she find any reference to any works by that title.

Now, Poodle Bitch is even more curious.

"Boomer May be a Buster"!

Poodle Bitch has noticed that a dog in North Dakota-- a plains state-- is vying for the attention of The Guinness Book of World Records. The ever-vigilant Associated Press is on the case:

Boomer may be a buster: Measuring 3 feet tall at the shoulders and 7 feet long from nose to destructive wagging tail, his owner thinks she may have the world's tallest living dog.

Caryn Weber says her 3-year-old Landseer Newfoundland keeps all four paws on the floor when he drinks from the kitchen faucet in her family's farm house in eastern North Dakota.

Poodle Bitch has not met very many Landseer Newfoundlands, so she naturally decided a little research was in order. What she discovered appalled her. First, regarding the breed's "temperament":

The Landseer is a dog with an outstanding temperament, good, courageous, generous and intelligent. It is also a patient dog, mild with guests, and obsequious with its master. He is noble, calm, gentle, loyal and trustworthy with a sweet temperament.

Poodle Bitch has always thought that the words "obsequious" and "noble" were antonyms. How can one breed dogify both terms? And why should one breed want to?

But that is a minor, some might say purely semantic, argument. What truly disturbed Poodle Bitch was information on the breed's height and weight:

Height: Dogs 28 ½ -31 ½ inches (72-80 cm.) Bitches 26 ½-28 ½ inches (67-72 cm.)
Weight: Dogs 130-150 pounds (59-68 kg) Bitches 100-120 pounds (45-54kg)

According to a caption of one of the two photos accompanying the AP story,

The dog [Boomer] measures seven feet from nose to tail. stands 36 inches tall at the shoulders, measures 7 feet from nose to tail, and weighs 180 pounds.

This means that Boomer is 4 1/2 inches taller than the average expected height, but a full 30 pounds heavier than the average expected weight. Poodle Bitch returns to the breed information, to a section called "Health Problems":

Prone to hip dysplasia. Do not let a Landseer get fat. Also prone to a hereditary heart disease called sub-aortic stenosis (SAS). Breeders should have puppy's hearts checked by a veterinary cardiologist at 8-12 weeks of age. Adult Newfies should be cleared of SAS again before breeding.

Poodle Bitch wonders if Boomer isn't dangerously overweight-- and therefore his "record" size is not something to be celebrated. She further wonders if the reason Boomer "keeps all four paws on the floor when he drinks from the kitchen faucet" (as noted so approvingly in the story's second paragraph) is because the poor creature is physically incapable of jumping up?

Weber plans to send Boomer's measurements to Guinness World Records. The previous record holder was a nearly 4-foot-tall Great Dane that died this summer.

The body of the gargantuan Great Dane is still warm, Poodle Bitch notes with some distaste. She also notes that this summer another record-holding dog, Chanel, the so-called "World's Oldest Dog," passed away this summer.

(Were Poodle Bitch of a conspiratorial bent, she might wonder if record-holding dogs were being targeted by someone or something- perhaps cold-hearted rivals for their place in the record books?

But Poodle Bitch is not of a conspiratorial bent. She finds it perfectly plausible that an unhealthily large Great Dane and a dog of an accelerated age might die within months of one another.)

She would like to add that, after seeing the film "The King of Kong," she has absolutely no faith in The Guinness Book of World Records anyway.

As an aside, Poodle Bitch found the story of Boomer via the bing search engine. She notes with some amusement that several mentions of the 7 foot-long dog appeared from various web destinations, yet all of them seemingly from the same AP article that provides the reader with almost no real information. Below is the first page of the search results:

"Boomer may be a buster" is a sentence that makes no sense (what, exactly, is it that Boomer may be "busting"? the kitchen sink from which she drinks? the record books?-- if the record books, then why would anyone want to read a story about a dog that only may be a record buster? Poodle Bitch wonders if there is so little going on the world now), but seeing it repeated over and over again on the search results page caused it to take on an almost surreal lack of meaning.

Boomer may be a buster. Then again, he may just be an extremely unhealthy dog in need of medical attention. The AP doesn't really care about that-- they got their story, and they got it placed in various outlets all over the country.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Zach Braff Sounds Very Much Like a Golden Retriever

Zach Braff, the star of a program called "Scrubs," which Poodle Bitch does not watch, and of a film called "Garden State," during which Poodle Bitch fell asleep, has carved out a (hopefully) lucrative if not artistically satisfying career doing commercial voice over work.

This state of affairs has annoyed a writer at Slate.

Braff's voiceover work can currently be heard in two TV ad campaigns, one for PUR water filters and the other for Cottonelle toilet paper.
Braff's vocal performances, however—particularly in these Cottonelle ads—are so over-the-top annoying that they call attention to themselves. Not good attention.

Listen to Braff's supremely irritating take on the Cottonelle puppy. I recognize that the ad is meant to play on the viewer's soft spot for adorable house pets. But images of the puppy do that well enough. There's no need to have Braff hammily voicing the canine thought process.

"Hammy" and "annoying" are two words that Poodle Bitch would use to describe the typical Labrador voice (do not let certain propaganda sites mislead you regarding their "even temperament." That is a euphemism for "dull," and Labs know this, and overcompensate). For this reason, the makers of the commercial are to be commended for casting Mr. Braff- and chastised for casting the Lab. Complaining that someone providing a Lab's voice is "annoying" is like complaining that someone painted the sky less blue than it should be.

Poodle Bitch would point out the Slate writer that Mr. Braff was acting the breed, and quite convincingly.

That said, there is one other thing about the commercial that perturbed Poodle Bitch, and was apparently missed by the Slate writer. Poodle Bitch shall embed the commercial below, for the benefit of her readers.

This puppy Lab- a baby- describes himself as "lookin' sexy." Poodle Bitch is rather tired of the sexualization of puppies. She wonders why it is that baby dogs can't simply be baby dogs?

There is plenty of time for "lookin' sexy" when the even temperamented pup grows up.

Poodle Bitch wonders why it is that humans insist on sexualizing puppies.

Sexualized puppy photograph source.

Friday, October 2, 2009

A Story Both Strange and Heartwarming. Also Confusing and Mysterious. And Possibly Sinister.

Poodle Bitch is moved by the story of "Lab-Boxer mix" Brindle, the dog who for some reason ran off from his human companion in Virginia in 1999, and ended up in Oklahoma.

Of course, Poodle Bitch has to wonder exactly why it is that Brindle opened the door of his Virginia home and made his way to Oklahoma. Not having been to either state, Poodle Bitch feels unqualified to rate the relative merits of one against the other.

This leaves Poodle Bitch free to speculate on Brindle's human companion. The newscaster reporting the story mentions that Brindle left on "Super Bowl Sunday, 1999." Poodle Bitch feels safe in assuming that the Super Bowl, a sporting event at which characters like Michael Vick throw oblong balls at one another, was an important part of Brindle's companion Gary Rowley's life.

Poodle Bitch does not wish to sound unduly cruel, so she will limit herself to observing that 1,300 miles is quite a distance to go to get away from someone.

And then, once humans found the fugitive Lab-Boxer mix in the state where "the wind comes sweeping down the plain," they contacted Mr. Rowley through his facebook page. Ah, facebook. Truly, there is nowhere to hide anymore.

The "reunion" between Brindle and Mr. Rowley could take place some time next week, assuming poor Brindle is given the veterinarian's okay to travel. Poodle Bitch hopes that whatever the veterinarian decides will be in Brindle's best interests. Hopefully the crack reporter who gave us this story will be on the case with a follow-up next week.

Humans Treat Their Children as Pets

Poodle Bitch was amused to read this Time article citing a study that suggests a link between eating candy as a child, and adult criminal behavior.

What parent hasn't used candy to pacify a cranky child or head off a brewing tantrum? When reasoning, threats and time-outs fail, a sugary treat often does the trick. But while that chocolate-covered balm may be highly effective in the short term, say British scientists, it may be setting youngsters up for problem behavior later. According to a new study, kids who eat too many treats at a young age risk becoming violent in adulthood.

Poodle Bitch is generally no fan of sugary treats (although she is intrigued by the idea of a "chocolate-covered balm"), but she does enjoy tomato slices and dried duck jerky treats, and she is not above admitting that she will stop at nothing to get them. She has learned that there are subtle manipulations in which she can engage, to alert nearby humans that she is ready for reward. Among these subtle manipulations: attentively watching humans eat, cuddling, sitting upon a human's lap, batting at them with her paw, rolling over onto her back to expose her provocative parts, and barking reminders of her existence.

She does love her tomato slices. She prefers they be no more than one-eighth of an inch thick, by the way.

But she was surprised-- although she's not altogether certain as to why she was surprised-- to see that humans did the same thing with their human offspring. Based on the first sentence of the story (as emphasized by Poodle Bitch above), it's apparently quite common for human parents to feed their children sweets in order to get them to, to use the popular terminology, shut up.

Perhaps this is one reason why there is such a childhood obesity "epidemic."

The present study, of course, suggests something perhaps even more sinister, at least to Poodle Bitch's admittedly canine eye.

The research was led by Simon Moore, a senior lecturer in Violence and Society Research at Cardiff University in the U.K., who specializes in the study of vulnerable youngsters.

Hmm. Poodle Bitch was under the impression that all youngsters were "vulnerable." She is growing more suspicious of this by the sentence. Perhaps things are different in the U.K. Perhaps only some youngsters are "vulnerable." The others have hard exoskeletons that protect them from the elements.

Moore turned to the British Cohort Study, a long-term survey of 17,000 people born during a one-week period in April 1970. That study included periodic evaluations of many different aspects of the growing children's lives, such as what they ate, certain health measures and socioeconomic status. Moore plumbed the data for information on kids' diet and their later behavior: at age 10, the children were asked how much candy they consumed, and at age 34, they were questioned about whether they had been convicted of a crime. Moore's analysis suggests a correlation: 69% of people who had been convicted of a violent act by age 34 reported eating candy almost every day as youngsters; 42% of people who had not been arrested for violent behavior reported the same. "Initially we thought this [effect] was probably due to something else," says Moore. "So we tried to control for parental permissiveness, economic status, whether the kids were urban or rural. But the result remained. We couldn't get rid of it."

Now, of course, Poodle Bitch has lost all interest in the "study" itself. Can you see why? Poodle Bitch notes that the "long-term survey" was on "many different aspects of the growing children's lives." It was not intended to be a study of any one specific lifestyle trend. A bunch of people have been asked a series of questions at various points in their lives. Now, people are interested in the nefarious influences of sugary treats on "vulnerable youngsters," so someone is looking specifically at that. We have no way of knowing how many of the 17,000 answered every question, and we have no way of knowing how many of those answered questions truthfully.

For instance, could it be that those who have been convicted of a violent act by age 34 were also capable of lying on their survey questions? Poodle Bitch wonders why it is that "scientists" would take violent people at their word. If they did not, then Poodle Bitch would like to know how it was that the scientists checked the veracity of every survey-taker's answers.

She hopes that the scientists had better things to do than find out whether the 69% of people convicted of a violent act by age 34 were lying about how much candy they ate when they were ten years old. Perhaps they were trying to figure out how to get the results of their meaningless study into Time magazine?

What is more alarming to Poodle Bitch is the casual, throw-away line that opens the article. She will copy and paste it again:

What parent hasn't used candy to pacify a cranky child or head off a brewing tantrum?

Poodle Bitch wonders why it is that the authors of the study and the article are trying to alarm human parents about the dangers that their spoiled and overweight children might become violent felons, when they should be trying to alarm human parents that their spoiled and overweight children are spoiled and overweight?

Isn't that enough?

Will Üter Zörker grow to be an even worse criminal than...

...Bart Simpson?

Üter Zörker photograph source.
Bart Simpson photograph source.