When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

TOPIC: dogs


Beware: Robot Police Dogs May Be Coming To Your City, Training Still Required

Numerous cities have acquired dog-like robots for policing. Researchers say the lack of transparency and other practical and ethical questions are worrying.

In late May, after months of debate, the Los Angeles City Council approved the donation of a four-legged, doglike robot to the nation’s third-largest police department. The approval was granted at a public meeting that was interrupted at times by shouting, applause, banners such as “No Robot Dogs,” and the ejection of disruptive protesters, according to The Los Angeles Times.

In the end, the council voted 8 to 4 to accept the nearly $280,000 in-kind gift from the Los Angeles Police Foundation of the robot manufactured by Boston Dynamics, a Massachusetts-based robotics firm that is the global leader in developing quadruped robots for policing and surveillance.

The Boston Dynamics model given to the LAPD — named "Spot" by its manufacturer — is roughly the size of a golden retriever, weighing about 70 pounds and standing about 2 feet tall when walking. The robot is designed to be either remote controlled or fully autonomous. It can climb stairs and open doors. The robot can be customized to detect hazardous substances like carbon monoxide or some combustible gases. The various payloads available include sensors, cameras, and microphones, and can be customized with thermal imaging, among other features.

The Los Angeles City Council’s move to accept the donation will require quarterly reports on the deployment and use of the robot. Its sign-off was necessary as a result of a recent state law — Assembly Bill 481 — that requires police departments to seek approval and outline use policies before acquiring military-grade hardware.

Watch VideoShow less

Russian General Dissent, Kenya Protests, Golden Roots Retrieval

👋 Haia!*

Welcome to Thursday, where a Russian general is dismissed after speaking out, Kenyan protests kill at least six and the Scottish Highlands welcome some old best friends. Meanwhile, independent Russian-language outlet Proekt media reports on the chilling findings from Yevgeny Prigozhin’s house in St. Petersburg after it was raided by Russian police.


Keep reading...Show less

Dog Cloning, E-Collars, Cat Seafood: China's Over-The-Top Pet Market Is Booming

The Chinese pet market is booming, driven by young city dwellers who are increasingly reluctant to have babies. Care, food, yoga classes, strollers, specialized detectives and pet-cloning are all part of a 35 billion-euro industry.

BEIJING — Short-legged and white-haired, Juice (or "Guozhi" in Mandarin) may not be a pedigree dog, but he's got excellent learning skills and a real talent for acting.

At nine years old, the little mongrel has already made a name for himself in dozens of Chinese film and TV productions. But as he grows older, his owner, animal tamer He Jun, worries about the stress of long shooting days and dreams of finding an understudy to match his star actor. "We were hoping to keep his excellent genes for longer," explains Jun.

The problem: the dog can't reproduce, having been neutered at an early age. He Jun eventually found the solution by knocking on the door of Sinogene, the first Chinese biotech company to provide pet cloning services.

"I was a little nervous at first, as cloning is a brand new, cutting-edge technology for me," says Jun. But the fear was soon dispelled: "Little Juice learned quickly, and can be trained just as easily as the original Juice."

Keep reading...Show less

Purebreds To "Rasse" Theory: A German Critique Of Dog Breeding

Just like ideas about racial theory, the notion of seeking purebred dogs is a relatively recent human invention. This animal eugenics project came from a fantasy of recreating a glorious past and has done irreparable harm to canines.

BERLIN — Some words always seem to find a way to sneak through. We have created a whole raft of embargoes and decrees about the term race: We prefer to say ethnicity, although that isn’t always much better. In Germany, we sometimes use the English word race rather than our mother tongue’s Rasse.

But Rasse crops up in places where English native speakers might not expect to find it. If, on a walk through the woods, the park or around town, a German meets a dog that doesn’t clearly fit into a neat category of Labrador, dachshund or Dalmatian, they forget all their misgivings about the term and may well ask the person holding the lead what race of dog it is.

Although we have turned our back on the shameful racial theories of the 19th and 20th centuries, the idea of an “encyclopedia of purebred dogs” or a dog handler who promises an overview of almost “all breeds” (in German, “all races”) has somehow remained inoffensive.

Keep reading...Show less
Ula Chrobak

Get That Dog *On The Couch! Diagnosing And Treating Canine Anxiety

As with people, some dogs may be more neurologically prone to anxiety. But canine stress is often mistaken for mischief.

A couple of week after I adopted my dog, Halle, I realized she had a problem. When left alone, she would pace, bark incessantly, and ignore any treats I left her in favor of chewing my belongings. When I returned, I’d find my border collie mix panting heavily with wide, fearful eyes. As frustrated as I was, though, I restrained the urge to scold her, realizing her destruction was born out of panic.

Halle’s behavior was a textbook illustration of separation anxiety. Distressed over being left alone, an otherwise perfectly mannered pup might chomp the couch, scratch doors, or relieve themselves on the floor. Problem behaviors like these tend to be interpreted as acts of willful defiance, but they often stem from intense emotions. Dogs, like humans, can act out of character when they are distressed. And, as with people, some dogs may be neurologically more prone to anxiety.

So concluded a recent brain imaging study, published in PLOS One, in which researchers performed resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging on 25 canines that were deemed behaviorally “normal,” and 13 that had been diagnosed with anxiety, based on a behavioral evaluation. The scans revealed that anxious dogs had stronger connections between several of five brain regions that the researchers called the anxiety circuit: the amygdala, frontal lobe, hippocampus, mesencephalon, and thalamus.

Watch VideoShow less
FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War
Olena Struk

You Can Tell By The Bark: How Ukraine's Rescue Dogs Search For Life And Death

Former canine athletes forced by war to become rescuers, a squad of dogs searches for survivors in ruined homes destroyed by rockets, and for unmarked graves in liberated Ukrainian territory.

It was April 23, 2022 in the eastern city of Pavlohrad when Russian armed forces fired three guided missiles, striking a railway junction and a factory.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

Sign up to our free daily newsletter.

For local rescue workers, the area is familiar. But because of the darkness and the damaged structures of the building, it is barely recognizable. Members of the Antares search and rescue team, Petro Zub, Vyacheslav Maiboroda and Larysa Borysenko, and Borysenko's two dogs, Belonna (aka Besha) and Sparky, searched the rubble for nine hours before finding the body of a dead railroad worker.

Watch VideoShow less
In The News
Anne-Sophie Goninet and Jane Herbelin

Kazakhstan Order, India COVID Spike, Multilingual Dogs

👋 Saluton!*

Welcome to Friday, where order has been restored in Kazakhstan, with a very heavy hand and help from Russia, North Korea bows out of the Beijing Olympics because of COVID and a new study shows dogs have multilingual skills. Meanwhile, Negar Jokar writes in Persian-language media Kayhan-London about the ways that Iran hounds refugees who have fled to Turkey.

*Keep your eye out 😉 tomorrow for the first edition of our Weekend newsletter, which will be a variation (not variant!) on what we deliver with Worldcrunch Today every Monday through Friday. We’ll let you discover demain the special name we’ve given our new weekly edition!

Watch VideoShow less
Hannah Steinkopf-Frank

Poopgate: Is Beloved Istanbul Street Dog Caught In Turkey’s Political Dirty Tricks?

Boji the dog was giving a good image to Istanbul's public transportation system. Some wonder if opponents of the mayor exercised the canine nuclear option...

Boji, a street dog in Istanbul, has garnered national and international acclaim in recent weeks for his ability to navigate the Turkish megapolis all on his own — commuting on the metro, riding ferries and even taking elevators.

According to Getty Images photographer Chris McGrath, who followed him around the city, Boji loves riding the city's trams and trains. The dog's name comes from the word "bogie" ("boji" in Turkish), the framework of a vehicle that houses the wheel and axle, since his favorite spot is sitting on top of the bogie and feeling the vibrations of the engine.

Watch VideoShow less
Eduardo Geraque

'Canine Gangs' Threaten Brazilian Indigenous Tribes

SAO PAULO — Anywhere you look, they're there. You could be attacked, even inside your own home. For the 800 indigenous Guarani people living in the four villages of the northern Sao Paulo district of Jaragua, the threat of getting hurt by stray dogs is growing. Locals estimate that there are as many dogs as people.

The dogs are mostly withdrawn, but they're always ready to kill a chicken or attack a child. Students are forced to carry wooden sticks as they go to school and return from it to defend themselves against the fearsome "canine gangs."

Watch VideoShow less

The Italian Prison That Teaches Inmates To Walk Your Dogs

It's 1:05 p.m. and lessons are starting slightly late today at the dog-sitter course. But this is not your usual dog sitting class: It's taking place at Bollate prison, just north of Milan.

Every Thursday until November, 18 inmates will spend four hours (two hours of practical lessons and two hours of theory) learning until they "graduate" with a diploma from the National Sports Education Center (CSEN).

Watch VideoShow less
Dominik Hutter

Can DNA Be Used To Bust Owners Of Dog Poop Left Behind?

Munich considers a different kind of police sweep of the city streets.

MUNICH — This is DNA testing that reaches where you might not expect.

A city of Munich proposal aims to record the genetic makeup of all Munich dogs in a single database to better find the offending owners who do not clean up after their pets.

Watch VideoShow less

Dog Adopted By Sicilian Town Hits Big Screen

It was a small Italian town, where an affectionate stray dog wandered up, eventually becoming so conspicuous that he attended all town events — weddings, funerals, pizza night at the local pizzeria. Ultimately, he became a guide for visitors and a beloved member of the community.

Though it sounds like a fairy tale, it's actually a true story that's been adapted for the big screen. The dog, who came to be known as Italo Barocco, arrived in the Sicilian town of Scicli in 2006, and his story was documented by journalist Peppe Savà for Ragusa News.

Watch VideoShow less