Facebook Called me a Pet

 

Bruce BatDog Lane

Bruce checking his Facebook page.

Facebook wants to sell advertising.  To sell advertising they have to accurately account for the number of real “humans” that advertisers will be reaching when the buy ads on Facebook.  Who wants to pay to reach inactive or duplicate accounts? That’s reasonable.

Facebook’s share price dropped below $20 at the beginning of August when they admitted to reports of  “slowing growth” and “an admission of an alarming number of fake accounts.” Facebook has grown to have 955 million users this year, and according to figures reported by mynbc.com, where I learned all this and more, as many as 83 million of those accounts are fake. That includes as many as 5% which are duplicate accounts, 1.5%  are likely spam accounts, and then Facebook went on to blame “people who set up accounts for non-human entities, such as pets” when explaining the number of fake accounts. They singled us out.

Pets. That’d be me by their definition. Why they’d call me a pet, I don’t know.  I’m a member of my family:  while I may not have a birth certificate, I do have an AKC certificate documenting my name as Bruce BatDog Lane, certifying my parentage and date of birth. I get birthday presents and Christmas presents, I go to day camp, school, on vacations, and obviously have my own blog — what makes them think I’m a pet?

I jumped to a BatDog conclusion fairly quickly that pets would soon be high on the list of Facebook offenders and decided to see how they intended to accommodate pets with profiles, after all there are humans with pets using their site. I started snooping around Facebook looking at the page descriptions available to my “pet” friends when they decided to convert their profiles to pages.  Facebook offers six categories when creating a page and none of the descriptions include pets, dogs, cats, flying pigs, parrots, or anything similar as far as I can see.  Then a lightbulb went off and I decided to investigate the page Mark Zuckerberg created for his dog, Beast, and uncovered that page is set up as a “Public Figure”.  (This offered me some measure of solace as my Facebook page was created under the Public Figure designation also and therefore puts me in good company with Beast.)

On Sunday, August 26, I read a blog report on Socialeyezer.com sharing that Facebook really is deleting all inactive and non-human accounts. I deduce that shareholders and maximizing advertising revenue are two powerful motivators for Facebook to get serious about their Terms of Service (TOS): a handy-dandy little agreement that allows them to close your account without notice.

My detective work leads me to these two suggestions if you believe your Facebook profile might be placed on the “non-human” offender list. First, download your Facebook profile so that you have a backup to reload your content if needed and then quickly convert your profile to an appropriate page as soon as possible.  Woof!

Own Your Woof®

BatDog on Saving Taxes

BatDog™ on Saving Taxes

Bruce BatDog Lane™ discusses the upcoming Sales Tax Holiday

This weekend, August 17-19 is a “Sales Tax Holiday” here in Texas.  That means shoppers save about $8 on every $100 they spend on clothing, shoes, backpacks and school supplies. Since the first sales tax holiday in 1999, Texans have saved about $626.9 million in sales tax on these holiday weekends – well the 2-legged Texans have. Dogs have been excluded from this tax savings.  I call this a gross miscarriage of justice. Fall is back to school time for us too since many take time off from training during the hot summer months.

Let’s just take a look at the basic supplies needed for every class:  I have to bring my own treats like Zuke’s or Tricky Trainers for use in perfecting heeling, stay, and other obedience disciplines. Carrying my training treats to class requires a treat pouch that Mom has to wear.  And for agility, you have to bring your own toy – something highly motivating for mastering weaves and jump maneuvers.  And then, there is Recallers Class that needs a distinct toy that makes me so crazy I’d chase Mom all over God’s green earth to get it from her.  Along with a leash, these are just the basic necessities required for my classes.

Now let’s move on to homework.  Yes, I have homework.  I’d like a set of those rally obedience flashcards to study all the course exercises and some orange cones for practicing my moves at home. For agility, I need three more sets of jumps – that would give me a total of six.  I also need a 2-on/2-off contact trainer to practice my finishes on the A-frame, Teeter, and the Dog Walk.

For field trips, I need a new portable kennel to take to the fun matches around town to gain agility experience.  This is really an entire set up:  water bowl, landing pad, lawn chair for Mom, and a blanket. And I need a backpack to carry it all.  I can make double use of this backpack when I go on Therapy Dog observation visits, which are required to get my certification. But that brings up another point; I need a short leash for Therapy Dog training and a flat collar.

Now we’ve arrived at the really important stuff:  back-to-school attire.  Collars! Bandanas! Leashes!  Woof!  I need a lot of them to keep me in style and performing at peak levels in all my pursuits.

Just look at all the spending us 4-leggers could generate to help boost the retail economy in one weekend getting ready for back to school.  Let’s heel our way to the Capitol and talk about it. Woof!

Own Your Woof®

Operation Become a Therapy Dog: BatDog Attends 2nd Class

The BatDog Performs a Costume Change

“Hi, her name is Mom and my name is Bruce.  Would you like to pet me?”  On my way: prance, prance, prance, tail wag, tail wag, tail wag. Being a Therapy Dog is going to be so much fun.

My Mom and I are a team with an opportunity to be part of something bigger than ourselves, bigger than training in rally, agility, or tricks.  As a team, the rewards are different and more permanent.  Now, that doesn’t mean that if I ever won a blue ribbon in one of my favorite pursuits, Mom wouldn’t be ecstatic.  However, for me, meeting new people is a treat unto itself.

Our class yesterday focused on working with the elderly.  Our instructor, Shari Degan at What A Great Dog! is doing everything she can to prepare us to be exemplary teams.  She reminded us of the protocols for visits and began explaining more of the rewards and challenges of different environments and circumstances. You wouldn’t think a dog had to be aware of things like the HIPAA law, Alzheimer’s or Dementia, but we do.

When I was a puppy I used to go with Mom to see her Dad while he was living in a skilled nursing center in Frisco.  There were days that he was very engaging when we visited and he would be happy to see me, know my name, and ask me to show what I was learning in my early training.  Sometimes he just wanted to pet my head or have me lay down next to his wheelchair outside on the patio.  There were days however that he didn’t remember that I’d visited before and was upset that dogs were in the house.  I continued to go with Mom for a while anyway, not always knowing what our welcome would be.  Eventually I stopped going for visits as his dementia worsened. It was a wonderful opportunity for us to meet many other residents and watch “real” therapy dogs in action and see how just a few minutes can lighten the hearts of many.

Therapy Dogs, Inc. has a woofsome prospect member presentation that is engaging, inspiring and very informative if you’d like to learn more about becoming a Therapy Dog.

Heart of Texas Therapy Dogs, Inc. is a non-profit, all volunteer group and on their website you can learn about volunteer opportunities, read testimonials, and  while there you must tour the scrapbook to see their album of Summer Fun: dogs and teams in action.

Depending on the mission, the BatDog should obviously not be afraid of a little costume change.  In celebration of the dog days of summer, hope you like the picture I shared with you today to salute Therapy Dogs and all they do to share happiness with others. Whatever it takes. (Many thanks to Rover Resort for sharing the photograph from one of our woofsome camp days.  Woof!)

Own Your Woof

BatDog Seeks to Earn Therapy Dog Certification

Therapy Dog Training for BatDog

Bruce BatDog Lane Begins Therapy Dog Training

I figured out three things yesterday when I attended my first Therapy Dog Certification prep class.  Most apparent was that a firm foundation in obedience is required and another was that impeccable manners are mandatory. And last, you better like to take a bath because personal grooming standards are very high.

I went to my first class with two other Golden Retrievers and my best friend Tugger, another lab.  Our instructor, Shari Degan at What A Great Dog!  sat us down immediately and began explaining what it means to be a Therapy Dog and what our responsibilities are.

I had done some reading and already knew there was a vast difference between being a Therapy Dog and a Service Dog.  As a Therapy Dog, I will be able to volunteer and go visit people in hospitals, nursing homes, schools, retirements homes and give comfort and affection to people who need someone to brighten their day or help them through a stressful time.  Service Dogs are specifically trained to help people with disabilities.

Ms. Shari informed us right off that we have to take a bath and get pawdicures before going on a therapy visit. It’s a good thing I like water and don’t mind a little pampering because smelly dogs and dogs with long toenails that could scratch children, the sick, or the elderly don’t get invited to stay for visits. We also learned that we will most always be working as part of a team when going on visits and that most visits would last no more than an hour or so.  I’m a social kind of guy and will have to remember that therapy dogs must remain two feet from each other at all times.  We worked on the appropriate way to approach new friends and how to ask to visit.  We were introduced to the wheelchair and the walker. Our ongoing training is going to include a lot of practice with handling distractions, learning to avoid dangerous situations, and interacting with people.

If you’d like to know more about becoming a Therapy Dog, visit the websites of Therapy Dogs, Inc., or the American Kennel Club.

If your life has been touched by a Therapy Dog or you have Therapy Dog experience, please “Meet me Offleash” and share your story. Woof!

Own Your Woof®

BatDog Passes CGC

Bruce BatDog Lane Arrives for CGC TestWoof!  I took my CGC test this morning and passed with flying colors.  There were only two other dogs taking the test today.  One was a four-year-old Beagle and the other an eight-month-old Sheepdog that live together in the same household.  They brought the ULTIMATE DISTRACTION with them: the cutest baby in a stroller.  My first thought was who ever planned the distraction portion of the test takes their job seriously.  I was expecting a vacuum cleaner or maybe a rolling chair.

We arrived a little early this morning to get in the right frame of mind and meet the other dogs taking the test.  The testing session started by following normal WAGD protocols:   we introduced ourselves, walked the room and practiced heeling, turns, sit, down, stays, etc.  The test itself went quickly with only three dogs. We had to pass all of the following ten steps:

  1. Accepting a friendly stranger.
  2. Sitting politely for petting.
  3. Appearance and grooming.
  4. Walking on a loose leash.
  5. Walking through a crowd.
  6. Sit and down on command and staying in place.
  7. Coming when called.
  8. Reacting appropriately to another dog.
  9. Reacting appropriately to distraction.
  10. Supervised separation.

Bruce BatDog Lane heading to the post office.Besides earning my CGC, the best part of today was that I proved to my Mom that I do not need my training collar all the time anymore.  Since dogs receive treats while taking the test, I think I’ve woofishly proved that I am ready to start testing some boundaries in different environments and to start on my next certification adventure:  to become an AKC Therapy Dog.

For the record, the baby in the stroller was not part of the testing, and was so quiet that we forgot she was there. However, I’ll tell you this much about the test: it starts with orange cones and it ends with a BANG!  The rest you’ll have to learn on your own.  You’ll know you’ve passed when your mom or dad lets out a big sigh, and you’re handed a piece of paper at the end with a big check mark next to “Pass (all 10 items passed).”  All you have to do then is mail your form to the AKC Good Citizen Department and wait for your certificate to arrive in the mail.  You get a present too when you pass … a WAGD decal for your car and mine’s already on the BatCube.

Own Your Woof®

 

 

 

BatDog’s New Flying Disc

Look what flew into Woof City this morning.  Kenna, my personal shopper, at What A Great Dog! sent Mom home with the EasyGlide Durafoam Disk. It’s awesome.  This dude flies like a dream, hovers and lands slowly, is easy to catch, is soft, and best of all — this puppy floats!

Kenna has recommended some other fun toys like the Starmark Bob-a-Lot and Everlasting Bento Ball.  But this is the first time I’d paid attention to the packaging and I instantly spotted the words “training and behavior” solutions on the package and wondered what Mom was up to now. Thinking this had something to do with driving the weaves in agility, I watched over her shoulder as she pulled up the training video to see what I was in for.  By the time the video was over, I was chomping at the bits to get outside and start playing.

We started out by following the video instructions and I was soon catching the disc in the air. I was even throwing it up myself just to catch it and take off running some more.  It’s light as a feather and I can bite on it all I want to without tearing it up. It was great for tug-of-war with Mom. After about 30 minutes, I was starting to get a little tired out.

And then it happened.  Mom threw that disc towards the pool.  It just floated in the air, hovered like a UFO, and landed in the water.  I BatDog dove in the pool and swam as fast I could to get it.  Jumped out of the pool, ran to Mom and off we went again, again, and again.

This little beauty is going in the BatDog Utility Collection of premium training aids and fun toys. Thank you, Kenna! Woof!

Own Your Woof®

 

The CGC Mission

The BatDog is on a mission. I’ve been training and training for more than a year and am missing a serious credential in my arsenal of accreditations. The walls of Lane Manor do not display a CGC certificate bearing my name.

One of the first and most important awards that a dog can earn is his CGC (Canine Good Citizenship) certificate from the American Kennel Club.  Last year after completing my intermediate obedience training at What a Great Dog!, I was supposed to be tested for my CGC certificate but didn’t get to because of a Lane family tragedy.  I have reminded my Mom umpteen times that my resume is not complete until I can prove to the world that I have been properly trained and know how to behave at home and when I’m out running the streets of Woof City. Finally, I am hot on the trail of earning my certificate — my test is scheduled for Tuesday of next week.

To get ready for the test, I started studying like any smart dog would in case we needed to get some practice in and to make sure I haven’t been developing any bad habits.  The BatDog cannot fail this test – there are 10 steps and I must pass each one.  Here’s a look at what’s expected.

  1. Have to be friendly with strangers.  This one’s a snap!  When I’m on leash at Sonic or at a softball game, people come up to Mom and talk to her all the time and tell me hello too.
  2. Let people pet me.  Really? Now tell me who doesn’t like a little affection?
  3. Appearance and Grooming.  As if. Anyone who knows me can see that I pay special attention to my appearance, like to stay fit, and enjoy an occasional pawdicure.  I like my vet and my groomer – couldn’t get along without them.
  4. Walking on a loose lead.  Reality check. Ok, if I can’t pass this I need to go back to puppy class.  I can follow instructions, directions, and am well-heeled.
  5. Walking through a crowd.  Pfffft.  This should be a breeze because I go all kinds of places by day and I am used to moving silently and calmly through the dark streets of Woof City by night.
  6. Sit and down on command, staying in place.  Good dog 101. Just try to trip me up here. Not going to happen.
  7. Coming when called.  Seriously?  I’m trained to respond to signals when I’m needed or have matters to attend to in Woof City. I know my name and I know to respond quickly and decisively when called.
  8. Get along with others.  Hello? This might be a little bit of an affront as I am a highly socialized dog.  But I understand why it is important for two dogs to be able to meet each other on a walk and get along.  I have to do my part and approach others appropriately.
  9. Able to deal with distractions. Danger! Danger!  This could be tricky if it was a toy or a treat, but it’s not that serious.  I must not react badly to anything like loud noises, having someone running by me, a bike whizzing by, a wheelchair rolling around, or the noise of a vacuum cleaner. (In my line of work, failing this would be really bad for the BatDog’s reputation.)
  10. Hanging out with someone besides Mom. Hmmm.  For the final test, Mom’s going to hand my leash over to someone else and then leave the room.  All I’ve got to do is mind my p’s and q’s until she gets back.  We’ll see how this one goes.

Tuesday is an important day for me and my mom.  It symbolizes all the hard work, determination, and fun we have had in my training and the bond we share as a team.  I’ll be with people I don’t know and dogs I’ve never trained with, so I have to be prepared for anything — calm, cool and collected.

As I look back over the last year at all the friends I’ve made, the opportunities I’ve been given, and the trust that’s been placed in me, I am grateful for the foundation I received as a young pup and respect my training for the gift it was. Wish me luck … it’s time to prove it up. Woof!

Own Your Woof®

Agility. What it Takes to be a Winner.

Bruce BatDog Lane

Practice Makes Perfect

My “Uncle Taylor” is stationed in Korea serving his country in an EOD unit.  While in high school, he was a runner on his track team and set some state records. He went on to run at Sam Houston State University. His brother, Corey, also a record-setter, came across a letter that Taylor wrote to his high school teammates describing what it takes to be a winner. When Corey asked me the question, “Bruce, you wanna know what it takes,” I eagerly read what Taylor had to say. While his letter is about running —  his passion, dedication and disciplines could help me with my agility goals.

What it takes…thinking about the Gold in Munich baby!

  • I’ve got this one covered. It’s October and I’m getting out of the car going to my first real agility meet at What a Great Dog’s new training facility currently being built in Frisco,TX.  I’m picturing myself sitting tall on a blue table with a medal hanging around my neck, a huge antler bone at my feet, and a blue ribbon in Mom’s hands. They’ve got to have medals, just saying. (And if they don’t have medals, it’s time to start a campaign.) Flashbulbs are popping off all around me and Hendrix, my secret crush, is standing on the table next to me with her own blue ribbon. My best friend, Tugger Tails, is waiting for me and we’re heading to celebrate on the patio at the Gingerman with all our buddies.

Living the endurance athlete’s lifestyle is all about training and relaxing. Hurt when you need to hurt, relax when you need to relax. Finding a balance between the two…that’s what defines a champion.

  • Training for agility is fun, but you must be dedicated to learning it correctly and not developing bad habits. Practice can get a little repetitious. However, I am determined to have three serious practice sessions a day and push my limits to the max. I will go to Rover Resort day camp to run crazy and act like a fool, continue my other rally and great dog training classes, and relax with Mom around the house; chew a good bone, take a swim and float around the pool, and enjoy watching some softball on the weekends.

When you take the step into competing on the next level you have to realize that everyone wants to be the best. What is it that you are going to do that separates yourself from another? Find your weaknesses and strengthen them. Results are not expected to come quickly. Sometimes it will take a year to shave one second off the clock; sometimes it will take a year to gain one second. Learn from it.

  • This means that I must dedicate myself to following my handler and being in sync with her at all times. I will develop jump habits and contact skills that facilitate speed, accuracy, and expert course management.

Always try to train with someone better than you or at least as fast as you. Don’t go out there and run against your shadow. A training partner is a beautiful thing. Hurt together, hangout together, and shave each other’s legs for each other…ok maybe not the last one.

  • To succeed I will continue weekly agility classes with my agility buddies to hone our skills, advance to the next level, celebrate our accomplishments and learn from each other’s mistakes. I will cheer my Mom on during her cardio workouts. My private lessons with Jody will push me to be all that I can be.  I will continue to bond with my Mom as my handler and rely on my mentor, Maureen, to champion my goals and dreams.

There will be circumstances when you will run alone and it can be a beautiful experience in and of itself…when you’re faster than everyone! Get up before the sun rises. Run with no end in sight, pick a direction and go. Run hills, run intervals,  run fast, run slow, run trails, run roads, run in short shorts, be confident, and be humble at the same time.

  • I will run, jump, and weave for the adrenaline rush, just to know I can do it! And for good measure, I’ll keep showing off for the neighbors, because having an audience is good experience, good for for my ego, I get to shake a lot of hands and get a whole bunch of high-fives.

Have rivalries with other schools…or make them fear you so much that when Coppell rolls up on that yellow bus they’ll be saying, “Second place won’t be so bad.” Beat them before you even get there.

  • Mom will be wearing her WAGD t-shirt to ALL events so my competitors know to FEAR the training I’ve had.

Invite everyone to your meets. I mean everyone…dogs, uncles, moms, dads, brothers, and sisters, birds if you got them, friends, teachers, and co-workers. Have them yell, scream, paint up all red and run around in masks! Be the loudest, most obnoxious group of fans out there. Before you race…have some awesome motto or chant or completely random remark that you say before you race. This is another wave of motivation that will take your racing to the next level. This will help you run fast. If you’re not the fastest right now don’t worry about it. Just keep training and it will come… trust me if you want it, it…will…happen.

  • My fans can get pretty rowdy, so we might have to work on appropriate cheering at an agility match. (And if they take this suggestion literally, they need either BatDog yellow or blue face paint.) But regardless, I’m inviting the whole world when I get to enter my first real competition.  I’m handing out party favors! And my chant is, “Own Your Woof –you’re the BatDog.”  Woof!

Own Your Woof®

Will Work For Food.

Learning the Agility Weaves

I am the BatDog.  That right there would imply that I’m supposed to have super abilities and super skills.  So, it was kind of bruising my ego somewhat when this little gal in agility class was flying through the weaves after the first week and leaving me in the dust. Therefore, mastering the 2×2 and the 4×4 agility poles has been my mission in life this week.  After a meeting with my handler (a/k/a Mom or Woman Who has to have Four Cups of Coffee to Get Going in the Morning), we came up with a new early morning practice schedule specifically dedicated to the weaves and jumps. On the first day, we used a toy to practice with, but for some reason, she didn’t think I was taking that seriously enough. Somewhere along the way, she got the idea to switch to using treats for practice instead and that I would work harder if I didn’t have my breakfast first.  (Where’s my vote in all this and how is that I still have to wait on her to finish her coffee before we head out front?)

Our workout routine begins with her sitting on the ground, withholding ALL TREATS until I take it upon myself to head on through the first set of 2×2’s. As soon as my nose points in, she yells (literally) “yes” and tosses me a treat.  This has led to the neighbors looking out their windows with a questioning look that says, “what the heck are they doing next door?” I’ve met a couple of new kids on the block … I think I like having an audience while I work.The next step involves her standing up and moving her way around the set of 2×2’s waiting on me to find the right entrance.  She never just points it out, I’ve got to figure out what’s going to get her yelling “yes” and tossing treats.

We’ve actually added the second set of 2×2’s so I’m naturally thinking I’m all that and feeling more confident about strutting my stuff next week when I see my little gal.

Bruce BatDog Lane Learns to Weave” is a little video shortcut of our progress.  (All the parts where Mom was telling Dad to not film the messy garage have been cut out as best I could manage.) Woof!

Own your woof!®