Man bytes dog? The case of one dog’s stolen iPad

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This weekend, The New York Post featured me and my dog, School For The Dogs’ Yorkiepoo spokesdog Amos, at a demo we recently did at the Manhattan computer store Tekserve.

idog at tekserve

Photo for the New York Post by Zandy Mangold

We were there to show how to teach dogs to use iPads. Over the last few years, I’ve developed a training program that helps people basically play dog training games using handheld devices. Using apps that have been repurposed for use with a nose, dogs can draw, take pictures, paint, and even read.

The iDog classes we hold at School For The Dogs have gotten a good deal of media coverage, but this particular press hit was sort of funny to me for a few reasons. (One of those reasons is NOT because it is about dogs using iPads, which is actually something I take pretty seriously.) It’s funny for these reasons:

1. Before I decided to devote my life to canine education, I was a journalist. For the better part of a decade I worked as a freelancer, but, for a year, I worked for The New York Post. This was in the early 2000s, and it was mostly a failed experiment.  My superiors at the Post were not very good dog trainers: I was under-stimulated and the fixed rate of reinforcement of a meager paycheck left me uninspired to try very hard. A few years later journalism ran headlong into the recession, and I decided to find explore another career path. I never dreamed I would be appearing in the same pages a decade later, wearing overalls and yapping about teaching dogs to use touchscreens (the Post reporter, Jessica Hullinger, didn’t know I’d worked there when she contacted me). I can say that I’m about a thousand times happier in this career than I was when I was on the other side of the page. Of course, I still am a fan of newsprint: It is very useful for cleaning up dog poop.

2. This weekend, while I was out, my apartment was burglarized! The thief stole only one thing from me: the iPad Mini Amos used. This is more “ironic funny” in that the theft happened on the same day that a story ran about this particular object that I own. Or owned. Also funny: if the thieves manage to unlock the device, they’re going to find a bunch of apps I use with dogs, most of which were designed for handicapped people. I hope this makes him (or her) feel extra terrible. They’ll also find a lot of selfies and drawings done by dogs. 


3. Sunday, shortly before the iPad theft took place, Amos, my iPad-using Yorkiepoo, discovered an old toy on the street. It has buttons much like the ones he is trained to touch on the iPad. But here is what’s funny: He is obsessed with this thing! Yes, after more than a year of training him with touchscreens, he did get excited whenever I brought out my iPad Mini. But after only one or two training sessions, he is already going nuts for this clunky, tactile plastic toy that probably $500 less than the device that had the pixelizated buttons he was trained on. It’s like showing a kid an old touchtone phone when all they’ve ever known is a slab of glass.

Anyway, I’m sure there will be other iPads in our future. What Amos really wants is an iPhone 6.


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