A recent post about a golden retriever dubbed "Jenga dog" drew some strong reactions from MNN readers, a few of whom suggested the treat-stacking trick is cruel. "Looks to me like the dog is terrified of the man, who seems very harsh," one commented.
Several other readers defended the trick and the trainer, with one writing: "I am fascinated at all this outrage. Obviously some of you have a distorted view of what constitutes cruelty. Given some of the things humans perpetrate on animals, that you can call this animal abuse is baffling."
Well, maybe this can clear things up. Alton Bollom, who trained the retriever to become "Jenga dog," has posted a new YouTube video showing the trick from a wider angle. (Bollom says he posted this partly to refute claims that the 36 treats were glued together.)
Here it is:
In the new video, you can see Bollom meticulously stacking the treats on the dog's snout, occasionally pausing to keep its head straight. It can be suspenseful/boring to watch the whole process — much like a real game of Jenga — but it's worth it to see the payoff at the end. This may not be the most productive use of a golden retriever's innate work ethic, but the trainer and trainee both seem to enjoy it.
What do you think? Is this cruel, or just unusual?