Inconvenient News,
       by smintheus

Friday, April 27, 2007

  The World's biggest poodles

My friend Milo sent me an interesting article from Australia about a problem with poodles on that side of the globe. What he is doing there I still haven't sorted out. On the phone he was very annoyed that there are no busses running to Hungary. I think there was some mistake with his travel arrangements.

Anyhow, I wouldn't have believed this story from the Sydney paper if Milo didn't vouch for it.

Thousands of Japanese have been swindled in a scam in which they were sold Australian and British sheep and told they were poodles.

The story goes on, rather remarkably (to my mind):

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usThe scam was uncovered when Japanese moviestar Maiko Kawamaki went on a talk-show and wondered why her new pet would not bark or eat dog food.

She was crestfallen when told it was a sheep.

Then hundreds of other women got in touch with police to say they feared their new "poodle" was also a sheep.

One couple said they became suspicious when they took their "dog" to have its claws trimmed and were told it had hooves.

Japanese police believe there could be 2,000 people affected by the scam, which operated in Sapporo and capitalised on the fact that sheep are rare in Japan, so many do not know what they look like.

This is puzzling.

The story seems to have originated with the British tabloid The Sun, and then picked up and repeated by any number of British, Australian, and South African newspapers. That's how Milo learned of it.

He's unaware, because he never listens to that particular fathead, that Rush Limbaugh pontificated on the subject yesterday:

P. T. Barnum said, "There is a sucker born every minute."

True enough (though a bit incautious of Limbaugh to remind his listeners of it). And the mere fact that Limbaugh endorsed the story caused enough concern that I began digging a little more into its background.

It turns out to be a hoax.

The [Sun] newspaper said a police spokesman in Japan had confirmed the company, called "Poodles As Pets", had been shut down.

But a public relations spokesman for Hokkaido police, whose jurisdiction includes Sapporo, said he had not heard of the scam...

The Sun reported that because sheep were rare in Japan, people there were not able to distinguish between a sheep and a poodle.

But sheep have been bred in Sapporo for many years...

"If you like sheep, this is the place for you," a travel website says.

In fact, none of the story's details check out; for starters, the company doesn't seem to exist.

I don't blame Milo for this. He's just too trusting of what he reads in the papers. Come to think of it, the papers are just too trusting of what they read in the papers.

crossposted from Unbossed

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