Hi! I’m Phoebe The Cyber Crime Dog! Yep, I really do fight cyber crime and I have the badge to prove it (my collar ID tag). What do I do? Well, I’m the official mascot for Working to Halt Online Abuse – Kids/Teen Division (WHO@ KTD) at http://www.haltabusektd.org. My human mom, Jayne Hitchcock, is president and she takes me to schools throughout New England to speak to students about staying safer online. She talks about Internet predators, Facebook safety, sexting and cyberbullying. It’s during this last part that I get to help her! She picks a boy and a girl from the audience and they take turns having me do some nifty tricks on command. I do right shake, left shake, high five, then double high five. This is where I jump up on my hind legs raise both front paws and high five both hands at once! Then mom will ask, “What do you say to cyberbullies?” and I go “Roo Roo” which translates to “Don’t do it!”
I’ve been to New Hampshire and Maine, as far up as Presque Isle, which is near the Canadian border! That was a real long trip, mom drove six hours each way and we got to stay overnight. I love hotels! And road trips, because that means we get takeout dinner. My fave is KFC’s chicken strips!
Speaking of Canada, that’s where I am from. I was born in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada almost five years ago (I’ll be five in December). I have five brothers and sisters and we were all named after the characters on the TV show, “Friends.” Yep, I’m Phoebe, but I don’t sing “Smelly Cat.” We were a sled dog team and did a bunch of races for two years. Then my human owners were getting divorced and decided to give us up. A nice lady in New Hampshire rescued us, driving up to Canada to pick us up and bring us to the USA. She tried to socialize all of us, but only me, Monica and Joey were good enough to go to homes. My human dad found me on Craigslist and loved my blue eyes. So he and mom drove to to New Hampshire and picked me up. I was scared! When we got to my new home, I stayed on a rug in the dining room, but then discovered another dog, a Shiba Inu named Bandit! He was blind and old, but found his way to me and sat with me.
Pretty soon, I would lie on a dog bed with Bandit and let him walk under me like I was a bridge! Out in the yard, I’d do circles around him to entertain him. Since I used to live outside 24/7 in a big blue barrel and tied to a chain, I wasn’t used to being inside. Mom and dad had to teach me to go pee outside and not in (although they put down pee pads just in case). I had to learn how to go up and down stairs and that it’s okay to sit with them on the couch. It took them over a year to convince me that sleeping with them on their bed was good. And it is!
Mom and I run to the beach and back everyday. We live about a half mile or so from the beach, so we end up running 4-5 miles every day. Then most nights we sit out in the back yard and dad usually has a fire in our fire pit and I get to watch the birds and rascally chipmunks eat the seeds mom puts out. She has even taught one of the chipmunks to eat out of her hand! And she taught me not to kill them. I get biscuits and good snacks instead, so that’s cool with me! Instead of just dry dog food, I get that plus some wet food mixed in most nights, or whatever mom and dad are grilling on the BBQ or cooking. Yes, chicken is my fave! I have lots of toys, although balls confuse me. Mom will roll one to me and I just watch it go by.
I hate having my photo taken, but sometimes will let mom and dad take one. Mom did hire a professional photographer to take photos of her and me – you can see those on my page at the WHO@-KTD web site or ask to be my friend on Facebook and see all the photos of me there!
Bandit lasted almost another year, but he finally got too old. I miss him, but I have playdates with other dogs. One of my favorites is Izzy, a chihuahua/pomeranion mix. She comes over almost every Tuesday for the whole day!
I have a Facebook profile where I have lots of friends. I like to post silly things I do all day, but I also post serious things about staying safer online. I also help anyone who messages me that is being bullied or harassed online and have helped a lot of people. Many of the students I’ve seen have also made me a friend, which is very cool! I also have a Twitter account (@Cybercrimedog), where I post interesting news stories, most of them about online issues, but some fun stuff, too. And I am the administrator for the WHO@-KTD Facebook group – feel free to join. I post a weekly newsletter that has interesting articles from the week before about cyberstalking, bullies and more.
Here are some quick tips for staying safer online:
1. Try to keep your primary email address private and use it only for people you know and trust
2. Get a free email account from someplace like Gmail, Hotmail or Yahoo! and use that as much as possible online
3. If someone bothers you online, respond politely with something as simple as “Please stop contacting me.” If they continue, keep everything but don’t respond. If you do, then they know they’ve “gotten” to you and will escalate the situation.
4. Report the person to their ISP, web site moderators/host, Facebook, etc.
I am open to any questions about online safety, so feel free to ask! You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like.
Stay safe online, everyone! ROO ROO!