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Tales of the Tailed: Three stories about our furry friends26:24
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Amory's bunny, Julep, and Ben's cat, Bernadette (left to right).
Amory's bunny, Julep, and Ben's cat, Bernadette (left to right).

Heads up: This episode mentions the tragic death of a dog. Take care when listening, and hug your furry loved ones. 

Amory, Ben, and producer Quincy Walters explore three stories — one in which a man's furry best friend is shot by a police officer, another in which a person accuses Reese Witherspoon of stealing her horse, and a third in which cats are...buttered and ethnically stereotyped?

Show notes

  • Drone footage and news coverage of Detroit officer shooting Moose (content warning: violence against an animal)
  • Brad's petition to fire the officer who shot his dog, Moose
  • Michigan Dog Law of 1919
  • Man looses job after releasing the only footage of shooting (WXYZ Detroit)
  • Am I The As***le post about cats and ethnic stereotypes
  • Am I the As***le subreddit
  • THNK 1994 Museum tweet about Reese Witherspoon and the missing horse
  • Laura Lux tweet about the Facebook group where the horse story originated
  • Endless Thread subreddit

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Full Transcript:

This content was originally created for audio. The transcript has been edited from our original script for clarity. Heads up that some elements (i.e. music, sound effects, tone) are harder to translate to text. 

Ben Brock Johnson: Amory Sherbertson.

Amory Sivertson: Oooo that’s a new one!

Ben: Have we done that one yet?

Amory: I don't think so.

Ben: No?

Amory: Sherbertson?

Ben: Do you like sherbet?

Amory: I'm more of a sorbet gal.

Ben: It's the same thing.

Amory: No, because sherbet, for whatever reason. So, oh, I hate that word. I just got uncomfortable saying that word.

Ben: What about moist sherbet?

Amory: Sherbet isn't vegan. Did you know that? And sorbet really is.

Ben: Yeah. As they sneak cream in there,

Amory: they sneak the blood of

Ben: you know, um, Amory, we have someone to introduce today, I think, to the Endless Thread listening audience.

Amory: We sure do. Quincy Walters, tell the good people who you are.

Quincy Walters: Hello, everyone. I am a producer here and I come to the role as a former news reporter.

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Amory: Love it.

Ben: Love it.

Amory: Welcome. Welcome to the Endless Thread podcast waves.

Ben: Welcome, welcome.

Quincy: Thank you. It's nice to surf them.

Amory: We have some stories today about pets to share with you.

Ben: And Quincy, you got a story for us today, a story about a dog and a drone?

Quincy: Yeah. Well, so the drone is a very small part of this story. I think the internet kind of leaned toward the drone aspect of it...

Quincy: So this is a story about a man named Brad and his mastiff dog named Moose, who loved people. And Brad says Moose had a bubbly personality that made him a magnet wherever he went.

Brad: Moose had that mentality of the abominable snowman off of Looney Tunes. Where did he go, George? Where did he go? That was that was Moose's mentality. You know, he was just such a goofy, laid back, chill dog.

Amory: I like this guy already.

Quincy: And Brad sent us several videos where Moose is just laying down, gently playing with and being being antagonized by a cat about an eighth of his size. And that's one of the things Brad admired about Moose because they met about four years ago under kind of violent circumstances.

Brad: I was on a trip in Alabama and I had saw somebody abusing him really bad. And I told the people that, I mean, I saw him literally kick this dog off the porch. And yeah, when I saw I pulled up in the driveway and I told the I told the man, I said, Man, look, you can either tell the cops of stealing your dog or you can just give me that dog because you're not going to treat a dog like that. And he ended up just saying, take them, he's yours. I don't want them. I said, OK. So I had I had brought them home. He was kept in a cage for the first six months of his life, so he had a twisted spine. So he had a he had a pretty rough life when I when I met him.

Ben: Wow. Sounds like this guy saved his life.

Quincy: Yeah, and it might sound cheesy, but in a way, Brad kind of feels like Moose ended up saving his life because he too. Eight months later would find himself getting severely injured by a car, hitting him while he was riding his motorcycle.

Brad: I was run over by an SUV. Through my recovery stage, Moose was there. And just me also being there for him, knowing that I'm helping him recover because he's being shown love, he's being shown unconditional love, he's being shown what it means to be part of a family.

Quincy: So Brad and Moose did everything together, but a week before Thanksgiving, Moose and Brad were taking a walk in Inkster, Michigan, and then they stopped at a nearby gas station so Brad could get some cigarettes.

Brad: and when I walked into the gas station, I had seen a gentleman being very aggressive and almost abusive towards a lady. So I stepped in and I said, Look, man, you know, you can't be doing this It's not right. This that and the other. Well, he called his buddy up, and when he called his buddy up, he came up and showed up with a gun and he pointed the gun in my face. so I left the store where I left the store and I went across the street and I called the cops, so about 10 minutes later, the police officer shows up. No lights on. Nothing, you know, just shows up. And he gets out of the car.

Quincy: And so this is where the drone comes in. So what happens next is captured via a drone flown by a security guard at a nearby dispensary. And in the footage in the center of the screen, you can see Brad talking to a cop who's standing next to the patrol car that's parked in the middle of a street, and Moose is walking slowly about 20 yards away on the right side of the screen. And there is no audio, but Brad looks towards Moose, and Moose sits down on the sidewalk, and then a pedestrian comes from the left side of the screen and then Moose gets up. And he walks towards the pedestrian to sniff him, and he's wagging his tail and he's not on a leash.

Amory: Moose on the loose.

Ben: Uh oh.

Brad: And then he. My dog started walking towards me. And when Moose got right behind me, the officer had already had his gun pulled, pointing it at me and moose. And by the time Moose had gotten to just just to the left side of left side of me, the officer had started pulling the trigger and he actually he unloaded the clip, but he shot him four times. He hit him twice in the chest, once in the head and once in the arm–once in the leg and. As I was, I'm screaming to the officer, please stop, please stop, he's friendly, he's friendly, he's friendly. The officer just kept shooting and kept shooting. 

Ben: Geez

Amory: WHAT.

Ben: This is insane.

Quincy: Brad says he filed a Freedom of Information Act to get the body cam footage and the cops dash cam footage. But he says he's been told by the Inkster Police Department that the body camera wasn't functioning and that the dash cam wasn't recording since the cops sirens weren't on. And the Inkster Police Department released a statement saying something along the lines of the loss of any pet is saddening, but owners need to have their pets leashed, and it's a law in Michigan.

Brad: he was not on a leash, which I was wrong for not having him on a leash, but still doesn't justify what happened.

Amory: OK, so wait, I have a question. There's no dashcam footage and the body cam wasn't turned on or something like that, right?

Quincy: Right.

Amory: So the footage, the only footage that we have is because of this drone. So the significance of the drone is like the drone is proof that this happened

Quincy: Exactly.

Amory: Other than Brad obviously being there and witnessing this. Oh, Moose!

Quincy: Yeah. So Brad says he feels like Moose approached the cop just to make sure that, you know, the cop wasn't a threat. Just looking out for his buddy and maybe, you know, trying to get a pat on the head or something, too. But the day after the shooting, Brad visited the spot where Moose was shot. And then a man approached him and it was the security guard with the drone. So local news stations reported that the nearby dispensary that employed this security guard told him that if he shared the video footage of the incident, he would be fired. And so with that knowledge, the security guard handed over the footage to Brad, and subsequently he lost his job.

Amory: Wow.

Quincy: Yeah.

Ben: That's like a very, it sounds like that's a very principled and difficult choice for the security guard.

Quincy: Right. And the security guard also has an interesting story. I think he was recently released from prison for either murder or manslaughter, but that was because his mom was being abused and he defended himself and his mom. And so a lot of people have been, you know, trying to reach out to this security guard. But Brad said he hasn't even been able to contact him again. But a few days later, after, you know, his best friend was shot and killed with the emotional wounds still fresh, Brad got a ticket in the mail and and then he called the local courthouse to get an explanation for it.

Brad: Actually, the the clerk told me that it wasn't necessarily a ticket, it was actually a misdemeanor charge for “Malicious dog at large.”

Amory: Oh, my God. A dog not on a leash becomes “malicious dog at large.”

Ben: You know, I will say that in my like recent adult experience, some of the most contentious community issues in my world are pet related. And there is there are a lot of people out there who are easily triggered by a pet off its leash. And as a person whose kid was recently head-butted by a boxer that was off its leash in the park, I understand that concern. And at the same time, this seems like clearly the officer's reaction was, you know, ridiculously over the top and awful.

Amory: Oof. Sadness.

Ben: But it also strikes me that like there's a lot one through line here is abuse, right? Like abuse of the dog. Abuse of power. Abuse of, you know, somebody who who went to jail because of a situation that sounds like it arose from abuse. Man, abuse of people, animals power, all of these things just create more bad things.

Quincy: Right. And you know, Brad doesn't want that to be the end of the story.

Brad: Boy, Moose was so loving and caring and just happy go, lucky boy. So I want his story to touch as many hearts as possible and in that aspect. It has already come true because I have  all over the nation sending me messages on Facebook, Hey, we heard your story. Hey, we heard your story. Hey, we heard you and Moose's story. So to me that that shows me that my boy, my big boy is he's a star.

Amory: Whew.

Ben: Well, Quincy, it's a sad story, but thank you so much for bringing it to us and we hope justice is served.

Quincy: No problem and I hope so too.

Ben: Rest in peace, Moose.

Amory: Alright, we’re gonna take a quick cry break, and then we have a couple more pet stories that’ll hopefully turn those frowns upside down. Back in a sec.

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Ben: All right, Quincy, Amory, let's move away from a sad story and into a story about work appropriate behavior.

Quincy: OK.

Ben: Have you ever had work pets?

Quincy: No.

Amory: There was one “Take your dog to work” day at WBUR. There was some howling outside of some studios. There was… bodily fluids involved.

Quincy: Oh my…

Amory: It never happened again. Let's just say that

Ben: This was posted on the Am I the As***le subreddit?

Amory: Hmm.

Ben: And it says, Am I the As***le? For quote, perpetuating ethnic stereotypes about jorts?

Quincy: I didn't know there were ethnic stereotypes about jorts.

Ben: Jorts is capitalized, so we're talking about a name.

Quincy: Oh, not the denim shorts.

Ben: So I'm going to lay it out for you, and I'm mostly just going to read this, but I think it'll work for you. So we have two workplace cats in one area of our work site. They add value to the work site. We all love the cats and the work site. Cat presence is not the issue. One of the cats, Jean, is a tortoiseshell cat we've had for years. The other cat, Jorts, is a large orange cat and a recent addition Jorts is just kind of a simple guy. For example, Jorts can't open the door even when it's ajar. He shoves it whether he is going in or out. So often he closes the door he is trying to go through. This means he's often trapped inside a place he was trying to exit in the hours until he's rescued. My colleague, Pam (not her real name) has been spending a lot of time trying to teach Jorts things. The doors thing is the main example. It is a real issue because the cats are fed in a closet and Jorts keeps pushing the door closed. So this seems easy to resolve. I put down a doorstop. Pam then said I was depriving Jorts of the quote "chance to learn" and kept removing the doorstop.

Ben: Are you guys with me so far here?

Quincy: Yeah, I think so.

Ben: So you got two cats, Jean and Jorts...

Quincy: and a Pam

Ben: and Pam, a coworker. And then the person who's telling the story.

Amory: And a doorstopper

Ben: Pam set up a series of special learning activities for Jorts and tried to put these tasks on the whiteboard of daily team tasks.

Amory: Oh my god, Pam, does have an actual job at this establishment?

Ben: It gets better. This person writes in parentheses: “I erased them."

Quincy: Oh, no.

Ben: "Now I love Jorts, but he's just dumb AF and we can't change that. Don't get me wrong, watching her try to teach Jorts how to walk through a door is hilarious, but Jean got locked in the closet twice last week. Yesterday, I installed a cat cutout thing in the door and Pam started getting really huffy. I made a gentle joke about, 'You can't expect Jeans tortoiseshell smarts from orange cat Jorts,' which made Pam furious. She started crying and left the hallway, then sent an email to the group, including volunteers, and went home early. In her email, Pam said I was “perpetuating ethnic stereotypes” by saying orange cats are dumb and is demanding a racial sensitivity training before she will return. I don't think it's relevant, but just in case Pam is a white person in a mostly minority staff. And no, she is not ginger (does not have red hair). That's a parenthetical. TLDR: Am I the asshole for “Enforcing an ethnic stereotype by joking that orange cats are often dumb?”

Quincy: No.

Amory: Quincy's just going to tell it like it is.

Ben: He really is. Thank you, Quincy.

Quincy: No, we're just pretty strong.

Ben: Pretty straightforward answer, right?

Quincy: I guess my my concern is that if Pam wants there to be a racial sensitivity training based on the fur color of a cat, I feel like...

Ben: Pam needs that training.

Quincy: Yeah. Like, I don't know she like under-... Is she the cat? I don't.

Ben: Yeah. So I couldn't agree more. Quincy and I think most of the responses were to that effect. So you guys ready for the update?

Ben: "Thank you for responding to my query, which had truly upset me. I work to have a good relationship with my team, and the situation had gotten weird so gradually that I lost perspective. I just met with H.R. and she had already met with Pam. H.R. was concerned about Pam's comparing ethnic stereotypes with giving a cat a doorstop, and they addressed that which went well. H.R. also addressed Pam, assigning other staff Jorts-related-tutoring, as it is not appropriate for a Pam to assign others work. Pam got emotional about her perception that I favor Jean over Jorts, and gave specific examples. Some of these things are fair.

A) Jean has a nice cat bed with her name on it, while Jorts has chosen an old boot tray in my office with a towel in it. Recently, a visitor put wet boots in the boot tray and Pam saw Jorts sleeping on the wet boots. I bought a bed for Jorts today and the name tag has been ordered.

B) I will apologize to Jorts and remove the sign, saying quote “days since Jorts has had a trashcan mishap. Zero.”

C) Jean's staff bio has a photo of Jean, while Jorts’ bio has a photo of a sweet potato. I did not actually know either cat had a staff bio, but we will use a photo of Jorts instead of a sweet potato….

Ben: So this person is giving concessions, which is good.

Ben: H.R. also suggested changing Pam's duties, so she is “in charge of the cats.” This, I refused. The cats are my staff, not Pam. I think Pam was well-intentioned, but actually not meeting the needs of either Jean or Jorts, so they remain under my supervision. Lastly, and this made us both laugh so hard, we can't deal with it in person, and it will be said via email:

Pam admits that she has been putting margarine on Jorts in an attempt to teach him to groom himself better. Oh, this may explain the diarrhea problem Jean developed, which required a vet visit. Pam is not to apply margarine to any of her coworkers. Jean has shown she is willing to be in charge of helping Jorts stay clean. If this task becomes onerous for Jean, we can have a groomer help. I'm crying, laughing, typing this.

Quincy: Is this real? Is this a real thing?

Amory: Who knows? To the extent that people post truthful things on Reddit.

Ben: Yes, the top comment here says, “I can't believe she f****** buttered Jorts.”

Amory: She margarine-d Jorts. It's very different.

Ben: Spoken, spoken like a true vegan.

Amory: Ben, I may or may not have just changed your staff photo to sweet potato.

Amory: All right, so we've had a dog. We've had a couple of cats, and now I have another pet related story about a different species. And my story comes from Facebook via Twitter. So I saw this quote tweet from Laura Mayer, who makes podcasts for a company called Three Uncanny Four. And the tweet read, “I request a podcast on this topic,” and the topic was a tweet from something called the Think 1994 Museum Twitter account. Do you guys know this one?

Quincy: No.

Ben: No.

Amory: It is like a museum is an apt term. They post a bunch of funny pictures with captions, often pictures of celebrities. But in this case, it was a screenshot of a post made on Facebook, and this post was made by a woman named Tiana Harris. And it reads, “Does anyone have a connection to Reese Witherspoon or her PR team? My horse was stolen in 2008, and someone just sent me this pic of her with my horse!!” Two exclamation points.

Quincy: Oh wow.

Amory: "Help! I'm sure she wasn't aware, but I'd love to find him." So then of course, there's this picture of Reese Witherspoon kind of tenderly cradled up next to the horse's head. It's a beautiful horse, and it is kind of like a unique coloring for a horse, I would say. So I get that if your horse was stolen and you see a picture like this, you're like, Oh my God, that is Reese Witherspoon with my horse. And so at first I'm thinking, "OK, I'm going to reach out to Reese Witherspoon somehow, and I'm going to blow her mind that she is in possession of this stolen horse." So my first step was to DM the Think 1994 museum account, because I don't know where they got this picture. It's just a screenshot of a Facebook post. So I reached out to them and I'm like, "Whaaat? Where did this come from? Do you know Tiana Harris, this woman who claims Reese Witherspoon stole her horse?" They said, No, we just we're making celebrity posts with horses, and this came up in Google. And then they linked me to someone in the comments of the tweet, who they said probably has some connection.

Amory: So that person on Twitter goes by Laura Lux. Do you guys know who Laura Lux is?

Ben: No.

Amory: OK. I didn't, either. I feel a little less ancient, not knowing who she is. She has like 700,000 Twitter followers and I don't want to mischaracterize her profession, I think she is a model, but she heavily promotes an Only Fans account.

Quincy: She's a content creator.

Amory: Yes.

Ben: Have you have you looked at her OnlyFans account?

Amory: I clicked on it. Yeah, I was like, I think I know what OnlyFans is. She's a content creator. Very popular. So here's what she comments in the Twitter thread. She says, “Oh my God, I was in the Facebook group where this all went down and it was insane. LMAO.”

Amory: "I wish I could remember the details, but it was so long ago. I know it wasn't her horse in the photo with Reese, and it turned out her horse had died years before. But this girl refused to believe that Reese Witherspoon did not steal her horse."

Ben: Wow.

Quincy: Wow.

Amory: So I reached out to Laura Lux. Even though her Twitter bio says no DMs, I immediately DM her. I'm like, “Do you know who Tiana Harris is? Do you know anything more about what happened? What was this Facebook group?” And so she writes me back, and she says “it was so long ago it happened in a Facebook group called Girls Night Out,” which I also can't tell what that is. But she describes it as an LA-based networking group for women, but turned kind of toxic. And I think she left the group. So she does a little digging on my behalf and she goes back into the Girls Night Out group, and she finds the original post by this woman, who now goes by Tiana Cooper, and there are two edits to the post. So the first one says, "This horse is in New Zealand or Hawaii and is most likely not my horse. Thank you for investigating, ladies. I'll keep looking."

Amory: And when she says thank you for investigating ladies, that refers to edit number two, which calls out one woman in particular who found the guy who had her actual horse. And the horse did pass away in 2010, and Tiana said that she was devastated but glad to have some closure. So I'm still trying to find out exactly how these women found the person who had her actual horse. If there are updates, you will be the first to know

Quincy: This is equestrian noir.

Ben: I guess it would have been more delicious if Reese Witherspoon was a horse thief. You know?

Amory: Well, who knows where that horse in New Zealand or wherever it was came from. Maybe she was curling up next to a stolen horse. It's just not this woman's stolen horse. So, Reese, we're on to you.

Ben: Yeah, somebody somebody checked the VIN number on those horses that Reese has.

Ben: All right. Quincy, Amory, good to talk pets with you guys. And uh, we'll talk soon.

Amory: Yeah. And maybe post pictures of your pets --  living, please — in our subreddit. Endlessthread.reddit.com.

Ben: Oh, I would love that, some pet shots. Or if your pet has an Only Fans, that's fine. Send us - send us a link to your pet's Only Fans. You know, whatever works.

Amory Sivertson Twitter Senior Producer, Podcasts
Amory Sivertson is a senior producer for podcasts and the co-host of Endless Thread.

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Ben Brock Johnson Twitter Executive Producer, Podcasts
Ben Brock Johnson is the executive producer of podcasts at WBUR and co-host of the podcast Endless Thread.

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Quincy Walters Twitter Producer, WBUR Podcasts
Quincy Walters is a producer for WBUR Podcasts.

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