About Me

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Washington, United States
loves: you win if you guessed "pets" and "museums". Also books, art history, travel, British punk, Korean kimchi, bindis, martinis, and other things TBD. I will always make it very clear if a post is sponsored in any way. Drop me a line at thepetmuseum AT gmail.com !

Friday, April 29, 2016

a friday miscellany

If it's Friday, that means it's time for the ever-amazing Link Dump over at Strange Company.  There's always a few choice and curious links about pets in history there, and this week's no exception.  Be sure to look for Toby the million-dollar poodle; the unfortunate mad dogs of London; and a 19th-c consideration of animal welfare.  (Last week's link dump included the Rabbit of Doom, Buzzer the Cat, and an ancient dog pound.)  If you're a fan of the little dark curiosities of times past, you'll have fun over at StrangeCo.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

poem for a rescued donkey

british library (PD)
From the French Symbolist writer Leon Cladel (1834-1892) here is a lyrical poem of gratitude - an ass for his rescuer, a man for the gentle friendship of another creature.

My Ass

The cross was on his hide for all to see:
A mangy skeleton, scarred, scabbed and bowed,
Waiting the knacker's mercy. From the crowd
Five shillings ransomed him. He lives with me.

My lawns are by his busy tongue caressed;
His eyes reflect the shadowy trees that grow
Between the broad roofs and the sunset glow;
His patient sober body takes its rest.

When I draw near he welcomes me with glee,
With solemn antics, with tempestuous brays,
And pulsing nostrils sweet with lavender.

My little ass, be happy! and be free!
Eat, drink, and doze, enjoying all your days
Honour and liberty and provender.

-- Translated by Stella Browne, in Lloyd, B. (1921). The great kinship: an anthology of humanitarian poetry. London: G. Allen & Unwin ltd. 127.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

vintage wednesday

LOC, Gift; Harris & Ewing, Inc. 1955.
Why not Wordless?  Because I wanted to explain that this vintage find from the Library of Congress was taken January 26, 1923, and features the "Largest & smallest dog at a dog show."  I don't get a similar sense of larky fun at today's dog shows.  (Plus - look at her awesome knickerbockers there on the left.)

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

such a bright face

image courtesy and by kindest permission of the artist
I find longhaired chihuahuas such vivid, bigger than life creatures.  So does the artist behind the Etsy shop BentNotBroken, whose work is electric closeups of friends of all breeds.  German Wirehair?  Cockapoo? Your basic ginger and white cat?  Ah, not so basic when portrayed in strong, bright brushstrokes.  Maybe this is what pet auras would look like if we could see them.

Monday, April 25, 2016

still sleepy

found on pinterest, believed PD
Henriette Ronner-Knip, "Sleeping Dog."  (Excellent bio of Ronner-Knip here.)  Though she became justly famed for her cat paintings, her technical ability and sympathetic feeling was also well shown when it came to dogs.  No story or props necessary here, only an ordinary dog (as if there were such a thing) at rest.  The rough fur on the nape is perfection.  Sometimes the simplest images are the best.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

zzz neko

Gift of Miss Lucy T. Aldrich, www.mfa.org
I should confess right up front that I'm devastated by Prince's death (here's what I am listening to as I write this post).  Like David Bowie, Prince was a huge part of the culture that shaped my youthful outlook; unlike David Bowie, Prince was behind some of my least smart but most enjoyable decisions.  (Bowie was behind the most tasteful.)  All that sounds very analytical.  What actually happened was that I found out at work and promptly burst into tears.
This led me to look for something elegant and serene today (now I'm listening to this), and here's the result: a woodblock print of a "Sleeping Cat" by Gyosai (Kawanabe Kyosai, 1831-89).  Gyosai was known for the gusto and exuberance of his nature and much of his work, but was also capable of quieter work that showcased his technical excellence.  This is one.  There is not one false stroke in this print, and the choice of a simple fade in the background is perfect.  Anything more complicated would spoil its peace.

Friday, April 22, 2016


© Trustees of the British Museum (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) 
Here is a fine woodblock print by Thomas Bewick (British, 1753-1828), who was a master of the craft.  It's unknown whose hand added the notation "mad dog" in ink - poor creature.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

two wiggly kittens

found on pinterest and believed PD 
Two gorgeous white-bellied kittens show very different approaches to the world:  one snuggles next to their person's shoulder to peek from a safe vantage point, while the other looks a little more impatient to get away and take it all on.  Against the plain, dark background the trio shines like an icon.  This is a quiet and affectionate work, "Girl Holding Two Cats," by Swiss artist Albert Anker (1831-1910).  Anker was known for simple scenes of life among ordinary folk and for still lifes, created with a calm light that makes subjects glow in the sheer radiance of being.  By the way, look at that light periwinkle smock she's wearing.  I've rarely seen such a serene shade of blue.