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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 18, 2014

friday pet facts from hither and yon

In 1924 a black Labrador was sentenced to life in prison for catslaughter.  Or was he?  Don't let the mug shot fool you.

The Dickin Medal is awarded in the United Kingdom and "acknowledges outstanding acts of bravery displayed by animals serving with the Armed Forces or Civil Defence units in any theatre of war, worldwide."  It has been awarded to one cat, three horses, twenty-eight dogs, and thirty-two pigeons.

A bizarre and charming vintage photo of a German soldier with a kitten.  And a whole big bunch of Russian military cat photos (Russian captions, natch). Sailors love kitties, I'm telling you.

Astronomer Edwin Hubble's favorite cat was named Nicholas Copernicus.  Read about their relationship.

A long read but worthy: Adam Gopnik muses on how the dog became out master in this New Yorker essay.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

a cat wigs out...of town

From a chatty volume of anecdotes dating from 1830's London, a story about a cat who found a hopefully comfortable way to travel.  (I personally hope the creature got spoiled thereafter as she deserved.)
* * *
Cat Anecdote.—During Sergeant Talfourd's recent sojourn at Shrewsbury Assizes, a cat was very fond of the learned counsellor's room. His clerk, while packing up, had occasion to leave one of the trunks open, and in the hurry of departure closed it suddenly, and corded it for the journey. On arriving at Hereford, a strange noise was heard to proceed apparently from one of the trunks. The clerk proceeded to open it, when, lo! out jumped the identical cat of Shrewsbury memory, which, on further examination, it appeared, had deposited "a batch of fine young kittens" in the learned sergeant's wig.—Hereford Journal.

--The Mirror of Literature, Amusement, and Instruction, vol. 21, Reuben Percy & John Timbs, editors (J. Limbird, 1833) p. 304

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

vintage photo time

all images from the museum collection

This last one is the only image with any sort of explanation: on the back, "Spokane Wa."

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

sea dog by douglas hoover

image copyright and by kindest permission of the artist
North Carolina artist Douglas Hoover loves an immediate image and coastal light.  Here's his "Sea Dog" (print of an oil original), a Boston Terrier looking for his skipper in the bright whites and blue shadows of life on the water.  I'm attracted to his bold structuring of forms through saturated, high-key blocks of color.  The way he's portrayed the compact musculature of a Boston through shadow and highlight is a pleasure to see - you can tell where to poke Boston's tight flank or pet his rump and feel the tailwag ripple through his body.  Not to mention (but I'm going to mention) the excellent rendition of sunshine; I wish I had sunglasses when I look at this piece.
He's another to be found on Etsy, where you can see more of how excellent he is at sun and water.  His blog is also worth a trip, as is his website.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

a border collie's repose: meet nicole strasburg

image copyright and by kindest permission of the artist
Athena is a Border Collie.  She's 13 here, but like her goddess namesake, even while resting she knows the value of consciousness and wisdom, and keeps an eye on the world before her.  In this etching, Santa Barbara artist (and Athena's mom) Nicole Strasburg keeps the worldview infinite by keeping the image simple:  Athena seated in the shadow of her specific monitoring spot, gazing forward into a day that could hold anything.
In a very recently completed tiny gouache painting, seen below, of her "two muses," Molly (red/white) and Skye (black/white), you can see even more of what Nicole means when she writes on her website:
"My process comes from internal urgings and emotional influences rather than intellectual ones. The paintings are records of connections and the allure of knowing a place intimately. They show understanding of location and environment. I compose using series of photographs taken while out on hikes or long walks. The goal is simplicity, editing out all but the basic design structure."

copyright and by kindest permission of the artist
Here's a link to Border Collie Repose 2 at Nicole Strasburg's Etsy shop.
Her blog, Pentimento, full of peeks at works in beautiful creation, is here.
A detailed page with many images is over at her dealers Sullivan Goss.  Also Susan Street Fine Art.

dog learning

thanks vintageimages.org (PD)
So I've just found The Open University's Hound Hub, a generous handful of online presentations on our oldest friends. Here's a 10-minute piece on dogs and the poor in Renaissance-era drama.  Or I can learn what cynicism and dogs have in common.  Elsewhere the OU has an overview of their three-episode series on The Wonder of Dogs.
Let's not forget DogChannel.com's Dog College where you can do a short course with a quiz in many doggy subjects, from Dog Communication 101 to Canine Culture 401.
Would you like to try a class with a bit more commitment and rigor?  MIT Open Courseware has People and Other Animals, a historical survey of human/animal interactions.
All these courses are free, and a fun way to stretch your mind toward different aspects of dog life!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

the widow

thanks wikimedia commons (PD:US)

Frederick Dielman (German-American, 1845-1935) was a number of things in his lifetime: a draughtsman for the US Army Corps of Engineers, director of the art schools at Cooper Union, president of the National Academy of Design, and an illustrator for luxe book editions, just to name a few.  
His genre pieces were particularly successful.  Here's one, The Widow (exact date not known, but sometime from the 1860's to 1890's).  I'm fascinated by this much-reproduced color lithograph, created to appeal and to sell.  Yes, it's obviously the forerunner of all today's masses of cat imagery/memes, an instant cuteness grab, but it is so odd.  Why an Elizabethan collar?  Why The Widow?  Is that title the only reason why I think this creature looks melancholy?  What was this successful, clearly canny man thinking when he made this, and who was the real widow?

Friday, April 11, 2014

one of the family

thanks wikimedia commons (PD:US) click to enlarge
That's the title of this luminous piece, dated 1880, by Frederick George Cotman (British; 1850-1920).  I'm sure no humble front room in any of those decades was ever as sundrenched and spotless as this.  That's not the point of such work: domestic genre art is about tugging the heartstrings toward how it could have, should have been.  By glossing up the best of our wishful memories, it may even prompt us to better behavior.  One of the Family received good notice when purchased by Liverpool's Walker Art Gallery in 1880, as it showed an example of kindness to animals in the treat being handed out to the horse.  Not every day one comes across a begging horse (do you see his fellow beggar?  Look at the young woman's lap).