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 !

Sunday, March 01, 2015

on the tame canary

The Tame Canary
The canary is easily tamed, and has been taught to perform many little tricks, indeed groups of them have been trained to act little plays, firing cannons and driving coaches. The canary shows a humane disposition, has been known to foster the young of other birds, to make friends with other pets, even cats; to show great affection for its master and to die of grief on the loss of its mate. Dr. Darwin tells of  "a canary bird which always fainted away when its cage was cleaned. Having desired to see the experiment," says Dr. Darwin, "the cage was taken from the ceiling, and the bottom drawn out. The bird began to tremble, and turned quite white about the root of the bill; he then opened his mouth as if for breath, and respired quickly; stood up straighter on his perch, hung his wing, spread his tail, closed his eyes, and appeared quite stiff for half an hour, till at length, with trembling and deep respirations, he came gradually to himself."

Poor little guy!  This anecdote comes from p. 277 of  Natural History in Anecdote: Illustrating the Nature, Habits, Manners and Customs of Animals, Birds, Fishes, Reptiles, Insects, Etc., Etc., Etc, Alfred Henry Miles, Ed. (Dodd, Mead, 1895).

Saturday, February 28, 2015

the comfort of a pocket kitten

Soldier petting a kitten in his pocket, Italy, 1943.  From the National Archives; courtesy of  Pond5.com's Public Domain Project.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

on the cruelty of the cat, 1916

. . . Romanes says that the feelings which prompt a cat to torture a captured mouse are apparently delight in torturing for torture's sake. So far as he has been able to discover, the only other animals manifesting such feelings are man and the monkeys. This cruelty, however, is not peculiar to Felis domestica; probably other small cats have similar habits. Foxes also have been known to "play" with their prey. Moreover, such habits cannot be considered blamable except in man, the most viciously and knowingly cruel of living creatures. The cat evidently cannot realize as man can the poignant pains and terrible sufferings of its victims. Universally, the cat seems to take delight in torturing its prey, but this seems to be its means of developing the use of its fore limbs, and it acquires a more perfect control over them than is possessed by any other domestic animal. . . 
-- I'm not entirely sure that passage was really about cats. But I found it in The Domestic Cat: Bird Killer, Mouser and Destroyer of Wild Life; Means of Utilizing and Controlling it, by Edward Howe Forbush (Wrigth & Potter, 1916), p. 15.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

a very little girl and her very little dog

thanks wikimedia commons (PD:100)
In 1610, some lost painter of the Frisian School painted this two year old in oils.  We don't know her name, though clearly her family was well enough off to have this done, and we know she resided in the coastal area of the Netherlands and Germany known as Friesia.  Based on how thin and pale she is, I think her dog has reason to stare at her from an anxious crouch.

Monday, February 23, 2015

the beauty of loping

thanks wikiart.org (PD)
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec painted this oil of a Horsewoman and Dog  around 1899.  It's short on exact detail, but huge on feeling and power.  The horsewoman is rendered sketchily, just a gray and black shadow atop the barrel-chested force of her chestnut mount (where are his ears, I wonder?).  Meanwhile, alongside, a dog curves in full lope, a form I know well from watching our own dog run at top speed and loving it.  This is all the more unexpectedly poignant when you recall the artist himself couldn't run.  How he must have missed being able.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

a blue study

thanks wikiart.org (PD)
One cat, a few minutes, and three or four pastels, and here you have a quick study from the hand of Theophile Steinlen (1859-1923), Blue Cat.  Most of the Steinlen cats we see are polished commercial work such as the advertising posters, so it's a pleasure to see one dashed off.

Friday, February 20, 2015

happy new year of the sheep! or goat!

thanks wikimedia commons (pd)
Here's a one-day-late wish for a very happy Year of the Sheep (or Goat)!  And here are some sweetfaced, cuddly sheep by Giotto to bring the Museum's good wishes to you.  They are from the Nativity scene in his fresco series on the Life of Christ in the Scrovegni Chapel.
Would you like to see what the Year of the Sheep holds for you?  Check it out!