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 !

Thursday, February 22, 2018

two tender creatures

Smithsonian American Art Museum http://edan.si.edu/saam/id/object/1977.92

"Sit for me just a little," I imagine J. Alden Weir saying to his wife Anna sometime round 1890. "I want to paint you exactly as you are right now."  The result was this small impressionistic oil "Portrait of a Lady with a Dog (Anna Baker Weir),"  kept in the family till the 1970's.  (The dog's name was Gyp.)  Weir was a member of "The Ten," the breakaway group of American artists that challenged stylistic and exhibition norms of the time. An interesting and detailed account of Weir can be found on the NPS.gov site of his farm, here.



Wednesday, February 21, 2018

wordless vintage wednesday - new!

from the museum collection

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

"my ninth cat keeps calling you and hanging up"

thanks pixabay 
Something lighthearted today:  a random find at McSweeney's Internet Tendency.
"My sixteenth cat lies and lies.  My seventeenth cat keep anonymously commenting 'looks stupid' on YouTube videos of cute babies." 
It goes downhill from there.  "What My Pets Say About Me," by Jeff Alberts.

Monday, February 19, 2018

animated natural history: why dogs have floppy ears

thanks british library (PD)

Wolves: upright, pointy ears.  Most dogs: floppy ears.
Hares and wild rabbits: Ears up.  Many domesticated rabbits: Soft floppy ears. 
Boars/pigs? Check. Goats/goats? Check.  Cats/Cats? Um - that one doesn't work; they're all up and pointy, wild or no. (Cats: Throwing wrenches in the works since...ever.)
Still, the ear phenomenon is prevalent enough that it sparks curiosity.  And when I ran across this short, entertaining animation on the subject at NPR, I learned the latest research on why those ears (and those shorter muzzles and those spotted coats).  A publication by Charles Darwin is namechecked: "The variation of plants and animals under domestication."  Want to idly flip through some of that?  You can find an introduction and several editions here.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

in which a pet goldfinch is lovingly remembered

Goldfinch, being wild birds, aren't pets for us today.  However, in a book of pet care dated 1862, I found this (unattributed) story of a beloved pet goldfinch's last years.


I myself until lately possessed a goldfinch which I would not have parted with for an entire aviary of the choicest songsters. He was thirteen years old when he came into my keeping, and his eyes were beginning to fail him. They grew weaker and weaker, till at last the glare of the sunlight was more than he could bear, and I made him curtains of green gauze for which he was very grateful, and never failed to reward me with a bit of extra good music when they were pulled round his cage on sultry afternoons. When he was seventeen years old he went quite blind, but that did not at all interfere with the friendship that existed between us. He knew my footstep as I entered the room, he knew my voice,—I do believe he knew my cough and sneeze from any one else's in the house. He was extremely fond of cabbage-seed, and the door of his cage having been previously opened, I had only to enter the room and call out “cabbage-seed, cabbage seed,” to make him fly out of his cage and come to me. Sometimes I would hide behind the window-curtains, or beneath a table, and it was curious to see him put his little blind head on one side for a moment, to listen in what direction my voice proceeded, and then to dart unerringly to my head or shoulder. What is most remarkable, my brother (whose voice is singularly like mine) has often tried to deceive the blind goldfinch by (im)personating me; but I do believe he might have called “cabbage-seed, cabbage-seed,” till it sprouted in his hand, and the blind finch would not stir an inch. One morning when the blind bird was upwards of eighteen years old, I entered the room; alas! he was deaf to the enticement of cabbage-seed—he was dead at the bottom of his cage.

Weir, Harrison, 1824-1906, and Samuel Orchart Beeton. The Book of Home Pets: Showing How to Rear And Manage, In Sickness And In Health, Birds, Poultry, Pigeons, Rabbits, Guinea-pigs, Dogs, Cats, Squirrels, Fancy Mice, Tortoises, Bees, Silkworms, Ponies, Donkeys, Goat, Inhabitants of the Aquarium, Etc. Etc. : With a Chapter On Ferns. London: S.O. Beeton, 1862. 5.

Friday, February 16, 2018

happy new year of the dog!

Gift of Estate of Samuel Isham, 1914 www.metmuseum.org
2018 is the year of the Earth Dog.  Here's a dog year surimono calendar created in Japan in 1814, with a jolly furball wishing you the best (and also wishing you would play ball, by the look of it).  Were you born in a dog year?  You can check what element type your dog year is here

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

this is the cat of jack's diverting story

thanks hathi trust (PD)
http://bit.ly/2EoSjAp
Remember the house that Jack built and all the things that happened to him thereafter? (Spoiler: He got married and did really well for himself.)  Sometime in the years 1800-43, a prettily colored version was published by John Harris of London.  Titled "A History of the House That Jack Built: A Diverting Story," it includes this picture of the Cat doing in a strangely unconcerned Rat so that it won't eat up Jack's malt.  Jack must have been a brewer. Oh, I guess that explains why he did so well.  Want to see the whole book?  Look here.