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 !

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

in which alexander pope appreciates his dog

From a letter the poet Alexander Pope (1688-1744) wrote to a friend, identified as "H.C. Esq.":
...Now I talk of my Dog, that I may not treat of a worse subject which my spleen tempts me to, I will give you some account of him; a thing not wholly unprecedented since Montaigne (to whom I am but a Dog in comparison) has done the very same thing of his Cat. Dic mihi quid melius desidiosus agam? (This seems to mean something like "How can I do any better and I'm lazy anyway" - curator) You are to know then, that as 'tis Likeness that begets affection, so my favorite dog is a little one, a lean one, and none of the finest shap'd. He is not much a Spaniel in his fawning, but has (what might be worth any man's while to imitate from him) a dumb surly sort of kindness, that rather shows itself when he thinks me ill-used by others, than when we walk peaceably and quietly by ourselves. If it be the chief point of Friendship to comply with a friend's Motions and Inclinations, he possesses this in an eminent degree; he lies down when I sit, and walks when I walk, which is more than many good friends can pretend to...
-- from Letters of Mr Pope, and Several Eminent Persons, from the year 1705, to 1711, Vol. 1 London: Printed and sold by the booksellers of London and Westminster, 1735. pp. 112-3.

Monday, December 10, 2018

no cats allowed

Have you heard about the gatecrashers at Hiroshima Onomichi City Museum of Art?  The security guards have had to turn two of them away multiple times.  They're very persistent, but they simply cannot come in.  They haven't bought tickets, and - oh, right - they're cats.  Ken-chan, and the ginger copycat Go-chan, stroll from their nearby homes to the automatic doors of the museum, wait for them to open, and make a break for it.  So far the staff have caught them every time - and often on video, where you can see their hijinks on Twitter.

Wednesday, December 05, 2018

Tuesday, December 04, 2018

greek and roman household pets

Today I'm going to send you to a fantastic article I've found, dating from 1949: "Greek and Roman Household Pets," by Francis D. Lazenby.  There you'll find a treasure trove including:

- Supposedly Ajax had a pet snake that followed him like a dog
- Quails were a favorite pet of patrician boys
- The ancestor of our domestic cats may well be the cream-colored Nubian cat
- Cats and weasels are most often interchangeable in ancient sources (that is, you can't really tell what animal exactly they're talking about)

Don't be put off by the footnotes and quotations - there's so much here!  Read it now.

Monday, December 03, 2018

a dove in gold

Unknown artist
Pin with a Finial Shaped as a Dove Sitting on Pomegranates, 525–400 B.C., Gold
7.7 × 0.8 × 0.5 cm (3 1/16 × 5/16 × 3/16 in.), 96.AM.256
Gift of Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman
If this beautiful bird pin were mine, I could pin up my hair with it, or pin a loose dress together at my shoulder.  That's what its original owner, an Etruscan of 525-400 B.C. would have done.  Was she hoping to attract romance, or assured of it already?  Doves were favorites of Aphrodite/Venus, and pomegranates have symbolized beauty, love and fertility since the ancient Greeks.  Though the Etruscans lived in the area that eventually became Tuscany, they had transactions with expatriate Greek colonies in southern Italy.  I suspect that's where the idea for this imagery came from.  Just for the color and life  of it, I'll send you to this friendly article on pomegranate symbolism.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

silken rabbits

Gift of Robert Hatfield Ellsworth, in memory of Jean E. Mailey, 1994
This Ming Dynasty textile (China, late 16th - early 17th century) shows rabbits gamboling about in the clouds. Made of silk gauze with silk and gold threads, it's not only luxurious but fortunate: rabbits brought all sorts of good things, and were companions of the ageless Moon Goddess.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

the book collector and his feline friends

Dewitt Miller (American, 1857-1911) was wholly a man of letters.  An educator, speaker, and minister, he is perhaps best known as a book collector.  Like many (most?) of us book enthusiasts, he had a soft spot for cats.  Here's what his friend Leon Vincent recalls:
Other animals besides those of the human  race were the objects of Miller's benevolence. He delighted in parrots, squirrels, cats, and dogs, and had a profound respect for a horse. I well remember his satisfaction when the high-bred Angora cat that dwelt at the Glen jumped on his knee for the first time of its own accord; he had not looked for so great an honor. His face beamed as he stroked the little creature's head with his ample hand. They made a comical pair of comrades, Miller being so very large and the cat so exceedingly small.
Two or three of his cat-friends always received at Christmas time postal money-orders (made out in the name of their respective masters), to the end that they might properly celebrate the day with extra portions of cream or chunks of liver. On the occasion of his last visit to Boston he insisted on leaving fifty cents to buy holiday meats for the cat that guards the Old South book-shop.
What a charming way to be remembered.
- from Vincent, Leon H. 1859-1941. Dewitt Miller. Cambridge: Printed at the Riverside press, 1912. pp. 134-5.