Archive for April, 2008

Banksy’s Dogs

April 28, 2008

Chances are you’ve heard of that British artist named Banksy. He goes around London and other cities and paints weird pictures illegally as graffiti. The thing is, he’s a pretty good artist and his art is both funny and socially relevant. Usually. I figure he must like dogs, which is really ironic because I know lots of dogs that would bite him if he tried to paint on their wall. But the reason I think he actually has a thing for dogs is ’cause he puts dogs in some of his pictures. Here, see what I mean:

banksy cat and dog

Banksy–cat and dog

I haven’t been able to tell what is socially relevant about this picture, but as usual you have to click on it to really see it properly, and then maybe you can tell me. That cat at least had the good sense to paint a dog into the picture, watching him paint with his tail. Self-referential art, maybe. I like it pretty well, at least the dog, but I am just a little disappointed that Banksy would lower himself to the point of including a cat. Oh well.

Recently Banksy did it again. He painted another piece of dog-art. This time, there was a surveillance camera right there pointing at him while he painted! This showed remarkable legerdemain and derring-do. (My dad says that’s French going back to Chaucer–I think he’s kidding). Pure moxie, or as we dogs prefer (except Giaco of course), he’s got a lot o’ balls. So here it is poking fun at all those British folks who have turned 2008 into 1984:

more banksy dog art

Banksy — I hope that little kid doesn’t fall

I got this from katize’s blog and he got it from Daily Mail. So you wanted to see the surveillance camera pointing at them while they did this. Ok, you’ll just have to click on one of those links. Just be sure and come back!

–Rita, your faithful dog-art hound.

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Dancing with my Dad

April 26, 2008

Years ago when I was a much younger dog in Texas my dad sometimes picked me up and danced with me, like a mother dancing with her baby. He seemed to like it — me not so much. Nowadays here in Mexico he doesn’t seem to do it much, but sometimes he does dance with Cosi or Happy, those are my younger sisters, two of the interlopers I told you about in a previous posting. And one day he tried to dance with Giaco, thats my Afghan brother, but since he is too big to pick up he just lifted up his front paws and danced with him that way. To tell you the truth it didn’t work very well.

Still, I feel a strange twinge of angst, a mixture of sadness and happiness when I think about those old days dancing with my dad. And that’s why, when I found this wonderful painting of a man dancing with his dog I felt like I just had to share it with you. This painting was made way back in 1640 by a little known Dutch artist named François Verwilt. He deserves to be much better known, because I’m pretty sure he loved dogs. When I tried to find out more I discovered that memories of him were never written down. Kind of like Barney, who now is only remembered by my mom and dad and me, and I seldom think of him any more.

A mid 18th century French source says François Verwilt was born in 1598 in Rotterdam. Quite a few 19th century sources say he was born in 1598 and died in 1655. But for sure he didn’t die in 1655, since the painting known as “The admiral’s Son” bears his signature with the date 1669. Some confusion of dates may be due to the fact that two or perhaps three other Dutch artists had the same surname: Verwilt. This quote, from a 19th century book gives some information about him:

François Verwilt info but birth was probably around 1620 and death in 1691.

Modern sources, for the most part, say that François Verwilt was born in Rotterdam around 1620 and died there in 1691. All I can add, is that if he took the trouble to paint the wonderful painting below of a man dancing with his dog, he must have loved dogs. Here is that painting:

François Verwilt--A man dancing with his dog--1640

François Verwilt–A man dancing with his dog–1640

Please click on the image, so you can see the painting properly. The larger version is 778 x 960 pixels, but only 105K, so give it a try. The original of this image, and the painting itself are at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, a place with many beautiful paintings.

So what do you think? Did François Verwilt love dogs, or not?

Balloon Dog — 10 feet tall

April 23, 2008

There is a wonderful new sculpture exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. The sculptures are by Jeff Koons, and as a dog they probably wouldn’t let me in. But I got to see a great photo of what is surely one of the most exciting pieces. Here it is (click on image to see it large):

Balloon Dog (Yellow)

Jeff Koons–Balloon Dog (Yellow)–c2008

(source: Librado Romero/The New York Times)

It is made of stainless steel and is 10 feet tall! Boy, I wish I could see it for real. Click the source above to read the New York Times review of the show.   The show will be on the rooftop at the Met, April 22, 2008–October 26, 2008 (weather permitting).

That’s all the dog art here for today.

Landscape with Farm

April 21, 2008

Your dog art treat for today again features the Dutch artist Hendrick Goltzius but this time the image is a woodcut print, one of a series of four small woodcuts with landscapes that Goltziuz did in 1597. The original is at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. Here is that image, your dog art image for the day:

Hendrick Goltzius, Landscape with Farm, 1597

Woodcut by Hendrick Goltzius-Landscape with Farm-1597

You will have to click on the image to enlarge it so you can see the detail, which in addition to the house shows a woman at a well and on the right a man and “een poepende hond”. You will have learned 3 Dutch words, and have your dog-treat for today.

A dog’s lot

April 16, 2008

When it rains hard, with lots of thunder and lightning, I get really scared. I look for my dad and if he is sitting I lie on the floor under his legs. He makes me feel safe. He is my protection, my god to keep me safe.

He said people have gods too, and mostly those people try to lie down under His legs just like me with my dad, but sometimes He gets mad at them. Still, when I found this picture of a nice little dog, who happened to be with a naked old man and two naked women, I was surprised at just how angry God could get. It seems there were these two towns, several thousand years ago, called Sodom and Gomorrah and the people who lived there were really bad. My dad said the main bad thing they did was that the men slept with other men and God didn’t like that. I asked if they did it doggie style but he was not amused and didn’t even answer me. Apparently God got so mad he decided to kill all the people in those towns, even the kids and the women. I asked my dad if they were bad too. He said back then the women and kids were property of the men. Boy what a mean god. I was glad my protector wasn’t mean like that.

When I looked at the painting that had that cute little dog in it, I was surprised to see that naked lady pouring wine or something with no glass to catch it. Pretty weird, I thought. No, my dad said, the old guy whose name is Lot is really drinking wine out of that soup bowl and that lady is about to refill the bowl. It looked pretty full to me already, but who am I to question my dad’s word. After all, I’m just a dog.

My dad said the women were the man’s daughters and they were trying to get him drunk so he would have sex with them, and he did and made them both pregnant. What kind of man would do that? Oh, he was the only good man in those towns, that’s why god let him escape. Go figure, I’m just a dog.

The women thought their father, the guy named Lot, was the only man left alive and they the only women–so they had to have sex with their father or that would be the end of all humanity. That’s what my dad said. But weren’t there any other towns around full of men and women? Hey, it was a long time ago, how would I know, I’m just a man. That’s the only answer my dad gave.

Here is that picture. You can click on it to make it big. Off to the right you can see the town Sodom burning to the ground. God’s work. But don’t miss the cute little dog in the front. Look carefully, you will see a fox by the tree.

Lot and his daughters

Hendrick Goltzius-Lot and His Daughters-1616

The fox represents female cunning and the the dog “symbolises vigilance and warns against immoral conduct”. That’s what they said at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam where this painting lives.

My dad wanted me to point out, that if you click to enlarge the picture, you will see over near the burning town of Sodom what looks like a pillar of rock sticking up. That’s Lot’s wife. God turned her into a pillar of salt because she turned and looked back at the burning city! God had said not to do that, but she did it anyway. I guess it servers her right. My dad spanked me when I chewed up his shoe years ago after he said no. But then again, I’m still alive.

Your best friend,

Rita the dog

Dogs on the internet

April 15, 2008

When my dad introduced me to the internet I couldn’t have been less interested. But he was insistent and I always try to please, so I decided to try it. The first thing I found out is that paws and keyboards don’t work well together. Just when I was about to give up altogether I discovered that my nine year old claws, especially that exceptional one on my right front paw, can hunt and peck albeit awkwardly. So that encouraged me some. The mouse proved impossible, and I really wished it was a real mouse. My dad helped some when he showed me some keyboard shortcuts and after a week or so I was googling with the best of ’em.

Let me tell you I was disappointed because there are hardly any dogs on the internet. I searched for bitch and found some surprising hits, but actual dogs on the internet — they are few and far between. I tried to get my cousins in Texas to email me, but they wouldn’t. Then they got some human help and set up a flickr ID, but they haven’t uploaded a single picture. Might as well be dead. Hell, I have my own flickr ID.

Just when I was about to give up on the internet I discovered they at least had pictures of dogs out there. My dad called it dog art. You couldn’t smell them or anything, but at least you could see other dogs. And that’s how I got interested in dog art, and I’m hoping to share some of it here.

First there is Giaco’s (pronounced Jocko) namesake. Its this sculpture a guy named Giacometti made of a dog. His sculptures were all skinny and you may remember Giaco was so skinny my mom and dad thought he would starve to death, when they saved him and he became my brother. Here is a picture of the dog-sculpture that guy made:

Giacometti\'s 1951 dog sculpture

He made that sculpture back in 1951 and claims it is something of a self-portrait, which I don’t really get. Maybe he had low self esteem. He modeled it after a dog breed called Saluki or maybe Afgan, and that is exactly what Giaco is. Look at my previous post called ‘interlopers‘ if you want to see a picture of Giaco. That’s it for today folks. Have a good one!

Interlopers

April 14, 2008

By now you have probably figured out that my new human mom and dad (hereafter just my mom and dad) named me Rita. Boy was I scared. They were new too me and they might hurt me, and I didn’t know where I could go or what was allowed and what was forbidden. So I just lay in a corner of the living room and didn’t move. My dad realized how scared and pathetic I was and he pointed to spot in front of the couch and snapped his fingers. I was pretty sure he wanted me to go there and lie down. So I did and he petted me. I started to relax just a little bit and I spent most of my first few days at that spot where I felt safe. Even today when I get worried about something I go lie down in front of the couch. It is a different couch, a different couch and even a different country. I will tell you about some of my adventures there in San Antonio, Texas one day. But for now let me just tell you about my new family, not my mom and dad; there will be plenty of time for that, but my new brother and sisters.

It happened this way. In the beginning there were cats, but no brother dog or sister dogs. Those cats can wait. Anyway, after a couple of years there in Texas (and you need to realize that for a dog that is more like a dozen years) my dad retired and my mom and dad both got itchy feet. To make a long story short, we moved to a small village in the state of Veracruz, Mexico. Now in Mexico there are quite a few stray dogs, and where we live quite a few people like dogs. But they are pretty poor and there are lots of puppies. The neighbors across the street and a little down the hill have about six dogs and then a bunch of puppies came, too many for them. So my mother said she would take a puppy and of course my dad was a hard sell. He is pretty gruff, but a lot of it is on the surface, so after a few days he got used to the idea and relented. That is how I came to have a little sister named Cosi. I know its a weird name, another story which I hope you don’t mind if I skip. So now I have to share my parents love with this Cosi thing, not easy at all. Probably a picture of Cosi wouldn’t hurt, so here it is.

Cosi my first new sister

Cosi, my first new sister.

Just when I thought maybe I could get used to this new interloper, who by now was bigger than me, a weird thing happened when my mom and dad went to Coatepec to buy a barbecue grill. They found a grill at the market but it was too heavy to carry to the car so my dad went to get the car and right then a lady with a little boy and a box opened up the box and dumped out a little puppy right at my mother’s feet. The little boy cried as she quickly walked away dragging him by his hand around the corner.

The poor little puppy didn’t know to do. She whimpered and walked over to a man who shooed it away. Then she walked over to one of the old mangy market dogs, who have no owners and survive by eating market garbage. He growled and snarled and the little puppy ran right to my mother’s feet. Just now my dad double parks with the car to load the grill, but instead my mom comes running to the car crying “we can’t just leave it to die” with the puppy in her arms. My dad said absolutely no but that soft spot gave way in the end.

That’s how I got my second sister, Happy. Here she is:

Sister Happy as a pup

Sister Happy as a pup

My dad named her Happy, because it was his birthday–like Happy Birthday yet another dog. Happy was a real pill, and my mom and dad swore she was the last. But then they got her house broken and we eased into a slightly bigger family. Happy got bigger, and was awfully cute, but totally full of mischief. She got bigger as you can see:

happy gets big (from flickr)

Happy gets big

Now its getting cold and sometimes there is a cold rain, and there appears this new stray dog in the streets. He was so skinny and weak and he wandered looking for food. Oh, I forgot to tell you, my mom sometimes puts food outside our gate on the street, so the skinny neighbor dogs and the strays don’t suffer so much. This poor dog had no hair and could only stagger. My mom and dad said he was going to die. My put a little extra food on the street that night and the next morning the poor skinny dog was curled up shivering just outside our gate. My mom said “we have to help him”. My dad said “NO MORE DOGS“. Finally they agreed to feed him and give him some worm medicine and if he survived they would try to find someone to adopt him. Sure! About a week after they started to help he looked like this:

Giacometti, skinny but better

Giacometti, skinny but better

It got really cold and Giaco was so thankful he was still alive. One very cold night my mom thought he would freeze — she brought him INSIDE the gate and covered him with a blanket. He lived, and when it rained one night they brought him inside the house. My dad said, hell no one will adopt him and he is a really nice guy. So they named him Giacometti and that is how I came to have a brother. Here is Giaco in a recent photo:

Giaco on a romp

Giaco on a romp

So now there are four of us dogs and my mom and dad. And of course there is Louie. He is a cat. But I’ll leave that story for another day.

I am Rita the dog

April 13, 2008

I was born about nine years ago somewhere in or near San Antonio, Texas. Some folks say one year for dogs is about the same as seven years for humans. If there is any truth in that, then I am about the same age as my present human mom and dad. Probably in the future I will just call them my mom and dad, because in a very real sense they are the only parents I have ever known — of course I must have once snuggled up against little brothers and sisters and felt their warmth and the delicious sweetness of my real mother’s milk. Its just that I don’t remember any of that. There are vague ideas that sometimes float around my brain, that make me think my first Master was tough and mean. My mom and dad now say that I used to cower when they first got me. Puzzling about the past serves no useful purpose , but sometimes it is hard not to.

The first thing I really do remember happened when I was about 6 months: I had no idea what was going on, but it hurt like hell and I screeched and screamed but couldn’t get away, and they took turns. You guessed it, I was brutally raped. Luckily memories of bad things tend to fade, so I can’t remember it all that well. One thing is for sure, I got pregnant. That must be the really bad thing I did that made my first Master so mad that he didn’t want me any more. But this stuff is real fuzzy, and this is why I don’t put much stock in that thing about dog years, because it would be like a 3 and 1/2 year old human girl getting pregnant, and everyone knows that is not possible.

Never mind all that; getting back to the story, that Master back then put me in the car and drove a very long way, and then opened the door and threw me out. Alone, sad, and scared I watched the car drive off. It never returned. There I was in a strange place, on an unknown street. What could I do? I wandered and then ran and when I was too tired to move I still tried. Home was gone forever.

Thats when I got lucky, the kind of thing that makes you want to believe in God. This lady noticed me and realized how scared I was and how lost I was. “Oh you poor thing”, she said as she stooped over and picked me up. She took me to her house. I was still pretty scared because who knows what she might do to me, and she had three other dogs that might not like me. My concern was not totally unfounded, because after a few days she took me to a vet and the next thing I new I hurt and had a big bandage wrapped around my tummy. It took me two whole days to finally get that thing off of me. And she put it back on.

Now that I’m nine years old I understand: whatever they did I was no longer pregnant and I was fixed for good. I had no choice in the matter. Dogs don’t get a lot of choice I learned early on. Well, I learned that lady who kept me from dying on the street really was a nice lady. She put up a sign about finding a red puppy about six months old, hoping my Master would come for me. But no one came. Finally, she put up a sign at her church that she had a healthy, cute, neutered little red puppy looking for a good home.

About a week later it happened. This car drove up and two people got out and rang the bell. Thats when we dogs barked and yipped and I did too, and my new Mistress opened the door and let them in. It was a man and a woman and they talked with my Mistress and she pointed at me. Then they talked to each other and the man reached down and picked me up. Boy was I scared. They took me in their car and drove off. All I could do was get on the floor and curl into a tight ball and be as still as I could.

They took me to their house, and the rest is history — they became my mom and dad, and I will fill you in on some of my adventures later. In case you are wondering what I look like, here is a picture from my flickr page that shows me back in December, 2006:

Rita, Dec, 2006

me, Rita, in December, 2006