Ancient dogs at the British Museum

When we visited the British Museum, I was particularly interested in how dogs were depicted in ancient art and sculpture. A few canine-centric pieces from the museum that caught my fancy:

British Museum and nearby

If my memory serves me, these dogs were from a large Assyrian stone mural that showed a royal lion hunt. These big mastiff-type pups were apparently used to track and intimidate lions.

I found this large sculpture to be particularly charming. This is the Molossian Hound, also known as the Jennings Dog:

British Museum and nearby

The sculpture is a 2nd-century Roman copy of a Hellenistic original, and a Molossus is a now-extinct* breed that was also very mastiff-like (*although some very misguided people are trying to “recreate” it by making bigger, even more deformed Neapolitan mastiffs). This guy has a docked tail and a very solid build, as you can see, but what a happy face!

British Museum and nearby

And for good measure, here’s an Egyptian cat:

British Museum and nearby

Do you have a favorite depiction of canines in art?

Review: Dogs Rule Nonchalantly

Dogs Rule NonchalantlyI was delighted to receive a copy of the artist Mark Ulriksen’s new book, Dogs Rule Nonchalantly. I’m familiar with Ulriksen’s work largely through the New Yorker, and it was a treat to discover that he’s an avid dog lover. I love his style, and this is a brief and beautifully collected book about life with dogs (both in general and in his personal history).

The paintings are wonderfully reproduced (as you can see from these sample pages), and the text is very funny and engaging. I also liked that the text appeared to be handwritten (presumably, a font was made of Ulriksen’s handwriting). Most of the paintings in the book are either from private commissions or covers of celebrated magazines (Ulriksen is a regular on the cover of the New Yorker and the Atlantic Monthly).

Of course, I also had to take a photo of one of the paintings that included a German shepherd. This one was featured on the cover of the New Yorker in 1996:

Dogs Rule Nonchalantly | Mark Ulriksen

Some favorite quotes and lines:

1: “Personally, I was never big on little dogs, and cats are a little too independent, too aloof to get close to. But dogs are different, they give you their undivided attention. They watch your every gesture, read your every emotion, listen attentively to every word you say — until they hear the rustle of a bag of chips being opened.”

2: “Whether you’ve been gone for 5 minutes or 5 hours, they’ll greet you like you’ve been gone for 5 years.”

And 3:

A typical dog 12-step program:

1. Wake up, stretch
2. Eat meal in three seconds
3. Go outside, pee, walk, poop, walk, pee, smell everything
4. Go inside, follow human’s every movement, check all floors for microscopic food particles
5. Nap
6. Repeat Steps 1-6

This certainly describes my dogs’ lives! And finally, a sweet one:

4: “Dogs have such short lives. They deserve to be spoiled.”

This book would make an excellent gift for any dog lover, and it’d even serve as a beautiful coffee table book. I could also imagine it being fun to read to children, because of the simple text and the entrancing artwork. All in all, a hearty recommendation from us!

Disclosure: I was provided with a review copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

A poem: “Pyrrha,” by James K. Baxter

My husband’s aunt is very literate and excellent, and she sent us this poem she found in her collections, by the (apparently crazy and controversial) New Zealand poet James K. Baxter.

When you give your dog a name as strange as “Pyrrha,” it is equally strange and wonderful to stumble upon a mention of that name–even if the context has positively nothing to do with your dog.

For what it’s worth, here’s a strange poem with our dog’s name on it.

This Pyrrha? (“Pyrrha and Deucalion,” by Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione.)

Pyrrha
By James K. Baxter

As kites rise up against the wind
Out of the past I summon Pyrrha,
Girl of plaited wheat, first
Mentor of love revealed in dying.

She has come back with a burning-glass
To whom once my thoughts clung
Like branches under weirs tumbling:
That freedom led to the lion’s jaws,
A mind riddled by illusion.
The autumn sky is hers, a flooding
Trick of light on bars of broken cloud.

The streetlamp tells me where she lived.
Re-entering that square, untidy room
Where cups lie mixed with fingerbones
I find her again. Forehead too full,
Opaque blue eyes, bruised archaic smile
Dug from under shards. Pleasure,
A crab gripping the spine;
A mouth lent, not given;
Hair like marram grass, that made
On the short sofa, a burglar’s tent.

Rib from my side, Pyrrha,
I who was young am older,
The wound healed, the flush of seed dry.
You cried once: “I am drifting, drifting.”
Self-pitying, too often drunk,
I did not see your need of comforting.
Pestle and mortar pounded us
Early to a dry volcanic dust.

Happy puppy
Or this Pyrrha?

She might be our “first mentor of/Love,” but I can assure you that she is NOT “too often drunk.” Our Pyrrha at least has that going for her.

Pup links!

This little girl found her valentine. Source: LIFE Magazine.

Happy Valentine’s Day! Are you watching the conclusion of the Westminster Kennel Club show tonight? I’m going to watch it with my husband and his hilarious poetry colleagues from the university, who have an annual tradition of watching Westminster at a local sports bar. I am so excited. Could there be a more ironic combination of things? Poets + wings + cheap beer + dog show = I think not. Who’s your bet for the big win?

Dog show fun aside, here’s a few interesting links from around the Web:

Famous Artists Photographed with Their Dogs. Apparently, famous painters have a thing for dachshunds. Who knew? (Flavorwire)

5 Reasons to Adopt a Dog. These are the standard, excellent reasons, or at least, a great place to start in listing them. I like reminding myself of these reasons. I’m always surprised at how many people look sad or disappointed when I say I want to adopt an adult dog. “Don’t you want a puppy?” they plead. Next time, I’ll gently remind them of some of the elements on this list. (The Bark Blog)

NYC Dog Art Tour. A collection of canine artwork from around New York City. (Loving the Dog Art Today site redesign, too! So sleek!) (Dog Art Today)

Sharing the Love. Sweet-faced border collies and a dachshund with their Valentine’s message. (Raising Addie)

Pup links!

Lauren Bacall has a heart-to-heart with her cocker spaniel. Source: LIFE Magazine

Just a few dog-related links for you this week! Some thoughtful pieces, though.

America’s Pet Frenzy. An entertaining and informative infographic that presents a thoughtful look at how much we spend on our pets. The numbers are pretty insane. Americans spent $48.3 billion on pets last year! Most interesting to me: Only 15% of Americans get pets from shelters. If 100% did, they’d save $2.4 billion. (Frugal Dad)

Dogs & Frostbite: Everything You Need to Know. If you live in a very cold area, this is a great article about how to prevent and treat frostbite in your dogs. (The Hydrant)

Blogger’s Stakes, Or How I Blew My First Competition. Veterinarian Dr. V. participates as a handler in her first dog show. A fun and really enjoyable post. (Pawcurious)

Dog Painting. No, I totally want this book, too! It would be the best coffee table book. (Ulicam)

Pup links!

The prototypical collie/shepherd. Source: LIFE Magazine Archives.

Dog-related links from around the Web this week.

Breed-based euthanasia proposed in NC county. This is so horrible that it barely seems real. Cumberland County in North Carolina has a proposal on the docket that will euthanize all incoming GSDs, bully breeds, dobermans, rottweilers, akitas, chows, and Great Danes within 72 hours and not give them a chance to be adopted. There is a petition collecting signatures here; I signed it last night and encourage you to do the same, if you feel so led. It’s hard for me to believe that this kind of egregious breed-based discrimination still exists. But, clearly and sadly, it does. (Examiner)

Puppy at 500 f/s. On a lighter note: This is a beautiful video and an excellent study in canine movement. Directors of an independent film studio, Kamerawerk, made this short film, titled “Afternoon Pleasures,” of their chocolate lab puppy chasing a ball (and other various objects) and it’s lovely and riveting. Sent to me by my friend Maggie. (Kamerawerk on Vimeo)

Judgment Is Easy, Understanding Takes Work. An inspiring and thoughtful post about reserving judgment of our fellow dog owners. It’s something that I have to work on too, even though I don’t have a dog of my own! (Rescuing Insanity)

De-bunking the “Alpha Dog” Theory. Pat Miller, a positive trainer I respect, reflects on why this theory of the “alpha dog” needs to fall by the wayside. This is something I definitely wish all dog owners knew today. It always surprises me how widespread this theory is–even at the shelter. Seasoned volunteers and sometimes staff members use “alpha dog” language to talk about “problem” dogs and I often wish I had enough credibility to speak up about it. (The Hydrant)

Preparing for Your New Pooch. A practical list of guidelines to help one prepare to bring a dog into the home. Even though I’ve read dozens of lists like this one, I always like finding them and comparing notes. (The Inquisitive Canine)

Mismark Case: Australian Shepherd. The canine-loving biologist writes a post on one of my all-time favorite breeds, the Aussie, and examines the different markings and genetic repercussions that occur in the breed. (Musings of a Biologist and Dog Lover)

Peter Clark Dog Collages. This artist makes collages of popular breeds from found maps and old stamps. The results are eye-catching! (Dog Milk)

Dog Snout Also Makes Handy Bath Snorkel. This pup has the right idea. (Best Week Ever)

Pup links!

There's a borzoi on my bed. Source: Design*Sponge

Dog-related links from around the Web this week…

Dogster Picks: Apple-Picking Pals. There is a beautiful mountain apple orchard just a few miles from our house here. This fashion post makes me excited about taking our future dog there! (Miles to Style)

My Favorite Equipment. Basic picks from a German shepherd trainer. (Raising K9)

He Was Not Too Happy. Oh, the perils of hiking in the fall! (Shirley Bittner)

I’m A Little Occupied. A selection of beautiful fan art for artist Camilla Engman’s widely beloved terrier, Morran. (Camilla Engman)

Who Needs Fall? Nothing merrier than dogs frolicking in the snow. But, snow, already?? (No Tails of a Nutty Mutt)

Here Are 36 Bald Dogs… EXPOSED. A funny collection of photographs of dogs in wigs. (Best Week Ever)