Cameron Woo is The Bark's co-founder and publisher.
November 19 2012
The market research firm Euromonitor International recently conducted a series of studies investigating dogs—as economic indicators—and what this says about greater global economic development. They looked at the growth of dog ownership, the size of dogs (i.e., small or large), pet products and care, plus the cost of feeding dogs. We haven’t been able to find out much about their methodology and how their measurements (like the number of dog households in the U.S.) were derived. But some of their findings were rather surprising including that India has posted the fastest population growth for dog ownership. As for dog sizes, countries like Brazil, Portugal and Mexico lead in favoring small dogs, and large dogs were mostly favored (in proportion to the dog population) in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Indonesia, followed by the U.S. in fourth place.
Their analysts also charted monthly and annual cost for feeding dogs. These results were also surprising—many more countries like Austria, Switzerland, Australia, topped by Norway as number one, spend more than we do in the U.S.
I would be curious to know how much you think you spend per month on feeding your dogs (minus treats). If Norway tops out at $53.22 per month and the U.S. averages $13.89, where do you fit into this spectrum?
We’ve like to hear from you and learn more about how much Bark readers spend on dog food, and the factors involved in their purchases. We invite you to take part in a brief survey, and would appreciate if you would take a few moments to click on the following link: Start BARK Survey and respond to some questions.
In appreciation for your feedback, you will automatically be entered for a chance to win a personalized dog bowl.
July 31 2012
Alex Katz, known for his bold, hard-edged figurative paintings and prints, is one of the most recognized and celebrated artists of his generation. In the late 1950s and early ’60s, Katz ushered in a new approach to portraiture, helping define the American Pop Art sensibility. In his work, Katz depicts family, friends and most often, his wife and muse, Ada, as well as the Maine landscape where he spends his summers. In one of his best-known works, he portrays Sunny, the Katz family dog, chest-high in coastal grasses. Katz’s art is noted for its cool detachment and seductive elegance—walking a tightrope between traditional figuration and pure abstraction. This spring (2012), the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, presents Alex Katz Prints, a major retrospective of prints by Katz from the 1960s to the present. On view will be some 125 works—prints, unique and editioned cutouts on aluminum and illustrated books. Plus, Sunny.
July 26 2012
Robert Clarke studied at the St. Martins School of Art in London. A skilled draftsman and visual artist, his drawings and paintings of dogs have garnered praise from both sides of the Atlantic. His A–Z series of canine portraits culled from London and New York residents—represent a dog for each letter of the alphabet.
My London A–Z exhibit was British breeds, mainly—dogs you can walk on the heath (with a few exceptions like X for Xolo and Z for Zuchon). The New York A–Z show were smaller breeds—Bostons, Chihuahuas, Pugs, the urban dog. They are each their own dog, with an individual personality. These wonderful creatures need to be loved. I love to paint them … all of them.
Yes, I was attacked by a dog when I was two, and never really got over the fear until I decided to get a Jack Russell puppy. I went to a puppy club—we handled all sorts of dogs, letting them mouth us, touching their paws, really trying to bond with them. That was when I got over my fear. Then with the onset of the dog paintings, I met dogs of so many different breeds—and they were all wonderful in their own right. I feel comfortable now.
I try to capture the essence of the dog. When I meet the dog, I gauge her playfulness and her attitude, but I also sometimes work from assorted photos without seeing the dog in person. Each dog has a different personality; I try to capture that in paint. For example, some dogs are in need of exactitude (Jack Russells, Chihuahuas). The smaller dogs generally are portrayed more closely, while the larger, hairier dogs are more abstract (Wheatens, Cockapoos).
I have a canvas ready and sift through the images I’ve got on hand. I get a sense of color and feel from the picture, and paint the dog. Sometimes it all comes together like magic; other times, it’s the smallest detail like adding a dot to the eye that makes the dog spring from the canvas.
July 5 2012
Growing up, I never missed an episode of The Andy Griffith Show. The program was pure hokum, but a tonic that was hugely popular during the unsettling times of 1960s America. Each week Andy dispensed wisdom and homilies to his young son Opie (played by a young Ron Howard) and a cast of characters named Aunt Bee, Barney Fife and Gomer Pyle. Griffith seemed born to play the part of the small town law officer, a role he developed from his popular monologues and a successful stage career. Griffith was so comfortable in the role, he never seemed to be acting. It wasn’t until much later that I gained a fuller appreciation of Griffith’s talent, watching his film debut in “A Face in the Crowd” directed by Elia Kazan. It’s a memorable performance, as complex and dark a character as his sheriff Andy was simple and sunny. In the fictional town of Mayberry, we saw how life could be, with good trumping bad, neighbor helping neighbor, and when Opie finds a stray dog—a lesson in humanity. See the full 1963 episode titled “Dogs, Dogs, Dogs.”
A man in a dog suit? Funny? Really? Yes!
July 3 2012
Wilfred, the weirdly wonderful comedy on the FX channel has just begun its second season. What a breath of fresh air in the mostly stale world of television humor. It stars Elijah Wood (Lord of the Rings) and Jason Gann, an Aussie bloke who’s also the co-creator and star of the popular Australian series on which this show is based. Wood plays Ryan, a suicidal, depressed attorney who befriends the neighbor’s dog (Gann). To everyone else, including his owner, the dog is a regular canine. But to Ryan (and the audience) he’s a man in a cheap dog suit. The big surprise is that it works and that it makes us laugh out loud. The writers know dogs, and dog people. Here’s why it’s must-see TV:
> It plays off our tendency to anthropomorphize dogs … in a big way. This dog talks and digs holes with a shovel, and uses a bong to demonstrate the principles of clicker training.
> The writers have the imagination to show stuffing a Kong as a lascivious act.
> Likewise, they mostly skip the obvious poop and pee jokes and go with more revelatory (and funnier) routines involving lasers, separation anxiety and canine therapy.
> It goes against the grain. Show biz dogs tend to be sweet, cuddly pups, but Wilfred is a crude, surly, beer-swilling sort who’s nonetheless loveable. Sort of like your brother-in-law.
> The show proves that deep down, dogs are existentialists and that their reason for being is to show us humans how to overcome fears and embrace life.
> It celebrates just hanging out with your dog — sure, it’s in the basement with smokes and a six-pack, but life is great.
Good Dog: Activities & Sports
Interview with the President of Dogs Scouts of America
July 2 2012
Summertime brings back childhood memories of swimming, hiking and summer camp with like-minded outdoor enthusiasts and lovers of crafts, campfires and sleeping under the stars. Like many youngsters, these activities revolved around scouting … troops of Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. Today, our dogs keep me company on my outdoor adventures, but I sometimes miss the camaraderie of my fellow scouts. Imagine my delight in discovering Dog Scouts—a national organization that promotes a variety of pursuits for dogs and their owners. I had the opportunity to find out more about this exemplary organization recently when I spoke to Chris Puls, President of Dog Scouts of America.
When and how did the Dog Scouts in America start?
DSA was established in 1995 for people and dogs of all ages and abilities. It was started by Lonnie Olson because of her dog Karli. Karli had been active in several dog sports and she had excelled in many other areas which did not offer registered titles. For example, she was an outstanding frisbee dog. She was the lead dog on Lonnie’s sled team, and she had starred in stage productions and television commercials. She performed tricks and entertained people in hospitals, schools and nursing homes with her therapy visits too. This dog was like an Eagle Scout (the highest rank in Boy Scouts), she had done it all! Lonnie decided that there should be an organization for dogs like Karli or dogs who aspired to Karli’s many accomplishments. And an organization for people who just wanted to have more fun with their dogs and learn new things.
The concept of having a single organization that gave recognition to all of the various activities which dogs become involved in was just too profound to ignore. Lonnie jumped on the idea of Dog Scouts to recognize all the dog activities under one organization (at a time when dog sports outside of obedience were just getting started and when many were breed restrictive). Rally had not yet been created and Agility had just been introduced in the U.S. a few years earlier. The only other “dog camp” had just recently started on the East coast and was geared toward serious competitors in various dog sports.
The idea of pet dogs coming to camp with their owners to learn skills, for which they would get recognition in the form of merit badges, was, as Lonnie says, “the best idea I’ve come up with in my lifetime.” Everyone loves the concept. Everyone wants their dog to be a Dog Scout. And now that concept has spread across the country and even to other countries with troops currently in 22 states plus Canada and Puerto Rico.
Much like Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, Dogs Scouts is more than fun and games, it involves a lifelong learning, enrichment and dedication. Can you talk about the organization's mission and focus on responsibility?
I think the Dog Scout owner’s motto sums up the mission: “Our dog’s lives are much shorter than ours—let’s help them enjoy their time with us as much as we can.” But the official mission we strive for is: to improve the lives of dogs, their owners, and society through humane education, positive training and community involvement.
We stand for responsibility—to the dogs in our care, to our communities, and to each other. We recognize the importance and benefits of the relationship between people and companion animals, and seek out ways to enrich this bond. We believe encouraging compassion and kindness toward our canine companions builds a more compassionate and kind world. We strive to create a better understanding and quality of life for our dogs and all animals in our world. We believe that our members make a difference by setting an example, developing skills and embracing opportunities to share our philosophy with each other and inspire people to join us. We know that sharing positive ways of training and problem-solving helps to keep dogs in lifetime homes and out of shelters. In Dog Scouts, people help dogs, dogs help people, and the whole community benefits.
We envision a future where dogs remain in happy, lifelong homes with responsible owners. In this vision, all dogs are seen as a useful and welcome part of the community, because people take responsibility for socializing, training, containing and caring for them. We strive to create a world where people view their dogs as part of their family and all dog owners have the knowledge they need to raise well-mannered canine citizens.
There’s an entry point to membership and level of commitment to Dog Scouts, correct? What are the first requirements upon joining Dog Scouts?
All participants must first earn the title of Dog Scout. They do that by earning the Dog Scout badge. This title/badge (and all the other badges) have components for both the dog and the person to learn and demonstrate so that both ends of the leash are involved. The Dog Scout badge requires the owner to learn about responsible dog care and positive training while the dog needs to demonstrate basic obedience like sit, down, stay, come, heel and leave-it as well as showing they are safe around people and dogs.
And like young boys and girls in scouting, there are lots of badges to earn by the dogs and their human companions. What kinds of badges are available?
After the Dog Scout badge is earned, the team is free to learn/earn just about any of the other badges (some have pre-requisites that need to be earned first). Earning badges are optional and not required, but offer a wide range of challenges for dogs and owners. The badges are categorized into the following areas:
There are 88 badges (including the 10 new badges that will be introduced this year, but are not yet present online).
Some of the more popular are the Backpacking and Hiking, Puppy Paddler (swimming), Manners, First Aid/CPR, Agility (all levels), Community Service and Art of Shaping (teaching the dog to wear a bootie that gets dipped in paint, that the dog then swipes at the canvas to create a masterpiece.)
Community involvement is a big part of Dog Scouts as well … how do the Scouts impact their communities?
Many troop members help out in their communities, this includes individuals who participate remotely, without having a troop nearby. Troops have raised funds for bullet proof vests, vehicle temperature warning systems and door poppers for police K-9 units. They have organized drives for specially shaped pet oxygen masks for fire departments and cool bed equipment and vehicle temperature systems to search and rescue teams. And some have secured food and toys for the pets of people in need and low cost spay/neuter programs. They visit hospitals and nursing home with certified therapy dogs, and are active in educational presentations at a variety of events. Plus, DSA members often pick-up dog waste left behind by other, less responsible dog owners. We even have a badge for this! It’s the Clean-Up America II badge (level I is picking up cans and bottles).
I understand that there’s plenty of time for fun and games as well ... can you talk about some of the outings, camps and outdoor activities?
DSA national provides two summer camps each year in June and July at the 70-acre camp facility in St. Helen, MI. These camps run Monday to Saturday and allow the owners and their dogs to experience many sports and dog activities that they might otherwise be unable to do. If a medium sized dog wants to try Earthdog/Go-to-Ground, which is typically limited to small terriers, the dog can try it out because Dog Scout camp has larger tunnels for the big dogs. If a Chihuahua wants to try carting, we have some tiny carts for them to try. DSA encourages the dogs and people to try any activity that is safe for their dog. The camps are $650 for the week and that includes all the activities from 8 am – 8 pm and all meals (lodging is extra and available on-site ranging from $8 per night for a rustic camp tent site or $75 per night for a one-room private cabin with A/C. There are also private and group rooms in the main lodge and a few RVs to rent. People can also bring their own RV—we have sites with electric hook up.
DSA national also holds Spring, Fall and Winter outings that are fun get-togethers and free for DSA members (lodging extra). Members may rent the camp facility for their own use or use it to hold a seminar, troop camp out or other learning activity.
There are also two mini-camps held by troops near Pennsylvania/Massachusetts and in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. These are 3–4 days and include several badge activities and learning sessions.
We have about 40 troops that hold various activities for their members—everything from hikes and parties to community service events and fundraisers. The number of events a troop has per year varies by troop. People can see a map and a listing of troop locations and troop leader contact information online (scroll down under the map box for contact info).
Are there age restrictions for children joining with their dogs?
We have a Jr. Scout program that is open to children from 6 to 18 years of age. A child of any age can be a member of DSA (with parent’s permission), but some troops have rules about minors attending troop events. This might include the parent needing to stay with the child or the child demonstrating a certain level of competence in controlling the dog. At camp, anyone under 18 must be accompanied by an adult that must be responsible for them. We usually have a few kids per camp, but mostly it is an adult activity.
Can people participate in Dog Scouts online or virtually ... if they live in remote areas or don’t have a troop nearby?
Absolutely! All the badges can be earned by submitting video of the dog doing their part and written answers for the owner’s part of the badge. Individuals are encouraged to participate in activities like the DSA National Hike-a-Thon, which takes place every May and individuals can organize activities and fundraisers for their community.
We also have various competition and titling events that are open to everyone (with discounts for DSA members). Currently, we offer titles for backpacking, scent detection, carting, treibball (ball herding) and IMPROV (a fun, useful and varied form of obedience). The guidebooks and rules for these can be found at: dogscouts.org.
The dogs must love scouting ... any stories stand out?
We have had a number of dogs who try a dog sport for the first time at Dog Scout camp, and then go on to compete and earn titles. Several have even made it to the National level. This has happened with a number of dogs in Dock Diving, but also in Rally and Frisbee. And dogs of all breeds have found they LOVE lure coursing!
Usually at least half of the campers during the summer camps are people who have attended our camp before, sometimes well over half are repeat campers. And some of the campers have attended every year since the start and are now on staff! Many have attended multiple years and we give out “Happy Camper pins” that award a new “bone” for every 3 years of camp attended. Many people have multiple bones hanging from their pins. The Texas mini-camp filled in less than 3 days last year and this year it filled (50 campers) in just a single day! We often hear from the campers that Dog Scout camp is the best time they have with their dog.
What’s on the Dog Scouts calendar this summer?
We offer camps and events throughout the year—our popular Michigan summer camps held in June and July are currently full as is the Texas mini-camp this fall, but space remains at the Blue Ridge mini-camp in Western Maryland, Aug 16-19, 2012. The DSA Leadership Retreat and two Canine Freestyle camps with WCFO Judge Gloria Voss are offered every April and May.
Current and future outing dates are posted online: http://dogscouts.org/
June 27 2012
Check out this exclusive behind the scenes video of the Dogs of the Daily Show photo shoot for The Bark’s current cover article. Witness the pandemonium as dogs are rounded up for their portraits and caught lounging on Jon Stewart’s desk. Armed with treats, squeaky toys, and Daily Show staffers … photographer KC Bailey and editor Claudia Kawczynska capture the ultimate canine photo session.
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
June 22 2012
If Photoville sounds like an imaginary place where photography fans frolic among pictures, technology and ideas—it is, and it’s happening in Brooklyn beginning today through July 1. Best of all, you won’t have to leave your dog at home to attend (more on that shortly). Free and open to the public, Photoville is part country-fair, part photography event whose centerpiece is over 30 shipping containers of exhibition space showcasing international and local talent. In an attempt to make art and photography more accessible, the organizers (United Photo Industries) have added fan-friendly attractions such as a outdoor dog run and a summer food/beer garden to a wide-ranging schedule of lectures, workshops and a series of nighttime projections.
As their website points out “Because no self-respecting Brooklyn-based village should go without one …” they have created an 800 sq. ft. dog park that will include water access, shaded areas with seating, a photo fence featuring portraits of four-legged Kickstarter supporters, and a communal gallery where pictures of visitor’s pets will be proudly displayed. A shipping container-sized, walk-in Camera Obscura will be focused on the Photo Dog Run, providing an immersive photographic experience and a one-of-a-kind view of dogs at play. Organizers have promised to send us some snapshots!
Photoville takes place at the uplands of Pier 3 at Brooklyn Bridge Park, rain or shine, from June 22—July 1. Admission is free. Photoville will be open June 22, 28, and 29 from 4pm–10pm; June 23 and 30 from 11am–10pm; and June 24 and July 1 from 11am–7pm. The public is encouraged to enter Brooklyn Bridge Park at the foot of Old Fulton Street at the waterfront and to then walk south to the uplands of Pier 3. Please visit www.photovillenyc.org for detailed directions and additional information.
Dog's Life: Lifestyle
The story behind those sensational photographs
June 11 2012
The overnight sensation of Seth Casteel’s breathtaking photographs of diving dogs is a publicist’s dream — the stunning photos went viral and now have been seen by millions, gaining notoriety and admiration for the photographer, bringing offers for licensing and business deals, and a book contract from Little, Brown. Casteel’s collection of photographs entitled Underwater Dogs will arrive this fall. Behind every great picture is a story, and we talked to Casteel about his journey from pet portraitist to viral phenomenon.
How did the photos get introduced online? Was it your goal for them to go viral?
The reach of these photos is unbelievable. At one point, UNDERWATER DOGS was the number one World News Headline in some countries—number one! That is just ridiculous! (laughs) Sometimes the news can be so negative. It was cool to see something so simple, silly and positive in the headlines. The greatest thing about this entire situation is knowing that these photos make people smile. That is something I'll never forget.
I've seen a few accounts written about your surprise at the rapid exposure—can you share your reaction in those early hours-days as the photos went viral?
My website crashed big time. It was set up on a shared server and I was only allowed a limited number of concurrent connections. My site used to get about 200 unique visitors a day. All of the sudden, there were hundreds of thousands. Crash!! I was caught off-guard! A good problem to have though …
On the evening of February 9th, I received a few e-mails that my photos were posted on Reddit and Google. I dozed off and then woke up to various phone calls at 3 am on February 10th. People and journalists were calling from all over the world. Some were photo agencies that wanted to represent my portfolio. I was obviously confused! I checked my website analytics for that morning and was already at 35,000 hits in just a couple of hours. I checked my bank account and thought there had been a mistake—I had received dozens of print orders overnight, from countries all over the world!
The power of the Internet is so incredible. I need to send the World Wide Web some flowers and a thank you card!
Tell me how the book came to be? And how you've worked with your editor to craft it?
The images are so rich and colorful, you must be excited about seeing them in print, in a book, in a single collection. Are there some new things in the book we haven't seen!
You must shoot dozens, hundreds of shots to get one you are happy with. Must be a long day's work for you and a great play session for the dogs ...?
How close do you need to be to the dogs to get the kinds of shots that you capture?
Purchasing the kind of topline photo equipment that you use for underwater photography is no small investment, how confident (or nervous) were you about jumping into something so new and uncharted for you?
You also have a non-profit, Second Chance Photos. Can you tell us your plans with that?
Underwater Dogs Photos Copyright © Seth Casteel
June 7 2012
Whittling is a great pastime, and it’s easy to get started—all you need is a knife and a piece of wood. Follow these simple tips and you’ll be on your way to a satisfying summer project.
Your knife should have a sharp 1-1/2 to 3 inch blade, a standard pocket knife will do in most cases. Keep your knife sharp throughout your project. A dull knife is more dangerous because you will need to push harder to make a cut, with less predictable results—if you slip the added force can do some damage. You can also use a special woodcarving knife, specifically designed for whittling, available at most hobby stores.
For some fun patterns of dogs, see these examples from the 1945 how-to manual Whittling Is Easy, made popular by generations of Boy Scouts. When you finish your project, we’d love to see it—take a photo and e-mail it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Check out the wonderful, miniature world of whittler, Steve Tomashek, in this video:
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