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News: Editors
10 Not-to-be-Missed Exhibits in 2009

The convergence of art and canines can yield thrilling results—a visual feast, an engaging tutorial of ideas, unadulterated fun. The new year brings a host of intriguing exhibitions to museums across the country—There’s something to satisfy every taste: the traditionalist, the modernist, the academic and even the I-don’t-like-museum types.

1. Vernacular Photography Fair; January 10–11; Santa Monica, CA
Found photography or anonymous imagery is a photographic genre that’s making inroads into museums and collections. Snapshots are a part of American life and memory, and among these rediscovered treasures, you’ll often find man’s best friend. Best of all, vernacular photography remains an affordable collectible (check out the $5 bins!), and this gathering of dealers offers a dose of nostalgic bliss.

2. Roy De Forest: Painting the Big Painting; January 8–February 28; Brian Gross Fine Art; San Francisco, CA
A chance to experience first-hand the wonderful paintings of this preeminent California painter is not to be missed. De Forest’s surreal mindscapes filled with dogs, horses, birds and people resonate with bright colors, thick paint and mythic tales. De Forest is loosely grouped together with 60’s Funk art, yet his vision stands alone in its originality. De Forest’s paintings attain something rare—inspiring joy, laughter, awe and sheer delight.

3. Pets in America; September 13, 2008–February 1; Stamford Museum & Nature Center; Stamford, CT
This thought-provoking exhibition explores the bond between people and animals, and the history of pet-keeping. The collection of more than 300 objects includes pet attire, feeding and housing implements, pet remedies, and a coat and collar made for President Roosevelt’s dog, Fala. Developed in support of research by Professor Katherine C. Grier, the show is both scholarly and entertaining, examining the impact pet-keeping has had on ideas on human nature, emotional life, individual responsibility and societal obligations.

4. The Beauty of the Beasts: Artists and their Pets in 20th-Century Art; January 7–March 16; Art Institute of Chicago; Chicago, IL
This survey includes a diverse selection of works, from Renaissance sculpture to modernists Frida Kahlo and Pablo Picasso, connected by their love of animals and works featuring their pets. See how companion dogs worked their way into the art of Caravaggio and the canvases of Pierre Bonnard, and created the phenomenon known as the Blue Dog. Yes, there are propositions on symbolism, allegories and the like, but these aesthetic mash-ups are really an excuse for some fun and surprising pairings—where else could you see Frida’s monkey share a room with Cellini’s shaggy dog?

5. Pierre Bonnard: The Late Interiors; January 27–April 19; The Metropolitan Museum of Art; New York, NY
A rare exhibition focusing on the post-Impressionist Pierre Bonnard’s (1867–1947) late interior and still life paintings. The 8o paintings, drawings and watercolors are radiant, glowing with the warmth of their Mediterranean locale. Bonnard’s beloved Dachshunds are present in a handful of the best works, curled up next to a bath, sitting at the table, asleep in a corner. These paintings capture a distant time and place, melding a Proustian sensibility with an Impressionist’s palette.

6. Dog Days Auction Sale; February 10; Bonhams New York; New York, NY
This annual event coincides with the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, and features antique paintings, decorative arts and collectibles with a dog breed theme. The quality of the pieces ranges greatly—from masterwork to kitsch—but all are fascinating in their historical context if not always in their aesthetic merit. Who can resist a painting like this year’s prized item—Arthur John Elsley’s One at a Time (1901)—which depicts a Terrier and a Collie vying for the affections of a rosy-cheeked, bonneted young girl? Bonham’s hosts a popular Sunday brunch-benefit on February 8; check for other viewing opportunities and the online catalog.

7. Paws and Reflect: Art of Canines; January 31–March 29; The Spartanburg Art Museum; Spartanburg, SC; April 26–June 14, 2009;
New Visions Gallery, Marshfield, WI; July 4–August 30, 2009;
Elizabeth de C. Wilson Museum, Southern Vermont Arts Center,
Manchester, VT
This traveling exhibition, which includes paintings, watercolors and sculptures created in the realist manner, will appeal to the traditionalist art lover. Works by over 30 artists from around the country, extraordinary technique and respect for the subject matter are the themes of the day. Among the highlights are several life-size bronze sculptures.

8. It’s a Dog’s Life: Photographs by William Wegman from the Polaroid Collection; January 18–April 12; Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art; Tarpon Springs, FL
For those only familiar with Wegman’s photographs from books and magazines, these large-format images—with their saturated color and vivid detail—will be a welcome surprise.  The subjects are well-known: his Weimaraner pack of models in zany costumes, posed in studies of form and abstractionthe artist’s special brand of visual puns. The scale and presence of these oversized “instant snapshots” are impressive. The fact that Polaroid has discontinued making its trademarked film adds a particular poignancy to this exhibit.

9. Francis Bacon: A Centenary Retrospective; May 20–August 16; The Metropolitan Museum of Art; New York, NY
The first major New York exhibition in 20 years devoted to one of the most important painters of the 20th century, this is a major event. Featuring 153 works spanning the artist’s oeuvre, it’s likely to be a rewarding and exhaustive experience. We expect to see at least a few of Bacon’s paintings of dogs based on the photographs of Eadweard Muybridge’s famous locomotion studies. The paintings are studies of malevolence, power and horror—themes the artist grappled with throughout his career. These early paintings are monumental in their dark moodiness, primal in their elicitation of emotion. Do what you can to see them.

10. Darwin: Big Idea, Big Exhibition; November 14, 2008–April 19, 2009; Natural History Museum; London, England; November 7, 2009–February 28, 2010; San Diego Natural History Museum; San Diego, CA
Celebrate the 200th birthday of Charles Darwin, the great thinker whose revolutionary theory changed our understanding of the world. Besides sailing on a ship of discovery named the HMS Beagle, Darwin was a lover of dogs, and his observations of them informed his theories on evolution, species classification and animal behavior. The exhibition is rich with specimens and artifacts, including letters and publications that illustrate Darwin’s life and the lasting impact of his ideas. The seeds of canine genetics can be seen sprinkled throughout the collection. The exhibition celebrates Darwin’s birthday (February 12) and ends on the 127th anniversary of his death, moving on to the San Diego Natural History Museum.

 

Have a recommendation for a dog-themed exhibit? Share it with our readers by posting a comment below.

News: Guest Posts
Alert! Help Montcalm’s shelter cats and dogs
NEW DATE! January 26, the County decides whether to stop CO2 gassing and sale for research

The Montcalm County Animal Shelter in Stanton, Michigan, is at a crossroads and needs serious public encouragement (outcry will work as well) to follow the right path. On January 12, the County must reject renewing a contract with R&R Research. For years, the USDA Class B dealer has had a lucrative contract to “dispose” of shelter dogs and cats. Essentially, they either euthanize the animals by placing them in barrels with carbon-dioxide gas or selling them to research facilities.

You can read the terrible details thanks to a thorough investigation by the Poocini Special Report. The problems don’t end at Montcalm’s border. The story reveals a larger web of contracts between other Class B dealers and other shelters in Michigan.

To learn more or take action, visit Concerned Citizens Coalition, which has petition on its site, and stay informed through Michigan Animal News.

News: Guest Posts
Putting the Bite on Backyard Barkers
Education is the answer when complaints turn ugly

I understand that the constant barking of a neighbor’s dog can put some fairly nasty thoughts into a person’s mind. I’ve been on the receiving end of the steady woof-woof-woof of an anxious and bored pup. But I never blamed the dog.

When I read the recent report in The Arizona Daily Star about the frustrations of a barked-out Pima County women, I was sympathetic. Her attempts to find her rightful quiet have utterly failed. The county’s “intervention”—in the form of suggesting mediation and fining the dogs’ guardians $200—have, reportedly, done nothing to quiet the voluble pack.

But my sympathy faded fast when I visited the blog of the anti-barking organization she started, Quiet Pima County. There among the limited posts is a list of “How to Kill Your Neighbors (sic) Dogs,” which includes:

    The old standby - antifreeze meatballs.
    A gun.
    Get a pitbull and throw it over the fence.

It's a total gut punch, even if indulging dog-killing fantasies is just a way of blowing off steam. So, I'd like to offer a more constructive strategy that brings barkers in from the cold--safely. Why not help people solve their own barking challenges? I contacted a go-to trainer in my neck of the woods, Amanda Brothers of Sidekick Dog Training, with a few questions about how to help backyard barkers.

Why do they bark? Some barking is meant to communicate, ‘I’m all alone, come find me!’ Plainly said, barking is something to DO all day while the owner is gone and it is a self-reinforcing behavior, meaning dogs get something from it whether or not the owner is there to reward it. And when dogs bark at pedestrians and trucks to protect territory, it works. The person, car or dog moves on, and the dogs thinks their strategy (barking) worked and are more likely to bark again when faced with the same situation.

How long is too long to leave a dog in a yard? The answer to this question really varies depending on a lot of factors: age, lifestyle of dog and guardian (particularly the physical and mental activity and interaction the dog enjoys on a day to day basis), breed, security of yard, proximity to neighbors, dog’s preference, weather, and on and on! Personally, I do not leave my dogs in the yard unattended for any amount of time and don’t like to see others do it.

Can you train a dog out of barking when left alone? It’s tough to train a dog not to bark when the owner is absent without using something nasty and not recommended, such as a shock or citronella collar. The best way to eliminate barking is to provide other outlets for your dog including "work for food" toys, such as a Kong or Busy Buddy. Exercise is always going to help. Tired dogs aren’t barking, digging, chewing, etc. Mental exercise will help as well, including basic training, tricks, agility and other dog sports. If you have a big barking problem, I would vote for leaving the dog indoors when alone, in a crate with a busy toy and the radio on. If the dog needs a mid-day potty break, come home at lunch or hire a dog walker.

Oh, and don’t ever reward barking by giving attention (even yelling “NO!” is attention). Ignore the barking until it ceases for at least five seconds before letting your dog indoors or going out to interact with him. If the barking doesn’t stop, make a noise by stomping your feet or knocking on a window. Then, you’ll get your few seconds of quiet, which you can reward.
 

Culture: DogPatch
VIDEO: Dog Song
Why can’t we all get along?—The message behind this joyful song

The economy? Foreign policy? Urgent matters, but they could wait. Speaking directly to his young daughters, Barack Obama discussed another topic early in his landmark election-night acceptance speech: “I love you both so much, and you have earned the new puppy that’s coming with us to the White House.”

The announcement is sure to have elated Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7, who, as the nation knows, have long lobbied their parents for a dog. Obama, the first black man elected president of the United States, and his wife Michelle, recently revealed that the “First Puppy” will join the First Family once they’ve settled into the storied residence at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C.

Uplifting news for dog aficionados across the political spectrum, revelations about the forthcoming canine addition to the Obama family hold special resonance for Bernard LaFayette, Jr. A distinguished scholar-in-residence at the Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta, LaFayette is also the co-writer of a famed civil rights anthem, “Dog Dog.”

 

Available on the 1990 release Sing for Freedom: The Story of the Civil Rights Movement Through Its Songs by Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, the tune (also known as “My Dog Loves Your Dog”) features these lyrics:

My dog a love a your dog and your dog a love a my dog
I’m talkin’ ’bout a black dog, rabbit dog, coon dog, white dog
All’em dogs, Lord, Lord all’em
If my dog a love your dog and your dog a love a my dog
Then a why can’t we sit under the apple tree?

As for the song’s pedigree, LaFayette, 68, explains, “I was raised in Florida during segregation. There was this white family and my family, and we both had dogs. It didn’t make any sense to me that we kids couldn’t play together when all the dogs would just rip and run and get along fine.”

Determined to help improve race relations, LaFayette later became active in the civil rights movement. He recalls that he was in the thick of organizing a student protest in Nashville when childhood memories inspired him to compose, with a friend, the music and lyrics for “Dog Dog.”

“I’d been a tenor in various church and street-corner choirs,” he says. “So, the song just seemed to evolve naturally out of the spirit of the times. Music was a major mobilizing force for civil rights activists. ‘Dog Dog’ was always well-received because it takes a child’s perspective and points out the silliness of discrimination in a humorous way.”

Indeed, Yale University sociology professor Ronald Eyerman brightens when he recalls his discovery of the song while conducting research for a book. Coauthor (with Andrew Jamison) of the 1998 volume Music and Social Movements: Mobilizing Traditions in the Twentieth Century, Eyerman appreciates “Dog Dog” for its engaging, secular charm. “It is very different from most other civil rights anthems in that it is non-religious and about everyday life,” he observes. “Also, what struck my mind was that it took rhythms from popular music. It’s kind of a doo-wop children’s jingle, a non-serious piece with a serious message.”

Like LaFayette, Eyerman notes the influence of music in civil rights struggles. “The impact was stunning and robust,” he says. “The use of song to build collectivity and maintain courage and solidarity in the face of enormous threat got people through things they might not have otherwise. Song was also a great pedagogical tool, as the ‘Dog Dog’ song attests.”

Founder of the legendary a cappella ensemble Sweet Honey in the Rock, Bernice Johnson Reagon counts “Dog Dog” among the most popular songs in her extensive repertoire. A student civil rights leader in her hometown of Albany, Ga., Reagon says she learned the tune in the early 1960s from Cordell Reagon (whom she later married), an organizer who came to southwest Georgia to lead voter registration drives and train emerging activists.

Later a member of the acclaimed Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee Freedom Singers, Reagon says that the group performed “Dog Dog” at nearly every concert. “It was a wonderful song because it taught lessons people could learn from their pets. Dogs seemed to be ahead of humans on the social level in the South.”

Retired from Sweet Honey since 2004, Reagon says she was cheered to find “Dog Dog” on the ensemble’s Grammy-nominated 2007 children’s album Experience … 101. “They sent me a copy of the CD and it includes a version of ‘Dog Dog,’ she says, with a smile. “It’s so clearly a song for the young and the young at heart.”

Oakland musicologist and choir director Melanie DeMore recognizes the entertainment value of “Dog Dog.” “I usually teach it in three-part harmony,” she says. “I encourage both adult and children’s choirs to add barking sounds and to be very animated during its performance. It’s hysterical when you see a whole bunch of folks on the stage delivering the powerful message of the song and still having fun by jumping up and down like puppies and barking.” 

In another interpretation, Harry Belafonte, on his 1967 album Belafonte on Campus, adds a rousing calypso beat to the song, which also includes this verse:

My little doggy was a playing one day
Down in the meadow by a bundle of hay
Another little doggy well he come along
Said let’s get together and eat this bone
Now a why can’t we sit under the apple tree?

Reflecting on the historic victory of President-elect Barack Obama, Bernard LaFayette says “Dog Dog” serves as a reminder of the stunning racial progress achieved in the past 50 years.

“Dogs are therapeutic,” he declares. “They can be unbiased eyes and ears for us in so many ways. When dogs get to know each other, regardless of their breed, they inevitably become friends. They show us how to break down barriers, overlook differences and focus on common bonds. I consider ‘Dog Dog’ a benchmark of how far we’ve come since segregation. It seems only fitting that the Obamas would welcome a puppy to the White House.”

 

 

News: Guest Posts
Rx for the Monday Blues
Microchips saves Christmas eve for an injured dog

A few pounds heavier and a few dollars lighter, I'm back at my desk. I figure I'm not the only one who could use a  feel-good story leftover from the holidays. Enjoy, and then, back to the grindstone!

News: Guest Posts
My Pack's Plans for 2009
I asked my dogs if they had any New Year's resolutions, and to my surprise, they did.

The thought of New Year's resolutions makes me want to eat ice cream ... preferably a pint of chocolate chocolate chip from Oberweis. There's just too much pressure and I have yet to reach any goal through resolution. So I asked my dogs if they had any plans for 2009 and, to my surprise, they did (see below). Have your dogs resolved to make some changes this year? I'd love to hear from them!

"Eat more peanut butter, herd more sheep, chomp more Kongs to bits, and continue teaching that sassy little whippersnapper Ginger Peach to respect her elders." - Desoto, 11 yrs., Catahoula

"Pass my Canine Good Citizen test, persuade more people to rub my belly and under my pits, and go lure coursing at least three times this summer. I also want to go on more summer skunk hunts, but Mama does not approve." - Shelby, 7 yrs., Pit Bull mix

"Earn an agility championship, bruise fewer shins with my whip tail, ignore those new freckles or 'age spots,' go running with Mom for conditioning, play ball more often with Dad, and remember to play nice with others." - Darby Lynn, 6 yrs., Dalmatian

"Seriously? Well, I resolve to be less shy around new people and in new situations, work hard to perfect those darn weave poles, and continue to be the best mouser in the house. Oh, and eat my weight in raw turkey necks." - Jolie, 5 yrs., Dalmatian

"Catch as many frisbees as possible, compete in more Disc Dog competitions with Daddy, practice agility with Mommy, be less of a nuisance to my elders, continue showing Bruiser Bear the cat that it's okay to play with dogs, learn to walk on a loose leash and not jump up on people, no matter how much I so badly really, really want to." - Ginger Peach, 18 mos., mixed breed

News: Guest Posts
Dogfighting Makes A Comeback in Afghanistan
“Even if people are starving, they’ll still keep dogfighting.”

The headline says it all. Violence loves a vacuum. It's interesting that the participants are too poor and the dogs are too expensive to allow fighting to the death--but it doesn't make it less terrible.

News: Guest Posts
Resolution Revolution
Bring back New Year’s aspirations ... for our dog’s sake

New Year’s resolutions have gone out of fashion. Not one of my friends or family has admitted to using the fresh slate of 2009 as an opportunity to commit to change. I guess we’re so convinced we’ll fail that we don’t take aim. Well, in the spirit of Mad Men, the stock market crash and other recent blasts from the past, I’m resurrecting the resolution with an eye toward nurturing my dogs' wellbeing and our bond.

Here are my three (as in strikes) resolutions. I’d love to hear yours.

Leave my iPod at home. No more tuning out on walks. I resolve to take advantage of these regular outings to engage more with my dogs and curb a few of the bad habits—lunging at cats—into which we’ve slipped to my soundtrack.

Channel Hermey (the dentistry-loving elf from “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”). I admit to taking a free pass on dental care every time my vet says my dogs’ chompers look great. It’s nothing I’ve done, and I know the consequences of poor dental hygiene (bad breath, tooth loss, and gum disease, which can cause much more serious health problems). So, I promise to don my funny little finger toothbrushes ASAP.

Tackle a new skill together, in my case, skijoring. This is a holdover from last year, and I’m going to blame my lack of success in 2008 on global warming. But the mustachioed meteorologists in these parts are currently measuring snowfall in feet these days, so I have no excuse. Mush!

The great thing with these resolutions is I can’t really fail. My dogs won’t grade me. Even if I fall down in my best efforts, they’ll remain my loyal, true companions.

 

My friends over at the Seattle Humane Society offered up some worthwhile resolutions too. Check them out. My favorite: Make sure your pet is cared for in the event of your death. It's not something we like to think about, but it's something we owe our pals.
 

News: Guest Posts
Cave Canem
Dogs have their own parking spaces in Rome

ChrismaChunnuKwanzaBoxingNewYear is wrapping up. For many of us, this means we are blissfully reunited with our dogs after visits to family, friends or, simply, dog-unfriendly holidays. If you’re like me, you spend an inordinate amount of time during a vacation seeking out other people’s dogs. Happily, Rome, where I spent Christmas, provides a wealth of canine delights. Sleek muzzles peer out of purses and well-heeled apartment-dwellers stroll in the passeggiata. Of course, these smallish, pampered pooches are a far cry from ancient Roman hunting and guard dogs. I was particularly delighted to see dogs in sweaters and blingy collars join the crowd in the piazza outside St. Peter’s Basillica for the Pope's Christmas benediction. Like any city anywhere, dogs also kept company with the homeless.

The most delightful surprise were the dogs at Pompeii, the ruins of an ancient Roman city, preserved for millennia under the pumice and ash of Vesuvius. Not only are teeth-baring dogs warning Cave Canem (Beware of dog in Latin) preserved in mosaics but there are actual dogs—38 of them, according to our guide Big Nicky. These aren’t skinny, flea-riddled strays, barely getting by on the kindness of tourists, but clean, healthy, sociable pups (at least the three I met). That’s because the staffers at Pompeii provide food and water for these furry residents. Each dog is also spayed or neutered--a custom less in evidence among the male dog population in Rome.

News: Contests
Roll Out the Red Carpet for Your Favorite Shelter or Rescue
Winner of free private screening of Hotel for Dogs to be announced soon

(Update: Thanks to everyone who nominated a deserving shelter and rescue organization. It's been inspiring to hear about all the wonderful efforts to help companion animals around the country. The contest is now closed to entries. We'll announce the winner of the Hotel for Dogs screening soon.)

Thanks In the new movie Hotel for Dogs, a couple of street-smart siblings in a foster home with a strict no-pets policy hide a feisty Jack Russell Terrier in an abandoned hotel. With the help of a few friends, they are soon providing love and shelter to a motley assortment of city strays, keeping them happy, healthy and well fed with some truly ingenious inventions. (Go behind the scenes with Alysia Gray Painter in the Jan/Feb '09 issue.)

While vending machines that spit out shoes for chewers and automatic ball launchers aren’t available in most shelters or foster homes, Hotel for Dogs celebrates something very real—the heart, hard work and creativity behind every successful rescue effort. That’s what Bark loves about this movie, and why we’re thrilled to share it with folks who know all about fighting the good fight for dogs.

In partnership with Bark, Paramount Pictures is offering a free private screening of Hotel for Dogs to a shelter organization or rescue group (and its choice of employees, volunteers and supporters) at a local movie theater. From humane societies to small grass-roots networks, all are welcome. Entries should be posted as comments below,  so that we can all read about these inspiring programs to help homeless companion animals.

HOW TO ENTER: Nominate your favorite shelter or rescue in 100 words or less as a comment below by February 15, 2009. No phone calls. A winning organization will be selected at random from all qualified nominations and announced on TheBark.com. Please note: Multiple entries from the same address or duplicate entries will be disqualified. Screening can be held Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday, excluding holidays, in a 200-seat theater. Theater location based upon availability.

Important fine print: This film is rated PG. All federal, state and local regulations apply. A recipient of prizes assumes any and all risks related to use of prizes and accepts any restrictions required by prize provider. Paramount Pictures, Terry Hines and Associates, Bark Magazine and their affiliates accept no responsibility or liability in connection with any loss or accident incurred in connection with use of a prize. Prizes cannot be exchanged, transferred or redeemed for cash, in whole or in part. We are not responsible if, for any reason, winner is unable to use his/her prizes in whole or in part. Not responsible for lost, delayed or misdirected entries. All federal and local taxes are the responsibility of the winner. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary. Participating sponsors their employees and family members and their agencies are not eligible.

 

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