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Culture: DogPatch
Whittling Dogs
Whittling / Painting

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.

Materials
Soft woods are the best—white pine, sugar pine and basswood are good choices for beginners. Find a piece of wood with straight grain that can fit comfortably in your hand, avoid wood with lots of knots.

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.

Whittling Cuts
Here are some common whittling cuts: The pare cut or pull stroke, one of the simplest and most common, is like taking a paring knife and peeling vegetables. The push stroke is made by pushing the blade away from you, this technique can be used in roughing out your project’s general shape and, later, with smaller shaving cuts to achieve finer detail. The V-cut or channel is used to show detail in your carving in the form of hair or scales and uses the point of the knife.

Whittling Tips
- Take it slow and concentrate. Though whittling is a relaxing, meditative activity, it requires focused attention. Carelessness can cause accidents!
- Make small cuts that you can control. Remember, it’s easier to remove wood with a series of small cuts than to add it back once it’s removed.
- You generally want to cut with the grain of the wood, for ease and best results.
- Relax your grip, holding your knife too tightly will quickly tire your hand out, and may lead to stress injury.
- Consider wearing a glove to start in order to stave off cuts and injury. If this is too cumbersome, try using a thumb pad or protector—the thumb on your knife-holding hand tends to get the brunt of the nicks and glances. A little duct tape around your thumb will also do the trick.
- Be prepared, keep a first aid kit handy just in case you need it.

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 contests@thebark.com.

Check out the wonderful, miniature world of whittler, Steve Tomashek, in this video:

Culture: DogPatch
Max Miller’s Canine Kaleidoscope
Pictures in an Exhibition
Max Miller Art

Max Miller is known for abstract paintings that embrace color and line, as well as figurative works with human and animal subjects; dogs are among his favorites. On occasion, he employs both genres in a hybrid style perhaps best described as canine psychedelia. These oils and watercolors explode with color and shimmer with richly decorated backgrounds—it’s as though the dogs have leaped into the paintings and turned to gaze back at us, inviting us to join them. The combination of the two styles is at first disconcerting, but we quickly settle into Miller’s altered reality with its visual cornucopia— traces of Middle Eastern mosaics, bright tie-dye patterns and wild amoebic shapes delight the eye and bring to mind what was called “mind-tripping” back in the day. Careful—you may find yourself leaping into these paintings too…

Culture: Science & History
Alexandra Horowitz, The Canine Mindseeker
What do dogs know and how do they know it?

We talk with Alexandra Horowitz, assistant professor of psychology at Barnard College, about her new book, Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know. This engrossing work is inspired by Horowitz’s experiences with her dog, Pumpernickel, and draws upon her own and others’ research in the field of canine cognition. This book expands our understanding of the nature of dogs and provides a channel to seeing and “smelling” the world from a dog’s point of view.

Bark: Your fascinating new book, Inside of a Dog, begins with a discussion of canine “umwelt.” Can you tell us more about umwelt and how it might affect our understanding of our dogs?

Alexandra Horowitz: The idea of umwelt, which originated with the biologist Jakob von Uexküll, is that the world of each animal is defined by how he/she perceives and acts on the world. Thus, the umwelt of humans does not include infrared light, since we have no perception of these wavelengths and cannot act based on seeing it. However, for bees, who can see infrared light, it is part of their umwelt, and they use the reflected infrared from the center of some flowers to locate nectar. The scale of objects, and their salience, also matters. In our ordinary life, we humans don’t deal on [what we call] the microscopic scale of bacteria: thus, objects that small aren’t part of our impression of “what is out there” at all. A dog’s umwelt is determined by what he can perceive, by his history, by what matters in the world to him. Humans are clearly a big part of the umwelten of dogs, but we don’t register much in the fly’s umwelt (at least, not as anything distinct from other mammals).

For dogs, we can imagine that their world is defined by their perception and action. Their perception includes being able to smell much more acutely than we can (including detecting changes in others’ hormones) and hearing within a greater range than we can. Thus, they will be able to respond to stimuli we don’t even notice. At another level, their umwelt is defined by the things they can bodily act on: They handle the world with their mouths, so the world gets divided into things-that-fit-in-the-mouth and things-that-don’t-fit-in-the-mouth—a way of seeing the world that is quite different than our own.

If we begin to understand what dogs think about, what they can see and smell (and what they can’t), I think we’ll have a better understanding of what it’s like to be a dog—the dog’s perspective, if you will. Appreciating his perspective goes a long way toward making a closer relationship (as it does between people!).

B: The dog’s amazing olfactory powers make their worldview different than ours. Can you explain why?

AH: As we go about our day, we see the world first, using vision to help make sense of the sounds (conversation, sudden honking, a nearby thud) and the smells (something rancid or sweet wafting on the air) around us. Dogs smell the world first, using olfaction to organize and make sense of what they see and hear. The richness of our visual world is matched, if not surpassed, by the richness of their olfactory world.

This leads to some profound differences in the way the world looks, which I describe at length in the book. For instance, smells deteriorate over long distances, and are carried hither and thither by currents of air. The visual scene does not change with the breeze, and with distance, only looks “more distant.” The result is that the world is mapped differently for the creature who primarily “sees” it via his nose rather than his eyes.

B: You note that dogs couldn’t really see TV in the pre-digital conversion days; the physiological reason behind this is significant—can you explain it?

AH: It has to do with how we process light. Specialized cells in the eyes of mammals translate light waves into neural activity by changing the pigment in the cells. In the milliseconds that the pigment is changing, the cell can’t receive any more light. This leads to what is called the “flicker-fusion” rate: essentially, the number of snapshots of the world that the eyes can process each second. Our flicker-fusion rate is about 60 images per second.

The image on old TVs and film is really a sequence of still shots sent quickly enough to fool our eyes into seeing a continuous stream. Given our flicker-fusion rate, the film needs to be only slightly faster than 60 still images a second to trick our eyes into seeing motion. Dogs, though, have a faster flicker-fusion rate—about 70 or 80 stills per second. When watching film, they can actually detect the individual frames as well as the dark spaces between them. With the recent conversion to entirely digital television broadcasts, though, the flicker-fusion rate is no longer relevant, since digital TV works differently. So dogs can, in theory, watch TV—though it still is not very olfactorily interesting!

B: Why do you think it took researchers so long to truly study the dog?

AH: I think it took scientists a long time to see dogs as cognitively interesting because they reasoned that animals who are closely related to us—like apes and monkeys—were more likely to display behaviors similar to those of humans. As it turns out, in social cognitive tasks such as interpreting others’ gestures, dogs often surpass chimpanzees in performance! Additionally, I suspect that it was felt that dogs were already “known,” because they are so common and familiar to us as pets. What we are discovering is that in some cases, we are correct about what dogs know and understand, and in many cases, our common-sense understanding of dogs is not quite right.

B: A lot of your research involves dog play. Why is play so important?

AH: Play is a terrific venue in which to see dogs’ fast-paced, coordinated behavior; they are highly skilled players. As many dog owners may know, most bouts of play begin with a play signal, such as the familiar “play bow,” in which one dog bends down on his front legs, holding his rump high and his tail up and wagging. Another signal is the “exaggerated approach,” in which one dog lopes toward another dog, often with an extra-bouncy stride. These signals are considered requests to play, or announcements of an interest in playing. It appears to be important to play signal before starting to play, since play involves behavior that would be considered aggressive—biting, mounting, bumping—in another context.

When I looked at play sequences in very slow motion, what I was able to see was that dogs were very good at getting the attention of their hoped-for playmates before play signaling. And they seemed to know what kind of attention-getter would work in different situations: a more forceful attention-getter when the other dog is distracted, a mild one when the dog is standing idly. With humans, a person might need to shout to get the attention of someone talking to someone else; similarly, we don’t need to barge into someone standing right in front of us in order to get his attention. Dogs seem to know that. And then, only after getting the other dogs’ attention, did they signal an interest in playing.

B: Dogs of the same “breed type,” like herders, seem to enjoy playing together and appear to have different styles of play than other breed types. For instance, they use the “eye,” and play “who winks first gets to be chased.” Have you studied behavioral traits in breeds and how they are expressed during play?

AH: I find it extremely interesting that breeds often gravitate to other members of their breed to play. Indeed, it seems that even similar-looking mixed-breeds often play together. Some of that could be explained by their owners’ interest in the familiar-looking or -acting dog (if owners loiter together, it gives the dogs more time to get acquainted). But most of it presumably comes from the dogs’ mutual recognition of characteristic behaviors in one another: the way the other dog solicits play, how he uses his tail and, as you suggest, even showing “eye” or other breed-typical behaviors. My own research did not control for breed, and I don’t know of any other studies that have specifically identified whether or not certain behaviors are more likely during play among members of one breed than play among members of another. It’s ripe for the investigating!

B: It was interesting that you said that long-time or close playmates can exchange shorthand signals with each other. How can we learn to read our dog’s shorthand?

AH: The shorthand is usually a component of the play signal. The play bow involves bringing the forelegs down and the rump up—so, a shorthand version of that is what I call a “play slap”: just bending down on the front legs, usually with an audible slap. Similarly, many signals involve an open, almost grinning-looking mouth; as shorthand, a dog can do a very short open-mouth display with another dog. If you know the components of the signals, you can see how dogs break them up to use with their regular playmates.

B: In regard to your statement that dogs don’t hunt cooperatively—since dogs evolved from wolves, who do hunt cooperatively, it would seem that dogs would, too.

AH: You make a great point. Some dogs may hunt together—and dogs definitely act cooperatively with each other in many settings, including play. My point is a little different, however. What I wanted to emphasize was that typical dog behavior has changed considerably from typical wolf behavior in numerous ways. The studies on which I base my statement were on free-ranging (stray) dogs who need to hunt or scavenge to eat; researchers found that the dogs did not hunt together cooperatively, as we see in wolves. These groups are perhaps the closest model that we have of what is natural social behavior for dogs unmodified by the immediate presence of humans. Dogs bred for hunting may also act very differently, of course, than mixed breeds.

B: Pointers can “honor” the point of another dog while hunting—a truly amazing thing to see. Mark Neff at UC Davis is collecting evidence of the genetic basis of this behavior. Are you familiar with this behavior?

AH: Following another dog’s hunting point is very consistent with all the recent experimental research showing that dogs are quite good at following dogs and humans who indicate (by pointing or looking) where a hidden toy or food is. This may seem obvious to some dog owners, but to psychologists, it is quite meaningful that dogs follow points; most non-human animals don’t seem to use pointing as an informational cue. It is also a testament to the quality of the experiments that we see this ability in the dogs’ natural lives as well.

B: I was happy that you discussed dogs’ fascination for novel objects (neophilia). But have there been any studies that actually showed this to be true?

AH: Yes. In 2008, Kaulfuss and Mills published a study showing neophilia in dogs. The dogs in their study were given the choice of new or familiar toys, and most preferred the new toys. This doesn’t mean they will always be interested in a new toy; rather, it indicates that dogs have a sense of what is familiar and what is novel, and are curious enough to investigate the novel.

B: How can you tell if your dog feels or is expressing guilt?

AH: It is an open question whether dogs feel guilt, one that we all have our hunches about but that is very hard to confirm empirically. I recently published a study testing whether the “guilty look” that dogs show—ears back, tail down, slinking off or avoiding eye contact—actually indicates that the dog has disobeyed and possibly feels guilty. I found that dogs showed the most guilty look not when they had actually disobeyed, but rather, when they were scolded or confronted by a suspicious owner, even if they had done nothing wrong.

What most dogs do seem to know is that some actions—those that have provoked punishment in the past—are “wrong,” off-limits or at least likely to provoke punishment again. This is not the same as feeling guilt. They may do the guilty look as an entreaty not to be punished.

B: How can you tell if your dog is bored? I know that is one of the biggest concerns of dog lovers.

AH: Boredom in dogs looks remarkably similar, in broad strokes, to what it looks like in humans: flagging energy, reduced activity, poor attention, sleeping too much. Dogs may pace (similar to zoo animals kept in too-small enclosures with nothing to engage them) or do repetitive actions, such as licking or chewing themselves obsessively. If you come home to find your house in disarray, socks mauled, pillows disemboweled, it’s likely that your dog was bored—at least until he found those socks and pillows with which to occupy his time. Boredom can be sated by giving the dog something to do: play with him, give him plenty of social time with other dogs, or hide safe toys or treats for him to find when you’re away.

B: You said that “in many ways, dogs act as if they think about their memories as the personal story of their life.” What do you mean by this?

AH: It is an intriguing question whether dogs think about themselves—that is, whether they have a sense of their own life story, their autobiography. It is also a very difficult question to address scientifically. I am proposing, however, that much of dogs’ behavior, such as what they remember—where they buried that bone last summer, the dog who was hostile the last time they met, a shortcut home—indicates that they are in fact thinking about their life in an autobiographical way.

B: A final question. Is there a possibility that dogs co-evolved with us, especially since the dog genome dates the wolf/dog split to almost 100,000 years ago, about the same period during which Homo sapiens was developing? Also, the change “out of wolf” began so long ago that it would seem to predate human settlements. So perhaps the theory of dogs “taming” themselves as scavengers around our “settlements” might not be right.

AH: I think it is quite appropriate, based on the evidence we have, to say that dogs and humans co-evolved. As I discuss in the book, there is archeological evidence that dates the intertwining of our lives to 10,000 to 14,000 years ago, though most researchers believe that we lived together for perhaps thousands of years before that time. The interesting and more recent finding (using mitochondrial DNA)—that wolves split into two different groups, one of which was to become what we now know as the domestic dog—is suggestive that the connection between humans and dogs may have been quite long ago. It is also possible that these “proto-dogs” were well suited to later domestication, but weren’t yet associating with humans (or our forebears). The evidence simply isn’t all in yet.

 

To listen to an interview with Alexandra Horowitz on NPR, click here.

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Web Exclusives: Nov/Dec 2010
Web Extra

Welcome to our web exclusives. This is where you’ll find new and topical articles, instructions, links for taking action, multimedia bonuses and expanded versions of material in the print magazine. Enjoy!

  • The Mirror Method - One of the trainers behind Hungary’s viral dog videos, explains how they did it.
  • A Doggy Christmas Surprise - Hungary's viral dog video.
  • The Bark's iPhone & iPad app - Get more information!
  • Yum! Enter your photo to win -  One lucky reader’s dog will eat well — and FREE — for a year.
  • Pebble Pets - Lovable companions crafted from pebbles and paper.
  • Papier-Mâché Dogs - A fun project for the whole family.
Magazine: 2006-2008
Boog: Cover Dog
May/June 2008

 Is that a Setter, a Spaniel, a Dalmatian? Nope, he’s a Large Münsterländer (a German breed with Longhaired German Pointers and English Setters in the line) and Helene Rubinstein’s Boog. Named after the 1970s Baltimore Orioles first baseman, Boog Powell, the two-year-old pup has yet to meet a person or dog he doesn’t like; at the dog park, they call him the “ambassador,” because he’s the only one who’s never gotten into a tussle. Boog lives in Tarrytown, N.Y., with his big “sister” Georgie, a seven-year-old Border Collie mix who has done quite well in agility. Boog is also learning agility, and though his hunting nose sometimes distracts him from the jumps and tunnels, he can do some mean weaves! This Large Münsterländer is indeed large, but Rubinstein thinks he’s worth every inch. Boog rolled out his biggest grin for photographer Amanda Jones.

Good Dog: Activities & Sports
Open Space Program Makes Off-Leash Dogs Legal in Boulder
Tagged for success in Colorado

With its plentitude of open space (43,000 acres), trails (130 miles) and glorious mountains—plus its progressive humane perspective—Boulder seems like an ideal place to have a dog. Now, with the launch of its “Voice and Sight Dog Tag Program” (TAG), an off-leash registration and educational outreach effort administered by the department of Open Space and Mountain Parks (OSMP), the city is taking steps to balance wise stewardship of open space with public/recreational usage.

To achieve this challenging balance, OSMP worked closely with the dog community, represented by FIDOS (Friends Interested in Dogs and Open Space), to design the program, which is intended to ensure the continuance of off-leash privileges. Under its terms, in order for dogs to be off-leash on trails and even in city dog parks, they must be registered. Compliance with the ordinance is signified by a tag (worn by the dogs) indicating that the human half of the pair has watched a short video on Boulder’s “voice and sight” control ordinance and basic dog/human etiquette and paid the $15 fee.

What seems to be the most difficult part of the regulation, the “come immediately” command, was part of a dog-related ordinance enacted in 1996, a spokesperson for FIDOS explained. The best way for programs like TAG to achieve success is for, as FIDOS hopes, “enforcement [to] focus on those that are clearly causing problems.”

When it comes to off-leash issues, it is often the case that the misdeeds of the minority color the way the majority is perceived. Let’s hope that Boulder’s proactive educational approach minimizes the number of misdeeds and prevents conflicts. For more information, visit osmp.org

 

Culture: DogPatch
A Canine All-Star Baseball Team

It’s time dog lovers had their own all-star baseball team. To qualify, one needs only a name or nickname dog-related. Each of the following players were major leaguers:

Manager: William “Ruff” Carrigan
Coaches: Bob “The Flea” Lillis, Joe “Poodles” Hutcheson
Umpires: Al Barker, Aaron Pointer
1B: Henry “Bow Wow” Arft
2B: Charles Bassett
SS: George Bone
3B: Bill “Mad Dog” Madlock
LF: Leon “Daddy Wags” Wagner
CF: Clyde “Pooch” Barnhardt
RF: Eddie “Greyhound” Milner
C: Clint “Toy Bulldog” Courtney
P: Henry “Great Dane” Rasmussen

In the bullpen: Marcus “Fido” Baldwin; James “Collie” Colliflower; Orel “Bulldog” Hershiser; William “Bird Dog” Hopper.

On the bench: John “Scotty” Alcock; William “Spot” Bethea; James Bowser; Anton “Mutz” Ens; George “Doggie” Miller; Freddie “The Flea” Patek; George “Pooch” Puccinelli; Dino “Dingo” Restelli; John “Mutt” Riddle; Lewis “Old Dog” Ritter.

 

Culture: DogPatch
Inspired by Dogs: Majora Carter

Environmental justice advocate, MacArthur Fellow, president of her eponymous green economic consulting firm: by anybody’s definition, Majora Carter is a dynamo. Born, raised and still living in New York’s South Bronx, Carter founded Sustainable South Bronx in 2001, and by 2003, had implemented the highly successful Bronx Environmental Stewardship Training (BEST) program—a pioneering job training and placement system that seeds communities with a skilled workforce that has both a personal and an economic stake in its urban environment.Among her landmark projects is the conversion of a stretch of debris-strewn riverside to a vibrant neighborhood park and the beginning of an 11-mile greenway. And she might never have discovered the place or its potential had it not been for her dog, Xena.

Bark: Tell us how Xena came into your life.
Majora Carter: Early one rainy evening in 1998, I was going to see a film at a local cultural center in my neighborhood. Outside the gate, a big-pawed puppy with a huge head was sitting in a cardboard box, tied to a no-parking sign. When I came out of the movie, the puppy was still there. I wasn’t looking for a dog at the time and didn’t really need any extra responsibilities, as I was already helping take care of my elderly father, and not making much money either.

The puppy and I looked at each other, but I didn’t really have any huge emotional moment where I felt I had to save this animal. I was working to save humans from noxious environmental planning by the City of New York at the time. But something attracted me to her, so I took her home, dried her off, found some food in the fridge—which she devoured—and spent the next year trying to recover chewed shoes, books, furniture and other household objects that fell before the wrath of this energetic and fast-growing pup. The vet who checked her out (and continues to do so) said she was four months old when I found her. I named her Xena.

B: We understand that Xena had a paw in the revitalization of the illegal dumping area that became Hunt’s Point Riverside Park. How did that happen?
MC: One of the benefits of having a large German Shepherd-mix mutt on the end of a leash is that it allows a single woman to go places with a greater sense of confidence and safety. When Xena was about a year old, we were on a daily jog through one of the many industrial-zoned sections of the South Bronx. It was just after dawn, and Xena caught the scent of something in the weeds. Behind the weeds were piles of garbage—mostly construction and demolition debris (dumps like this exist in cities and towns across America).

Xena used all of her 80 pounds of young dog energy to drag me deeper into the abandoned lot. Past refrigerators, needles, stacks of tires, oil drums, old tar roofing, thistles, dead things and a bunch of other items I was thankful were not on her list of things to roll in that day.

Just as we began to get too far out of sight of the road for my comfort level, I caught an unfamiliar glint of light out of the corner of my eye. Xena pushed through the last patch of tall weeds as she bounded forward to her goal, and right there in the morning light, the Bronx River flowed, with ducks landing and butterflies dancing.

Except when I went to Connecticut for college, I had lived in that part of the South Bronx—called Hunts Point—all my life. I could see on the subway maps that we were surrounded by the East and Bronx Rivers, but I never actually saw the water because their banks were crowded with waste and sewage treatment facilities, truck lots, power plants, and illegal dumps like the one we discovered that day.

It was so beautiful to see the river there that morning. I knew I could play a role in turning that land into a park, where families could get connected with nature and each other in a positive, healthy atmosphere.

B: How is the neighborhood using the park? Does your schedule allow you time to go there with Xena?
MC: It’s great! An organization called Rocking the Boat moved into the lot next to the park. They teach local high school-age students to build traditional wooden boats for rowing and sailing—most of the boats are about 16 feet long, I think—and then they use them to study river ecology; on Saturdays, the boats are made available to the public and maintained by people who graduated from their program. On weekends, the barbecues are all full and people use the park to celebrate with large and small gatherings.

Aside from the obvious recreational benefits, members of the community are employed maintaining the riverfront, and are using it to train other workers for future waterfront restoration projects. I don’t get to the park nearly as often as I’d like—especially when you consider how much time I spent working to make it happen. But I did have my wedding there on the first day it was opened. Xena was my flower girl!

B: Environmental justice is a large concept; can you scale it to a one person/one dog level?
MC: It’s actually simple: no community should have to suffer more environmental burdens than any other. Clean air and clean water are a minimum standard we should be able to maintain for everyone. When we don’t, public health costs go up, but it goes deeper than that. Proximity to concentrations of fossil fuel exhaust sources has been shown to cause learning disabilities in young children. It’s usually poor kids who live in these areas, and in the U.S., if you’re poor and do badly in school, your chances of going to jail skyrocket. The deeper we look into how our environment affects us, the more clearly we see how costs add up if we conduct planning as though some people’s environmental rights are not as important as others’. If we had placed as many of our waste, energy, chemical, agribusiness and transport infrastructure near wealthy people as we have near poor communities, our infrastructure would have been green and clean decades ago.

B: Environmentalists and dog lovers have a number of intersecting interests. One of the more obvious is that in densely populated urban areas, both people and dogs appreciate and need environmentally healthy open spaces in which to walk. What can dog people do to improve their local environments?
MC: Well, for starters, keep their dogs from peeing on the trees. Street trees have a hard life in a densely populated area. The faster new trees can get to full canopy, the sooner we can benefit from the environmental services they provide.

B: What channels do you recommend following to address local environmental issues?
MC: Start by talking to your neighbors. Chances are, the same things you are concerned about are affecting others. Your ideas about solutions might start out being different, but will come together as you imagine the possibilities. Local politicians are often much more responsive than you’d guess, too. Most people don’t even bother talking to their elected officials, but they should. They can’t act unless they know there is organized support for their position, and organizing has never been easier than it is today.

B: Are there tools individuals can use to make a case for attention? Taking along a videocam (or using a cell phone) to document problems encountered while out walking with our dogs, for example?
MC: That’s a great start, but it’s smart to document the good stuff, too. When we had cleared the debris off the land that Xena had explored with me, it still wasn’t a “park,” but we planned community events there and demonstrated public use before we went to the City for money to develop it further. So whether it’s something you like or don’t like, giving yourself visual tools with which to communicate pros and cons is always valuable.

B: We also understand that you have a degree in film, and an MFA. Do you have occasion to use this training in your current work?
MC: I have a pretty grueling speaking schedule, and every event embodies a certain amount of performance. Plus, I do a television show on Sundance Channel and a Corporation for Public Broadcasting radio series called The Promised Land. Communicating complex issues is so important to getting things done, and creatively visualizing new solutions for familiar problems is crucial. Those were both things I have carried over from my studies. The important thing to remember is that I learned about my environmental work on the job, starting at the age of 30—so no matter where you are in life, you can always embrace something new.

 

 

Culture: DogPatch
Pop Goes the Dog
A Celebration of the Pooch in Popular Music
Martha and McCartney

Musicians and dogs are a lot alike. Both operate on instinct and feeling. Both have finely tuned ears that can pick up good and bad vibrations. And both make the world a better place by helping others feel a little less lonely.

With that in mind, it makes perfect sense that there’d be mutual appreciation of the musical kind. While dogs compose their own spontaneous tunes—“I Haven’t Seen You in Forever!” and “Scratch My Chin Again” are two favorites—musicians have been a little more considered in their creations over the years.

The story of dogs in popular music began in 1853, when American songwriter Stephen Foster was given a beautiful English Setter, whom he named Tray. Foster so loved his pal that he wrote “Old Dog Tray,” a sentimental ode that became the blueprint for bow-wow ballads from then on.

In the early 20th century, dogs were roving through Tin Pan Alley in hits such as “Where, Oh Where Has My Little Dog Gone?” and “Fido Is a Hot Dog Now,” a 1914 song about a naughty pooch who ends up in Hell.

 

But the modern era of pup pop didn’t begin until the mid-’50s when Patti Page wondered about the price of the doggie in the window and Elvis Presley complained about a hound dog on a cryin’ jag. Since then, artists from the Beatles to Neil Young to Red Hot Chili Peppers have done the dog. To celebrate this genre, here are the stories behind ten purebred faves.

 

“Martha My Dear”
Composed by John Lennon & Paul McCartney
Performed by The Beatles
Released 1968
One afternoon in 1968, Paul McCartney was at the piano, when out tumbled a melody with the phrase “Martha my dear” attached. It made sense, as Paul’s three-year-old English Sheepdog Martha loved music and often lay at her master’s feet while he was composing. McCartney told biographer Barry Miles, “You can read anything you like into it, but really it’s just me singing to my dog.”

Later, McCartney revised his take on “Martha,” calling it a song about “a muse.”

“I mean, I’m not really speaking to Martha. It’s a communication of affection but in a slightly abstract way—‘You silly girl, look what you’ve done.’ Whereas it would appear to anybody else to be a song to a girl called Martha, it’s actually a dog. And our relationship was platonic, believe me,” he added with a chuckle.

 

“Shannon”
Composed by Henry Gross
Performed by Henry Gross
Released 1976 (#6 US)
“Having an Irish Setter is like marrying a Victoria’s Secret model,” laughs Henry Gross. “It’s going to be rough from day one, because she knows she’s gorgeous.”

 

Shannon came into Gross’s life via his marriage in the mid-’70s, about the same time he was opening tours for the Beach Boys. Gross and Carl Wilson bonded over Irish Setters, as Wilson’s had recently been killed by a car.
Back home in New York, with Shannon nearby, Gross thought about Carl “and the song just kind of wrote itself.”
“I knew the second I wrote it there was something special about it,” he says.

 

To this day, Gross still gets letters from fans who find solace in the tender-hearted song. “Whenever somebody loses a dog, they hit henrygross.com,” he says. “I just e-mailed a guy who lost a dog—and this may sound corny, but I said, ‘Whenever a great dog dies, I see it as an opportunity to save another poor dog, to share your love with a soul nobody wants.”

“Hound Dog”
Composed by Jerry Leiber & Mike Stoller
Performed by Elvis Presley
Released 1956 (#1 US)

“We wanted to write something really raunchy,” says Jerry Leiber of the song that became Elvis’s most successful single. In its original incarnation, Leiber says, the song was “about a woman kicking a moocher out of her house. He wasn’t literally a hound dog and he didn’t chase rabbits.” A few years after Big Mama Thornton’s original recording, Vegas lounge act Freddie Bell & The Bellboys did a comedic version of the song. They changed the mooch to a pooch. Elvis loved this version and basically copied it. Leiber says, “The lyric change bothered me, and I wasn’t crazy about Elvis’s version at first. But a couple of years later, it kind of grew on me.”

On June 5, 1956, Elvis caused a national sensation with the hip-shakin’ rendition of “Hound Dog” on The Milton Berle Show. A month later, a supposedly contrite Presley did the song on The Steve Allen Show. Dressed in a tuxedo, with instructions to curb his pelvic movements, he sang to a Basset Hound outfitted in a top hat. “That was Steve Allen’s humor,” Elvis said. “To me, it was about as funny as a crutch.”

“How Much Is That Doggie In The Window?”
Composed by Bob Merrill
Performed by Patti Page
Released 1953 (#1 US)
Bob Merrill never learned to read music or play an instrument, but he could tap out a catchy tune on his toy xylophone. That’s how he wrote hits like “If I Knew You Were Coming, I’d Have Baked a Cake,” “Mambo Italiano” and his biggest, “Doggie in the Window.” Inspired partly by an old British music hall number, “Daddy Wouldn’t Buy Me a Bow-Wow,” the chart-topper for Patti Page is still the 80-year old singer’s most requested song in concert.

As for Merrill, when he tried to write more legit music, his novelty tune dogged his trail. In 1957 he said, “When producers heard I was the guy who wrote ‘Doggie in the Window’ they wouldn't even listen to my songs." He eventually broke through on Broadway as a lyricist for Funny Girl, writing the hits “People” and “Don’t Rain On My Parade.”
 

“Dog”
Composed by Bob Dorough & Lawrence Ferlinghetti
Performed by Bob Dorough
Released 1958
“The dog trots freely in the street…” begins this jazzy, finger-snapping tune about a city canine checking out “fish on newsprint and chickens in Chinatown windows.” Jazz pianist and Schoolhouse Rocks! composer Bob Dorough set Beat guru Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s poem to music. “Often, when jazz and poetry is combined, it’s ‘You blow the blues and I’ll recite my poem,’” says Dorough. “But I wanted to design it a little bit so that I could put the poem across and get the beat a dog makes walking on a city sidewalk.”

Recently championed by Bob Dylan on his XM show, Theme Time Radio, “Dog” is enjoying a resurgence. Dorough, 80, has been getting occasional requests for the ultra-wordy tune at his live gigs. “I can perform it with two weeks notice,” he laughs.

“Snoopy vs. the Red Baron”
Composed by Phil Gernhard & Dick Holler
Performed by The Royal Guardsmen
Released 1966 (#2 US)
What began as “The Red Baron,” a WWI story song by tunesmith Dick Holler, was tweaked for commerciality by producer Phil Gernhard to include two verses about Snoopy’s flying ace fantasies. Gernhard pitched it to teen combo The Royal Guardsmen. After cutting a demo with a military feel and an introductory cry in German (translation: “Let’s sing about the pig-headed dog and the beloved Red Baron”), the band promptly decided they hated the song.

But Gernhard loved it. So much that he landed the Guardsmen a record deal. Three weeks later, the single was soaring like Snoopy’s Sopwith Camel up the charts. While Peanuts author Charles Schulz ended up taking a sizeable cut of the royalties (Gernhard didn’t get permission to use Snoopy), the Guardsmen pushed out a litter of follow-ups—“Snoopy’s Christmas,” “Snoopy for President” and in 2003, “Snoopy vs. Osama”—but never recaptured the glory of the first hit.

“Me and My Arrow”
Composed by Harry Nilsson
Performed by Harry Nilsson
Released 1971 (#34 US)
Nilsson had explored the boy-and-his-dog theme in “The Puppy Song,” a 1969 hit for Mary Hopkin. But he perfected it on this lump-in-the-throat nursery rhyme. It was a centerpiece for his original animated musical, The Point, which Nilsson later confessed was born out of an acid trip. “I looked at the trees and realized that they all came to points, and the little branches came to points, and the houses came to points. I thought, ‘Everything has a point.’”

Everything except round-headed Oblio, who is banished to the pointless forest along with his faithful Arrow.
Nilsson said of the song, “It’s about a dog, your alter ego. ‘Straighter than narrow.’ That means narrow-minded, because the people in the story are prejudiced. Patricia Hearst named her dog Arrow. I got a kick out of that when I first heard it. Since then a lot of people have named their dogs Arrow.”

“Old Shep”
Composed by Red Foley & Willis Arthur
Performed by Red Foley
Released 1941
Growing up in Depression-era rural Kentucky, Red Foley was inseparable from his best friend Hoover, a German Shepherd. As this tearjerker tribute says, the dog once helped save the boy from drowning. Sadly, unlike Shep, Hoover never reached old age, as he was poisoned by one of Foley’s neighbors.

When Red performed the song, grown men were known to weep when he reached the line about how Shep “laid his old head on my knee.”

In 1945, a 10-year old Elvis Presley made his first public appearance, singing “Old Shep” at the Alabama State Fair and winning a $5 prize.

Covered by many artists, including Johnny Cash and Alabama, this classic ballad was also the indirect inspiration for Old Yeller.

“Everything Reminds Me of My Dog”
Composed by Jane Siberry
Performed by Jane Siberry
Released 1989
Telephones, taxi cabs, Albert Einstein—these are a few of the things that remind Siberry of her dog in this whimsical romp. The songstress’s muse was big black mutt with the unlikely name of Crimson. During Jane’s daily travels around Toronto, she realized that what animal activist Roger Caras once said was true: “Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.”

“I learned a lot from my dog,” Siberry says. “I never would’ve been so tuned in to the minute nuances of the everyday light, except I had to walk him all the time. Now that I don’t have a dog, I notice how much less connected I am with the outdoor world.”

“Old King”
Composed by Neil Young
Performed by Neil Young
Released 1992
Introducing this song in concert, Neil Young tells how he once lost his dog, a Bluetick Hound named Elvis, while on tour.

When Young’s bus pulled off the highway for a pit stop, Elvis hit the ground running, in search of olfactory pleasures. Young quickly lost sight of him. Then there was a burst of drenching rain.

 

Young knew that even with his super-sniffing nose, Elvis wouldn’t be able to find his way back. A search was fruitless. Neil had to make the next gig, but couldn’t bear to leave the dog behind. So he put down his old “lucky shirt” and a bowl of chow by the side of the road. Once he reached the venue, he sent a roadie back to the spot, and there was Elvis, ready and wagging.

 

Wellness: Recipes
Recipes for Dogs: Meatloaf
An easy-to-make meal

We are big fans of a good meatloaf, and our dogs Jordan and Gertrude were too. We adapted a basic meatloaf recipe using lean meats and adding different grains and vegetables for variety. Our dogs loved garlic, so we always added it, finely chopped; if you have concerns about feeding it to your dog, it can easily be left out.

We would make a few of these at a time to freeze, using different flavors for variety. Use beef, ground turkey, chicken, or lamb, but avoid pork or veal, which can be too fatty. In place of the oatmeal, you can try other whole grains, such as brown rice or quinoa.

Preheat the oven to 350°F and place the oven rack in the middle slot. Mix all the ingredients together with your hands. Transfer the mixture to a loaf pan, or use a 13-by-9-inch baking dish and form a loaf in the center. You can also use a roasting pan, just space the loaf in the middle of it, you can cook potatoes or sweet potatoes in the pan at the same time too. Bake for 1 hour.

Feed according to your dog’s size and calorie needs.

• 2 pounds ground turkey or other meat
• 1 cup cooked organic oatmeal (We prefer a minimally processed steel-cut whole-grain oat, like Irish oatmeal.)
• 3/4 cup organic flaxseed meal or breadcrumbs
• 1/2 cup fresh organic parsley, finely chopped
• 2 large organic eggs
• 2 cups fresh or frozen organic vegetables (Use a variety of vegetables, such as peas, corn, diced cooked potatoes, and grated carrots; do not include onion.)

 

[Optional:  pulverized calcium. Nori (seaweed), chopped pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds. Can substitute bread crumbs for the flaxseed meal.]

Adapted from Eco Dog by Corbett Marshall and Jim Deskevich, photographs by Aimée Herring. Reprinted by arrangement with Chronicle Books. Copyright © 2008.
 

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