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Cameron Woo

Cameron Woo is The Bark's co-founder and publisher.

Culture: DogPatch
Funny Man Barsotti
Interview with the venerable New Yorker cartoonist

Charles Barsotti has been staff cartoonist at The New Yorker since 1970, and for more than three decades, has been entertaining us with his distinctive rounded pups (one of whom

he’s dubbed Buster). Rendered in deceptively simple lines, his cartoon dogs engage in utterly human tasks, and their fans are legion—one of them, Peanuts creator Charles M. Schulz, told him in a letter that he hoped someone would collect all of Barsotti’s “little dog cartoons” in a book one day. And now, with the release of They Moved My Bowl, they have. We were pleased that Mr. Barsotti agreed to be interviewed—like his cartoon punch lines, his answers to our questions were short, witty and to the point.

Bark: What makes a good dog cartoon?
Charles Barsotti: Me, I make a good dog cartoon.

B: What is it about dogs going about human tasks that’s so funny?
CB: Perhaps our human tasks are for the most part intrinsically funny. But dogs are very much with us; I understand that our family dogs consider us all of a pack. So they can stand in for us in a way that I don’t think cats can—or would. And what can you say? A dog on a shrink’s couch is funny.

B: We see that you dedicated your new book, They Moved My Bowl, to the memory of Jiggs, “the world’s greatest dog.” Can you tell us about Jiggs?
CB: Any kid who doesn’t think his dog is the world’s greatest dog is weird. Jiggs was part Dachshund, part mystery meatloaf. Jiggs was run over and killed when I was 10. In my book, there’s a cartoon with St. Peter and a dog named Rex. Rex is a stand-in for Jiggs.

B: Tell us about your two dogs, Chloe and Buster.
CB: Well, Chloe is real and Buster is—can we go with hyper-real? Buster is imaginary, but he’s a real guy’s dog, whereas Chloe, for all her charm, ain’t.

B: Can you talk about your drawing style? It’s so simple but perfect.
CB: For heaven’s sake, you talk about it. You’re doing such a good job.

B: Your cartoons are sweet and smart but never syrupy or corny—no mean feat when it comes to dog cartoons. How do you manage that?
CB: The “sweet but smart” part is autobiographical.

B: Tell us about your idea of dog heaven.
CB: Better yet, I’ll ask Jiggs when I get there and send word back.

 

See Charles Barsotti's obit published on June 20, 2014

News: Editors
Cartoonist Charles Barsotti Drew His Own Ending

Charles Barsotti, a cartoonist whose drawings were a staple of The New Yorker magazine for decades, died on June 16 at the age of 80. While his name may not be familiar to some, most readers will recognize his cartoons—simply drawn with uncommon wit—nearly fourteen hundred of them appeared in that magazine over the years. Many featured his trademark round-nosed dogs—lying on a psychiatrist couch, gathered around conference tables, appearing before judges in court. One shows a dog dressed in standard issue spy garb confessing “They rubbed my tummy, chief—I told them everything.” Barsotti’s cartoons were poignant and sweet, delivering a good deal more than laughs. The best had a short story quality about them.

The Bark interviewed Barsotti in 2007 upon the publication of a collection of his dog cartoons entitled, They Moved My Bowl, the conversation, like his art, was spare and humorous. We asked him about the book’s dedication “to the memory of Jiggs, the world’s greatest dog.” The cartoonist replied, “Any kid who doesn’t think his dog is the world’s greatest dog is weird. Jiggs was part Dachshund, part mystery meatloaf. Jiggs was run over and killed when I was 10. In my book, there’s a cartoon with St. Peter and a dog named Rex who is a stand-in for Jiggs.” It dawned on us that one of our favorite Barsotti cartoons was autobiographical. We ended our interview by asking him his idea of dog heaven … he replied “I’ll ask Jiggs when I get there and send word back.”

 

Read the full interview here.

News: Editors
Are There Differences Between Dog and Cat People?

All of the theorizing on the differences between dog lovers and cat lovers has some new research to fuel the rivalry. A new study led by Denise Guastello, an associate professor of psychology at Carroll University in Waukesha, Wisconsin, suggests that “dog people” and “cat people” are quite distinct in their personalities.

People who said they were dog lovers in the study tended to be more lively—meaning they were more energetic and outgoing. They also tended to follow rules closely. Cat lovers, on the other hand, were more introverted, more open-minded and more sensitive than dog lovers. Cat people also tended to be non-conformists, preferring to be question rather than follow the rules. All within reasonable assumptions, but here’s the kicker … the study shows cat owners scoring higher on intelligence than dog lovers.

Study researcher Guastello attributes some of these personality differences to the types of environments cat or dog people prefer. “It makes sense that a dog person is going to be more lively, because they’re going to want to be out there, outside, talking to people, bringing their dog,” Guastello said. “Whereas, if you’re more introverted, and sensitive, maybe you're more at home reading a book, and your cat doesn’t need to go outside for a walk.”

The researchers surveyed 600 college students, asking whether they would identify themselves as dog lovers or cat lovers, and what qualities they found most attractive in their pets. Participants also answered a slew of questions to assess their personality.

More people said they were dog lovers than cat lovers: About 60 percent of participants identified themselves as dog people, compared with 11 percent who said they were cat people. (The rest said they liked both animals, or neither animal.)

Dog lovers found companionship to be the most attractive quality in their pet dogs, whole cat people liked the affection from their cats. Because the study involved college students, it’s not known whether the results apply to other age groups, Guastello said. But previous studies have had similar findings. A 2010 study of more than 4,500 people found that dog lovers tend to be more extroverted (or outgoing), and conscientious (or rule-following).

It is to be noted that we could not find out just how the intelligence differential was measured, but it seems highly suspect considering all the factors that would need to be accounted for to get an accurate IQ assessment.

News: Editors
Mr. Peebles
From rescue to model dog

When it came time to plan our cover for Bark’s summer issue, we didn’t need to look far and wide. The perfect model dog was sitting in our in-box. Back in March, Bark blogger Shirley Zindler shared her story of a remarkable little dog named Mr. Peebles whose will to live coupled with the love and care of an equally remarkable foster mom … was nearing a happy end. Mr. Peebles started life as an abandoned newborn—brought to a northern California shelter with serious head trauma that included a skull fracture and severe bit wounds. After several surgeries and months of devotion and TLC, he has made a full recovery and by all accounts is a happy, friendly puppy full of life. When we posted Mr. Peebles story, he received well-wishes from around the world. People were inspired by his will to survive, and the dedication shown by his foster mom. Mr. Peebles would make a wonderful cover dog.

At the end of March, we arranged a photo shoot with Mr. Peebles with the hopes of catching his spirit on camera. He was all that we could hope for … a normal, rambunctious 4-month-old puppy. He showed no signs of timidness or trepidation. He was a joyful model and wore us out! We got some great photos, and some delightful video. The clip above shows Mr. Peebles at “work”—greeting Natalia Martinez, and pouncing on Bill Parsons—Natalia and Bill are partners in Photo Lab Pet Photography, the dynamic duo who photographed our session. Mr. Peebles is still waiting for his forever home and the next chapter in this heartwarming story.

P.S. We’ve received several queries about the lovely collar Mr. Peebles is wearing on her cover photo — it’s from our friends at Aroo Studio.

 

News: Editors
Domestic Violence: No Dogs Left Behind
Pet-friendly shelters can be lifesavers for victims

We caught an interesting story on the National Public Radio's Latino USA on Sunday … the report discussed the connection between domestic violence and pets. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NVADV) finds evidence that many women at risk of spousal abuse refuse to leave out of fear for their pets — studies show that between 18 and 48 percent of pet-owning women at domestic violence shelters had delayed their escape from their abusers because of their pets. Providing shelter and services to victims of domestic violence that include accommodations for their pets can be key in these life or death decisions. The numbers are still small, but some shelters like New York City's Urban Resource Institute are beginning to open their doors to pets—first cats, and now dogs. Listen to how the bond between survivors and their pets is an important part of the healing process.

 

News: Editors
Laughter is the Best Tonic
Study shows dog people laugh more

Do you enjoy a good laugh with your dog? If so, apparently you are not alone. So writes New York Times long-time health columnist Jane Brody on one of the many benefits her new dog Max contributes to her life. Brody’s recent article champions the many perks of “life with a dog”—companionship, exercise, meeting people and laughter. She cites a study of 95 people who were asked to keep “laughter” logs and record the frequency and source of their laughter. Results showed that dog owners laughed frequently more than cat owners and people who owned neither. The findings suggest a complex relationship between pet ownership and laughter. Dogs may serve as friends with whom to laugh or their behaviors may provide a greater source of laughter. Does this resonate with Bark readers? How does your dog make you laugh?

Last week, we marked that annual day of grins and laughter—April 1—with an in-box full of pranks. Jokey press releases, outlandish news reports and faux announcements tried to outduel each other for guffaws. Given the nature of our business, many were dog-themed.

Here’s a sampling of some of the April Fool’s jokes we received this year:

Google Apps for Business Dogs
The tech giant pokes fun of itself and its foray into social media

Moo’s new delivery system—Pug Post!
The online printing service employs canine couriers

The Milwaukee Brewers mascots square off
We love them for adopting Hank the stray, but the humor should have stayed in the locker room

Great British Chefs offer fine dining for dogs
Michelin starred chef opens a “doggie diner”

Plus, these favorites from the past deserve mention …

IKEA’s 2011 Hundstol Dog Highchair
Remember “some assembly may be required”

Warby Parker introduces Warby Barker in 2012
Glasses for dogs!

Barclaycard launches Barclay PayWag in 2013
The first contactless payment device for dogs

Culture: DogPatch
Dogs for the Ages
Bracketology: The Final Four of Everything charts out the top dog of all time!
Bracketology: The Final Four

Here at Bark, we adhere to the theory that humans coevolved with dogs. If wolves hadn’t chosen to leave their packs and join our humble campfires, who knows what rung of the evolutionary ladder we would still be on. Not only did dogs teach us the hunt (Sirius), they guided us through icy storms (Buck, Balto), waited our return from adventures (Argos, Krypto), saved us from hairraising travails (Checkers, Rin Tin Tin, Lassie, Snowy, Toto, and Asta), acted as our confidants (Charley, Fala, Gromit), served as our muses (Boatswain, Flush, Man Ray, Marley, and Tulip) and in the end, became what they are best known as—our truest and oldest friends (Earl, Old Yeller, Skip, and Snoopy). See an enlarged image of this bracket.

HIGHLIGHTS

Lassie vs. Rin Tin Tin
Lassie, the über-Collie, set the bar for canine exploits so high that all our dogs are doomed to pale in comparison. Rin Tin Tin, a scrappy German Shepherd, defined the rugged action hero. The tiebreaker? “Rinty” was a real dog discovered on a WWI battlefield, a dog’s dog. Lassie was an actor. Besides, who can resist a dog in uniform?

Balto vs. Laika
These two heroes captured the world’s attention—Balto in 1925, for his role in the Alaskan serum run, and Laika in 1957, for being the first earthling in space. Laika wins by a nose. Found on the streets of Moscow, the mongrel stray (dubbed Muttnik) wins points for her humble beginnings and her tragic end, while Balto tasted stardom.

Checkers vs. Fala
A runoff between two notable presidential pets—on one ticket, we have Checkers, the Cocker Spaniel who saved Richard Nixon’s career, and on the other, FDR’s constant companion and confidant Fala, a Scottish Terrier who never missed a photo opportunity, accompanying the president by plane, limo, and ship—giving new meaning to dogfriendly travel. Fala in a landslide!

Goofy vs. Droopy
It’s a battle of styles— Goofy, the lead dog in Walt Disney’s cast of cuddly, sentimental characters, versus Tex Avery’s gum-chewing, sarcastic barnyard beboppers, represented here by the deadpan Droopy. Sorry, Goof …

Argos vs. Rin Tin Tin
One for the ages—Ulysses’ devoted dog Argos in Homer’s Odyssey faces off with Rin Tin Tin, Hollywood’s first animal star. Argos’ devotion helped win back the kingdom of Ithaca, while Rin Tin Tin’s loyalty saved Warner Bros. from bankruptcy. Rin Tin Tin bows to Argos, whose legend has been burnished through the millennia.

Charley vs. Tulip
J. R. Ackerley’s My Dog Tulip and John Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley are classic meditations on the enduring bond between man and dog. In this matchup between Tulip, a German Shepherd, and Charley, a Standard Poodle—Charley wins. The quintessential co-pilot, he guided Steinbeck’s search of America, served as the journey’s social icebreaker, and played silent straight dog to his human’s musings.

Boatswain vs. Cujo
How else would these two masters of the written word face off but through their canines? Boatswain, a Newfoundland, inspired one of Byron’s best-known works, “Epitaph to a Dog,” while Cujo provoked fear in Stephen King’s bestseller. Boatswain, in a poetic finish.

FINALS

Fala vs. Snoopy
Sorry, Fala, you’re already immortalized with your beloved FDR on the National Mall, but Snoopy is the iconic dog for the ages, so we award him the golden bone. Snoopy had many alter egos in his long career, and here’s one more for him: the archetypal “everydog.” Snoopy embodies all the characteristics (both good and bad) that we see in our own dogs. He is the muse, the prankster, the hero, the philosopher, the confidant, and the truest of companions. Snoopy possesses a little of everything that makes for the perfect dog—plus, just enough Joe Coolness to keep us on our toes. Good grief, how could he not win?

Culture: DogPatch
Dogs for the Ages
Bracketology: The Final Four of Everything charts out the top dog of all time!
Bracketology: The Final Four

Here at Bark, we adhere to the theory that humans coevolved with dogs. If wolves hadn’t chosen to leave their packs and join our humble campfires, who knows what rung of the evolutionary ladder we would still be on. Not only did dogs teach us the hunt (Sirius), they guided us through icy storms (Buck, Balto), waited our return from adventures (Argos, Krypto), saved us from hairraising travails (Checkers, Rin Tin Tin, Lassie, Snowy, Toto, and Asta), acted as our confidants (Charley, Fala, Gromit), served as our muses (Boatswain, Flush, Man Ray, Marley, and Tulip) and in the end, became what they are best known as—our truest and oldest friends (Earl, Old Yeller, Skip, and Snoopy). See an enlarged image of this bracket.

HIGHLIGHTS

Lassie vs. Rin Tin Tin
Lassie, the über-Collie, set the bar for canine exploits so high that all our dogs are doomed to pale in comparison. Rin Tin Tin, a scrappy German Shepherd, defined the rugged action hero. The tiebreaker? “Rinty” was a real dog discovered on a WWI battlefield, a dog’s dog. Lassie was an actor. Besides, who can resist a dog in uniform?

Balto vs. Laika
These two heroes captured the world’s attention—Balto in 1925, for his role in the Alaskan serum run, and Laika in 1957, for being the first earthling in space. Laika wins by a nose. Found on the streets of Moscow, the mongrel stray (dubbed Muttnik) wins points for her humble beginnings and her tragic end, while Balto tasted stardom.

Checkers vs. Fala
A runoff between two notable presidential pets—on one ticket, we have Checkers, the Cocker Spaniel who saved Richard Nixon’s career, and on the other, FDR’s constant companion and confidant Fala, a Scottish Terrier who never missed a photo opportunity, accompanying the president by plane, limo, and ship—giving new meaning to dogfriendly travel. Fala in a landslide!

Goofy vs. Droopy
It’s a battle of styles— Goofy, the lead dog in Walt Disney’s cast of cuddly, sentimental characters, versus Tex Avery’s gum-chewing, sarcastic barnyard beboppers, represented here by the deadpan Droopy. Sorry, Goof …

Argos vs. Rin Tin Tin
One for the ages—Ulysses’ devoted dog Argos in Homer’s Odyssey faces off with Rin Tin Tin, Hollywood’s first animal star. Argos’ devotion helped win back the kingdom of Ithaca, while Rin Tin Tin’s loyalty saved Warner Bros. from bankruptcy. Rin Tin Tin bows to Argos, whose legend has been burnished through the millennia.

Charley vs. Tulip
J. R. Ackerley’s My Dog Tulip and John Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley are classic meditations on the enduring bond between man and dog. In this matchup between Tulip, a German Shepherd, and Charley, a Standard Poodle—Charley wins. The quintessential co-pilot, he guided Steinbeck’s search of America, served as the journey’s social icebreaker, and played silent straight dog to his human’s musings.

Boatswain vs. Cujo
How else would these two masters of the written word face off but through their canines? Boatswain, a Newfoundland, inspired one of Byron’s best-known works, “Epitaph to a Dog,” while Cujo provoked fear in Stephen King’s bestseller. Boatswain, in a poetic finish.

FINALS

Fala vs. Snoopy
Sorry, Fala, you’re already immortalized with your beloved FDR on the National Mall, but Snoopy is the iconic dog for the ages, so we award him the golden bone. Snoopy had many alter egos in his long career, and here’s one more for him: the archetypal “everydog.” Snoopy embodies all the characteristics (both good and bad) that we see in our own dogs. He is the muse, the prankster, the hero, the philosopher, the confidant, and the truest of companions. Snoopy possesses a little of everything that makes for the perfect dog—plus, just enough Joe Coolness to keep us on our toes. Good grief, how could he not win?

Culture: DogPatch
Paralympic Skier Dreams Gold
Danelle Umstead, Bettylynn, Rob Umstead

“Vision,” Danelle Umstead says, “is to have sight, an idea, or a dream.” Danelle’s immediate dream is to win gold for the U.S. in alpine skiing at the upcoming Paralympic Winter Games (March 7–16) at Sochi, Russia. Danelle teams with husband Rob Umstead who acts as her coach and sighted guide as they race through the courses. Rooting the couple on in Sochi will be Aziza, Danelle’s new guide dog. Danelle began working with Aziza this past summer, after her longtime guide dog Bettylynn (shown here with Danelle and Rob) was forced to retire due to optic nerve atrophy. Bettylynn will be pulling for the couple back at their home in Park City, Utah, with their son Brocton.

At the age of 13, Danelle was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa, a genetic eye condition where the retina progressively degenerates and eventually causes complete darkness. Her vision is “spotted” and she can only see up to three to five feet in front of her, and even then, only contrasting colors without any level of detail. In 2011 she was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Still, none of these hurdles have kept Danelle from achieving her best.

Danelle was introduced to adaptive skiing by her father in 2000, who acted as her guide. She quickly fell in love with the sport—the freedom, the speed, the exhilaration. After she began training and working fulltime with Rob in 2008, competitive success soon followed with Paralympic Bronze medals in Vancouver, 2010, nine World Cup podiums and Paralympics Alpine Skiing National Championships. Her success relies heavily on trust and communication—100 percent trust in Rob as he guides her down the hill at top speed. It’s similar to the trust and communication that she had with BettyLynn and is working to build with Aziza. Danelle and Rob have created Vision4Gold.org as a vehicle to mentor junior disabled athletes by sharing her story and offering encouragement. We’re hopeful that Danelle realizes her vision in Sochi.

Update: Danelle has finished 5th and 4th in her first two Paralympic events at Sochi and hopes to climb the medal stand sometime in her next three races.

News: Editors
Hair of the Dog

For those of you searching for an antidote to excessive holiday cheer or one New Year’s toast too many— we bring you “hair of the dog” or a drink to combat the hangover. This “dog” takes many forms, most commonly a variation of a Bloody Mary but may also include concoctions of gin, whiskey, tequila or beer. But what is the origin of this curiously named tonic? It can be traced back to medieval times and an abbreviation of the longer phrase “the hair of the dog that bit you.” It is based on the ancient folk treatment for a rabid dog bite of putting a burnt hair of the dog on the wound.

John Heywood, in his 1546 compendium, A dialogue conteinyng the nomber in effect of all the prouerbes in the Englishe tongue, uses the phrase with a clear reference to drinking:

I pray thee let me and my fellow have 

A hair of the dog that bit us last night - 

And bitten were we both to the brain aright. 

We saw each other drunk in the good ale glass.

The remedy works with the belief that a small amount of whatever caused the ailment, is also the best cure. While hair of the dog is now dismissed as an effective treatment for rabies, the taking of additional alcohol to cure a hangover has some scientific basis. The symptoms of hangover are partly induced by a withdrawal from alcohol poisoning. A small measure of alcohol may be some temporary relief. Many experience drinkers swear by it, and one can make a case that it does work .. but only for a short time and then you're back to the hangover, only worse. Your body contains an enzyme, alcohol dehydrogenase. It breaks ethanol down into the other chemicals that are making you ill. Adding more alcohol (ethanol) makes your body stop and concentrate on the new alcohol coming in so you do get a brief reprieve, but as soon as that added alcohol gets processed, you're back where you started but with even more toxic chemicals floating around. Unless you intend to keep drinking forever, hair of the dog is a temporary remedy at best. Instead, may we suggest a nice cuddle with your dog for what ails you …?!

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