This is my dog Sally, often referred to as Sal. Another “mystery mix”, her face and legs feel like velvet but the rest of her feels prickly like strands of steel wool. Her ears are huge and her tail is a lot like Pluto’s or maybe a stingray’s. In a house full of boys she’s my only girl dog, so I should probably refrain from calling her Sal and reinforce what few girly aspects she does have, but she’s just not into it. The only time she ever “works it” is when my husband comes home, and then look out. It’s all wiggling and wagging and shameless flirting and good grief. I never get a reception like that…what is it about girl dogs? They can really lay it on thick when they want to!
She is a pretty good dog, she even came to work with me for two weeks one summer at the San Francisco office of Pentagram and made lots of friends. But most of the time Sally’s big thing is squirrels. She can and will sit completely still for hours observing and studying every little squirrel twitch. Her other big thing is the “freedom run”, leash or not. On several occasions while out for a run I’ve gone flying when a squirrel zips across the road in front of us. As a result, I’m convinced my right arm is now at least a few inches longer.
Sally’s always been a pretty happy-go-lucky gal, but things didn’t start out so great for her. They could have been really disastrous: a woman drove her giant Cadillac into a gas station on the corner of a busy intersection, barely slowing down as she opened the door and threw out what appeared to be a black sweater. Except this black sweater was a puppy that picked itself up and started running frantically for its life. Luckily she was rescued before being hit by a car.
So in honor of Sally who did make it, I’m going to light a candle tomorrow on International Homeless Pets Day for all the dogs who don’t make it, or are right now on that hairline verge. For all the dogs who are put into precarious situations all over the world by rotten women in giant Cadillacs at busy intersections and every other horribly cruel individual. And I’m hoping that like that black sweater, they can all get up and run.
Meet George. This is one of my favorite photos of Georgie boy, even if it is just a Polaroid from his photo shoot with Amanda Jones a few years ago. There’s a strange rule of photo shoots that dictates the best shot of the session will be from a grainy Polaroid. So while there were many great shots that day, I love this one the most.
George is a dog who is mostly made of Rottweiler material. He has the kooky brown dots above his eyes that jump around, and the typical black and brown fur thing going on. But his fur is a bit longer and silkier, his ears are a bit larger, and he got to keep his tail. Hooray! There are some other things about George that are even more unique, like a great Darth Vader impersonation. He’s a lovable fellow, and he especially loves you if you have food. Any food. In fact, he loves food so much that he can hear the tiniest crinkle of the smallest piece of cellophane and he comes running. Besides that, he’s all about living the good life of snoozing. And snoring.
The story of George’s arrival began one beautiful spring morning. As I stood washing dishes and looking out the window, I saw a dog suddenly appear in my yard. Oh no, I already have four. A fence panel had been taken down for a truckload of dirt that was delivered. Please go home, cute dog. I went outside with hands on my hips, determined to nip this in the bud. As I stood there, staring down at him and telling him that he needed to go back home, in a flash he’d jumped up to greet me, hitting me in the face and knocking off my sunglasses. This isn’t working. I went back inside and decided to ignore him. He left. He came back. He carefully chose a spot in the soft grass, in the shade. Ahhh, this looks good. And he stayed.
He had a collar, but no tag. I made signs and posted them around, asked the neighbors, checked with the shelters. Nothing. In Oakland at that time they would keep strays for only 3 days so unless someone came looking for him, he would be euthanized. No one was looking for him. After a few months, I bumped into some other people a few streets over with a dog of the same age that looked just like George—and they had also named him George. Hmm. Maybe George’s dad was a dog named George Foreman, and now just like with the real George Foreman, there are five offspring all named George. You never know.
This is my dog Chappie. I’m not really sure what kind of a dog he is, but I usually just say “white shepherd” and that gets us through. Because what else would I say? He’s the kind of dog that’s terrified of thunderstorms? The kind that insists on sleeping in the guest bathroom, and closes the door for privacy? A micromanager of our daily routine, with a built-in clock so he knows exactly when it’s time for treats, dinner and last call? Snaps at bumblebees and would rather be indoors? Chappie is also the dog who refused to befriend Finn, if you happened to read my inaugural post. He’s pretty eccentric, that’s for sure. Just like with people, I suppose there’s a reason for it. Something that was stamped onto his psyche before I met him. But he’s a sweet boy and a good soul, a very tender heart.
Once upon a time, in a galaxy far, far away, I had a café and it was located in an historic building on Main Street USA. The shop had a great bay window, and being a designer (and not at all someone who wanted a café) I used to dream up different themes for this window and would devote lots of time decorating it. Now in this small town, my café became a daily stop for regulars (and oddly, occasionally a stop for Lawrence Eagleburger and that rotten senator that ended his career by calling someone macaca). Eventually I got to know the head of the county animal shelter who would come in for coffee each morning. One day she remarked that the new shelter was open, but no one knew and so I decided to dedicate the window to this cause. I visited the shelter and photographed all of the dogs and cats and puppies and kittens, framed them and hung them in this window with their names. Traffic picked up at the shelter and adoptions took off, hooray!
Of course, one polar-bear-looking puppy in particular struck me as extra-special, darn it. And so as a parting gift, my friend gave me this little guy who became Chappie. His story: animal control officers had received a tip to investigate a home and when they arrived they found an adult female dog tied to a tree and she was pretty vicious. This dog, Chappie’s mother, had been tied for so long that the rope had grown into her flesh. She attacked one officer and was shot and killed on the spot. Chappie and his 3 brothers were found behind a shed, they were covered in goat poop. Definitely a sad beginning for him, but he’s a resilient little chappie and he makes every day better. Now excuse me, while I go let him out of the bathroom.
Black and white photo above by Amanda Jones.