Typographic Tuesday: Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Today’s quote for Typographic Tuesday is by Martin Luther King Jr., in honor of his recent birthday plus all the warm, hopeful feelings here in America that are in the air with an inauguration and a new year for setting things right. I’m including this photo because I think it’s one of the most tender images I’ve seen in a while.

Here’s the background: a few months ago I did a post on Sara Turetta and the group she started called Save the Dogs. One group that really helps Save the Dogs is the Swedish-based Hundhjälpen. Not only do these guys send pallets loaded with all kinds of dog food, treats, toys, medicines, etc. they also take regular trips to Romania and volunteer however they can. In the end, they transport a lot of these dogs back to Sweden and find them warm, loving homes. This photo is from their trip just a few days ago, and the kindness of this simple gesture melts my heart. Thank you, Hundhjälpen and Save the Dogs for never looking the other way.

To find out more about Hundhjälpen or donate, go here. To see all of the photos from their trip, visit their Facebook page here. And of course, Save the Dogs’ website is here.

Faithful Friend Ciccio

Maria and Ciccio

Maria Margherita Lochi was known in her town of San Donaci, Italy for her kindness in looking after and adopting stray dogs and cats. One of her adopted dogs, a 12-year-old German Shepherd mix named Ciccio, was found in a soccer field near her home and is now carrying on his own vigil for Maria since she passed away two months ago. Is Ciccio Italy’s own Hachikō?

Ciccio used to attend Mass services with Maria for years on a regular basis at the church of Santa Maria Assunta, and according to the parish priest he has always been welcome in the church and would sit quietly at Maria’s feet. On the day of her funeral, Ciccio followed her casket into the church and each day since when the bell rings to begin Mass he arrives and sits at the altar.

Ciccio at the altar

According to the Daily Mail, Father Donato Panna said: “He’s there every time I celebrate Mass and is very well behaved—he doesn’t make a sound, I’ve not heard one bark from him in all the time he has been coming in.”

“He’s still coming to Mass even after Maria’s funeral, he waits patiently by the side of the altar and just sits there quietly. I didn’t have the heart to throw him out—I’ve just recently lost my own dog so I leave him there until Mass finishes and then I let him out.”

People in the village are providing food and water for Ciccio, and for now he sleeps in a covered area near the church. The priest is hoping to find a home for him soon…but I’m hoping he adopts him and allows Ciccio to remain a parishioner at the church of Santa Maria Assunta. In any case, thanks to massive publicity and a Facebook fan page created by Maria’s son, it appears that there have been many offers across Italy to give Ciccio a warm, safe home very soon.

Also: Ciccio seems to have another name, which is “Tommy”, and news reports use both. Details from the Daily Mail, and Sud Italia News. Photos from Ciccio’s Facebook fan page.

UPDATE February 11, 2013: I follow the story of Ciccio, or Tommy, on Facebook and it appears that Maria’s son Sebastian now has custody of him. Sadly, Tommy is very ill right now at a vet clinic and it is feared that he may not survive. I’m not sure what the cause is, but they are saying that because he is now around 13 years old combined with the heartbreak of losing Maria, the sadness has taken its toll. I will post an update here if I get any further news.

Artist Yoshitomo Nara

Do Not Disturb! 1996, Yoshitomo Nara

A while back I became a fan of Japanese artist Yoshitomo Nara, and what initially caught my eye of course was this white dog. He appears in paintings, drawings, and installations. At some point, somewhere (Toronto? London? Chicago? San Francisco? I can’t remember!) I saw an installation of three of these white dogs in a circle, bigger than life, filling up a room. I was smitten.

But look at this guy! I hope I can visit Japan one day and see him in person at the Aomori Museum of Art. Just look how happy these people are! And who wouldn’t be? There’s something so great about the incredible sense of scale with any piece of that size, and it would be even better if that piece is a gigantic dog!

Yoshitomo Nara at Aomori Museum of Art

Yoshitomo Nara at Aomori Museum of Art

Yoshitomo Nara has also created a sweet children’s book for Chronicle with this giant white dog at the center of the story, The Lonesome Puppy. It’s about a dog that’s just so darn big, no one notices him except for one special little girl. Aw.

The Lonesome Puppy from Chronicle Books

To be fair, Yoshitomo Nara isn’t entirely about white dogs. A lot of his work features these little mischievous kids, they’re trouble but they’re very alluring. And who knows what they’re up to! Smoking cigarettes, fighting, swearing a little and glaring a lot. I like these kids, but they’re somewhat intimidating and make me uneasy, like the kid that stares at you on a subway and has the power to make you squirm. Oh save me, giant white dog!

Yoshitomo Nara's work

Great article on artist Yoshitomo Nara here.
For some info on the Aomori Museum of Art, their website is here and there’s a good writeup here.
Aomori installation photos from flickr, here and here.

Typographic Tuesdays

The average dog is a nicer person than the average person.

Welcome to Typographic Tuesday here at Dogs Make Everything Better. I’m hoping to have a new quote each week to mix things up a little bit. The first one here is from Andy Rooney, and I chose it because in the past week I’ve encountered a few very vocal anti-dog people. And besides, I think it’s true. Thanks, Andy Rooney.

Tell Monopoly to Keep the Dog

Monopoly Scottie dog piece

I have to admit, when I was a kid and someone said “Hey, let’s play Monopoly!” I wasn’t usually thrilled. It was an okay-ish game, but kind of boring and dated even then. There was something kind of “what the—?” about illustrations having a copyright date of 1936, and the guy overwhelmed by offers to buy a yacht or Rolls Royce, or take a world tour, after inheriting a measly hundred bucks. But we played it, especially if it was a drizzly gray afternoon with nothing else going on. And yes, this was before video games, movies on demand, cell phones and iPads. Your only other options were to either read a book or eat an apple.

There was a bright spot—and sometimes an argument—over who could be which piece. For me, of course I always wanted to be the dog. A close second would be the car or top hat, but the other pieces, and again “what the—?” A wheelbarrow? An iron? Who wanted to be reminded about doing work when you’re trying to play a game?

So now Hasbro (what happened to Parker Brothers?) has a campaign to eliminate one of the tokens and replace it with a new one. You can vote until February 5 via Facebook or Twitter using the hashtag #tokenvote to keep your favorite piece in the box, otherwise it might be replaced by a robot, a cat, a diamond ring, a guitar, or a helicopter. To add to the confusion, next month Target stores will sell a “Golden Token” edition of Monopoly which will include ALL of the original tokens plus all of the new contenders. Once the votes are counted and the lineup is finalized, that new edition will be available late this summer. Just in time for apple season.

Tournament of Roses (and Dogs) Parade 2013

Early Rose Parade with Dog

For as long as I can remember (but not quite as far back as this photo), southern California’s Tournament of Roses Parade has been a non-negotiable part of my New Years Day. For anyone unfamiliar with the parade, it is shown on television live from Pasadena. A very colorful display, it’s a welcome sight to people living in drab frozen places who want to see vibrant flowers while their own are covered in ice. The floats are strictly made out of real flowers and other vegetation, and they get pretty darn creative. Normally the weather is sunny and glorious in southern California (but not this year) and they often share a recently updated statistic about how many frozen people are lured to the Golden State after watching, ditching their snow shovels and hitting the road for t-shirt weather. The parade always includes the best marching bands from across the country (and increasingly around the world), people on horseback, a few celebrities, and of course some great dogs. A few from the LA Times:

Beagle on HGTV's Rose Parade float

Rose Parade Pup on Bike

This year’s Grand Marshall is the amazing Dr. Jane Goodall, and the theme is based on Dr. Seuss’s book, Oh the Places You’ll Go! Best Friends Los Angeles, part of the main Best Friends rescue group based in Utah, is aiming for their shelter to be a no-kill, and one of their dogs by the name of Chuck was chosen to walk alongside the carriage with Dr. Goodall to represent America’s homeless pets. Sweet. He did a great job. Here are two pictures of Chuck from the BFLA Facebook page, the second one being just before his television debut!

Chuck with BFLA's Marc Peralta and Jane Goodall

Another float sponsored by the Beverly Hills Pet Care Foundation was beautifully designed and executed, with giant flower-clad dogs and cats but also lots of real dogs held by volunteers. The announcers said that all of the pets on the float are available for adoption and you could connect with them at the end of the route. The star Jack Russell terrier Uggie from movies like The Artist was even onboard with his trainer (but I don’t think you could adopt him) as the official mascot of the float, because he’d also been given a second chance.

But the best part of this year’s parade brought together many wonderful things: dogs, our military service members, and reunions. A few minutes before the float arrived, a woman and her son were introduced as lucky winners of a contest for military families living in Germany, and she said that her husband was currently serving in Afghanistan. The prize included a trip to California plus tickets to the famous parade. Next arrived the Canines of Courage float, sponsored by the Natural Balance pet food company, to honor (big hooray!!) canines that serve our country alongside troops. This float was inspired by a monument that’s currently being built to these canine heroes in San Antonio. Various branches of the military were represented by members in their dress uniforms and dogs that have served including one sweetheart German Shepherd mix named Lucca, who had lost a leg to a land mine in Afghanistan. In addition to a representative soldier, there were 4 dogs also made of flowers to represent the four most common breeds that typically serve: Doberman Pinscher, Labrador Retriever, German Shepherd, and Belgian Malinois. Beautiful. Below are some photos of the float during its construction and in the parade, and also the happy girl Lucca, to whom we owe a great debt.

Canines with Courage Float

Last but definitely not least, the contest winner and her son were pulled from the crowd to be reunited with one other rider on the float, her husband in his army fatigues. I jumped off my treadmill, not very gracefully, to make this video. It’s really wonderful, even the parade announcers were choked up. And, one last thing I noticed: this military family’s last name is Pazz, and it’s pronounced like “paws”. How cool is that?

Happy New Year everyone!

Article on the Canines of Courage float from the Los Angeles Times here.
If you’d like to watch the whole parade, KTLA’s website has it here.