It’s World Spay Day

Doris Day and Doggie

You tell ’em, Doris!

Doris Day, that is. And she’s featured here because she, along with her Doris Day Animal Foundation, founded World Spay Day—and that’s today, folks! Always the last Tuesday in February, this day is meant to draw attention to pet overpopulation and encourage spaying worldwide. It comes at the end of February (and I’m wondering if it shouldn’t be held at the beginning instead) because all month long it’s been Spay/Neuter Awareness Month. All over the world there have been great free or low cost clinics available to get as many pets spayed as possible, and you’ve gotta love these names: Spay It Forward, Hunka Hunka Furry Love, Neuter Your Scooter… um, you get the idea. So if you know about a certain furry being that needs to be “tended to”, check out what’s going on in your area before the end of the month—or get the word out to others—and save some money at the same time.

Here are a few more photos of dear Doris, because well darn it, they just don’t make celebrities like they used to!

Doris Day with black doggie

Doris Day with dogs

You can find more information about World Spay Day, locate a spay event in your area, or enter the spay pageant on the official portal here. Various groups and clinics around the world have been uploading photos from different spay events, mobile services, etc. and it’s really great to see the reach.

Information on the Doris Day Animal Foundation here.

Typographic Tuesday: Do What You Love

Do What You Love print by ConiLab

It’s Typographic Tuesday, and at first today’s quote isn’t exactly about dogs, but for me it is! Because dogs are what I love, and design of course, and putting them together is my dream job. So I’m having a coffee toast to my company Pantofola and savoring this longer version of the above by Steve Jobs:

“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.” — Steve Jobs

Thanks to my friend Mark McNeilly (who also has a couple of great dogs!) for sharing this Steve Jobs quote, the timing was perfect.

Last but definitely not least, the image above is a beautiful screen print by Spanish artist Coni Della Vedova that I purchased from her Etsy shop a few years ago. It’s a nice size, an A3 (11.7″ x 16.5″) and is printed on lovely paper, and she ships anywhere. You can still get one here!

Diogenes “The Dog”

Painting of Diogenes in his jar with dogs by Jean-Léon Gérôme

I don’t know about you, but I find it to be so incredibly fascinating how dogs are woven into human history. It seems that at every turn, there’s something about a dog’s role in our evolution. And I’m not just talking about a caveman with a dog for protection and survival, but the ways that they’ve helped to shape our thinking and philosophy…

Diogenes of Sinope was a Greek philosopher and one of the founders of Cynic philosophy. A rebel, he turned his back on his banker father and chose to separate himself from regular society by living in a jar in the middle of town and hanging out with dogs. He was the kind of guy you’d meet and probably think to yourself “What a jerk!” and then realize, well, he’s got a good point. He was known for stunts like carrying a lamp around in the daytime, claiming to be looking for an honest man. When he met Alexander the Great, who was thrilled to meet the famous philosopher, and was asked if there was anything he could do for him, Diogenes replied “Yes, stand out of my sunlight.” Nice. After that, Alexander declared “If I were not Alexander, then I should wish to be Diogenes”, to which Diogenes replied “If I were not Diogenes, I should also wish to be Diogenes.” Well, okay then!

Alexander the Great meeting Diogenes

Now hold on, before we go any further, just because Diogenes was a Cynic, don’t start thinking of him as the original “Debbie Downer”. Like a lot of things, the meaning of the word “cynic” has evolved to be something negative in our modern world. According to The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, “classical Cynics regarded virtue as the only necessity for happiness. They sought to free themselves from conventions; become self-sufficient; and live only in accordance with nature. They rejected any conventional notions of happiness involving money, power, or fame, in the pursuit of virtuous, and thus happy, lives. In rejecting conventional social values, they would criticise the types of behaviours, such as greed, which they viewed as causing suffering.” And there were other things they stood for, like cosmopolitanism, freedom of speech, a woman’s right to choose her mate, constitutional law, and—as the name indicates—emulating the simple behaviors of dogs. By the 19th century, however, emphasis shifted to the negative aspects of the philosophy, leading to the modern understanding of cynicism to mean “a disposition of disbelief in the sincerity or goodness of human motives and actions.” Boo.

And what is the connection with dogs? Well, the term “cynic” derives from the Greek word kynikos which means “dog-like”. From Wikipedia: “Diogenes believed human beings live artificially and hypocritically and would do well to study the dog. Besides performing natural bodily functions in public with ease, a dog will eat anything, and make no fuss about where to sleep. Dogs live in the present without anxiety, and have no use for the pretensions of abstract philosophy. In addition to these virtues, dogs are thought to know instinctively who is friend and who is foe. Unlike human beings who either dupe others or are duped, dogs will give an honest bark at the truth.”

So it appears that even way back then, dogs were recognized by some important thinkers as role models for how society should be, and I’m down with that. Well, except for the public display of a few bodily functions. Shine on, Diogenes.

Diogenes statue, with lantern and dog

I realize this was a brisk breeze through the topic of Diogenes and Cynicism, but you can read more here if you are interested. Thanks to Wikipedia for the information and images. 

Images from top: Diogenes, Jean-Léon Gérôme, 1860; Alexander and Diogenes, Caspar de Crayer, c. 1650; statue of Diogenes at Sinop, Turkey.

And Maverick Was His Name-o

2010 Mavericks Competition

Maverick’s is a famous big wave surf spot in northern California, just a few miles from Half Moon Bay. Since waves can break at about 80 feet high, it’s also the location for a world-renowned big wave competition held each winter, as long as there’s a good winter storm to produce these maximum waves. Only the world’s top surfers are invited, and there is just a 24-hour notice given to these select 24 individuals to grab their boards and hustle there to compete.

But the neatest part about Maverick’s (as far as I’m concerned) is how it got its name. According to Bark Magazine‘s spring 2013 issue:

“In early March 1961, three surfers decided to explore the big waves breaking about a half-mile from shore at Pillar Point, near Half Moon Bay, California. A friend’s white German Shepherd, Maverick, came to the beach with them. Maverick was used to swimming with his surfing buddies, and paddled out after them. Concerned for the dog’s safety, one of the surfers returned him to shore and tied him to the car bumper. Ultimately, the immense waves proved to be too much for them as well, and the men cut their day short. Because the dog seemed to have had the most fun that afternoon, they named the giant waves in his honor. Today, the Mavericks Invitational is known worldwide as a testing ground for elite big wave riders.”

Cool, man.

Maverick's 2013

Visit the Mavericks official contest website here. Photo above courtesy of The Inquisitr, read about this year’s contest winner 43-year-old Peter Mel’s victory along with a video on their site here. Great SF Chronicle article on a Maverick’s film here.
Thanks to Bark Magazine for the heads up on this story. Best dog magazine ever.

The Portraitsphere: Rien Poortvliet

Briard portrait by Rien Poortvliet

Today’s foray into the Portraitsphere takes us to the canvas and sketchbooks of Dutch artist Rien Poortvliet. Best known for his multitudes of Gnomes, he seemed to really love dogs and, lucky for us, spent a lot of time observing, painting, sketching and scribbling them. The portrait of the French Briard above is from his book Dogs, and it’s definitely one of my favorite books about dogs. It’s literally crammed with portraits of all kinds of dogs from A to Z. And not only that, there are thoughts, facts, opinions and observations scrawled throughout. In this example he illustrates a non-dog person meeting a dog:

Rien Poortvliet's observation on dog and non-dog people

And there are pages and pages like this, about what goes on around his house with his own dogs and the things they get up to:

Rien Poortvliet's dogs and their antics

Yep, he’s nailed it again. In fact, as you go through the book you find yourself saying over and over, with a smile “oh yes, that’s exactly how it is!” And you know you wouldn’t have it any other way!

Rien Poortvliet's book Dogs

I bought my copy of Dogs quite a few years ago so it’s out of print, but it is possible to track down a used copy of the book. Here is a link to Amazon’s current availability.

Typographic Tuesday: Don Marquis

Don Marquis Quote

Today’s quote is just in time for this week’s Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show when the limelight is on all of the best purebred dogs. Now I’m not at all against purebred dogs (because ALL dogs make everything better), BUT I do think it’s very important to realize that for each perfect dog they show, there are a lot of sad stories left in the wake of the pursuit to get there (just like with the horse racing industry). My biggest beef is that in the case of the American Kennel Club, they’re turning a blind eye and lobbying big time against legislation to outlaw scummy breeders like puppy mills. And in my state, those places still exist. Boo. I read this article in the New York Times over the weekend, and my frustration with them was refreshed.

Now that I’m down off my soapbox, I’m going to sneak in a little bit more of the story here. What follows is the dog’s point of view, which he says after he overhears the boy referring to him in the words above:

“I am a middle-sized dog, with spots on me here and there, and several colours of hair mixed in even where there aren’t any spots, and my ears are frazzled a little on the ends where they have been chewed in fights. At first glance you might not pick me for an aristocrat. But I am one. I was considerably surprised when I discovered it, as nothing in my inmost feelings up to that time, nor in the treatment which I had received from dogs, humans or boys, had led me to suspect it.”

Rest in Peace, Ciccio

Ciccio when he was happy

Note: originally I posted this yesterday after I read that Ciccio had passed, but when I returned to Facebook I saw that it was denied again (there has been a lot of arguing over his custody as the story of Ciccio has swept across Italy, creating a tense situation of the strays in Brindisi). Sadly, now it is confirmed so I’m re-posting the story. The report I read is that he died peacefully due to cardiac arrest.

With a heavy heart, I have to share the sad news that Ciccio passed away today. If you read my earlier post a few weeks ago, you’ll remember he’s the dog in Italy who captivated the public by showing up at the church for Mass every day since his owner Maria Lochi passed last November. I am not sure of the exact cause of death, but recent posts on his Facebook page have discussed his deteriorating health with photos of him at the hospital. Given his age of 13, plus the fact that he was so broken hearted over the loss of Maria, they suspect he just wanted to go.

I added the top photo because it shows Ciccio when he was happy, you can see the sparkle in his eyes. This photo was taken when he was younger, and his owner Maria Lochi was alive. Compare it to this one that was taken after she passed away, and you can see his sadness.

Ciccio

Rest in peace, Ciccio.