September 29th is Hug A Pug Day. If you don’t have a pug at hand, Pablo is accepting any and all virtual hugs.
Monthly Archives: September 2010
OC stands for Other Cat and that name suits him to a tee. Unlike Miss Rita, OC is a bit dull. He eats, sleeps, and generally stays out of our way. He’s a sweet cat, and always purrs when you pet him, but he’s a bit lacking in the personality department. So we tend to forget about him.
Last night I noticed before going to bed that he was hanging out with Rita on our deck. It was a nice night and they had been cooped up inside for a few days because of rain so I left them there. When K went to bed an hour or so later, he chased in Rita but didn’t see OC. So he locked up and came upstairs. Sometime in the morning, while it was still dark, I heard a cat meowing outside. In my hazy state I remember thinking how unusual that was. Then I dropped back into dreamland.
This morning when K went downstairs to feed the beasts OC wasn’t there. Now this is very unusual, almost unheard of. OC rates food as his number one priority. K went looking for him but he was nowhere to be found. He checked the deck naturally. No cat. When he opened the front door there was OC, hiding in the bushes. He rushed inside and gobbled up breakfast, apparently none the worse for wear.
What happened we still don’t know. He must have been locked out on the deck all night and at some point decided to jump down. But that would have been quite a leap since our deck is on the second floor over the garage. Neither cat has ever attempted this. But there’s no other explanation. The really strange thing is that since OC’s return Rita has been acting very peculiar. Any time OC comes near her she hisses. She sniffs every place he’s been and in general acts as if she never saw him before.
K surmises that Rita has a guilty conscience. Perhaps OC didn’t jump off the deck of his own accord but was pushed off? If this is true (and remember Rita is a convicted felon), I don’t think she feels the least bit guilty. I say she’s pissed her plan to be sole cat didn’t succeed.
Rita practicing her pushing?
My 6-year-old nephew J has always been a bit afraid of Pablo. I could never understand why. I already had my pug by the time J was born, and his older sister M has never been perturbed by Pablo’s antics. I got a clue when J was about 3 or 4 and old enough to express his fears. “Pablo’s an alien,” he’d tell me. “He’s got three eyes.” This became his mantra whenever he saw the dog. Three eyes? Who knows what he means by that. But the alien bit? He wouldn’t be the first Earthling to see the ET resemblance in pugs.
Barry Sonnenfeld, the director of Men in Black I and II, certainly did, which brings us to our next pug-featured movie. I remember watching the first Men in Black in the movie theater, dragged there against my will because as a rule I don’t like Hollywood blockbusters. This was 1997 and I was pugless, the wrinkly-face snufflers not yet on my radar. That was soon to change. Sitting in the theater and eating my popcorn, I quickly fell under the movie’s spell. Then came the scene where Agent Kay (Tommy Lee Jones—don’t you think he looks a bit like a pug?) and Agent Jay (Will Smith) approach a kiosk which holds a strange-looking man and a pug. Agent Jay takes one look at the man and says that he’s in the worst disguise he’s ever seen. At that the pug pipes up, “If you don’t like it, you can kiss my furry little butt.” The dog, Frank, is really an alien in pug disguise. Watch.
Frank has a much bigger role in MIB II, becoming Agent Jay’s partner Agent F. Even with a pug in a major part, I have to admit I prefer the original. The second movie does have Frank singing the disco lover’s favorite “I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor. Take a peek.
Frank was played by the talented canine Mushua and his voice provided by actor and puppeteer Tim Blaney. In the beginning Frank was supposed to have a posh English accent. Thank goodness the filmmakers wisely decided to go with a classic NY voice.
MIB III is due out in theaters in May of 2012. And it will be in 3D. Will Frank the pug make an appearance? Stay tuned.
After talking about My Dog Tulip and the animated film that was recently just released and is based on J.R. Ackerley’s book by the same title, I thought it only fair, this being a blog primarily about pugs, to post about movies that feature our wrinkly-faced friends. The first one up is A Pug’s Life: The Dogumentary (2006). It was originally aired on PBS stations and that’s where I first saw it. Now it’s available on dvd, and, of course, on Netflix. Save yourself the money, though, and watch it for free here. The whole film lasts about 45 minutes (including a few short commercials).
Even an avid pug-lover as myself could not give this documentary a paws up. Pugs there are, yes, and they are as adorable and varied as the breed itself, so watch it for them and them alone. As for the rest, well, where do I start? I echo the criticisms found on Netflix. The movie jumps around and touches on so many topics—show dogs, pug rescue, therapy dogs, senior pugs—yet never explores any properly or in depth. The people interviewed rarely have meaningful things to say about their pets and usually just coo about how wonderful pugs are. Yeah, we know that, tell us something we don’t. And there are long sections where pugs are barely shown at all, such as when the owner of a dog salon takes us on a tour and shows the camera a basset hound being groomed and every breed of dog being pampered—except a pug. All in all, the film is a disappointment, especially considering the rich subject material. Michael Moore where are you when we need you?
I give this movie: 2 paws (and only because of the pugs)
This is a non-pug post. I’ve been reading My Dog Tulip by J.R. Ackerley, first published in 1965, and wanted to share my thoughts. First, it’s a wonderful book, a homage to Tulip, an Alsatian (German Shepherd) and the love between a man and his dog. Ackerley, an English journalist and novelist who lived in London most of his life, is a superb writer. Here’s his description of Tulip’s ears:
“Her ears are tall and pointed, like the ears of Anubis. How she manages to hold them constantly erect, as though starched, I do not know, for with their fine covering of mouse-gray fur they are soft and flimsy; when she stands with her back to the sun it shines through the delicate tissue, so that they glow shell-pink as though incandescent.”
And that’s just her ears! What I found especially fascinating about the book is how owning a dog has changed in the past fifty years or so. Ackerley’s attempts to find a vet or obtain simple information about dogs is met with almost constant frustration. The vets he visits are nothing like the animal doctors of today. With one striking exception, Ackerley portrays them as being at best indifferent and at worst cruel to their charges. Here’s an example from early in the book. Ackerley takes Tulip to get a routine shot. A highly-strung dog, Tulip does her best to resist. The vet without a word roughly muzzles her a with a noose-like contraption and manhandles her to the ground. A vet who acted this way today wouldn’t have a practice for long. Much later in the book, Ackerley mentions that vets had only recently begun seeing dogs and cats as patients. Before that they cared for horses, cows, and other farm animals. This explains a lot.
Another difference is the attitude many people had about spaying or neutering their dogs. They seemed to believe it was cruel and unusual to take away an animal’s sex life. Indeed, many thought a bitch had to whelp at least once in order to stay in good health. Ackerley certainly held this view and much of the book describes his attempts to mate Tulip. Even after Tulip has her litter, Ackerley remains obsessed on the subject. Spaying is only mentioned once and is dismissed as being out of the question. Instead twice a year he devotes weeks of his life to keeping the dogs that roam free (of which they are a goodly number) from mounting Tulip.
The book was an eye-opener and definitely well worth reading. It’s also worth seeing, as the book was recently made into an animated film by Paul and Sandra Flerlinger. It has a limited release, so if it doesn’t come to your town, save it to your Netflix queue as I did. In the meantime, enjoy the trailer.
Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read. ~Groucho Marx
Research is showing how putting together dogs plus books is a win-win situation—for kids that is. All Ears Reading, a literacy program, in conjunction with the University of California-Davis, has paired rescue dogs with third graders. The kids practice reading aloud to their animal friends. The results are encouraging. The third-graders became better and more fluent readers. And why not? Dogs are the ultimate nonjudgmental creatures. Mispronounce a word or stumble over an awkward sentence and no dog in the world will laugh at you.
For myself I’ve always enjoyed reading a good book with Pablo cuddled beside me or at the end of the sofa, keeping my feet warm. This wasn’t the case with one of my first dogs. Emily, a gorgeous German shorthair pointer, was very highly strung. Besides cats and squirrels, she absolutely hated anyone reading while she was in the room. Many were the times I’d be sitting beside her, reading, either for school (I was in college at the time) or pleasure, when she would grab the book from my hands and toss it to the floor. Once in a fit of pique she tore a paperback to pieces before I could rescue it. I think she resented my attention being on something other than herself.
Puggy, a ten-year-old Pekingese dog from Texas, proudly holds the title for the dog with the longest tongue in the Guinness Book of World Records. And no, he didn’t have to do any sucking up to get the honor. The extra-long lingua measures a whopping 4.5 inches. (The average size of a human tongue is 4 inches.) Owner Becky Stanford adopted Puggy eight years ago after he was abandoned, apparently because of his odd appearance. Watch the video below to see Puggy’s tongue in action.
Leave it to an artist to come up with a creative solution to dog waste. Matthew Mazzotta harnesses the potential energy in dog poop and uses it to power a lamp in a Cambridge, Massachusetts park. Called Project Park Spark, here’s how it works.
Participants in the program collect their dogs’ output in biodegradable bags and toss them into a vacuum-like container. Bacteria break down the poop into various byproducts, the most important of which is methane. The methane is then used as an energy source to power a gas lamppost in the park.
And now, if you excuse me, I have to go walk Pablo. No shit!
Today, while waiting in my eye doctor’s office, I saw for myself the issue of Reader’s Digest that featured Bugsy, the surfing pug. Back in August I had written a post about Bugsy’s love of the board but I forgot to mention that this amazing pug also used to skydive. Click on the video below to see Bugsy in action.
My nephew J came to Philly for a visit, and what better place to take a teenage boy than Eastern State Penitentiary. Opened in 1829, ESP was unusual in that instead of just locking up criminals as punishment, it sought to rehabilitate them. Inmates were kept in near constant solitude, the better to reflect on their crimes, repent, and hopefully become reformed. Naturally nothing of the sort happened, and in 1913 solitary confinement was officially abandoned. The prison remained opened until 1970 with some colorful convicts passing through, including Al Capone who was given his own jazzy cell. Today the crumbling ESP is a tourist destination with plenty of to see and learn.
For instance, among the inmates was one of the canine persuasion. Pep, a black Lab, was admitted to ESP on August 12, 1924, after receiving a sentence of life with no parole. His crime? Killing the beloved cat that belonged to the wife of PA Governor Gifford Pinchot. He was even issued an inmate number: C-2559. True story? No one knows for sure. According to some, Governor Pinchot donated his dog to keep up morale among the inmates. Perhaps the truth lies somewhere between the two versions. Pep did, however, reside in ESP for ten years or so.
Is this the face of a hardened criminal or an innocent victim? ESP literature claims that in his mug shot Pep looks guilty. Not to me. Those sad eyes belong to someone unfairly accused and with no way of proving his innocence. Anyone know a good lawyer?