On my other blog, The Cath in the Hat, I review children’s books. It isn’t often that my two interests collide, but it’s usually a happy occurrence when they do. Case in point, Pug and Other Animal Poems, a picture book featuring verse by Valerie Worth and illustrations by Steve Jenkins. Jenkins uses collage to capture each animal’s portrait, and as you can see by the pug on the cover, he does a masterful job. I love the way the tip of the pug’s tongue sticks out, something that Pablo has taken to doing lately.
While all the poems are wonderful, by favorite has to be–you guessed it–the one entitled “Pug.”
With their goggling
Eyes and stumpy
Brows and hairy
Moles, they’re what
Might call plug-ugly;
Perhaps because, for
Dogs, they look
A lot like people.
Somehow I missed this book when it came out in 2010. Written by Tori Spelling–yes, that Tori–it’s a story of a poor little rich girl who can’t act the way the other 99 percent do. She’s not allowed to get dirty, or talk loudly, or even wear jeans. So tragic. On the plus side, there’s a pug in the book. In real life, Tori Spelling is a big fan of pugs, so no surprise she included one in her story.
Coming out in a few days is another, more promising book for pug-loving kids. Pug: And Other Animal Poems is by Valerie Worth with collage illustrations by the brilliant Steve Jenkins. Its on my TBR list for sure.
I saw this photo of Donna Tartt (author of The Little Friend) and Pongo, her pug, online and just had to post it. Check out Flavorwire’s other photos of famous writers at home. Sorry, folks, this is the only one that features a pug, but catch the one of Edward Gorey draped with cats. There’s also an eye-opening shot of Hemingway in bed wearing nothing but the New York Times.
My mother, the writer Joan Kane Nichols, has a longstanding interest in Charles Dickens. This past Saturday she gave a talk at the Dickens Fellowship in Philadelphia where she discussed in great detail how dogs influenced his life and work. I attended and learned a lot, including that King Charles spaniels were once bred with pugs to shorten their snouts. Who knew?
For the next several weeks, she’ll be posting more info about Dickens and his dogs on her blog, Dickens: women, children, and dogs. The first post, about his faithful dog Turk (pictured above), is already up, so wander over and take a gander.
It’s not like I don’t have a lot of work to do. It’s just that I can’t resist playing with my new Comic Book app. Here’s a comic strip starring Pablo. The photos used come from several years ago, when Pablo first met his arch nemesis, a large plush pug. Pablo was itching for a fight and barked and attacked until he was worn out. I still laugh, remembering.
copyright © The Libby Hall Collection
Can you believe the canine is a pug? Wow, 100 or so years of breeding really has changed their appearance. Today’s pug looks as if it was compressed in a waste disposal unit. Everything is shorter and more compact–the snout, the torso, the legs. Of course, this is the reason pugs have the health problems they do. But I must confess, and yes, this so isn’t PC, pugs are much cuter now!
The above photo came from a collection owned by Libby Hall, an ex-pat living in London. Over the years she collected more than 5,000 photos of dogs from family photo albums and published four books highlighting them. My mother, who’s been busy researching dogs in Victorian England, found this site where you can see a bunch of photos from her collection. A few show famous people and their dogs–Queen Victoria, Charles Dickens–but most feature ordinary folks posing with their best friends. So click yourself over to Spitalfields Life and take a look.
Always interested in taking better shots of my favorite four-legged friends, I recently perused a post about canine photography. You can read it here. Don’t bother if you only take shots of pugs. The post is all about how to capture the head tilt. It offers practical advice such as making puppy sounds, asking enticing questions, and using animal noise apps. All very nice, but as any pugophile knows, there’s no difficulty at all in getting a pug to tilt his noggin. In fact, sometimes it’s hard to get him to stop. Pablo cocks his head at the drop of a hat.
Why is it that a pug’s head so naturally gravitates sideways? My theory is that they know they look super adorable and therefore are more likely to be rewarded with a tasty treat. What’s yours?
When I’m bored I fool around with Photo Booth and photography apps. Lucky for me, Pablo is a willing model.
Look who’s gracing the cover of Christopher Buckley’s latest novel! Well, the pug is an ancient Chinese breed. Here’s a short review from Booklist:
In his latest novel of bull’s-eye political satire, Buckley (Supreme Courtship, 2008) skewers our adversarial yet symbiotic relationship with China, along with the corruption endemic to lobbying, weapons manufacturing, and media spin. Walter “Bird” McIntyre, lobbyist for an aerospace behemoth, is instructed to “whip up . . . anti-Chinese fervor” to help secure government funding for a new secret weapon. Hapless and endearing, Bird divides his time between the condo he calls the Military-Industrial Duplex and the country estate he dubbed Upkeep, home to his equestrian wife, Alzheimer’s-afflicted mother, and freeloading brother Bewks, a Civil War reenactor, while writing egregiously clichéd thrillers. Bring on sexy-scary hawk and neocon Angel Templeton, and Bird is in more trouble than he concocts for his tough-guy heroes. Vicious confrontations break out on Chris Matthews’ Hardball, the Dalai Lama is in peril, and the eminently reasonable president of China can talk with his trusted aide only in the bathroom with the water running full blast to foil their enemies’ listening devices. Buckley balances bayonet humor and tenderness in this canny and diverting send-up. –Donna Seaman
I haven’t seen all the Oscar nominated movies this year, but no matter. For my money the award for Best Supporting Actor should go to Uggie, the Jack Russell terrier that plays Jean Dujardin’s companion in The Artist. While I liked the film, it didn’t wow me–with the exception of Uggie’s star performance. Man, that little dog can steal a scene. Other people agree and have started a FaceBook “consider Uggie” campaign for users to voice their support. Hey, it worked for Betty White.
Like many a celebrity, Uggie didn’t have starring roles handed to him on a platter. In fact, his trainer rescued him from the pound after his first two owners rejected him for being too wild. That energy was put to good use on the set, where he appeared in commercials before graduating to films such as Like Water for Elephants.
Another dog performance worth mentioning is Cosmo’s, also a Jack Russell, from the film Beginners. Cosmo acted his heart out too, but I have to go with Uggie. Nearly ten, his acting days are winding down. Here’s hoping he’ll be making an appearance on Oscar night.