Nov 29, 2010

Dog Sweaters

Before I went utterly insane and took on a commission of four portraits in four weeks (to be completed by the third week of December), I had planned on knitting the boys two new sweaters for the holidays, a task which, trust me, does not come easily to me. And had it not been the holiday season when everyone who knits or crochets (another skill for which I have absolutely no ability) is presently knitting and crocheting their fingers off in all the beautiful yarns your mind can imagine, I may have had a few more choices as to available yarn colors, too. But alas, the sea blues and field greens my eye imagined were nowhere to be found and in their stead I chose two lovely chunky lambswools, albeit in rather 'serious' colors for my men. Edison's sweater will be in a deep charcoal gray which will play nicely off his dark sabling and Bram's will be in a rich oatmeal flecked with large charcoal and tan fibers which will not only complement his tan features, but this sweater and Edison's (and my boys too, of course) will look simply smashing when seen together. Once an artist, always an artist! So stay tuned to this site for photos of the boys in their finery should I ever not only have the time for knitting, but somehow manage to figure out how to actually make these sweaters as well.

In the meantime, enjoy some photos of a little chihuahua named Ollie who has an entire wardrobe of jazzy sweaters made by his loving mom, Kimberly.

Photos of Ollie in his knit finery courtesy of Kimberly Vogel.

Nov 19, 2010

World's Smallest Police Dog

Meet Japan's newest police dog- all 6.6 lbs of her. In what is a first for Japan, and perhaps the world, a long-haired Chihuahua named "Momo" (which translates to "Peach") passed her exams to become a police dog in the western Japanese prefecture of Nara. The tiny brown and white (and perky!) Momo was one of 32 dogs out of 70 to successfully pass her exams. She completed a search and rescue test by finding a person in five minutes after merely sniffing their cap.

"Any breed of dog can be entered to become a police dog in the search and rescue division," said a Nara police spokesman, but he admitted that news a Chihuahua had been entered may still come as a surprise to many. "It's quite unusual," he said.

Television footage showed the 7-year-old Momo bounding across grass or sitting proudly, long hair blowing in the breeze. Momo will be used for rescue operations in the case of disasters such as earthquakes, in the hopes that she may be able to squeeze her tiny frame into places too narrow for the more usual breed of rescue dogs, German Shepherds. The public response to the news of Momo's selection took police by surprise, the spokesman said, adding: "The phone's been ringing all afternoon."

Thanks to Reuters for the photograph and original version of this story.

Nov 12, 2010

Dog Language

I know everyone thinks their pets are the smartest and greatest animals in the world, but my animals actually are. At least when it comes to their comprehension of human words. My dogs (and to a slightly lesser degree, my cat as well) have a rather astounding vocabulary. This is probably due to the fact that I seldom shut up and as I've been yakking at them since the moment they came home as babies, it was only a matter of time before some of it rubbed off onto them and stuck.

They know all the key words a dog needs to know: those for walks, car rides, food, toys, and anything else that drives them to fits of doggie bliss, but they also know some more obscure ones, like "garage," "upstairs and downstairs," the names for various rooms in the house, the names of all their much-loved people and stuffed toys and, inexplicably, in one case, Elvis. And most unfortunately, they know the names for things we wish they didn't.

And it's these words that denote things, behaviors, or people that we try to hide from the dogs that sometimes makes talking around them difficult. Say something enough times and eventually a very smart dog will learn to associate the word or phrase with the action that accompanies it. And so we began to use Pig Latin when speaking of those forbidden things. That is, until it became apparent that the boys had developed an understanding of a fair amount of Pig Latin, which then forced us to speak in French. And now they're starting to comprehend the French. We figure that we have a bit of time left before we've exhausted all the more common languages on earth, which buys us some time before we're reduced to speaking of forbidden doggie things to one another in a remote African language that consists entirely of clicks and whistles. But at the rate we're going, it may be sooner than we think.

Nov 5, 2010

Ivy and Doris

Two sweet little English girls, recently captured in two very different portraits. The solid (dare I say, chunky?) pug named Doris was drawn in fairly heavy graphite on a very thick, hand pressed paper, while Ivy, the wispy little long-coat chihuahua was drawn very delicately on a soft blush-colored paper to enhance her fragility. I adore both of these dogs and would love to have them for my very own. Alas, all I have are the photos of the works I did of them, but that's okay because they are both very much loved and spoiled where they are, across the pond.

Portrait of Ivy, graphite on paper, 2010
Doris in Profile, graphite on paper, 2010

Nov 1, 2010

Glamour Shots

The boys posed in their tiny fezzes for some lovely glamour portraits to be used in a photo portfolio. I personally think they both look like tiny super models, but I have to say that Bram, the boy who will do anything for food, has now trumped Edison, the boy who will panic over anything, as the Next Top Chihuahua Model in my house. And the treats used to coax the boys into their glorious poses? Vienna Fingers. Far, far too many little pieces of Vienna Fingers. More than any healthy chi should eat. It's a good thing we don't shoot every day or these would be two very fat little men. And there's nothing glamorous about that.
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