INTERVIEW WITH JIM DAVIS, CREATOR OF GARFIELD THE CAT

“Cat won’t drag you out into blizzard just to piddle on a tree” says Garfield. Despite the feline and the canine torment of the comic strip, we all know Garfield genuinely loves Odie, an experience both sweet and comical, and one that many of us who live with both cats and dogs may observe. After having lived and breathed Garfield for 28 years, Jim Davis says we need to be serious about living life in good humor. Today, Garfield the comic strip appears in nearly 2,600 newspapers around the globe, its readership is estimated at 260 million and currently holds the Guinness World Record for being the world’s most widely syndicated comic strip. Garfield’s second movie is in theaters this summer. Surely, the movie will do exactly what it sets out to do: entertain kids and everyone else with a fondness for animals!

HOUSEPET: Hello Mr. Davis. It’s a pleasure to welcome you to Housepetmagazine.com. Of course, our first question is: Do you have any house pets? If so, can you tell us about them?

DAVIS: I have two dogs and a cat. Molly is a chocolate lab — very sweet but getting older and arthritic. She enjoys being outdoors and taking an occasional dip in the pond. Pooky is more of a pampered indoors lapdog — a little white fluffy Yorkie. I also have a cat…Spunky. She spends most of her time in the greenhouse in my studio. In the winter, her name changes to “Chunky”. She’s an American Shorthair.

HOUSEPET: Any advice for all the sweet dogs out there who must live with cats in the same house?

DAVIS: Lay low and stay out of the cat food.

HOUSEPET: Have you ever come across a dog in your life who is as cynical and lazy as Garfield is?

DAVIS: Never. Dogs live for acceptance and love — cats could care less. If a dog sees a squirrel or rabbit, he’s off like a shot. Cats tend to weigh the energy expenditure they’ll have to make before they make a move.

HOUSEPET: I live with a cat and a dog too. Sometimes I think I am being mistreated just like John Arbuckle. What are the first signs that people should see before it goes too far?

DAVIS: It’s gone too far when your cat controls the remote control.

HOUSEPET: Mark (age 29) “My cat tries to stand on his rear legs too. Should I encourage that? I am afraid.” –

DAVIS: Weird. I’d say you have a rather talented cat — or at least a highly evolved cat. I’m no vet, so I can’t answer whether or not you should encourage it — if it were me, I’d not only encourage it, but I’d try to teach the cat to tango.

HOUSEPET: From Kutan (age 30) ” Mr. Davis, my cat wakes me up at 5:30 am every morning to be fed. Does John Arbuckle have a trick that I can use to stop this torture? 

DAVIS: Get a new cat. Seriously, you may have to just refuse to budge — show your cat who’s boss. Yeah, right.

HOUSEPET: From Alice (age 20) “Has John ever taken Odie to an animal communicator?”

DAVIS: No, Odie communicates everything he needs to with his tail and his tongue. It would be rather interesting though if an animal communicator discovered Odie had a high IQ and spent time thinking about molecular science.

HOUSEPET: Odie is a good boy. He seems very well trained. Almost flawless. He seems good off the leash, responds well to John’s callings, never destroys furniture. How come he’s so well trained?

DAVIS: Odie was originally owned by Jon’s college roommate Lyman, who did a great job of training Odie. Maybe Odie is trying to make up for all of Garfield’s shortcomings — if that’s the case, no wonder he’s an angel.

HOUSEPET: Will John ever pamper Odie with today’s ever changing dog fashion: massage therapy, spa treatments, couture clothing and gourmet food? How would Garfield react to that?

DAVIS: Garfield’s the only pet in the house allowed to have a Gucci scratching post. Jon Arbuckle is a pretty simple guy … I don’t think he’d go in for all that — but if he did, there’d be big, big, trouble. And by the way, if you do all that for your dog, in my next life I’d like to come back as your pet.

HOUSEPET: Can you tell us about Professor Garfield Foundation?

DAVIS: The Professor Garfield Foundation learning portal (www.professorgarfield.org) is a fun interactive online environment where children can safely explore, learn and creatively express themselves. The Foundation (PGF) was formed in 2003 as a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit organization to provide children, parents, and teachers an opportunity to enhance and support classroom learning in new and innovative ways.

The PGF Learning Portal is a partnership between Paws, Inc., the world headquarters of Garfield the Cat, and Ball State University, one of the preeminent educators of classroom teachers in the world.

PGF offers fun, engaging and transforming educational content for school children between kindergarten and 8th grade. The educational content is upgraded continuously and presented in a popular culture entertainment format. All of the content has been reviewed by educational experts and tested in classroom settings.

HOUSEPET: What are Garfield’s future plans? And, of course, Odie’s?

DAVIS: Garfield has a new movie coming out on June 16th, Garfield’s A Tail of Two Kitties. He’s also working on some direct-to-video projects and has a bunch on new video games on the market. For a lazy cat, he’s a busy fellow — so I expect he’ll squeeze in a 5 1/2 week-long nap sometime soon, and then probably devour a lasagna the size of Rhode Island. Odie will continue to drool, chase his tail, and put up with Garfield. Thanks for your fun questions! And best of luck to all you pet owners out there!

Thank you Jim Davis for making the time to speak with us here at Housepet!

Travelling with your pet

Pets on the Go: The Definitive Pet Accommodation and Vacation Guide
Featuring comprehensive listings on pet-friendly accommodations, these guides allow travelers to share their vacations with their favorite canine companions. Each independent review lists contact information, number of rooms, corresponding rates, details on specific features and amenities, as well as character, ambience, cuisine (for both pets and people), and a history of each establishment. The United States guide features more than 18,000 listings of accommodations as well as rules and regulations for taking a pet into all the state and national parks in the country.

Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck
John Steinbeck set out in 1960 on a journey across 37 US states, he wanted some company, and perhaps even a little protection. Charley, his 10-year-old blue standard poodle, seemed the ideal road buddy. The result was Travels With Charley, Steinbeck’s account of his search for America.

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Travelling with your pet

1- Get an ID tag!
2- Have your veterinarian give you a copy of the dog’s medical history to take with you just in case a visit to a veterinarian along the way becomes necessary.
3- Bring two leashes! Why? You dont want to learn it the hard way.
4- By Air: To prevent airsickness, do not feed your pet within six hours of departure or provide water within two hours of takeoff, and never use tranquilizers unless advised by your veterinarian. An ice cube during the trip will provide refreshment and entertainment.

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Editor’s note: The below hotel listing is pet friendly accomadations. Please be aware that hotels change policies frequently. Call them ahead of time to learn more about their pet policies and room rates.

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New York

Ahh, the spoiled dogs of New York City… dogs that receive acupuncture and nutritional counseling, dogs that enjoy swimming lessons and take massage therapy for their nerves. With an estimated 150 thousand dogs living in the big apple, your dog is bound to find a little friendly sniff sniff here and a woof woof there. For a better listing of things to do with your dog in the city, please go to our New York Events page. Below isour favorite pet friendly hotel recommendations.

1- W HOTELS 1-888-625-5144 ~ Singles & Doubles $250-$515

2- SOHO GRAND HOTEL 1-800- 965-3000 ~ Singles & Doubles $334-$434

3- THE MUSE 1-877-692-6873 ~ Singles & Doubles from $280-$395

4- HAMPTON INN MANHATTAN 1-212-414-1000 ~ Singles & Doubles from $280-$395

Boston

Both small and large dogs are allowed on the Boston T (subway) and busses, making Boston one of the easiest cities to get around with your furry friend.. Although Boston is a very dog friendly city, it is hard to find a dog run.

Attractions:

1- Arnold Arboretum 617-524-1718
Dogs must be on leash and must be cleaned up after at all times. The arboretum has a collection of trees, shrubs, and vines on 265 acres. A very nice walk.
2- Charlesgate Dog Run ~ Massachusetts Ave and Beacon St
This is a very small dog park. A great place to meet people. I’ll tell ya.
3- Larz Anderson Park Goddard St and Newton St, Brookline
This is a very beautiful park to enjoy with your dog. Dogs must be on-leash, no acception.
4- Boston Common Tremont St and Park St, Boston
This 50 acre park is one of the oldest parks in the United States and is the starting point of the Freedom Trail. Do not unleash.

Hotels:

1- The Ritz-Carlton Boston Common ~ 1-800-241-3333 ~ Singles & Doubles $300-$600
2- Boston Harbor Hotel ~ (800) 752-7077 ~ Singles & Doubles $300-$600
3-Langham Boston Hotel ~ (617) 451-1900 ~ Singles & Doubles $295-$500
4-Chandler Inn Hotel ~ (617)-482-3450 ~ Singles & Doubles $150 – $200

Chicago

Chicago is a top-rated place to visit with your dog. There are many things to do for visitors who bring their dogs. You can take horse and carriage rides, boat tours on Lake Michigan and the Chicago River and enjoy the Navy Pier that welcomes leashed dogs as well as many many dog-friendly outdoor cafes and pet-friendly bars. Howevere: Dogs are not allowed on the public transit system.
1- The Palmer House® Hilton ~ (312)-726-7500 ~ Singles & Doubles $199-$300
2- Hotel 71 ~ (312) -346-7100 ~ Singles & Doubles $149-$250
3- The Talbott Hotel ~ (800)-Talbott ~ Singles & Doubles $250-$350
4- Hotel Allegro Chicago~ (877)-536-0508 ~ Singles & Doubles $149-$250

Seatle

Ok, it rains…bring your “big enough umberella” and rain coats for sure! Dogs are allowed on busses, trains and the Washington State Ferries. My favorite is the Sand Point Magnusion Park beach area where you can let your dog off-leash. Sculpure Garden in Seattle Center is another great place to roam around with your fury friend.

1- Alexis Hotel ~ (866)-356-8894 ~ Singles & Doubles $200-$450
2- Hotel Monaco ~ (206)-621-1770 ~ Singles & Doubles $300-$450
3- Travelodge by the Space Needle ~ (800) 937-9582 ~ From $66.87/night
4- Hotel Andra ~ (877)-448-8600 ~ Singles & Doubles $200-$300

San Diego

Off-leash parks and beaches… how can you go wrong on a vacation like that? Our most favorite destination is Dog Beach and Fiesta Island where you can enjoy a major freedom with your dog. Many other beaches allow your well-behaved leashed dog to accompany you. In sunny San Diego, you can rent a boat or kayak together, and dine at outdoor cafes with your four legged friend. Sea World San Diego has day kennels for dogs at a minimal price of $5 per day and they lend you a pager just in case they need get in touch while you are in the park.

1- La Valencia Hotel (beautiful!) ~ (800)-451-0772 ~ Singles & Doubles $250-$400
2- Wikiup Bed & Breakfast ~ (800)-6WIKIUP ~ $175 Per Couple
3- Bristol Hotel ~ (800)662.4477. ~ Singles & Doubles $150-$200
4- Omni San Diego Hotel ~ (619) 231-6664 ~ Singles & Doubles $190-$400

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A great web site with an extensive database for pet friendly accommodations and services. You can also find pet immigration rules for international travel, forms and airline information on pet policies.

http://www.pettravel.com/index.cfm

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CAMP GONE TO THE DOGS Vermont Vacations for Dog Lovers and Their Dogs
Do you hate to take a vacation without your dog? Do you find anything you do is more fun with your canine buddy beside you? Do you really enjoy watching your dog have a great time?If this sounds like you, Camp Gone to the Dogs® may be your dream vacation. Camp is a celebration of dogs and all the ways they bring joy into our lives.

http://www.camp-gone-tothe-dogs.com/html/home.html

Stuff Your Dog Must-Haves!

There are definite MUST-haves, then some SHOULD-haves and tons of WANT TO-haves. But the truth remains the same: a dog needs a good leash, a good bed, a few good supplements, a good shampoo, a good ear cleaner and last but not least a good grooming finish. Also, probably a good grooming kit that won’t break every 6 months. I am yet to figure that one out.

Here’s a list of Housepetmagazine’s Must Have Necessities for your dog that I personally found very helpful to me over the years. If you have any comments about the below products (five or no-paws) let me know. I would love to hear from my readers: editor@housepetmagazine.com


PERFECT SUPPLEMENT FOR THE HEALTH AND LONGEVITY OF OUR PETS.

Recommended by Dr. Shawn!
PetCentrx “Vim & Vigor

Good health requires diet supplementation and a concerted effort to improve a diet. That’s true for both pets and their human companions. We are happy to have Dr. Shawn share his expertise with Housepetmagazine and give us the perfect tips on how to better care for our pets. He tells me this is an amazing product. In today’s world, most people overfeed their pets with highly processed foods without any fresh nutrients in them. Unfortunately, that steals years and years from our four legged friends’ lives. That’s why PetCentrx “Vim & Vigor” wellness formula made it to our MUST HAVE list. This veterinarian recommended wellness formula is a highly nutritious supplement. It has amazing ingredients and I am mostly impressed to see Co-Enzyme Q-10 and Vitamin B12 Supplement since I take these myself too!!!! So, if you’re wondering how you can improve your dog’s health or how you can keep his good health and looks, than this will be your answer: PetCentrx “Vim & Vigor


SO GOOOOOD!

Animals, just like their two legged friends, if not groomed well, will smell bad. It’s that easy. And just like humans, eating healthy food and proper supplements will have remarkably positive effects on skin, coat, teeth, and ear canals of our dogs – which means less or no bad odor. But we all know even healthy dogs will smell like dogs. That’s where Sexy Beast wins. First of, I have to let everyone know that I would never put anything on my dog that I wouldn’t be comfortable putting on myself. And if you ask me, you don’t need a dog to buy this highly-sexy eau de perfume. If you’ve been dreaming about pampering handsome Fido with good smells, then go with Sexy Beast. This low-alcohol fragrance is formulated specifically for a dog’s sensitive sense of smell. A unisex blend of bergamot and vanilla-infused musk combined with natural patchouli, mandarin and nutmeg oils. It will keep your dog smelling fresh and clean. And a little New York-er!100% vegan. Five Paws. Worth the price.Also, check the Finishing Products. Pawsome!


MAGICAL EAR CLEANSER.

 

I’ve been using DermaPet’s MALACETIC OTIC as an ear cleanser for my cocker spaniel for the past 8 years. The vets are amazed to see my 10 year old with no ear problems and dirt. The vets always ask what my secret is 🙂 This product keeps my dog healthy and clean.TIP-1: Make sure the solution is room temperature before applying to the ear canal. If it’s cold, your dog may feel uncomfortable. TIP-2: I find it easier to apply after washing my dog.Directions: Apply liberally to ear. Gently, but firmly massage the base of the ear. Apply a cotton ball to remove any excess solution. Repeat as necessary.


PROZYME ENZYME POWER.

Health problems do come from a lifetime of enzyme empty diets in our dogs’ lives. Please give Prozyme or any other enzyme supplement to your four legged friends (cats+dogs). Prozyme increases the absorption of vital nutrients and essential fatty acids from your pet’s food and supplements by up to 71%. A plant derived enzyme food supplement, PROZYME is a combination of natural enzymes that help pull nutrients from food that would normally pass right on through. By adding PROZYME to your pet’s diet, you will restore missing enzyme activity. Better digestion and absorption of their food leads to a healthier pet, improved appetite, and healthier skin and coat. This increased absorption provides natural relief from various health difficulties. More info

Read our article on Enzymes


ORANGE COUNTY K9 —
Orthopedic Memory Foam Pet Bed.

Arthritis, which is also called degenerative joint disease is defined as inflammation of the joints. Recent research indicates radiographic lesions of arthritis are apparent in 95% of dogs at age two. Whether or not your dog had an injury or showing signs of arthritis, I highly recommend OCK9 beds for they are the epitome of comfort for our four legged friends. I placed my pup’s new mattress inside his bed frame ( a very old bed he will never give up) and it is a joy to find him in ridiculous positions of sleep comfort every morning. From OCK9’s website: Our premium quality orthopedic dog beds are Veterinarian recommended to significantly reduce the pains caused by arthritis, compressed spines, orthopedic injuries, orthopedic hip dysplasia and older mobility challenged dogs recovering from surgery. Orange County K9™ dog beds will provide your pet with complete comfort. http://www.ock9.com


LUPINE LEADS AND COLARS:

Retractable dog leash is a bad idea. The main purpose of a leash is to control your dog and ultimately protect him and yourself from chaotic situations. I never liked leather leashes either because I don’t like to wear it and neither should my pup. Then came the Lupen leash to our house. It’s just long enough to give some freedom to my dog on our walk and yet so easy shorten when necessary. The fabric is soft on my hands. Last but not least, I really love the lightness of this leash. If my dog is walking nicely with me, I don’t even feel I am carrying a leash. Oh wait, did I mention the great colors and patterns to choose from. The image on the left is Muddy Paw pattern. http://www.lupinepet.com


BEST SHAMPOO AWARD!

Spa Lavish Pet Shampoo: Nature’s Health: We all know that our dogs should not be washed with human shampoos. There are many shampoos to choose from depending on your pet’s hair coat, skin condition, or desired result. And I think over the past 10 years, I’ve tried them all. If your dog does not need a special medicated shampoo, then, I highly recommend this wonderful new shampoo I found at my favorite holistic store. You can also buy this online at PETdiscounters. This unique shampoo line has great smells to choose from and is truly a pleasure for bath times ~ for you and your dog! It smells soooo good! For all I can say, if you’re looking for the right shampoo and bath products for your pooch, give this new line of products a try. Environmentally safe, cruelty free formula. Worth the money. FIVE PAWS!


AMAZING GLUCOSAMINE.

If it had not been for Synovi-MSM Granules, my dog could never have survived his accident 9 years ago in which he tore a tendon and went under a major ACL, Anterior Cruciate Ligament surgery on his rear leg. I found out about Synovi MSM two years after the surgery. My puppy had a significant relief of stiffness and most importantly no more recurring painful attacks. Synovi-MSM for dogs is a combination of MSM, Glucosamine HCl, Perna Canaliculus, and Vitamin C. It’s fortified with carbohydrates, amino acids, vitamins and minerals. Synovi-MSM helps maintain healthy joints and stimulates the production of new connective tissue and synovial fluid.


Earth Animal’s Organic Herbal Remedy: For Vision: I just started using this very promising product for my Cocker Spaniel’s eyes. He’s 11 years old. His eyes are not as vibrant as they used to be. I’ll take this as a preventative measure. Ingredients: Eyebright, Chamomile, Ginkg, Goldenseal, Bayberry with Flower Essences of Nasturtium, Shasta Daisy, Higher Spectral Colors #2 & 6 for Emotional Balance. Traditionally used in inflammatory, allergic and infectious conditions of the eyes such as conjunctivitis, corneal conditions, retinal and iris problems, glaucoma, and cataracts. Mix with food. More info


HOOCHIE MUSIC!

Call me crazy, I love this CD. It will play in my music library even if my pup is not around. My dog loves the songs. My cat on the other hand… not so much. Listen samples here.


FOR SKIN IRRITATIONS:

Bailey’s Skin Rescue. A very natural skin irritation remedy for dogs for hot spots or any skin irritation, developed when Alex Jory battled a staph infection on her rottie’s belly, caused from bug bites. Bailey’s Skin Rescue is a special combination of tea tree, lavender essential oils and acidophilus in an all natural botanical cream base which also includes extracts of chamomile, avocado, echinacea, green tea, cucumber and sea kelp and various plant oils. $7.99 US plus shipping. Order on Jory’s website.tis, corneal conditions, retinal and iris problems, glaucoma, and cataracts. Mix with food.

 

ANIMALS DO YOGA EVERYDAY

India has had a long relationship with animals. The earliest archaeology in the Indian subcontinent has found artifacts from 3000 B.C.E that indicate various ways in which the early people of India interacted with animals. The significance of animals developed in later Yoga traditions and played a definitive role in the shape and form of Yoga: many postures (asanas) come to carry the names of animals. Animals were noted for their particular abilities and accomplishments. To imitate these fine qualities was considered a sign of spiritual attainment. To name a few: Cow Head’s Pose (Gomukha-asana),Tortoise Pose (Kurma asana), the Rooster Pose (Kukkuta asana), Lion’s Pose (Simha asana) and my most favorite Downward Dog(Adho Mukha Svanasana).

Free like a bird, strong like a lion, with senses well protected like those of a tortoise. (Kalpa Sutra, Jacobi, 261)

In a recent interview Denise Kaufman, a prominent yoga teacher in Los Angeles, commented “Animals move; people can learn about movement from animals. House pets stretch all day long, creating space in their joints. Animals sit in different kinds of positions. Monkeys and apes do things with their hands. Perhaps as humans we need to reclaim our four leggedness. Getting down on all fours stimulates the pranic flow. Sitting in chairs tightens the hamstrings and the lower back. Animals don’t sit on furniture; they have not built things contrary to their nature.” From her perspective, Yoga involves recapturing our animal physicality, reconditions the body to establish itself within a non-technologically enhanced environment.

Yoga is constantly evolving. Yogis are always experimenting.

Soon you will be able to learn Doga at home. Suzi Teitelman’s first Doga DVD is almost out. The trailer is here, and you can get more information on her web site. Doga classes at Crunch Fitness is held in New York City on Tuesday mornings at 9:30 in downtown Manhattan. Check www.dogadog.com for more information. (Let her know if you are interested in the first copies!)

Then why not practice yoga and include our animals, specifically our dogs to this experience? Of course at first the therapeutic effects of practicing yoga with a dog seems very limited to the physical. But one can not deny the calming effects and a bonding experience between a dog and its owner.

“It is said that when you relax, you smell a certain way. And dogs smell that, and in turn they relax. This happens every time you do yoga. The dogs feel the way you feel.” says Suzi Teitelman a doga teacher and the Director of Yoga for Crunch Fitness NYC. She offers interactive partner yoga classes for dog owners. She adds “Doga is for all dogs: Old dogs, young dogs, sick and healthy. Nothing can stop a dogi! All dogs do doga instinctually, and what we are doing, is bringing more out of each other: going deeper, getting happier, and loving more. Dogs are naturally in a start of awareness, totally present in each moment, and willing to let go. We have a lot to learn from a dog, and being present and aware is one of them.”

Suzi explains: “In the Doga poses, we will help our dogs go further in the stretches, and they will help us go deeper too. The poses are based on Hatha postures, and the dogs and humans stretch, breathe, bond and relax in sync. The weight of their body, their scent and their love all work together and that makes doga a complete spiritual experience. Chanting, massage and accupressure are a large part of doga as well as reflexology on all the paws, and on our pads too. Sun salutations are probably Coali’s favorite (her cocker spaniel). He loves inhaling his arms up, and exhaling down, inhaling his back legs up and then exhaling down! Doga is the most amazing bonding experience you will ever have with your pet.”

RUDY’S STORY- A MIRACLE IN PROGRESS

Courage, hope, survival… Where does a dog’s real life begin? In a cold, dark deserted house in New Jersey? Or, in a school for broken hearts and fragile spirits in the mountains of North Carolina?

by Laura Hickey

Purpose, love, healing… How did Rudy, a rescued Great Dane, make the spiritual journey from abandonment to discovering the ability to help nurture the recovering hearts of sexually abused children?

Rudy’s story began in 2003 in an affluent New Jersey community. Rudy’s owner was a successful career professional who unfortunately became involved with drugs. During his drug binges, he would neglect Rudy horribly. Concerned neighbors fed Rudy whenever they could get to him, and made food available when he was outside of the house. One day the neighbors heard Rudy howling much as a wolf howls before it dies. They became concerned that the owner may have been binging on drugs at home and died. When the neighbors realized the owner was no longer living in the house, they contacted the local police who found Rudy, an aging arthritic Great Dane, abandoned in the house and starving. The police impounded Rudy and then called Animal Control as well as the Humane Society.

The New Jersey Chapter of the Mid-Atlantic Great Dane Rescue League MAGDRL was contacted at this point and Rudy was taken to the home of Peter Quinto to be fostered until an adoptive family could be found for him. Giant breeds in general have shorter life spans and, at 8 years old, Rudy was considered a “senior” Dane. And, to complicate matters further Rudy was diagnosed with arthritis in his hips. His MAGDRL caretakers assumed it would be hard to find a forever home for an older Dane with medical problems.

In the fall of 2003 I saw Rudy’s picture and story on the MAGDRL online discussion list. It was love at first sight and I immediately began adoption proceedings. In November I traveled to New Jersey to meet Rudy and his Foster Dad. During my visit I adopted Rudy, planning to give him a secure and loving home for whatever amount of time remained in his life. My plan was to give Rudy a richer life by training him to be a therapy dog in nursing homes. Little did I know that Rudy’s lifework would be in my own back yard!

My job is Director of Residential Treatment at the Grandfather Home for Children located in the mountains of Western North Carolina. This facility is a mental health treatment provider, and temporary home where children heal and attend a charter school: Grandfather Academy, founded to serve the educational needs of these emotionally, physically, and sexually abused children.

During the period between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, both the home and school experienced the loss of several support staff members. These holidays are especially hard for children who, for many reasons, are separated from their parents. I knew something needed to be done quickly to fill the emotional gaps created by the loss of staff members. For some time, I had been seriously considering establishing an animal-assisted therapy program at the home. I approached the Director of the Grandfather Academy, Doug Herman, and the Language Arts Resource Intervention Specialist, Renee Rogers, about the possibility of Rudy being able to help the children in their classrooms. Both Doug and Renee agreed, given the urgency of the staff shortage, to give Rudy a chance to fill this void.

Because of Rudy’s abusive background, the children were instinctively drawn to him and felt safe with him. In his own unique way, Rudy worked on healing the children’s hearts. Miracles began to happen very soon after Rudy started attending classes and interacting with the children!

Seeing the marked improvement in the children, Doug, Renee and I decided it was time to formally launch the Pet Services Program at school with Rudy serving as the pilot dog. Rudy became an honorary staff member at Grandfather Academy. With a desire to expand the children’s experience with dogs, I consulted the Coordinators of the NC Chapter of the Mid-Atlantic Great Dane Rescue League (MAGDRL) about the possibility of partnering with them to provide a foster home for another Dane. As a result, they chose Milo, a rescued Great Dane who was fostered and trained by a group of the children.

As the program has grown, several other mixed breed dogs have been brought into the school to work with the children. Recently a group of the children shouldered the task of fostering and training four Great Dane puppies. The process of caring for and working with the puppies, including finding adoptive homes for them, has been one they will remember and treasure for the rest of their lives.

With so many positive experiences, it was time to create a name for the children’s rescue work. It was of the utmost importance for the name to reflect the sense of safety and empowerment the children have experienced with Rudy. Out of all the amazing names the children submitted, the acronym “HELP” ~ Helping Every Little Paw ~ was chosen as the name of the children’s work with rescued animals.

I feel extremely privileged to spend my days observing Rudy opening the children’s hearts and minds to the power of unconditional love. Witnessing the profound impact Rudy has on the children and the staff members who serve them is inspiring. Rudy simply pours love and acceptance from his eyes and the children receive it. By example, he has taught children to be sensitive to others and about the extraordinary gentleness of true power – no matter what your life experiences have been. One day, Rudy left a group of children playing to walk to a separate area where a child was disclosing abuse experiences to a child protective services investigator . . . without a prompt, to lay at her feet and be with her. His impact on individual children is now part of the discussion at treatment team meetings where mental health and social service professionals struggle to plan for high risk children.

There simply aren’t enough words, pictures or stories to express the hero Rudy is to all of us. You really have to be there and hear the soft voices say “Goodnight, Rudy” from their bedrooms as I pick Rudy up after a day with “his” girls . . . or hear a child say “Hey, Rudy! Guess what!” and then continue to chatter as she walks to school with Rudy, her confidant. Those voices say it all!

Rudy was recently honored for his work with the children by receiving the Hero Award at the 2005 Broadway Barks adopt-a-thon. Hosted by Mary Tyler Moore and Bernadette Peters, the event is produced by Broadway Care/Equity Fights AIDS and sponsored by Animal Planet, Dogsters, The New York Times, Loews Hotels, Sherpa, and took place on Saturday July 30 in Shubert Alley.

Presented by Monty Python’s Spamalot star, David Hyde-Pierce, the Broadway Barks Hero award is a certificate of recognition awarded to an animal or individual who has made a significant contribution to the community and/or to animal welfare. Past recipients have included various types of service dogs, as well as a dog that played a prominent role in search and rescue on 9/11. The first award was granted at Broadway Barks 4 in order to pay tribute to the dogs that showed such heroism and courage in their search and rescue efforts on 9/11.

Some thoughts from students and staff of Grandfather Academy:

Tania J. age 14 (a student): “Reflecting back on my time with Rudy I have come to realize much about myself through my care and interactions with Rudy. When I first came to Grandfather Home, I wanted to become pregnant because I wanted to give something all the care and love I felt I had missed in my life. I was able to transfer this incredible love that I have in myself to Rudy. Since he was there with me, I learned, with the help of staff, how to care for him without messing up. This made me feel good about myself, and it helped to fill a hole in my heart. Rudy’s slobbering kisses make me laugh. His welcoming facial expressions fill my heart with joy. Watching him trot around on walks brings a smile to my face. In general, I can not find enough words to express how Rudy has changed my life.”

Jennifer B. age 14 (a student): “Rudy is a great support person and he really listens to what you tell him and he can’t hold a grudge. Rudy’s soft eyes and comical eyebrows tell you exactly what he is thinking. When you are having problems you can sit by Rudy and read to him while he listens to what you are saying. Talking to him about your feelings helps and sometimes you can hear what this wise old dog is telling you.”

“Because of Rudy’s size he can surprise you the first time, but just spending a little time with him you’ll know why he is loved by so many people who come here. Rudy was abused and neglected and then he was adopted by a family that loves him. This makes Rudy an even better support person because we can relate to him. Rudy has issues with being separated from his owner. He will sit, whine and pout just like a kid when he sees her and can’t go with her. He also listens to adult authority, which sets the example for us. Rudy stays in the class with us every so often so he can visit other classrooms too. We miss Rudy when he isn’t with us but we cherish every moment we have with him while we can.”

Doug Herman, Director of Grandfather Academy: “Our hero Rudy performs with the wisdom, charm, and patience of a veteran teacher. His work with our struggling readers has been more beneficial than we could have ever imagined. Even our most reluctant readers are eager to read to him, and he perseveres consistently demonstrating his support and non-judgmental active listening skills with all his students.”

Renee Rodgers, Language Arts Resource Intervention Specialist: “Heroes come in all shapes and sizes and Rudy, our devoted Harlequin Great Dane, is no exception. When you look deeply into the piercing blue eyes of this Gentle Giant you will not see the pain, abuse, or neglect he suffered in his younger years. What you will experience is the wisdom and understanding he has for our abused student population coupled with the unconditional love and compassion he feels toward everyone he meets. Rudy is honestly one of the most incredible gentlemen I have ever encountered! He truly is a naturally gifted service dog. He is, without a doubt, Grandfather Home and Academy’s Hero of the Year!”

WILLIAM WEGMAN: dOGS ARE THE PERFECT MUSE

William Wegman is a pioneer in the fields of moving image, performance, and photography. Since the 70’s he has charmed us with his signature Weimaraners and his deadpan humor when he began taking photographs of Man Ray, his first Weimaraner. His photographs, videotapes, paintings and drawings have been exhibited in museums and galleries internationally. A retrospective of his work originated by the Kunstmuseum in Lucerne traveled to museums throughout Europe and the United States including the Centre Pompidou in Paris and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. William Wegman lives in New York and in Maine where he continues to make his art and lives in a pack of eight: his wife, kids and four weims. Welcome to Housepetmagazine.com Mr. Wegman:

Your work with weimaraners is often described as anthropomorphic images. Can you explain us this term?

Anthro“, in that they are a throwback to ants; “po” (like Edgar Allen) kind of creepy; “morphic” i.e.sleep inducing, dreamy shape shifting. Also…when dressed up and made tall they look like humans. They are hybrid people. Mythological.

How did you decide to get your first weim Man Ray?

I was teaching at the University of Wisconsin Madison when the issue first arose. I promised my wife that when we got to LA next year we would get a dog. Hoping she would forget, she did not. She liked short haired dogs like Dalmatians and that’s what we first looked for. Some said,” Weimaraners are good dogs, and they have short hair”. We found a litter advertised in the Long Beach newspaper for 35$. That seemed like a good price. We saw the dogs. There was only one male. She wanted a male. I flipped a coin. Five times in a row, tails. When I brought him home to our house in San Pedro (in 1970), he was sitting in a ray of light. He looked like a man. “Man Ray’!

 

 

How did your collaboration begin with Man Ray?

Our new puppy and my interest in photo and video as art mediums were practically coincidental. In retrospect it seems inevitable that he would become such a focus of my work. That he sat still and gazed at me, that he was neutral gray, that he pointed and retrieved… all these were factors in the longevity of our collaboration.

Can you tell us about your current dogs?

My current cast includes offspring from my second dog, Fay Ray. Fay is represented in several children’s books including Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, ABC and others. A biography published by Hyperion a few years after her death in l995. Her off spring Batty, Chundo and Crooky were magnificent performers who were born into their work. Like a family of actors. I didn’t really train them. As with all my actors, training is on the job. Now I have Chip, Batty’s son; Chip’s son Bobbin, his mate Candy and their daughter, Penny. Penny is much like Batty who died at age l4 last year. Perhaps [Penny} appears sweeter in photographs but less comic, less droll. Bobbin is like Chip, handsome but less forlorn. This is because his skin is tight.

 

One of your past exhibitions “The Look, Images of Style and Glamour” displayed stunning images of your Weimaraners as fashion models with all the attitude of their human counterparts. What makes them such wonderful models?

Weimaraners have a kind of blank, cool look, the look fashion models generally adopt on the runway. And then there is the color. Gray. Gray they say goes with anything so weimaraners are the perfect fashion models. Blankness, neutrality, one can write on them over and over. You can’t do that with a golden retriever, dalmation or bull dog. They have only one story. And then there is the posture. That for me is the pictorial challenge. How to put human clothes on the canine form. In that challenge the real artistic struggle and quest for resolution lies. That’s where the fun is, and the solutions are varied. If you look at individual photographs you will understand what I’m trying to say. Keep in mind I don’t use photoshop. Like magicians I work point of view of audience, or in this case, lens.

When choosing fashion for your weims, do you have a favorite designer?

Miyake is the best designer for my weimaraners. His forms wonderfully expand to adapt to theirs. But I love shopping in thrift stores. When I do, I’m aware that I am ruminating about style and palette. The thought process evolves as I shop.

Do you find your art work with dogs sentimental? Especially if you raised the litter yourself.

I am in love with my dogs. When you photograph someone you are making a map of them in a way. Switch back to life and you see them in a new way. The map helps you know them and you get more and more attached. When Man Ray was ill and near the end I was desperate to get a last picture. What would it be? A loving portrait? A commemorative coin? The funniest one ever? All week at the Polaroid studio in Boston we worked together on this but as it turned out my mother took the final shot . Man Ray and I are sitting on the front steps of our house in Western. Mass where I grew up. Yes, it is sentimental. now I live with four dogs. Chip, his son Bobbin . Bobbin”s mate Candy and their daughter Penny, who is now l8 months. I recently had to put down Batty, Chips mother. It was the first time I had to do that and it was not easy. My vet said it was a great thing to be able to do. Humans are not so lucky. A lifeless body is different than one with life. Anyone who has done this knows what I mean.

Your weims are among the most recognizable art images of the 20th century. How do you keep their stamina?

A common misunderstanding is that the dogs work hard. No. We work hard, my assistants especially the one crammed in an extreme position behind the dog presenting limbs to appear attached. The dogs are usually sitting, like dogs do and only for seconds. It takes 1/60th of a sec to take a picture. It takes a lot of time to set it up. The dogs are standing by in the green room (the couch) waiting for their call. Some dogs are more actively eager to be in front of the camera but all crave the attention. At least mine are.

Would you like to tell us about your new projects?

My new projects: A retrospective of my work including paintings, drawings, photos and video opens March 10 2006 at the Brooklyn Museum of Art. A book published by Yale in time for the exhibition serves as the catalogue. I’m hoping to write a book based on my film, The Hardly Boys. I’ll probably work on it this spring and finish it in the year 2030.

Thank you very much for the time you’ve put into this interview Mr. Wegman, and much more for all the amazing photographs you’ve brought to us.