Arff, Arff: Dogging It

23 Aug
My Boys- Cuba & Beny [photo: Robert Birnbaum]

My Boys- Cuba & Beny [photo: Robert Birnbaum]

I have often heard people opine that they like canines more than humans— which on the face of it makes a lot of sense (especially if you have a pooch companion or family member). While I am not prepared to make such a overblown claim, though I am enamored of the canine species I will say (was it it Will Rogers who said this?) I have never met a hound I didn’t like.

Books on dogs (and other species humans ‘petify’)are usually either informative studies of their history and behavior* or collections of cute/clever photos (such as the apparently William Wegman photos of his Weimerheiners). You can guess what follows.

I have written about Enchanted Lion Books (publishers of books for children of all ages) before and given the splendid tomes they regularly published I probably should write about them more often. At any rate, here’s one — Americanine: A Haute Dog in New York by French illustrator Yann Kebbi— for which I am compelled to give it notice. From the publisher:

Here, a French dog, upon his return to Paris, recounts his amazing trip to New York City to his dog pals. Sharing his visit so they can really, truly see it through his eyes, so, too, does the reader, in page after glorious page of free, vibrant, kinetically sketched images! Whether it’s the Wonder Wheel at Coney Island, the Guggenheim Museum, Grand Central Station, or a pug looking in a doughnut shop window, Americanine pulsates with aliveness and charm. Marked by energy and humor, and rendered from a haute dog perspective through fresh, as well as French, eyes, Americanine doesn’t give us the elegant, platinum New York of Stieglitz, but rather a bold, contemporary, colorfully diverse city that feels bright, nonstop, and like no other. In these pages you will find real people in a real city, perceived with the romance of a young French artist.

Americanine: A Haute Dog in New York  by Yann Kebbi

Americanine: A Haute
Dog in New York by Yann Kebbi

The ever original Brain Pickings and Maria Popova takes a novel view of

A poem compresses much in a small space and adds music, thus heightening its meaning. The city is like poetry.” So wrote E.B. White wrote in his timeless love letter to New York — a city that has, in fact, has inspired a great deal of poetry itself: visual poetry, like Berenice Abbott’s stunning photographs of its changing face and Julia Rothman’s illustrated tour of the five boroughs; poetic prose, like Zadie Smith’s love-hate letter to Gotham and the private writings of notable authors who lived in and visited the city; and poetry-poetry, like Frank O’Hara’s “Song (Is it dirty)” and Walt Whitman’s “Give Me the Splendid Silent Sun.”

 Finding Home: Shelter Dogs and Their Stories  by Traer Scott

Finding Home: Shelter Dogs and Their Stories by Traer Scott

Photographer Traer Scott’s Finding Home: Shelter Dogs and Their Stories is not only comprised of beautiful black and white photographs but compelling life stories of his subjects. From the publisher:

…Scott began photographing these dogs in 2005 as a volunteer at animal shelters. Her first book was Shelter Dogs…and in this follow-up, Scott introduces a new collection of canine subjects, each with indomitable character and spirit: Morrissey, a pit bull, who suffered from anxiety-related behaviors brought on by shelter life until adopted by a family with four children; Chloe, a young chocolate Lab mix, surrendered to a shelter by a family with allergies; Gabriel and Cody, retired racing greyhounds; and Bingley, a dog who lost his hearing during a drug bust but was brought home by a loving family that has risen to the challenge of living with a deaf dog. Through extended features we become better acquainted with the personalities and life stories of selected dogs and watch as they experience the sometimes rocky and always emotional transition to new homes. The portraits in Finding Home form an eloquent plea for the urgent need for more adoptive families, as well as a tribute to dogs everywhere

I suppose this NYT effort starring fashion designer Marc Jacobs dog is cute but I am left with a So What? feeling.

And in case you missed this one >The Silence of Dogs in Cars by Martin Usborne

Martin Usborne’s photo series, which was funded by a kickstarter campaign, consists of over forty-five images of dogs gazing silently through car windows, often in the dead of night. The images, which are staged and highly cinematic, evoke a mood of loneliness and longing. They are not so much portraits of dogs as studies in separation: on one level referring to the separation between humans and (other) animals but on another the separation within ourselves, between our everyday selves and the rawer (more animal) parts that we keep locked away. The photographs draw on the work of Edward Hopper and Gregory Crewdson.


Rosie (1997-2008 [photo:Robert  Birnbaum]

Rosie (1997-2008 [photo:Robert Birnbaum]

*Some recent dog books

No Better Friend: One Man, One Dog, and Their Extraordinary Story of Courage and Survival in WWII by Robert Weintraub

How Dogs Love Us: A Neuroscientist and His Adopted Dog Decode the Canine Brain by Gregory Berns

Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know by Alexandra Horowitz

What the Dog Knows: Scent, Science, and the Amazing Ways Dogs Perceive the World by Cat Warren

The Genius of Dogs: How Dogs Are Smarter Than You Think by Brian Hare & Vanessa Woods

How the Dog Became the Dog: From Wolves to Our Best Friends by Mark Derr

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