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By CHERESE COBB

If you’re a dog owner, you probably know that you shouldn’t judge a dog by its breed. But if you’re new to the world of dogs, there’s a huge misconception that every dog breed perfectly matches its standard and profile.

Even if your friend’s Chihuahua acts like a wind-up toy, your neighbor’s Saint Bernard slings saliva on the ceiling or your sister’s Poodle plays the piano, breed isn’t a good predictor of behavior, according to a 2014 study by Bristol University in the United Kingdom.

Researchers poured through 4,000 questionnaires that asked dog owners about their pets’ aggression–whether toward family, toward strangers entering the home or in unfamiliar settings outside.

While just 3 percent reported hostility toward family members, nearly 7 percent said their dogs became forceful when meeting strangers. Then 5 percent also reported violence while meeting people out on walks. The majority of dogs showed aggression in just one of these situations, leading researchers to believe it’s largely taught, not bred.

While American Pit Bull Terriers, Dobermans, German Shepherds and Rottweilers all conjure up images of dangerous, snarling attack dogs due to media hype, their behavior can’t possibly be predicted simply by what they look like. Breed labels are wrong more than 75 percent of the time, and 1 in 3 dogs assessed as a bully breed carry absolutely no DNA of any Pit Bull-type dog. Many dogs are also a mixture of breeds. For example, you may want to assume that your Goldendoodle is the perfect combination of a Golden Retriever’s and a Poodle’s attributes, but that’s not always the case.

Breed labeling is becoming an outdated practice. Often based on myth and misinformation, labels can stick with dogs (and their owners) for the rest of their lives and can mean discrimination, losing their homes or even death threats. Here are five such stories:

I’d Take a Bullet for You

When dog owner Kristin Swoboda adopted Moe from the Wisconsin Humane Society in Racine County, she found everything that she had hoped for in a dog. “He’s my heater, my therapist, my laundry helper (really he just lays on it), and most importantly, my best friend,” she says.

He’s incredibly quirky and playful. “When he gets excited, he runs like a newborn calf, and it makes me laugh hysterically,” she says. “He destroys his squeaky toys within seconds. Then he looks at me with the stuffing still in his mouth like, ‘It wasn’t me.’” He even sits halfway between the couch and ottoman and (not so surprisingly) begs for food. When Swoboda says, “No,” he falls over, looks at her with his sad, brown eyes, and then turns his back to her, refusing to allow her to pet him for a few hours.

“He’d literally take a bullet for any human he comes in contact with,” she says, “but he’s a 7-year-old Pit Bull; so people cross the street to get away from him and even shield their kids as he walks past.” Swoboda once took Moe to Petco to let him pick out his own toy, which was most likely his first, considering that he was abused. He can be rambunctious at times, but he was extremely well-behaved. “We were waiting in line and a woman looked at me and said, ‘If that dog even so much as looks at any of my [five] children, I’ll shoot it,’” Swoboda says. “My heart broke when I looked down at Moe. It makes me sad that there are people who pass over Pit Bulls because they’ve lost the best addition to their families.”

Give a Little Love

At the age of 23 and as a Central Bark Doggy Day Care employee, Erin Hennen quickly realized that she wanted to spend more time with dogs than with people.

“The woman who was grooming my family’s dogs … trained me on how to groom,” she says. “I worked Saturdays or came in on a Friday night for those customers that I really liked.”

Hennen then opened Fancy Pants Pet Salon in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin. She took Anakin, her Yellow Lab-Pit Bull mix, to grooming events. “He was a therapy dog and a blood donor,” she says. “He really just looked like a Yellow Lab with a blocky head. When I mentioned that he had some Pit Bull mixed in, people would pull their hands away.”

For Pit Bull Awareness Day, Hennen stood with her dog on a corner, holding a sign that read “Ask me about my Pit Bull mix.” A man purposely walked toward her, while keeping a fair distance, just to tell her that her dog was dangerous.

When she adopted Washburne and Drax, the struggle for breed acceptance became like trying to play darts with spaghetti. Wash and Drax are both Pit Bull-Bulldog mixes. “They both think that they’re lap dogs. If you give either one the chance, they’ll lay on your chest on the couch,” she says. Drax likes to roll onto his back with his stubby little legs waving in the air and a stuffed toy in his mouth. While Wash is all muscle with a head the size of a basketball, he’s really a scaredy cat. “If there’s a bad wind outside, he’ll hold it rather than go out for a potty break,” she says. The momma’s boys get along with Hennen’s 2-year-old daughter and two cats. “Wash makes me smile every day because of the way he looks at me. I’ve never had a dog look at me with as much love as he does,” she says.

Whenever Hennen takes Wash, Drax and Caesar, her 9-year-old Pomeranian-Maltese mix, on walks, people dash across the street or cover their children with their own bodies. “Most frustrating of all, they would come into my grooming shop and tell me that they don’t want their dogs anywhere near ‘those things’ because they don’t want anything to happen to their pups,” she says. Regulars have realized that “my sweet boys are just sitting nicely in their crates hoping for some love … so there’s nothing to really worry about.”

I Need You Now

In 2011, dog enthusiast Debbie Block adopted Mocha, her Doberman Pinscher, from the Milwaukee Area Domestic Animal Control Commission. When Mocha was diagnosed with cancer at the same time as her 95-year-old mother, she had no intention of adding to her family. “Mocha was an incredible soul who loved everyone and changed our neighbors’ perception of Dobbies. They saw what we saw in her and the breed … a dog that longed to be part of a family.”

“Paco came into our lives right after I lost my mom to [bone] cancer, our Doberman named Sugar to congestive heart failure, and our senior cat—all in one week,” she says. She and her husband, John, were at a fundraiser for the Washington County Humane Society in Fox Lake, Illinois, when they received photos of Paco. He was an hour south at the Doberman Rescue Plus. “My husband looked at me and said, ‘No guarantees,’ after we both read the email. Needless to say when we met him, we were both in tears and knew that he was destined to be a Block,” she says.

Dobermans rarely come into the shelter setting. Even though Paco had a snap test done and was heartworm negative, he later tested as heartworm positive. “The hardest thing ever is to have this boy and want to show him what love truly is, and then you can’t even take him out for road trips,” she says. The 8-year-old Doberman recently got the all clear and visited the Girl Scouts in Jackson, Washington. Once he sniffed them all individually, he plopped on the floor right in front of them and rolled on his back to have his tummy rubbed.

He’s fantastic for getting a person to disconnect from technology. “He’ll do anything to have you pet him: cry, stand in front of the TV, nudge you when you’re on your phone, and literally, knock your tablet out of your hand,” she says. He also has a rock-solid temperament. Recently, he heard a child outside crying and started howling. He dragged his owner to the little girl, nudging her and licking her. She started to laugh and loved on him until all of her tears faded away.

Even though he’s a Canine Good Citizen, she has to pay extra liability insurance because of his breed. “Our insurance agent and an underwriter came to our house to meet with us and our dogs before taking us on as a client,” she says. Block brings Paco with her when she’s doing outreach events for the humane society because it helps break the barriers of what people envision Dobermans to be like. “We’ve actually had people come up to us and say, ‘How dare you bring a vicious dog to an outreach event,’” she says. “Anyone who’s met a Doberman knows they all have the same tendencies: they’ll back their rumps up to the couch and sit on it with two legs up in the air and two on the floor, and they’ll look for the crying child or the handicapped person to bring them a sense of security.”
The Problem is People,
Not Pit Bulls

Since 2010, Mecca’s Pit Bull Rescue in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, has saved more than 40 Pit Bulls. “We can only take in one dog at a time,” says President Mecca Curtice, who’s a dog bite safety educator and certified dog trainer with 30 years of experience. She works with her husband, two police officers who are an hour and a half away and one volunteer in Plymouth, Wis. “It’s not about numbers. We’re a voice for Pit Bulls, and we’re focused on continued care, breed advocacy and positive training.”

Pit Bulls aren’t just family companions. They find missing children and lost dementia patients. They pull wheelchairs, open and close doors and interrupt panic attacks. They also comfort nursing home residents and help kids with disabilities become stronger readers.

But they have a 93 percent euthanasia rate. Only one in 600 of them will find a forever home. Good Pit Bulls under the control of bad people do bad things. “Whether an owner understands the reason for the behavior or not, there’s always an underlying cause to a bite or an attack, [usually pain or fear],” says Sara Enos, the founder and executive director of the American Pit Bull Foundation.

“Breed discrimination is wrong,” Curtice says, “because every dog is an individual.” One of the first dogs taken in by the grassroots nonprofit was named Taisha. The American Staffordshire Terrier wasn’t even a year old yet. She had mange in her system and a litter of six puppies. “She never snapped at me even though I was handling them. She really touched me because she had the strength and courage to live,” she says. “Taisha was adopted by a friend who helped with her rescue and all of her puppies have good homes.”

Curtice uses funds from her One Voice T-shirt and Yankee Candle campaigns to provide veterinary care and 15 to 20-minute training sessions for each dog. “We try to do a DNA test if possible. I do it because I like science, and I want to know what’s going on inside of the dogs,” she says. Mecca’s Pit Bull Rescue recently took in Odin (who’s currently adoptable) and Kayla, who was going to be destroyed at just 5 months old because she lacked socialization. Curtice spends more than 60 hours per week with the dogs, training them to follow verbal commands, eventually without hand signals. “When they’re finally adopted, I can tell their new owners about their behaviors and abilities and their likes and dislikes,” she says.

Never a Dull Moment

The owner and operator of Paws Are Us in Menomonee Falls, Wis., Mary Tran knew that she wanted to be a dog groomer when she was 10 years old. “We used to have these ratty Field Spaniels, and I’d sit on a cul-de-sac and pretend to show and groom them,” she says. “All my sisters and brothers have multiple dogs.”

Tran would rather have a hand-me-down than a puppy. She’s fostered more than 80 dogs, including Debby, a 4-month-old Beagle, that had been in three different homes. Originally named Jasmine, Debby wasn’t a match with anyone that was interviewed. “She crawled on my husband’s lap and fell asleep, and he was just like, ‘Let’s keep her,’” she says. “She was a hard dog in the beginning to own because my husband worked third shift, and I couldn’t crate her. I had to take her with me everywhere.”

Originally reactive to other dogs, Debby would get stiff and scrunch up her nose before mumbling, “Ra-ra-ra-ra.” Tran taught her to walk away and sit in her bed at the grooming shop. She’s also very intuitive and really understands other dogs. “If owners aren’t going to control their dogs, she expresses her opinion: they need to stay out of her space. If I have friends that have dogs, she’s friends with them,” she says. “[After 12 years,] Debby is very in tune with me. If I’m worried, she’s worried. Out of all of the dogs that I’ve ever had, she really knows how I’m feeling.”

“Most people I know say, ‘I had a beagle…once.’ You either love them or hate them,” she says. Beagles are the eighth most surrendered breed, according to a 2015 study by rescuegroup.org. Originally bred to be hunting companions, they have an incredible sense of smell and this often leads them to wander far from home when they’re hot on the trail of something, like a squirrel or bird. “Debby knows how to unlock the car door and open it,” she says. “One time, I wasn’t done at my shop yet and Debby jumped out of the sunroof.” Because Beagles are skilled escape artists, they often find themselves abandoned by their owners, or they may run away on their own.

Those who choose a Beagle as a regular family pet might surrender them to shelters when they prove difficult to train. Some people say that Beagles aren’t very intelligent, but Debby can spin and give high fives and high 10s. “If you ask her, ‘What does a Beagle say?’ she howls,” Tran says. “If you put your thumb up, she jumps into the air. I’m trying to teach her to sneeze on command.” Debby participates in barn hunting and nose work “She’s qualified a few times [in barn hunting], but as soon as she finds the rat, she turns her nose away like, ‘I’m too good for this,’” she says. “She competes if I ask her to, but then she’ll go, ‘What’s in it for me?’ She knows whenever there are treats in my pockets. She follows me around all day long … and eats the treats out of my friends’ coat pockets as soon as they put them down.”

When it comes to hounds, you have to make them think that everything is their idea. “They have no patience and the common sense of a 2 year old,” she says. Whether they’re finding a rabbit in a hole or secretly snacking on the kibble in your trunk, you can’t tell them what to do.

“You’ve got to figure them out—just like any dog,” she says. At Debby’s last nose work competition, she was prancing through the crowd, and they were like, “She’s so cute and petite.” “Debby knows how to get reactions. It’s not a bad thing … [because] there’s never a dull moment with my Beagle.”

Removing Labels

Lindsey Huffman, the director of Shenandoah Valley Animal Services in Lyndhurst, Virginia, asked all of her employees to write down the breeds of all of their shelter dogs. Every one of them was different. “Basically, we were just guessing, and it was unfair,” she says. “We stopped labeling dogs about a year and a half ago.”

“While breeds are an aspect of a dog, they don’t make up everything about that dog,” says Michael Morefield, the marketing and communications manager for the Arizona Animal Welfare League. Whether your dogs come from a puppy mill, a responsible dog breeder or a shelter, their personalities, their temperaments and their life experiences really make up who they are.

“When you remove breed labels, you open the door to possibility. You have a chance to fall in love without being inhibited by breed,” says Cheryl Schneider, the Director for Williamson County Regional Animal Shelter. “Instead, fall in love by listening to your heart.”

Disclaimer: Pit Bull isn’t a breed of dog recognized by any of the kennel clubs, and there’s no agreed upon definition for what a Pit Bull actually is. As an umbrella term, it may refer to American and English Bulldogs, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, American Pit Bull Terriers, or any of their mixes.

By CHERESE COBB

If you’ve ever seen “Turner and Hooch,” you’ve seen a French Mastiff. The breed may look like a menacing mass of wrinkles with monstrous jaws and drooling jowls, but there’s far more to them than meets the eye. In fact, owners describe these dogs as massive sweethearts. That doesn’t mean they’re pushovers, though. Because they’re velcro dogs, they’ll do their best to protect their owners from danger. Even so, the hallmark of this breed is their calm and dependable natures.

History

Nobody knows the exact origin of the French Mastiff, also known as the Dogue de Bordeaux. One theory suggests that it’s a descendant of the Tibetan Mastiff, whose origin can be traced back more than 5,000 years, from Tibet to Mesopotamia and then from Ancient Greece to Gaule. Another theory states that the French Mastiff is a direct descendant of Assyrian war dogs who were owned by the King of Babylon. Some scholars say that the breed came from the extinct “Alano Dog”, who was brought to Europe by the Alans, an Oriental tribe.

By the 14th century, the French Mastiff was used to bait bulls and hunt boars, bears, and jaguars. It hauled heavy loads, herded cattle, and pulled soldiers from the battlefield, particularly in Bordeaux and Aquitaine. The French Mastiff also survived two brushes with extinction. Prized by French aristocrats, they enjoyed a pampered lifestyle, but during the French Revolution, when the nobles fell out of favor, they did too. During WWII, the breed was also nearly wiped out by Hitler who was enraged by their loyalty and devotion to their masters.

The Most Lovable Dog Breed

On November 26, 2016, Johnny Holt and his husband adopted their French Mastiff from La Belle Bordeaux in Jacksonville, Florida. “The breeders were actually friends of ours, and Maggie is from their first litter,” Holt says. The couple adored Maggie’s mother and father before they even knew they were going to have puppies. “From about two weeks old, Maggie kept crawling up into my lap every time we went over to their house,” he says. “We actually weren’t planning on getting one because we already have three Bulldogs, but I fell in love with Maggie and had no choice.”

Turning two on September 8, 2018, Maggie is like a 127-pound Yorkie. She’s his most gentle dog and thinks that she’s a lapdog. “The Dogue de Bordeaux’s face frightens people. Its wrinkles are living—that is, when the dog is attentive, there are more wrinkles, and when it’s not attentive, they are fewer and not so deep,” says Raymond Triquet who is considered to be the father and the reviver of the breed. “But its heart is golden and very, very tender. It loves its master, and it loves its mistress more. Many males are in love with their mistresses to the point of repelling her husband.”

While the French Mastiff sheds so much that you might need two Dysons, its goofball antics will keep you entertained. “When I gave her a bath a couple of weeks ago, she decided she was done and jumped out. She was running around the house soaking wet and covered with soap,” Holt laughs. The breed doesn’t always appreciate sharing their homes with other pets (especially other dogs of the opposite sex), so introductions to pets and children should take place while they’re still young and more manageable. “They’re kind of specific to one person,” he says. “She’s definitely my baby. She won’t leave my side.

Health Issues

French Mastiffs are moderately healthy, though they’ve been known to suffer from bloat, epilepsy, hip dysplasia, eye infections and heart murmurs. They’re also prone to skin fold dermatitis. It causes red inflamed skin, crusty sores, hair loss and a bad odor. “A soft, damp cloth or natural baby wipe should do the trick, followed up with a dry towel,” says Karen Shaw Becker, an integrative wellness veterinarian. French Mastiffs have excessively broad heads. They can’t tolerate heat or excessive exercise. “During the summer, Maggie is heavily panting within a minute,” Holt says. “In the winter, she gets excited when it snows, and she stands at the door and cries until we let her out to play. After about fifteen minutes in the yard, she’s completely wiped.”

Should You Adopt a French Mastiff?

Big dogs with even bigger hearts, French Mastiffs are the shortest living dog breed in existence with a life expectancy of five to eight years. What they lack in longevity, however, they make up for it by being extremely loyal, patient and devoted to their families. However, they’re not for everyone. You’ll have to get used to grunting, gas, snoring and slobber. Saliva will end up caked to your cabinets, dried on your ceiling, stuck to your staircase and even flung ten feet up your walls. So, you’ll definitely want to carry a “drool rag” and duck for cover whenever your dog shakes its head.

The French Mastiff has dual personalities and isn’t to be taken lightly. While it’s a gentle giant with a clownish streak, it’s also a canine of sheer aggression and power if provoked. It needs a firm and experienced handler, or it’ll take over as the pack leader. Considering its size, it’s pretty lazy, so training sessions should be kept short and should be combined with play, exercise and companionship in order to keep its attention and to create bonds of respect and affection. If you adopt a French Mastiff, be prepared to lose your couch, your bed and your heart.

By CHERESE COBB

Who can resist a dog’s charms? Not you, not me, not even these five famous artists—whose mutt muses sniffed their way into some of their owners’ most iconic pieces.

Frida Kahlo’s Self-Portrait with Small Monkey

On September 17, 1925, Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, who was already making plans to attend medical school, and her boyfriend Alejandro Gómez Arias were riding in a school bus that collided with a street car. Frida said that a “handrail pierced me the way a sword pierces a bull,” entering through her left hip and exiting through her genitals. Her spinal column and pelvis were each broken in three places. She also broke her collarbone and suffered two broken ribs. Her right leg, the one deformed by polio, was shattered, fractured in 11 places, and her right foot was dislocated and completely crushed.

Although she recovered from her injuries—after three months in a full body cast—she suffered from infertility so she adopted several pets and treated them like her surrogate children. Her favorites were a spider monkey named Fulang Chang and a hairless Xoloitzcuintli (pronounced show-loh-eets-KWEENT-lee) named Mr. Xoloti, both of which she features in this work. Out of her 143 paintings, 55 of them were self-portraits, featuring her treasured furbabies and incorporating her monobrow, faint mustache, dark braids, bright flowers, corset-style shirts, and long skirts.

Charles Schulz and Snoopy

Peanuts creator Charles Schulz’s childhood dog—a black and white pointer named Spike, who would later serve as the inspiration for Snoopy—could understand 50 English words and had a habit of eating pins, tacks, and razor blades whole. He was the subject of “Sparky’s” first published cartoon, which the 15-year-old sent to Ripley’s Believe it or Not.

Snoopy, whose name was suggested by Schulz’s mother, didn’t appear in the first Li’l Folks comic strip, which ran on October 2, 1950. Instead, he trotted through several strips later with a flower that appeared to be growing out of his head. He also walked on all-fours and enjoyed playing ball, chasing sticks, and listening intently to his owner, Charlie Brown. By the mid-1950s, Schulz began to humanize Snoopy—subtly, at first—by introducing thought bubbles. By the early ’60s, he stood up and had more expressive and whimsical features. He was such a phenomenon by the late ’60s that he didn’t need Charlie Brown. “Snoopy doesn’t even know Charlie Brown’s name in most instances,” says Corry Kanzenberg, Curator of the Charles M. Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa, California. “He just calls him ‘the round-headed kid.” Snoopy also became the only character that had a fully illustrated inner life: he had at least 100 different personas, from Joe Cool to the WWI Flying Ace.

Cassius Marcellus Coolidge’s A Friend in Need

In 1903, painter Cassius Marcellus Coolidge started working for the “remembrance advertising” company Brown & Bigelow. He churned out a set of 16 oil paintings, depicting dogs testifying in court, pushing a broken-down car, and wielding a baseball bat. His most famous painting from the series, A Friend in Need, shows seven dogs sitting around a table playing poker until the wee hours of the morning. Often misnamed as Dogs Playing Poker, its title comes from the bulldog handing an ace under the table to his friend.

Reprinted as posters, calendars, and prints by cigar companies, Coolidge’s paintings were considered the epitome of lowbrow culture. While his own obituary described his greatest artistic accomplishment as having “painted many pictures of dogs,” he’s also invented photo stand-ins: old-fashioned carnival attractions where tourists stick their heads on top of cartoon figures.

Pablo Picasso’s Dog

On April 19, 1957, American photographer David Douglas Duncan brought his Dachshund named Lump, who didn’t get along with his Afghan Hound named Kublai Khan, to Pablo Picasso’s villa in the South of France. The Doxie immediately walked up to the Spanish painter and put his paws on him. Picasso looked down and said, “Buenos dias, amigo!” Then Lump leaped into his arms and gave him a kiss. A mutual love affair began. “He more or less said, ‘I’m staying here.’ And he did, for the next six years,” Duncan recalled in an interview on a visit to Paris.

Picasso described Lump—which means “rascal” in German—as indescribable: “Lump, he’s not a dog, he’s not a little man, he’s somebody else.” He also honored him by including him in several sketches and more than 40 paintings, which were based on Diego Velázquez’s Las Meninas. Lump, who was suffering from a spinal problem common to his breed, passed away ten days before Picasso, on March 29, 1973.

Edvard Munch’s Dog’s Face

Edvard Munch is famous today as the creator of a single image, The Scream. His painting of a sexless, twisted, fetal-faced creature with mouth and eyes open wide in a shriek of horror captured the illness, madness and death that accompanied him throughout his life. His mother died of tuberculosis when he was 5, an older sister 10 years later, another sister went mad, his father and a brother died before he was 30, and the artist himself had a severe nervous breakdown when he was 45. He also struggled with alcoholism and bipolar disorder with psychosis, which lead up to him shooting two joints off his left hand’s ring finger.

In his later years, Munch, who never married, withdrew from society, living alone without servants or housekeepers. Only his dog Fips, who had “an old sage’s soul living inside of him,” kept him company while he devoted his time to his paintings, which he sometimes referred to as his children. Munch even took his dog to Roede’s cinema, where they watched Charlie Chaplin’s films together. If Fips no longer enjoyed the film, he would start barking and they would immediately leave the show.

By CHERESE COBB

Thirty-five thousand years ago represents a special time in human history: the creation of cave art. Among handprints and humanoids, there was man’s best friend. After the invention of portable art in the Old Stone Age, these five dog breeds made appearances lounging on the laps of kings and queens, nuzzling the faces of famous creatives, and comforting the children of commoners—and that’s just a small fraction of the dog art that exists between the past and the present.

Pugs
Bred to sit on the laps of Chinese emperors during the early Shang Dynasty, Pugs were considered symbols of status and protection. Nicknamed “Foo Dogs” by Silk Road travelers, they were believed to be able to take down lions, which aren’t even native to China. This myth is most likely grounded in traditional Chinese statuary. Foo Dogs resemble Pugs but are actually stone lions that are covered in armor with their mouths open in mid-roar. They’re commonly placed at businesses, temple gates, home entrances and estates. Designed in pairs, the female (yin) protected the people dwelling inside the home while the male (yang) protected the structure itself.

During the 1400s, merchants and travelers brought Pugs—who once had longer muzzles, legs, and tails—to the Netherlands, where they spread across Europe, becoming a French favorite. “The women of Louis XVI’s court could afford to have these little, live-in warmers,” says Shannon Monroe, an art historian at Suffolk County Community College in Selden, New York. “It’s no well-kept secret that Pugs aren’t the slimmest of dogs. They were able to keep their masters warm by sitting on their laps, laying on their feet, and getting in bed with them.”

By the 1700s, Pugs had “exploded onto the Western art scene”. William Hogarth incorporated the little dogs, including his own named Trump, into many of his paintings. Johann Joachin Kaendler, a sculptor in the late 18th century, even created an entire series of Pug figurines, which served as a secret emblem for the German underground Freemason Lodge known as the Order of the Pug.

Greyhounds
Greyhounds originated in Egypt around 9000 B.C. and are the only dogs mentioned by name in the Bible. Frequently displayed on murals in the tombs of the Pharaohs, Queen Hatshepsut—the second female pharaoh—traded four of her finest Greyhounds for cattle herds, myrrh trees, a living southern panther, and ten-foot-high piles of gold, spices and fur.

Greyhounds graced the backs of ancient Greek coins, and Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine, often painted them lying near his feet. “In Homer’s epic, the Odyssey, Argo is the beloved and loyal dog of King Odysseus, and although the faithful and tragic animal’s breed is never officially given by the poet, he’s mentioned to have been a swift lean hunting dog, which has lead many scholars to believe that he was a Greyhound,” says Monroe.

Nearly becoming extinct during times of famine in the Middle Ages, the breed also makes many appearances in medieval manuscripts, sometimes in the company of mythological creatures such as griffins and dragons. A symbol of celebrity and loyalty, the breed was a favorite of Queen Elizabeth I, the last Tudor monarch, and Queen Victoria’s husband Prince Albert. “The dog in [19th century painter] Paul Gauguin’s Pastorales Tahitiennes was probably a Greyhound since the scene he sets is one where a beautiful island woman plays the flute, an instrument devoted to the adoration of an island moon goddess,” Monroe says. “Being European—and liking to inject a bit of that iconography into his work—he’d have been familiar with Western depictions of Diana, goddess of the hunt and moon, and her Greyhounds.”

Collies
Collies were brought to England in the 1800s and were shown under the name “Scotch Sheep Dog” in the Birmingham English Dog Show. Queen Victoria had at least two Collies, Noble and Sharp, who were very ill-tempered to everyone but the Queen, according to the Pall Mall Gazette. Reigning for 64 years, she most likely helped the popularity of the Collie and its transition from working dog to family pet.
Charles Burton Barber, a popular English painter of children and pets, captured the special relationship between this breed and children. “A Special Pleader shows a perfectly charming scene of a little girl being punished and the dog looking beseechingly at someone out of the composition, presumably the child’s caretaker,” Monroe says. “The dog’s expression not only gives the painting its name but alludes to the Collie’s charm as being a caring, special member of English households.”

Collies were also popular with the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, a group of English painters, poets, and critics founded in the late 19th century. “In William Hunt’s Collie and Lamb, the dog stands over the obviously distressed lamb [a symbol of innocence and allegory of sacrifice] caught in the snow and calls for help,” Monroe says. Richard Ansdell, an English oil painter of animals and genre scenes, also painted the breed working in nature, “almost evocative of British Romantic era paintings with a touch of the sublime in a stormy sky and a nostalgia for the pre-industrial revolution era.

Papillons
One of the oldest of the toy spaniels, the Papillon (pah-pee-yown), also called the Continental Toy Spaniel, has a high-domed head and flashy-looking fringed ears that somewhat resemble butterflies. The “big dog in a small body” also comes in a drop-eared variety called the Phalène (fa-len), which means “moth,” a cousin of the butterfly that folds its wings at rest.

Found in Europe as early as the 1200s, the breed’s ancestry is a mystery. While Italy, Belgium, France, and Spain are all strong contenders, a terracotta statue of the breed was discovered in a second-century Roman tomb in Belgium. During the 17th century, Italian breeders transported the little dogs to the court of Louis XV on the backs of mules. Madame de Pompadour, King Henry II of France, and Marie Antoinette—whose dog named Thisbe stood faithfully outside the prison where the hapless queen awaited beheading—owned Papillons. The breed has been traced back to depictions from the 16th century: a testament to its tenacity and staying power. Old masters like Rubens, Fragonard, Van Dyke, and Watteau portrayed Papillons in various artworks, usually accompanying their doting mistresses. “Titian painted them into so many of his works that they became known as Titian Spaniels,” Monroe says. In his Venus of Urbino, a young woman reclines on a bed in an opulent Renaissance palace. She is sensuous and gazes at the viewer kindly. A Papillion, a symbol of marital fidelity, sleeps at her feet while a maid looks down upon a young child playing, which symbolizes motherhood. “The little Papillion has survived…better than the royal families in whose courts they were once such a favorite,” says June Peterson-Crane, a historian at the Papillon Club for America. “Men, women, and children of all ages take them into their laps and hearts.”

Xoloitzcuintlis
Perhaps, the Xoloitzcuintlis’ (pronounced show-loh-eets-KWEENT-lee) ego stems from the fact that it’s one of the most easily recognized and most often depicted dog in the Americas. “Beginning as early as 300 B.C., they appear as single effigy vases, as dancing figures, as old and wrinkly and pregnant, and sometimes with an ear of corn in their mouths,” Monroe says. The Olmec tribe, often regarded as the mother culture of Mexico, and the Aztecs raised Xolos (“sho-los”), which were eaten by the wealthy, usually only on special occasions. They conducted canine sacrifices by shooting them with arrows, asphyxiating them, or throwing the hog-tied animals on rocks before extracting their hearts, which were later cooked and given to Tlaloc, the rain god. The Mayans also mummified “Colima dogs,” believing that they would eventually join them in the underworld, called Xibalba, roughly translated as “place of fear.”

During WWI, military scientists experimented on the Mexican Hairless with poisonous gases because of the similarities between the animals’ slightly waxy skin and that of humans, which accelerated the already-dwindling population. It wasn’t until the mid-20th century that the breed caught the eye of artists. Mexican muralist Diego Rivera painted a series of frescoes on the stairway walls and corridors of the Palacio Nacional: one depicts a Xolo snarling at a European dog imported by the Spanish conquistadors. They also make cameo appearances in several of Frida Kahlo’s self-portraits including Itzcuintli Dog with Me and Portrait with Small Monkey.

By CHERESE COBB

Just call him Pablo Pawcasso. Hunter, a 5-year-old black-and-tan Shiba Inu from Alberta, Canada, has learned how to paint abstract masterpieces by crosshatching non-toxic acrylics in a drippy, streaky and swirly style.

His owners, Kenny Au, a computer engineer, and Denise Lo, an ESL teacher, discovered his hidden artistic talent when they were looking for a new hobby to teach him after he “got as far as he could go” in regards to agility courses. Incredibly crafty and intelligent, proud and independent, careful and tidy, Hunter enjoys exploring new hiking routes, chasing backyard birds and solving children’s puzzles.

“He needs…physical and mental challenges to be happy,” Lo says. “He’s either sleeping soundly or 100 percent ready to accomplish his goals.

A year ago, they got him a little piano, but he hated it. Then a blank space on their wall inspired them to teach Hunter a doggone good trick: how to create art by painting paper with short, confident strokes.

“We had a large blank wall that needed something to go on it, and we thought about how we could make something that the whole family could contribute to,” she says. “Because Hunter is such a calm, careful and responsive dog, we figured he’d be able to learn the brushing motions to create some kind of memento for us. We were really surprised at how good the result was right off the bat.” So, they shared his work on Facebook and Reddit where it generated a lot of memes and even a Photoshop battle.

“We don’t paint every day,” Lo tells FETCH. “Hunter usually barks and stares at us when he wants to do it.” Then he patiently stands in front of a blank piece of acrylic paper, taped on top of a black tarp by his humans. He’s extremely picky about the weight of the brushes and how chewy they are. When he finally chooses one, his owners dab it in the paint and stick it between his teeth. After making a brush stroke on the paper, he’s handed another brush with a different paint color and rewarded with kibble.

“It’s not much, but it’s different from the brand that we usually feed him. He thinks it’s a treat,” she says. “When he learns a new trick, however, he’s…visibly proud of himself, so it isn’t just the treats that motivate him. We can definitely see that he enjoys being placed in different environments and learning new things, especially after struggling with it. I think that’s something that both an artist and [a] doggo can share.”

While Hunter is normally pretty careful about where the paintbrush goes, he’ll occasionally try to paint lying down, ending up with a rainbow of paint specks dried in his fur. As for signing his paintings, he doesn’t like getting his paws dirty at all, so the couple created a stamp from a mold of his paw. “If he’s feeling bored or uninspired, then he changes up his brush strokes a bit and the paintings become more interesting,” Lo says. “We’re trying watercolors as well, and we think the combination would look really good. We prefer it if he’s not painting the exact same way every time because each painting should be unique.”

Au and Lo don’t think that Hunter’s more capable of being trained than other dogs or breeds. Some dogs can balance three pints of Ben & Jerry’s on their heads. Some dogs can hold behemoth slices of pepperoni pizza in their mouths without wolfing them down. Some dogs can even ride forward and backward on bicycles with training wheels. “Just like people, it really depends on the dogs and what they’re into,” Au says. “A large part of it has to do with the time and the effort that the owners are willing to commit to finding out what interests their dogs have and how to encourage them to test their limits.”

Hunter isn’t just painting for kicks—er, wags—anymore, though. He’s cashing in on his talents with his nearly 100 paintings fetching $41.06 each on Etsy. (Now, that’s a lot of kibble.) He’s also giving pound puppies a paw up by donating his paintings to Second Chance Animal Rescue Society in Edmonton, Alberta.

The couple wonders if he’ll ever get bored—at which point they’ll stop doing it. But that hasn’t happened. “He’s been really consistent, and he’s still enjoying it,” Lo says. “[However], he thinks of us more as his companions than his masters, so if he thinks we are treating him unfairly, he’ll let us know.” Follow him on online @shibaartonline or visit his Etsy store (etsy.me/2J0Sfoy) to commission an original painting.

By CHERESE COBB

Don’t hog all the mail wealth: treat your pooch to one of these five subscription boxes. Stuffed with mouth-watering treats, cuddly plush toys and adjustable accessories, they’re gifts that keep on giving—in licks, cuddles and tail wags.

1. BarkBox
Cost: $29 per month
Shipping: Free to the United States and Canada
Coupon: Use the code RWPCH0LSSR for a free month of products

What’s inside:
The leader of the monthly dog box pack in both sales and name recognition, BarkBox is one of the least expensive services that you’ll find. Offering a multi-dog discount, the company even donates 10 percent of its proceeds to roughly 3,000 different rescues. Featuring monthly themes like Bento Blossoms, Sniffin’ Safari, and Chewrassic Bark, BarkBox includes at least two innovative toys, two all-natural bags of treats, and a heavy-duty chew toy. “The monthly toy selection…is always a plush item. It makes your pooch’s toy chest start to remind you of ‘The Claw’ game at the local arcade,” says Aasit Thakkar, a current BarkBox subscriber. “I’d prefer my pooch to enjoy toys of different natures, i.e., balls, puzzles, ropes, tossers etc. If BarkBox offered either more challenging or fun toys…then I’d say the service is truly worth barking about.” However, if a toy or treat doesn’t get your dog’s tail wagging, BarkBox will send a replacement for free. “No muss. No fuss. No disappointed pups.”

2. Pet Gift Box
Cost: $24.99 per month with
free shipping in the United States,
excluding Hawaii and Alaska
Coupon: Use the code FETCH
for $5 off

What’s Inside:
Pretested on pets for “paw prints of satisfaction,” Pet Gift Box offers six toys and treats themed around the relevant holidays. Whether you have a small, medium or large pet, you can choose a one-time, 3-month or 12-month subscription. Cats will receive balls, catnip-filled toys, catnip and feathery chasers, while dogs get balls and plush, stuffingless or waterproof toys. “My dogs [Christopher and Danny], being both greedy and toy-obsessed, soon worked out that they could open the box with their nose by flipping the lid…so it had to be kept out of reach,” says Kim O’Meara, a Pet Gift Box customer. Every box looks like a gift with a bow and supports Pets for Patriots, Family Reach, and Music Drives Us.

3. RescueBox
Cost: $29.95 per month
Shipping: A $5.95 flat-rate fee is
applied to orders outside of the
contiguous 48 states

What’s Inside: “My dog, Diamond, gets extremely excited each month when her RescueBox comes in the mail,” says Ashley Jacobs, the founder of Sitting for a Cause. “She loves to rip it open, tear the paper wrapping to shreds, and play with her new toys.” Depending on whether you have a cat or a small, medium, or large-sized dog, every month the RescueBox team will handpick five toys and treats. Every delivery also features a rescue story that’s only possible because of the generous donations of subscribers. “What I love most about the box…they will tell you the impact your subscription has had. Since subscribing to RescueBox in October of 2016, they have donated 80 bowls of food and 32 vaccines to shelter animals.”

4. PupJoy
Cost: $26 per month
Shipping: Free shipping to the
lower 48 states

What’s Inside:
“A finalist for the 2018 Purina Pet Care Innovation Prize, PupJoy has a very transparent charitable donation model to help support animal rescue, in partnership with the BISSELL Pet Foundation,” says Dustin McAdams, the founder and CEO. “We donate $2 on every order and 100 percent of the donated money goes directly to help over 3000 rescue organizations that they work with.” PupJoy also has the most personalized model available for dog parents. After choosing an Uno or Grande (small or large) box, you can specify the type of items that you want: accessories, toys and treats, including all-natural and organic options. Depending on what stage of life your dog is going through, you’ll get five to seven products valued at over $40. For example, if your dog is a chew-inator, you’ll get virtually indestructible chew toys, or if your dog is in potty-training mode, you may get extra pee spray. “PupJoy’s toys are the kind of stuff I would expect to see in an expensive dog boutique in New York City,” says Amanda, the owner of Shiloh Shepherd’s Luna Rae and Nova Mae. “The treats…have straight-forward ingredients and a small business vibe. They all have ingredients that would be edible for us humans too!”

5. Bullymake
Cost: $39 per month
Shipping: Free to the US and $8
to Canada

What’s Inside:
A monthly subscription box for power chewers, Bullymake never sends plush toys or rawhide, which can cause choking, blockage and diarrhea. Instead, the team sends two to three extremely durable toys and three to four treats, chews and healthy edibles. While the treats are hand-selected based on your dog’s allergies and size, you can opt for a “toys-only” box. “While I wish that it [the default subscription box] was more heavily weighted on the toy-side rather than the treat, I also appreciate that Bullymake always sends one long-term chew treat—it’s a good way to occupy one of my dogs for a few hours,” says Christine Massey, a long-time Bullymake customer. Even if your ruff and tuff pup continues to turn his or her adorable toys into ripped-up rags, under the Bullymake 100 Percent Guarantee, they’ll ship you a replacement that’s rougher and tougher for free.

Did your favorite dog subscription box make the list? Let us know at info@fetchmag.com