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Gone to the Dogs

My friend, Niza Knoll, has an art gallery in the Santa Fe Arts District in Denver.  Knoll Gallery is a fantastic array of creativity and is emerging as one of the best galleries in Denver (in my humble opinion.)  Each year Niza does a juried exhibit featuring art on dogs.  Gone to the Dogs 3 opens this Friday, August 19, and runs through September 17.  I asked Niza why she does this particular exhibit each year.

“I grew up with dogs and always loved their company when I came home.  They give us unconditional love.  They fill an empty spot in my life.  I like being needed.  It always fascinated me that a creature so different than us can connect with our feelings and moods and be able to live with us.  I have always connected more with people that like dogs or cats so I thought it would be fun to share my love for this amazing creature with others.  It really has been lots of fun and I have met some great dog lovers.”

A couple of springs ago I was fortunate to have an exhibit at Niza’s gallery and I had a couple of dog photos that I took on display.  The chihuahua on the sidewalk was taken at Union Square in San Francisco, California. I loved how this pampered pooch was in complete lockstep with her owner. She was a little diva of a dog.

The other photograph was taken in Talkeetna, Alaska.  Talk about a dog and master looking alike. What characters!

Hope you can make it to see Niza’s show.  Her gallery is at 915 Santa Fe Drive, Denver, Colorado, 80204.  The Denver Dumb Friends League will be there with adoptable dogs so maybe you’ll come away with art and a pup to love.

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Dog Days at the Commonwealth Games

Stray dogs are one of my favorite sights in Delhi.  They are all mutts and they loaf around the city.  I have even seen them lying in the roadways oblivious to traffic whizzing by.  Delhi has cleared many of them away from the games and venues.  Today they were rounding them up at the field hockey venue. I hear they are in shelters and will be released when everyone goes home.  I have been assured that Indians will not harm them.  The dogs are sweet souls and today one of them stole the show at the Jawahar Lal Nehru Stadium where the track and field events are being held.  Check this runner out!

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Delhi’s Commonwealth Games Face

When I came to Delhi in 2008 I remember the palpable culture shock.  It was overwhelming even for a rather intrepid traveler.  I had been in Beijing and Uganda earlier in the year so I thought I would be prepared for anything, but nothing I had ever experienced set me up for India.  On the roadway from the airport cows roamed the street.  The traffic was indescribable and everyone honked their horns. There were thousands of stray dogs loafing in the sun, then at night they would roam in hungry packs and turn aggressive.  Squatters camped along the roadways and children would race up to your car when you were stopped at intersections to beg or perform little tricks in hopes of a handout.  It took me about 24 hours to adjust and I still am ashamed of my ugly American moment when I couldn’t get the hot water to work.

Two years later, I see a different city.  For all the international ridicule Delhi suffered as it ramped up to the Commonwealth Games, the Indian capitol definitely has on its game face now.  The cows and dogs have been relocated for the time being to shelters.  There are few squatters and I haven’t seen one beggar yet.  Traffic is moving well and things are clean and tidy.  It remains to be seen what it will be like in three months when the international spotlight turns away (I still wonder how Beijing transformed once the Olympics were over.)  Of course Delhi will be left with the emotional and financial hangover these huge international sporting events leave behind, but for the moment, it is a new day in Delhi.  The only thing that hasn’t changed is the warmth of the people.  That is the same as it was in 2008.  Warm smiles and namastes.  Great hospitality to cure the worst case of culture shock.

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God and Dog

For all dog lovers and people of faith.  Don’t know who WJ Francisco is but her simple video prayer on YouTube makes one want to run to the animal shelter and adopt a pound puppy.

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A Dog Speaks Out On Michael Vick

My name is Ka$h (yes, that’s how it’s spelled) and I’m a chow shepard cross.  I’m a former pound puppy who was adopted from the Denver Humane Society in October by a wonderful family.  I was only a few months old when they got me and was already returned by someone else.  When I came to my new home I had issues.  I would pee when I was happy or when I was scared or even when someone came to pat me on the head.  And I would fight with the other dog, Sydney.  We would go at it whenever food came between us and I hurt Sydney very badly.  My new family was exasperated and they were going to send me back to the pound.  But they gave me a second chance.  Now I am one year old and I’m a good girl.  I don’t pee on the rug anymore and I try really hard not to fight.  I’m an excellent watchdog and there is no one else who chases a ball as well as I do.  You should see me.  I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished. 

Being a dog I don’t like what Michael Vick did.  He was mean to animals and he hurt them.  I met alot of dogs in the pound who were abused and they were scarred badly.  It made them hard to adopt sometimes.  It seems weird that someone as fortunate as he was would do something so evil.  But I think he should get a second chance too.  He has gifts and maybe because of this experience he will be smarter and more compassionate and learn to do the right thing, just like I did.  Maybe he’ll even set an example for children and volunteer at the Humane Society.  If he does then he can stay with his new NFL family, the Philadelphia Eagles, and if he doesn’t, well, he just might end up back in the pound.  There are lots of dogs, and two legged animals, who deserve a chance at redemption.  I hope Michael Vick steps up like I did.  I am a smart dog and I’ve earned my place in the family.  I challenge Michael Vick to be good like me.

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Shelter Dogs

My children and I were at an impasse. Our yellow lab, Rosie, died this summer, and after an appropriate period of mourning and reflection, we decided to get a new dog. Initially I wanted another Shetland Sheepdog. My first dog, Buddy, was a Sheltie and he set the bar for all dogs to come. The kids wanted a Bulldog. To them, Bulldogs are sexy and rap stars and Michael Phelps have Bulldogs. They were not going to get a girly dog like a Sheltie and I refused to get a dog that looked like a prizefighter so we headed for the Humane Society.

Sydney, our first shelter dog

Sydney, our first shelter dog

Several years ago after our other Sheltie, Charlie, died we decided to rescue a dog. We had never done it before and felt it was the right thing to do. We came home with Sydney, an Australian cattle dog mix who is the most well adjusted dog we ever had. She is not neurotic. She is smart and easy going. She barks when there is a reason and seems to brim with gratitude that she was picked for our family. OK. She’s a bit timid of strangers and other dogs but that’s the Aussie cattle dog in her.

Ka$h, our new shelter dog

Ka$h, our new shelter dog

This time a chow/shepherd cross picked us. My son, Kyle, named her Ka$h and once again we have a delightful member of our family who is sweet and mellow. Slowly but surely she is learning you don’t pee on the rug, growl or love with sharp little teeth. She is not pushy and cocks her head with her floppy little ears. She has wriggled into our hearts and Sydney is warming up to her too. We have two bright, cheerful dogs and they are bringing great joy to our family. I believe that homes are happier with pound puppies in them.

I say all this because I really hope President-Elect Obama gets a shelter dog for his daughters. It would be a brilliant choice and an easy decision as he embarks on a job that will be full of tough ones. On Thursday, November 6, after Barack Obama told his daughters in front of the entire world that he would let them bring a puppy to the White House, USA Today ran a full page ad by Pedigree Dog Food. It featured a shaggy little mutt looking out with sad but hopeful eyes and it read:

Dear President-elect Obama,

We’d love to help you fulfill your first campaign promise. We are thrilled that you are celebrating your victory by adopting a dog into your family. We think you’ll find that shelter dogs are among the most loyal, loving and special dogs in the world. And no dog is more in need of a little hope. You can find a great dog and learn more about responsible adoption at

The ad was so touching it brought a tear to my eye. Wouldn’t it be something if a dog from the pound ended up as top dog in the U.S? Wouldn’t it be amazing if a little mutt became the new American idol? Hopefully a shelter dog is in Sasha and Malia’s future. I think the Obama daughters would find just the companion they are looking for. At his first press conference Barack Obama pointed to himself as being a bit of a mutt.  It’s a perfect choice.  I’m campaigning for a shelter dog on the White House lawn.

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