Sunday, 27 July 2008

animal acts 2: dogs

‘All knowledge, the totality of all questions and all answers, is contained in the dog’ (Kafka, 'Investigations of a Dog', 1922)

‘[A]nyone who likes cats or dogs is a fool’ (Deleuze & Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, 1987)

Odysseus & Argus. Alexander the Great & Peritas. Sir Isaac Newton & Diamond. Descartes & Monsieur Grat. George Washington & Sweet Lips. George Armstrong Custer & Tuck (who also died at Little Big Horn). Napoleon Bonaparte & Fortuné, Josephine’s pug (whom he hated). Richard Wagner & Pepsel, Fipsel, Russumuck and Marke. Byron & Boatswain. Maurice Maeterlinck & Pelléas. Sigmund Freud & Wolf, Lun, Tattoun and Jofi. Abraham Lincoln & Honey, Jip and Fido. Herbert Hoover & King Tut. Emily Dickinson & Carlo. Thomas Mann & Bashan. Gertrude Stein & Basket. Dorothy Parker & Cliché. Eugene O’Neill & Blemie. Baron Manfred Freiherr von Richthofen (‘the Red Baron’) & Moritz. Theodore Roosevelt & Skip and Pete. Franklin Delano Roosevelt & Fala. Adolf Hitler (codename ‘Wolf’) & Blondi. Tintin & Milou. Dwight Eisenhower & Caacie. Calvin Coolidge & Peter Pan. Alfred Hitchcock & Sarah. JF Kennedy & Charlie. Lyndon Baines Johnson & Him, Her, Blanco and Yuki. Queen Elizabeth II & the corgis Buzz, Foxy, Heather and Tiny. Helen Keller & Kenzan-Go. Richard M Nixon & Checkers. Gerald Ford & Liberty. Ronald Regan & Lucky. George Bush Snr. & C. Fred and Millie. Bill Clinton & Buddie. William Wegman & Man Ray. Madonna & Chihuahua Chiquita. Nicole Brown Simpson & Akita.

Wolf. Coyote. Dingo. Tasmanian tiger. Fox. Domestic dog. Bow-wow. Woof-woof. Arf-arf (English/American). Wau-wau (German). Wung-wung (Chinese). Jau-jau (Spanish). Ouah-ouah (French). Hav-hav (Israeli).

The approximately 200 million sense receptors in a dog’s nasal folds. The British phenomenon of ‘black dog’ apparitions, large shapeshifting creatures variously named in different regions the ‘Barguest’, ‘Shuck’, ‘Black Shag’ ‘Trash’, ‘Skriker’ or ‘Padfoot’. The Brown Dog Riots in London’s Battersea in 1906. Pavlov’s dogs. The real wolf (and eagle) the Fascists installed at the top of the Capitoline Hill in Rome in the early 1930s. Dogs used as suicide bombers by the Russians in World War II. The ‘Parapups’, British canine paratroopers in World War II. Churchill’s ‘black dogs’ of depression. Seeing-eye guide dogs. Seizure alert dogs. Sniffer dogs. Dogs trained to detect the early stages of cancer cells in human urine. Draught and carting dogs. Sled dogs. Hunting dogs. Guard dogs. Performing dogs. Police dogs. Dog baiting. Attack dogs. Dogs as experimental laboratory research ‘subjects’. Vivisection dogs. Ventriculochordectomy, an operation to remove the vocal chords of laboratory animals. Laika, the understudy Soviet astronaut. The successful sequencing of the canine genome, using a poodle called Shadow. The dingo that killed Azaria Chamberlain at Uluru in Australia. Pet cemeteries. Labradoodles. Dog biscuit. Dog chocolates. Dog shit. Dog tired. The hair of the dog that bit you.

Cerberus, the three-headed dragon-tailed dog of the Greek underworld Hades. Anubis, the jackal-headed Egyptian god. The monstrous cynocephalic Aztec god Xolótl, and Greek Orthodox representations of the dog-headed St. Christopher. The holy greyhound St. Guinefort. Kitmir in The Koran, the only animal allowed to enter paradise. Syrius and Procyon, the Dog-stars. Goya’s painting Perro enterrado en arena (‘Dog buried in sand’), only the dog’s head visible, its eyes raised towards a desolate sky. JMW Turner’s Dawn after the Wreck, with its lone dog barking out to sea. In the Tarot pack, the animated dog at the feet of the Fool, as he steps off a cliff while staring at the sky. The HMV trademark fox terrier, the inquisitive Nipper listening to ‘his master’s voice’ from beyond the grave, on a gramophone. Scraps in Chaplin’s A Dog’s Life. Toto in The Wizard of Oz. Lassie Come Home. Greyfriar’s Bobby. Pluto. Goofy. Rin Tin Tin. Deputy Dawg. The dachsund in Jacques Tati’s Mon Oncle. Old Yeller. Bodger the Bull Terrier in The Incredible Journey. Snoopy. 101 Dalmatians. The bionic German shepherd Max in The Bionic Woman. Benji. Mike the Dog in Down and Out in Beverly Hills. The love-struck St. Bernard in the film Beethoven. Scooby-Doo. Karen Salmansohn’s self-help book How to Make your Man Behave in 21 Days or Less, Using the Secrets of Professional Dog Trainers. The greyhound Santa’s Little Helper in The Simpsons. Wallace’s companion Gromit. Talking farm dogs Fly and Rex in Babe. Oscar the Labrador who toured Britain as a hypnotist in 1995.

© David Williams

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