Hey there! Welcome to my blog. I'm a free dog living in Portugal and I write about my life as an artist and street dog. This blog is a way for me to have more of a connection with other dogs (and people), to share ideas, experiences and some of my art. I love to hear what others have to say so feel free to comment on any of the posts or to contact me via e-mail. If it's your first time here, you might want to check out my first post and read on from there. You can also have a look at my profile in the column to the right.

Friday, April 29, 2011

more strange goings-on

As I had mentioned in my last post, I was planning to spend Sunday at my friend Charlie’s house by the beach in Burgau. This time of year there’s always a great feast put on by his people and their relatives and friends. But this year Charlie and I were on our own. His people went to Evora for a couple of days so Charlie and I had the house pretty much to ourselves. The only interruption was when a friend of Charlie’s people came by to put out food and water for Charlie and to take him out for fresh air. I offered to do all that but my voice seemed to fall on deaf ears. People just don’t seem to get it that we dogs can be quite capable of taking care of ourselves, although I have to admit that Charlie’s gotten a bit soft ever since he’s been living in the lap of luxury. He seems to like it though, so there’s no point in me trying to change him. 

Even though Charlie’s people weren’t there putting on a huge feast, they left all kinds of feasty food for us.  We had shrimp and sausage and chicken and bread and cheese and rice and eggs. And after all that we had one of my favourite foods. Raw carrots. It’s my secret weapon to keep my teeth clean and strong, not something a lot of other dogs give much thought to. And it seems that a lot of dogs here in Portugual have a problem with their teeth. But that's a topic for another post.

So we spent much of the day eating and lounging and drawing. Or at least Charlie was lounging, which made it easier for me to do some drawing.
a couple of quick sketches of Charlie
Charlie and blue go well together.

At one point we heard quite a commotion down on the beach. We went out onto the balcony to see what was going on. It was the strangest thing. There were a couple of very young people and some older ones and they were playing some sort of fetch - but not with a dog. They were playing with each other. And they weren’t using a stick or a ball. They were using eggs that had paint all over them. One person after another would throw an egg down the beach. Well, they were really sort of rolling it. You couldn't really call it throwing. And then once everyone had thrown/rolled his or her egg, they all ran down the beach after them and started doing it again. It seemed very odd. Then, all chaos broke out. A man was walking with his dog and the dog saw the eggs rolling along the beach so he thought it must be a game for him so he chased the eggs and picked them up and of course they broke and the dog had egg all over his face and the people were chasing the dog and yelling and laughing. It was quite a scene. I managed to get a quick sketch of the dog after all the commotion ended.

From Charlie's balcony we had a perfect view of the action.

So that’s how I spent my Sunday at this time of year, when people always seem to be doing strange things. I’d love to hear from any other dogs out there who find people where they live do strange things at this time of year too.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

beady-eyed monsters

I'm awake early this morning. I couldn't sleep. Actually I haven't been sleeping well lately. I keep having bad dreams. You see, something weird always happens around this time of year. And I don’t like it. People start acting very strangely. It creeps me out. They wear strange clothes. They cover their faces with other faces. Faces that aren’t theirs. Sometimes they aren’t even people faces. Rabbits, birds, even dogs! They take long walks in large groups. They sing. They hang coloured cloth from the windows. They go up and down the streets making terrible noises banging and rattling things. I don’t get it.

But the worst thing I ever experienced was a couple of years ago when I was visiting a friend far away from here. It totally freaked me out. There were these things, kind of like people – maybe they were people. I didn’t stick around to find out. They were completely covered up in a dark cloth, even the head, and all you could see of them were bare feet…. and, peering out from two holes cut in the cloth, two beady eyes. Eyes of a monster. 
I still have nightmares of these beady-eyed monsters.

Ahhhhh! I couldn’t stand it. All the fur on my back stood up. My chest started thumping really loudly. I started to shake all over. I was drooling (and believe me, I'm not a drooly kinda guy). I got out of there faster than a seagull can eat a sardine. And I’ve never been back.

Now every year when this period of weirdness rolls around I surround myself with friends. It just feels safer that way. Today I’m going to hang out with my friend Charlie Barker and his people.  They live in a house beside the beach in Burgau. The food there is always good and there’s a better than fair chance that his people will drop yummy things on the floor. And Charlie always eats so much at this time of year that he spends a lot of time snoozing. This is the perfect opportunity to make some sketches of him. If I manage to do any today I’ll post them here.

Watch out for the beady-eyed monsters!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Sometimes we just think with our stomachs.

Boy oh boy. Sometimes Rita just goes off the deep end. Remember a few weeks ago she had fallen into a real funk because one of her favourite snack spots was closing? Well, her hysteria was a tad misplaced.

The confusion started with Rita going to the Alentejo with her person for a couple of days. They got back to Lagos on a Monday, but Rita thought it was Tuesday. She’d lost track of time while she’d been away. On Mondays News Café is closed. This is the one day of the week when the staff takes a holiday. Rita knows this. But when she went on her snack round the Monday after she’d gotten back from the Alentejo and saw News Café closed, she flipped out. She thought it was Tuesday, not Monday, and in her mind the café should have been open. And of course the fact that there was a for sale sign in the window didn’t help. But eventually Rita’s person was able to explain to her that yes, there is a vende–se sign up and the owner is entertaining the idea of selling, but he’s put such a ridiculously high price on it, it seems pretty unlikely that he actually wants to sell it.

So, crisis averted. Until now.  Another one of her snack cafés has closed. Permanently. And now Rita is inconsolable. Again.
This is the café that is closed.
My thought is that diversion is the best medicine and the best diversion for Rita is food. I’ve made a pact with Rita that we will have a special snack date every couple of days right in front of the recently closed café.
Rita, thinking with her stomach

We’ll keep this up until I can gradually wean her off needing to have a snack there. Bit by bit, bite by bite, I’ll make the snacks smaller and less tasty until she really has no particular urge for snacks at that spot. I know that Rita is smart and should see through this ruse, but sometimes we dogs just think with our stomachs. Wish me luck!

Monday, April 11, 2011

caffeinated drawings

Isa makes a perfect cup of cafe com leite.

Most mornings I start with a romp on the beach and then go up to Varandas Bar for a cafe com leite. As soon as Isa sees me trotting up from the beach she makes it for me and leaves it sitting on the tiles. By the time I get there it has cooled down to the perfect temperature. I used to drink galao but it comes in a tall glass and my tongue isn't long enough to reach the bottom of the glass so I switched to cafe com leite. I love coffee but it does tend to affect my drawing.

As you can imagine, finding ways to hold a pen steady can be challenging at the best of times. But I've practiced enough by now that I can make pretty smooth marks. But when I've had too much cafe com leite my steadiness goes out the window. The problem is I love the mental buzz I get from coffee. Coffee makes me feel smart. And creative. Ideas flow and tumble and dance and I feel confident that I can make marks exactly how I see them in my head. Unfortunately this isn't the case in practice. The caffeine makes my paws jumpy. If I put the pen in my mouth I find that even my jaw is jumpy. But I can't suppress the urge to create, so I make the most of the situation and embrace the jumpiness of my mark-making. Here are a few caffeinated drawings from my sketchbook.
caffeinated sketches
Lively drawings, but can anyone but me see that these are dogs?
I think I'm starting to get the hang of jumpy, caffeinated drawing.

I suppose they have a certain lively quality to them. I wonder if I can make drawings like this without caffeine? Hmmm. That will be an exercise for another day.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

It isn't right to toy with a dog's emotions.

Rita is upset. She's confused. And I don't blame her. As dogs, by nature, we're pretty laid back creatures. We can go with the flow ... most of the time. But sometimes we can get upset. Like with Rita right now. It all started a little over a week ago. Let me give you a bit of background to this story.

As I've mentioned in an earlier post, Rita spends a lot of time at her person's bookstore, Livros da Ria Formosa, in Lagos. The shop sits on the corner of a block which has several cafes, a padaria (right across the doorway from the bookstore - the tantalizing scents can drive a dog crazy), a papelaria, and several other shops with very dog-friendly owners. Rita has a routine each day when she's at her bookstore. She goes from neighbour to neighbour, has a little visit, catches up on the local gossip and has a little snack, courtesy of the shop owner. One of her favourites is News Cafe. It's a great spot for getting local gossip as well as a bit of a perspective on world events since many of the Cafe's patrons come from all over the world. And of course the snacks aren't too shabby either.
Rita's favourite snack stop

But a little over a week ago disaster struck. News Cafe was all closed up and there is now a Vende-Se sign in the window. Ack! Rita is devastated. Her world has been turned upside down. Of course her person sees how upset she is. He's tried to get her mind off the situation. He makes her big bowls of cafe com leite. He gives her long belly rubs. He reads her passages from her favourite book, Saramago's A Caverna. But nothing seems to snap her out of her blues.
Rita's person tries to console her, but sometimes even love isn't enough.
Now, to make matters worse, News Cafe is open again, but the For Sale sign is still up. It isn't right to toy with a dog's emotions and stomach like this. This is just prolonging the torture. There are too many questions. Will the new owners be as welcoming and friendly? Will the cafe continue to attract the cosmopolitan clientele that is essential to Rita's sense of the wider world. Will the snacks be as tasty as before? All we can do is wait. Rita's person and I will do our best to keep her mind occupied with happy things. Love can't solve all your problems, but at least it can make them bearable. Chin up Rita.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

sympathy equals affection

Before I get into the real reason for this post, I have to clarify something. Old-Man-Eyes chastized me for not using the name that her people gave her, which is Josephina. Old-Man-Eyes found out that her people might read this blog and see that I'm not calling her Josephina and she didn't want her people to get upset. So here's the clarification: Dogs call her Old-Man-Eyes and people call her Josephina. This sort of thing happens a lot. People give names to dogs not realizing that they already have a name so from now on if a dog has name that's different from the name people gave him or her, I'll try to use both names if I can remember to.

So, now I have an update on Tiky, my skinny friend from Restaurante Castelejo. I went there yesterday and was hanging out with Old-Man-Eyes (Josephina). She introduced me to a new member of her group.
Lola with one of her people trying (in vain) to get her to lie down

Lola is seven months old and she's a real goof. Sweet, but a goof. She's quite clumsy and floppy and she's so big already that she's knocking us off our feet when we play. It's all in good fun though. I did a sketch of her and when I showed it to her she drooled all over it so I decided to add some spashes of colour to try to cover up the drool stains.
Lola at Restaurante Castelejo
So while we were playing, who should show up but my skinny friend Tiky! She seemed fine, full of energy and wiggles. I asked her what was going on, where she had been. I said that I'd been worried about her, since the last time I'd seen her she had been looking so poorly. Well, what she told me next was pretty funny. She said that when I'd been there a couple of weeks ago  – when I thought she was sick – was all just a show. She was putting on an act for the dog-loving Canadian. Actually, she was just fine but she knows how to manipulate the tourists to get sympathy because sympathy equals affection and if there’s anything that Tiky loves it’s affection. She apologized for not giving me a sign to say she was faking. In order for that not to happen again we’ve devised a signal that she will use to let me know that she’s just toying with the tourists. I can't tell you what that signal is in case a tourist happens to read this. I don't want to jeopardize any future sympathy for Tiky.
Tiky gets a big welcome home. You can barely see her behind giant Lola!

So that clarified things but I still had to ask where she had been lately. She said that while she loves her people and the other 15 (oops, that’s 17 now) dogs she lives with, sometimes she just needs to be alone. She takes off for a couple of days at a time, goes sniffing around the countryside - sleeps under the stars, chases rabbits, basks in the sun - all in peace and quiet. She says it sort of clears her head and calms her down. By the time she returns to her people and the other dogs she's ready to appreciate all that they have to offer - companionship, games, food, conversation and of course AFFECTION. She insists that she would never stay away for very long. She needs her affection. Well, she's getting it now from all sides. I think part of the reason she goes away is because when she gets back she gets even more affection than usual because everyone has missed her so much. Smart girl! I could learn a thing or two from her.


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