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.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

hip hip hooray!

Regular readers of my blog will know that last month I entered a sketching contest held by Adonit, creator of the Jot stylus for touch screens. The theme of the contest was "favourite movie scenes" and I did a sketch from Bombon el Perro, in which the main character is a dog (of course). Well, thanks to many artist friends and animal supporter friends on Facebook I was able to finish in second place which is worth US$300. Hip hip hooray! Originally I had said I would share any winnings with the dog shelter where many of my friends live, but in order to provide a greater incentive for people to vote I decided to give all the money to three animal shelters here in the Algarve.

Now I've entered Adonit's October sketching contest and the theme is "monsters". My entry is called "Here Kitty Kitty".

Once again I will donate any money I win to the animal shelters. I may need more support from some other shelters in order to secure a win and if I do I will share the winnings with them too. If any of you have a connection to a particular shelter and you can rally the Facebook followers to vote, let me know. First prize is US$500. It seems that Adonit plans to hold this competition every month so it's conceivable that with strong, consistent support, I (we) could earn $500 each month to donate to needy animals!

Here's the link to the voting site. http://a.pgtb.me/8vDc2D

You can vote once every 24 hours so bookmark the link or this blog post to make it easy to go back to each day. You can also hit the "share" button that is at the bottom of my entry on the contest page. It's a simple thing that you can do to make a big difference for many animals. (Sometimes it doesn't accept your vote even if you've waited the 24 hours, but when that happens to me I just wait a while and try again. Just keep an eye on the little box with the number and see if the number changes when you vote. If it doesn't, try again later.)

So if you could work any Internet magic available to you (share this post, bribe your relatives, whatever it takes) we furry friends would be eternally grateful. Obrigado, thank you, gracias, danke, arrrooof, esker, tack, dekuji, dank u, kiitos, paldies, 'a d'anq, tak, salamat, merci, arigatō, and many more.

Thursday, September 20, 2012


I'm a dog and dogs are very good at begging. But before I tell you what I'm begging for, let me give you some background.

I've been spending time using my iPawed to explore various drawing apps. It's quite an interesting exercise. Each app has its own set of tools and methods of use. Let me be clear. These are not apps in which you just open up a photo, press a button, and you have something that looks somewhat like a hand drawn (or painted) image. No, in these apps you choose the type of mark (pencil, brush, ink, spray, et cetera - all infinitely adjustable) and you physically draw with your paw (or finger) or a stylus.

I've also been playing around with different stylii and currently my favourite is called a Jot Touch. Adonit, the company that produces them, is running a contest right now. They are asking Jot users to submit drawings of a scene from their favourite movie.

My favourite is Bombon el Perro. It's about a man who is given a very special breed of dog but he's never had a dog and doesn't know what to do with him. The movie follows the two of them as they form a relationship and an understanding of each other. It's quite a beautiful movie, but not in a sappy way. This is the sketch I've submitted. First prize is US$500.

So here's the begging part. Pleeeeeeeeeease please please vote for me. I've decided if I win I will donate half of the money to an animal shelter. If you'd like to vote for me, here's how:

Click this link. https://www.facebook.com/AdonitFB?v=app_356123317805804 Look for my drawing or my name, Ruca Cao. There are a couple of pages of entries. If you have trouble finding the contest or casting your vote, please let me know. Voting ends on September 30 but you can (please) vote once a day. To vote on the site you click the white box on the right, beside the number of votes I have received so far. I thank you and so do the animals in the shelter!

My vote totals are creeping up so I think that with your help there's a chance that I could take away the prize. It would be really great if you could help to get people to vote by spreading the word among your Facebook community.

Obrigado and woof woof!

Monday, September 3, 2012

suicide squid = a bittersweet treat

Every now and then when I'm trotting along the beach, something out of the ordinary catches my nose. The other morning, following the Blue Moon (the rare occurrence of a second full moon in one month, in case you didn't already know), a delectable scent wafted my way. Upon investigation, I found a small squid on the sand. He (she?) was dead. Quite dead. Clearly he had committed suicide. I know that a full moon can provoke weird behaviour. The Blue Moon must have pushed this creature over the edge.

I truly felt sorry for the poor thing, but I'm not one to waste a culinary opportunity so I fetched a fancy plate (I felt I had to infuse the event with a touch of ceremony) and carefully placed the squid on it.

I studied it closely for a moment and noticed a puzzling phenomenon.

Some of the little dots on the skin were pulsating - almost disappearing and then expanding, disappearing and expanding. It was very strange. I'm sure the squid was dead. The fool proof sniff test confirmed it. But this dot thing kind of put me off. Not for long though. I had one last look ... And then I ate him. R.I.P. in my belly, suicide squid. Yes, that was a bittersweet treat.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

we aim to please

As you know, I'm a dog. And as dogs, we aim to please. Not so our canid cousins. They aim to kill – to survive. Wolves, jackals, coyotes, they've all retained the killer instinct that we dogs once had. The instinct to survive is no longer our strongest. As we became domesticated we softened. Now we aim to please. And that’s not always a good thing. Sure, fetching newspapers or balancing biscuits on our noses won’t kill us, but sometimes the desire to please gets us into trouble. Deep trouble.

Time and time again we do things that are not in our best interest. A person tells us to jump, we don’t ask how high. We just jump as high as doggedly possible. Many a muscle or tendon has been torn in the effort.
*photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Samuel Renteria 

We would die of thirst to please you.
A working military police dog recovers from minor heat exhaustion.*

*photo by Tech. Sgt. Dawn M. Price

Dogs trained to withstand extremely loud sounds such as gunshots and explosions suffer permanent hearing damage or post traumatic stress disorder. They overcome the urge to run from such sounds, all for the goal of pleasing someone.
I bet the people have ear protection.
*photo by Master Sgt. Scott Wagers

Search and rescue dogs frequently work in hazardous situations, subjecting themselves to everything from sliced feet and puncture wounds to life-ending respiratory illness.
searching for victims after a truck bombing*

There are countless stories of dogs rescuing their people from hazardous situations, only to end up dying for their effort.
Duncan died in a house fire after he saved his owner.
(full story at abcnews)

It all comes down to wanting to please, to be liked. I worry sometimes about our future. If we continue in this vein, I fear we won’t last. With that possibility in mind, think twice before you ask us to do something that might not be good for us. We’ve shown that we will do anything for your praise. People, you have great power. Use it wisely. You don’t want to end up with a world without dogs, do you?

In an effort to please you right now, I would love to leave you a juicy bone, but it’s not really possible over the internet. Failing that, I leave you with my most winning smile. I hope you like it.
Do you like me now?

*indicates public domain image.

Friday, April 20, 2012



I’ve got some pretty tech savvy friends. My best friend Rita, for instance, spends a lot of time at her person’s bookstore where she meets many interesting people and learns about many things.


Rita is the one who introduced me to something called Instagram. It’s an iPhone/iPod (or in my case iPawed) application that allows users to edit photos in creative ways and then share them online. A whole community of “Instagrammers” has erupted. I’ve been participating for about six months and I’ve enjoyed connecting with many clever and creative Instagrammers.

One follower of mine (and whom I follow - hi @hiker083, oh and hi @rosselion who started the dogtionary thingie) suggested I participate in a little Instagram game called dogtionary. The idea is to post a photo of a dog and add the identifier “A is for Aussie” or “B is for Border Collie” etc. Then write a description or definition for that dog. It’s a fun exercise. If you are a registered Instagram user, just search for #dogtionary to see all the entries.

Here is mine: P is for Podengo
easy chair
And here is what I wrote for the description:

Portuguese Podengo
this ancient breed
built to hunt
lightning speed.

Wire haired or smooth,
large, medium, or small
ears like a donkey's
alert to all.

Sharp of wit
but not of tongue
ages well
forever young.

Loving and silly
watchful and smart
independent yet loyal
an incredible heart.

Not one to argue
your reason nor rhyme
Portuguese Podengo
a character sublime.

Unfortunately I can’t seem to track down any way for non Instagrammers to see all the entries, but I’ve just put up a page (click on instagrams at the top of this blog) of some Instragram photos I’ve done over the past six months, so at least you can have a taste of what all the Instagram hype is about.  I will add more from time to time, so check back every now and then.


Monday, February 20, 2012

afternoon quickie becomes marathon

How does an afternoon quickie turn into a marathon? Allow me to explain.

It was mid-afternoon. 3:00. I hadn’t been doing as much sketching as I would like to have been doing. I thought “I’ll just do a quickie. Or several quickies.” Não é um problema. So first I looked through the stash of photos I’ve taken lately. "Hmm… here’s one of three friends in Vale do Boi."

But the photo was pretty crummy. Over-exposed. “Well, I’ll just do a quick fix on it. Perk it up a bit,” I said to myself. (No one else was there to talk to.)

touched up
That’s a little better. Honestly, I didn’t think I’d be able to salvage it, but it’s okay.

“Now to get down to business. Hmmm. Pencil first? Or straight to pen?” Well, I started with pencil. “I’ll just rough in the basics, then switch to pen.” But I got a bit carried away with the pencil. Then I thought, “I’ve put so much into this it’s going to look strange if I ink in all those pencil lines. It’ll be too busy.” Some of the pencil lines were indicators for where shading or colour values change. “I guess I’d better use coloured pencil to take advantage of all the details I’d sketched out.”

So, three and a half hours later (yeah yeah, I’m slow) I'd managed to turn what was meant to be a quickie - or several quickies - into a full afternoon of cross-eyed, mind-numbing, pencil-pushing productivity.

one of my friends in Vale do Boi,
coloured pencil, 17cm x 16cm
Now I really need a nap! Then a coffee.

I can fall asleep anywhere.

Thursday, February 9, 2012


Sundown is one of my favourite times of the day (or night).

Not only is it a visual feast, it’s also an aural feast. It’s the time when we dogs pass on our news. But this news need not be particularly eventful. Just as people use status updates on Facebook, we (dogs) like to make our voices heard, however insignificant what we have to say may be.

Click on the video above to see what I mean.

It’s just a way of connecting to the community of canids, of adding to the pulsing pandemonium. The barking, yelping and baying ricochets down the valleys, dozens of ruff voices overlapping and mingling in an odd dissonance that both excites and sooths my doggy soul.

another beautiful sundown in Portugal

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