Thursday, May 15, 2008

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Danger Dog Signs

WHEN she first went to Nepal in 1986, Michelle Page was struck by images of dogs hand-painted on metal signs hung above shops. "They were beautiful, personable dogs," she says. "Not generic, but very specific different breeds and sizes, as if the artists actually knew the dogs they were painting."

Some artworks were naive in style, others very detailed, Page says. She soon realized that artisans in Nepal were painting all sorts of animals on those 1-foot-square metal sheets. Signs with a pig, goat or chicken denoted the butcher shop within.

But the dogs were the most compelling and unforgettable. Some were the equivalent of "beware of dog" signs one might see here. Others translated into something more benign: "Brilliant dog in here."

Page, an assistant film editor who lives in Santa Monica, returned to Nepal repeatedly. Four years ago, she noticed that the dog signs she loved so much were being replaced by more contemporary and commercial versions: computer-generated images mass-produced on vinyl. She started collecting the old "danger dog" signs she found in shops. Then she sought out the studios where artisans created the signs, as well as banners and license plates. In June she traveled to Nepal again and returned with 100 dog signs commissioned from artisans whose work she particularly liked.

"It's just a hobby, not my vocation," says Page, who thought she'd try to find a market here for the work.

The signs sold out in weeks, so Page returned to Nepal in December for 300 more dog paintings, some of which now go for $150 at the Santa Monica Museum of Art and the Craft and Folk Art Museum. Page has started up her own website,, and has even begun taking orders for custom portraits. Clients send a photo of their dog (or rabbit or cat) to Nepal with Page, and she commissions three or four artisans to paint the animal's image on metal. Clients pick the version they like (for $200), and she sells the rest.

Christine Knoke, a curator at the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, says she saw the "danger dogs" at the Santa Monica museum store.

"I was fascinated by them and their folk-art quality," says Knoke, who has commissioned portraits of her own three dogs.

Page says her side business has yet to break even, but she likes the idea of keeping alive the work of artists so far away. "Their income from painting signs is dwindling because of new technology," she says. "It's no different there than anywhere else."

By Bettijane Levine "Los Angeles Times" 04/24/2008

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Amazing Dancing Dog on British Television

Simon Cowell is blown away by this dancing Border Collie named Gin on "Britain's Got Talent".

Monday, April 21, 2008

Ben Stein's Pet Peeve

As Americans continue to experience financial setbacks during these times of economic hardship, Ben Stein notes that pet animals are often overlooked and sometimes abandoned under harsh conditions.

CBS News "Sunday Morning" 04-20-2008

Saturday, April 12, 2008

It Ain't Easy Being A Pit Bull In Pasadena

Michelle Smith remembers the vicious attack by a neighbor’s dog that cost her one of her toes. Then 8 years old, Smith was on a swing in her backyard when the neighbor’s Dalmatian charged and knocked her off a swing. She tried to block the dog’s attack by kicking at it, but that couldn’t stop the savage onslaught.

But the attack didn’t stop Smith from raising her own dogs. Now 26, Smith has raised four pit bulls over the past 15 years and says she is against a pending Pasadena ordinance forcing owners of pit bull breeds to spay or neuter the animals.

“My fiancĂ©e and I have both had pit bulls all of our lives,” Smith said. “I was attacked by a Dalmatian and my brother was attacked by a Labrador. Never in my life has a pit bull attacked me.”

It’s ironic to her that Dalmatians and Labradors are considered two of the more gentle dogs by animal lovers, with pits getting the rap as four-legged savages with big heads and powerful jaws that can exert 1,600 pounds of pressure once locked on a body part.

Legendary tales and images on the Internet of pit bull attacks — along with the rampant abandonment of the animals by their owners — have led to these animals taking up dwindling space at many shelters. And now, in an effort to curb the population growth of these animals, city officials are pushing a new law that would force owners to spay or neuter their pets.

The ordinance would exempt show dogs and animals used for breeding, provided they only have one litter a year. Animals less than eight weeks old or residing in Pasadena for less than 30 days would also be exempt. Owners who do not comply could be charged with a misdemeanor or an infraction and face fines.

“The ordinance offers a way for us to control the pit bull population in the city and have a better means protecting our residents from dogs which may be dangerous due to irresponsible owners,” said Councilwoman Margaret McAustin, who called for creation of the proposed ordinance. “Breeding will still be permitted as long as the applicant can show they have adequate space to breed and raise the puppies, but you will be restricted to one litter a year.”

What’s next?
No one seems to know exactly how many pit bulls are in the city, but officials know that pit bulls occupied about 15 percent of the space at the Pasadena Humane Society and ASPCA shelter in 2007 and 25 percent in 2006.

The Humane Society also says it doesn’t have the personnel to meet the expected additional demand for sterilizing the animals. Owners would have to wait about eight weeks before their animals could receive the procedure. That lack of manpower could force the city to allocate more funding to the Humane Society later this summer, McAustin said.

Current state law prohibits city officials from placing a ban on certain dog breeds. Breeds can be regulated, though. And similar breed-specific ordinances have been adopted by several cities throughout the state, including San Francisco, which on Jan. 1, 2006, required all mixes of the breed to be spayed or neutered. Since that time, the San Francisco Animal Care and Control Agency has reported a significant decrease in pit bulls in their shelters, and the number of pit bulls abandoned and euthanized has also dropped. Pasadena’s ordinance is modeled after San Francisco’s.

“I don’t approve of the witch hunt against pit bulls,” said animal activist Lindy Green. “I do think it is a good thing for pets to be spayed or neutered, but why is Pasadena concentrating on pit bulls? The way they are raised determines their behavior. If you are abusive to the animal, of course the temperament is going to be more aggressive. Breed specific ordinances are not good.”

Statewide, efforts are being made to force owners to sterilize their dogs, regardless of their breed. The city of Los Angeles enacted an ordinance last year requiring owners to do just that, and Assembly Bill 1634 is calling for a statewide control of the pet population through mandatory sterilization, though animals used for show and breeding would be exempt.

Neither proposed law mandates euthanization, but opponents claim it could lead to more deaths due to poor people abandoning their pets to avoid paying fines. Animal control agencies in California spend more than $250 million every year to regulate the state’s domestic animal population, according to AB 1634 author Assemblyman Lloyd Levine, D-Van Nuys.

“If they are going to consider this type of ordinance it should consider all breeds. That will help with overcrowding and doing some good to reduce accidental breeding and euthanization, but it is not a cure-all. There will still be plenty of animals that will be put down. It leads you to wonder what breed will be next?” Green said.

Attack dogs
On June 3, 2005, 12-year-old Nicholas Scott Faibish was mauled to death by two pit bulls owned by his San Francisco family. His body was discovered by his mother Maureen, and police were ultimately forced to shoot and kill Ella, an 80-pound pit bull. The other dog, Rex, was captured in the backyard and eventually euthanized.

Neighbors told the San Francisco Chronicle that the animals were actually friendly. Nevertheless, the incident led to the city’s first pit bull ordinance. Approved by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, the ordinance came just three months after Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a bill allowing local governments to regulate the neutering, spaying and breeding of specific dog breeds.

“I have never seen any aggression,” said Alex Moreno, who owns two of the animals. Moreno said he doesn’t think the city will be able to enforce the ordinance properly. “If you abuse an animal and don’t treat it right, of course it will be mean. It’s just like people.”

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association and the Humane Society of the United States, dogs kill about 20 of the 4.5 million people bitten each year, which explains why there were only 238 fatalities between 1979 and 1998. Twenty-five different breeds accounted for the attacks. Pit bulls accounted for 76, or just about 30 percent, of the deaths.

Locally, Pasadena police officers reacting in July to calls about a pack of pit bulls attacking people on Michigan Avenue north of Orange Grove Boulevard were forced to shoot and kill two of the animals while the owner slept. Three people were hospitalized with injuries from the attack and the owner was arrested.

In December, a Natchez man fought with a pit bull for 25 minutes as he attempted to get it to release his boxer, Duke, which the pit had by the throat. After repeatedly striking the animal and even choking it, the pit finally released the other dog and then turned on the man and a group of construction workers that had come to his aid. Duke died at the scene.

Pit bulls have been around since the 1700s, when bulldog breeds from Scotland and Ireland were mated for fighting, according to the Web site By World War II, they were in huge demand as pets, thanks to the popularity of Pete the Pup in the “Our Gang” movie shorts.

But decades later, they replaced the Doberman pinscher and Rottweiler as the most vicious four-legged killers, due largely to their use in urban areas as guard dogs for drug dealers and underground dog fights.

This image was not helped by NFL star quarterback Michael Vick, who last year was convicted on federal charges after it was discovered he was breeding the animals for illegal fights. Nor by an incident in January in which an 8-year-old Fontana boy had his face ripped apart by a 60-pound pit bull.

Animal control workers attempting to bring the animal under control cornered the dog, Tasered it and shot it with a bean bag, but neither method subdued the animal, which was finally killed. Along with news accounts, YouTube is filled with at least a dozen videos of pit bulls attacking other animals and victims recounting their horror stories.

“This is so ridiculous; to pick out one species of dog and say they are bad and we should reduce their population makes no sense” said Pam Ferdin of the Animal Defense League of Los Angeles. “I think it is wrong to hold pit bulls up as being different personalities because they are not. It is like saying if you live in a gang-infested area, you should not be able to have kids.”

Myth vs. reality
Of course the myths about the animals don’t help either. Due to erroneous reports in the media, many people believe the animals have a locking jaw and are inherently vicious. Studies have shown that the animals’ jaws are no different than any other dog breed.

And based on temperament tests where the animals were placed in a series of unexpected situations, some involving strangers, conducted by the American Temperament Test Society, nothing could be further from the truth. The breed had a passing rate of 82 percent or better.

Any signs of unprovoked aggression or panic in these situations result in failure of the test. Smith said that the animals are getting a bad reputation from the media.
“Before the pits it was the Rottweilers and the Dobermans,” Smith said. “The owners got sick of it and fought back and the media moved to the next thing. It’s pretty much the same way they do people. After the terrorist attacks, anyone that looked like they were of Arab descent had a hard time until people started speaking up and then the media moved on. It was exactly the same thing. I would never live in Pasadena if they passed something like that. The people that think these dogs are the only ones that can be trained to attack people are ignorant.”

By Andre Coleman "Pasadena Weekly" 04/09/2008

Dog Starved To Death In Art Exhibit

The name of the dog was Natividad. This dog was tied to a rope and starved to death by artist Guillermo Vargas Habacuc.

For several days, the "artist" and the visitors of the exhibition had watched emotionless the shameful "masterpiece" based on the dog's agony, until eventually he died.

Does it look like art to you?

But this is not all... the prestigious Visual Arts Biennial of the Central American decided that the "installation" was actually art, so that Guillermo Vargas Habacuc has been invited to repeat his cruel action for the biennial of 2008.


It's free of charge, there is no need to register, and it will only take 1 minute to save the life of an innocent creature.

Thank you for your time.

Turn Your Doggie Blue

Adobe recently announced it's beta version of Adobe Photoshop Express. This FREE flash based application has a look and feel very similar to it's bigger and more expensive brother, Adobe Photoshop Lightroom. For basic photo editing chores such as; exposure correction, red eye removal, image cropping, and simple touch ups, this software might be all you will ever need. For more advanced editing that requires layers, masking, and other professional tools, you will still need to plunk down some greenbacks for the industry standard Photoshop CS3.

Cool features like it's slide show function, that resembles Apple's "cover flow", makes watching the content of your photo albums much more enjoyable. It can be viewed in either standard 2D or in pseudo 3D.

The main thing missing from Photoshop Express is it's inability to resize the pixel resolution and consequently reduce the file size of your photos that you wish to email. This would make sending your friends and family a copy of your latest pix much easier than having them download a large 1 or 2MB file.

Picassa, a FREE little iPhoto like application has been around for quite awhile and has a loyal user base, appears to be the only competition against Adobe's latest creation.