Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Tuesday 10th December - Turned Out

As many of you will know, we adopted a dog last year from Battersea.  We are the proud owners of an epileptic mongrel called Blossom.  She is delightful...

Mr Walker and our ever-alert guard dog...
She is a lovely dog, very affectionate and only a tad over-excitable.  It's a nice feeling to be able to give a home to a hound who otherwise would be without a family to lean against and fall asleep.  That's why today's picture is this knuckle-biter...

Turned Out John N Rhodes
Oh deary me, I feel the weeping coming on.  Look at the poor dog, all alone at Christmas, locked out in the cold.  It doesn't say why he's been turned out, but I'm guessing it's because his family are too poor to function and so they have all been thrown out.  The Victorians had a thing about being homeless at Christmas, not only because of the harsh weather but also the moral, symbolic sense of people being without comfort at the most spiritually comforting time of the year.  Possibly there was also a feeling that home should be offered to the less fortunate, even if it is only a stable.  Well, you never know...

Busy Bodies and Busy Bees (1892) Lucy Ann Leavers
The Victorians loved an anthropomorphic picture.  Don't we all?  I have often used images where dogs or other animals stand in for humans.  I wonder if dogs especially represent our more base self, in the best possible way, rather like the hobbits in Middle Earth.  Dogs are us in our most essential human way: silly, nosy, vulnerable, jolly, loyal and loving. Look at the little scamps in Busy Bodies and Busy Bees, aren't they funny?  They represent people, more than likely children, looking where they shouldn't, endlessly curious, the better, more honest side of ourselves. In that sense then, our dog who is 'Turned Out' is a person, tossed out in the street at Christmas, a good person, possibly you or me.  There's a sobering thought.

There is a tradition for things to make us feel miserable at Christmas.  Just as we can't have a Saviour without the Slaughter of the Innocents, we can't have our turkey without being reminded how many people, or in this case dogs, are out on the street.  In some ways it's annoying not allowing us to appreciate what we have.    I've worked very hard for what I have, why should I feel sad about it?  But then again, I have so much, possibly I should be reminded that what I have is great riches before I go hankering after more.  It's a troublesome tightrope to walk, especially at this time of the year.  It's hard to know that what you have is enough when the great machine of commerce is drowning out such thoughts with their endless call to come and buy more.  We have had the dubious pleasure of having to explain to Lily how much she has in comparison to others.  It's a tricky concept to get when you are constantly bombarded with the offer to get more and more.

I love the rendering of the dog in Turned Out.  The sheen on the legs where the short hair lies flat is beautifully done and the hacked off expression on his poor face is very familiar.  Blossom often wears that expression in response to such questions as 'Why have you pinched my seat?', 'Who ripped up that cardboard box?' and 'What's that awful smell?!'  Mind you, looking to the dog's right, there seems to be something that resembles a kennel.  Maybe the story behind this picture is not as dire as we think.  I think the kennel contains Mrs Dog and a brood of about seven puppies and possibly his in-laws, Mr and Mrs Hound.  Possibly the look on this dog's face is reminiscent of many people with a house full of relatives at Christmas.  Yes, I think I would be sitting outside too...

See you tomorrow.


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Many thanks for your comment. I shall post it up shortly! Kx