Friday, June 20, 2008

friday interspecies blogging

From BBC: tiger cub born in captivity gets adopted by mama dog. Video here.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

"hoop, hoop!" / more on the turnspit dog

I posted last week about the turnspit, a variety of now-"extinct" small English working dogs used to turn meat on spits and perform other tasks involving repetitive circular motion. When I learned about these dogs, the following scene from Frank Norris' classic - or, as I prefer to categorize it, crazy - naturalist novel McTeague immediately came to mind:
The Sieppes lived in a little box of a house... In the backyard was a contrivance for pumping water from the cistern that interested McTeague at once. It was a dog-wheel, a huge revolving box in which the unhappy black greyhound spent most of his waking hours. It was his kennel; he slept in it. From time to time during the day Mrs. Sieppe appeared on the back doorstep, crying shrilly, "Hoop, hoop!" She threw lumps of coal at him, waking him to his work.
In this early scene, the titled character is visiting his girlfriend Trina at her family home - both blissfully unaware that her greed and his supposedly "crude, primitive nature" are about to converge in a horrifying spiral of death and destruction. Elsewhere in the book, McTeague's BFF/worst enemy Marcus has an odd job escorting rich people's dogs to and from an animal hospital. Against the backdrop of this emerging veterinary and pet-pampering modernity, the Sieppes' turnspit marks them as decidedly "backwards" people.

(Revised June 30, 2008)