A Dose of Animality

And there was a big tabby cat

inching its way down the gable

in pursuit of some passionate pigeons.

I was annoyed most of all because

it was not us but the pigeons who were kissing

and that the times of Paolo and Francesca were over.

-Alexander Blok, She Came in from the Frost

We may be called upon to set aside our animal passions, but fortunately, barring allergies and landlords, we’re able to keep our animals. Rumi (2004) urges us to “listen to the moan of a dog for its master” (156), for in that noise we’ll find the longing that draws two beings together. There are few relationships as fulfilling as those we share with animals. Our pets haven’t fooled themselves into believing  that they require alcohol, fame, or logic. Sometimes glorified, almost always justifiably, the animals we keep are the result of many choices made by the human race. Of course, there are some choices human cannot make where animals are concerned. There are some animals that simply don’t belong to humans, which is why we guffaw at the sight Phyllis Gordon’s cheetah or Salvador Dali’s anteater. A dose of animality does us good, but perhaps not so great that it distracts from our narcotics of various sorts. It’s hard to watch TV when you’re being chased by a boar.

Dapper son-of-a-gun Anton Chekhov hangs out with a furry friend.

Bill Clinton with former First Kitty Socks.

Socks from another angle. Proof of general fascination with celebrity pets.

Elizabeth Taylor, cute as a poodle.

Hermann Hesse with a feline companion.

Michael Palin

Joyful, joyful, joyful,
as only dogs know how to be happy
with only the autonomy
of their shameless spirit.
-Pablo Neruda, A Dog Has Died

“Nature study will show you how full of beautiful and wonderful things God has made the world for you to enjoy.”
-Robert Baden Powell, in his final letter to the Scouts

What’s a Prime Minister without a small dog and a big cigar? Winston Churchill.

The swan-like Anna Pavlova with an even more swan-like swan.

Lion cubs belong in the sub-Saharan, Il Duce.

Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Elizabeth Bishop gets comfortable.

Freddie Mercury: Pianist, sex machine ready to reload, and cat enthusiast.

“Marshall McLuhan’s left cerebral cortex was vascularized in a way only ever before seen in mammals in cats. He wasn’t just different; he was very different.”
-Douglas Coupland, in a 2011 interview with the Paris Review

“One day, [Norman Mailer] was walking his poodles when a sailor pointed and laughed, calling his dogs homosexual. According to Peter Manso, who penned Mailer: His Life And Times, the writer exploded, ‘Nobody’s gonna call my dog a queer,’ and launched an attack on the sailor that almost caused the writer to lose an eye.”
-Alex Tate, Life Story: Norman Mailer
Note: Norman Mailer once bit off part of actor Rip Torn’s ear

Roald Dahl’s advice: Beware of the Dog

Vladimir Lenin

Vladimir Lenin

Alfred Hitchcock’s silent film Downhill (1927) features an odd canine moment.

Beatrix Potter, author of the Peter Rabbit stories, is a fan of bunny rabbits.

Diamond Dog David Bowie.

Every hero could do with a litter of great puppies. Sir Ernest Shackleton.

Bogie & Bacall & pooch.

Nicolas Cage and cat. Perfect.

“Two dogs that featured strongly in the queen’s life were the collie dogs, Noble and Sharp, that always traveled with her to and from Balmoral, whom Victoria described with great affection in her Highland journals. Sharp, however, had a reputation for being bad tempered and was always spoiling for a fight with other dogs. He frightened most of the royal entourage, except the redoubtable John Brown. Noble was far more sweet natured and had the special role of guarding the queen’s gloves.”
-Sarah Tooley, The Personal Life of Queen Victoria

Bully! Theodore Roosevelt does some rough riding.

Alexander Graham Bell playing God with his six-nippled sheep.

Aung San Suu Kyi with her dog Tai Chi Toe.

Ernest Hemingway’s cat: perhaps the only one more narcissistic than Ernest Hemingway.

Joan Baez

Neil Young and Crazy Horse with a nutty pooch.

American actress Phyllis Gordon doing some window shopping in London, although after you buy a cheetah you would think that would be plenty.

“After only a few weeks together Freud was already comparing [his dog] Jofi to another inseparable companion. ‘I miss her now almost as much as my cigar. She is a charming creature, so interesting in her feminine characteristics, too, wild, impulsive, intelligent and yet not so dependent as dogs often are.'”
-Susie Green, Freud’s Dream Companions

Alejandro Jodorowsky stares into the Eyes of the Cat.

“‘It was truly amazing to see Audrey with that fawn,’ remembers Willoughby in the caption alongside a photo of Pippin cuddling up to Hepburn like a lap dog as she naps on the couch.”
-Patrick Huguenin, Hollywood Icon Audrey Hepburn is Still Full of Surprises

I watch and learn from them.
I like the little they know,
which is so
-Charles Bukowski, My Cats

Hound dog Elvis Presley.

Janis Joplin

Cat-lover Patti Smith sings to her cat.

Salvador Dali completely comes through in the weird pet department. The formidable man walks his anteater.
“Speaking of ants, one clip showed Salvador Dali strolling with an anteater on a leash. He dropped the animal on the floor, and it headed for Lillian Gish’s lap while fellow guest pitcher Satchel Paige looked on bemusedly.”
-Gary Shapiro, Darwin’s Dogs and Dali’s Anteater


Blok, A. “‘She Came in from the Frost.'” Russian Poets. Ed. Peter Washington. New York, NY: Everyman’s Library, 2009. 203-204. Print.

Rumi. “Love Dogs.” The Essential Rumi. Trans. Coleman Barks. 2nd ed. New York, NY: HarperOne, 2004. 155-156. Print.

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