Not So Fine Art

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By Georgie Gurl

PARIS—Sometimes, when the world goes a little over the top, I have to find my happy place. This week, that place was Paris—or more specifically, The Louvre.

See that stunning piece of artwork? That’s the Mona Lisa—and that’s me, Georgie Gurl, soaking it all in. I’m pretty sure I overheard someone say that the Mona Lisa was painted by the legendary actor Leonardo DiCaprio, star of the best movie ever, Titanic. Isn’t she simply magnifique? That Leo is so amazing. He can act and paint.

What was it, you’re probably wondering, that made a 30-pound Wheaten jump on the first flight to Paris she could find? A very scary place called The Guggenheim.

I’ve never been there. In fact, I haven’t even been to New York yet, although it is on my bucket list. But this week, I heard some of my dog friends fretting over the fact that The Guggenheim was planning to show a controversial video exhibit entitled “Dogs That Cannot Touch Each Other,” that features American Pit Bulls running furiously on treadmills with all their might trying to get to each other, but never engaging.

I learned something even more awful: That apparently, some humans use this method of torture to train fight dogs. Ugh.

The title alone stressed me out. I mean, I know how frustrating it is when I can’t touch my friends, give them a wet sloppy kiss, or romp around in the grass. And treadmills really aren’t the best exercise for dogs. We honestly prefer a nice stroll through the neighborhood, a good game of fetch or chasing our friends around a nice, safe, fenced yard.

Anyway, I thought a good long time about the poor dogs who appeared in that video and how awful and frustrated and confused they must have felt. And after that, I decided that I really didn’t like this thing called “Art.” So I focused on my peanut butter-filled Kong, slept a lot and avoided looking at the paintings and photographs hanging on our walls.

My human could tell something was wrong and eventually she hit upon the problem.

“Georgie, you heard about The Guggenheim, didn’t you?”

I nodded and flashed her my big, sad, puppy eyes.

And then she explained to me that art isn’t supposed to be a bad thing, or a cruel thing. She said art comes in many forms—music, painting and sculpture—and that when it’s done right, it can inspire and touch you in ways you never thought imaginable. “Art can make you happy, or sad, and that’s okay,” she said, “but it should never be cruel or exploitative.”

That’s when I whipped out her credit card and booked my flight to Paris. I’d needed to find out more about this “art” thing, and make sure it wasn’t all bad.

My trip’s been delightful. I’ve enjoyed more ham and cheese baguettes than a dog could ever want, I’ve been flirting with poodles all day and I’m planning to pee at the Eiffel Tower later. I’m also going to hit the Musee D’Orsay tomorrow if I have some extra time since I’m really digging this painting thing.

And I heard earlier today that The Guggenheim decided not to show the “Dogs That Cannot Touch Each Other”—but that they were “dismayed” about having to withhold “works of art.”

I’m hopeful they’ll come to their senses. Maybe they just need a trip to wonderful Paris, a city that appreciates its dogs, and understands the difference between a DiCaprio and piece of garbage.

NOTE: This column is dedicated to my two-legged friend Meredith, who cares about all living things and lends her voice to others who can’t speak up.

The Key To Survival: It Takes Cooperation, Not Competition, To Keep a Community Strong

By Georgie Gurl

I still remember the first time I ever set eyes on our strange, long-legged neighbors. I was just a wee pup then, enjoying the crunch of the warm St. Augustine grass under my paws and carefully selecting the perfect spot to do my business and earn my treat. But as the rising sun transformed the pinkish clouds into fluffy white marshmallows, the two odd creatures swooped in over the field in front of our house, trumpeting their arrival with a haunting, primordial call.

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Their wingspans were as wide as a 747 jet, and as they crept closer, they glared at us sideways through their beady eyes. My heartrate quickened. “We have come to eat you for breakfast,” one of them declared. The other just stood there blinking and occasionally plucking a bug from the ground. Appetizers, I guess.

I tried to warn my human of the threat. “STOP LOOKING AT YOUR PHONE,” I attempted to scream. “HEY LADY! RELEASE ME FROM THIS LEASH! THE BEASTS ARE UPON US!”

But she was clueless. She just giggled and snapped a photo.

As I sized up the situation, I realized our fate was in my hands. In fact, it was at that very moment that the blurry confusion of my early weeks of life came into razor sharp focus. You see, I had always sensed, from the moment I was plucked away from my litter mates, that I was destined for greatness. But now, I understood my mission in life: My neighborhood was the infamous kingdom known as Jurassic Park and my humans had selected me, Georgie Gurl, to protect them from the Pterodactyls.

If you know anything about Wheatens, you can probably guess what happened next. I went into beast mode. (Some breed bragging rights here: In addition to being absolutely gorgeous and brilliant, we’re also known as a “confident, steady and fearless” dogs—and I always do my best to uphold that reputation.) So yeah, I went into beast mode—or, as much beast mode as you can muster when you are tethered to a pink leash—and I stared the pterodactyls down.

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It didn’t take long for them to see that I wasn’t fooling around and they were NO MATCH for 11.5 pounds of razor-teethed Wheaten wrath. My bravery paid off. “You know, Irving, I’m kind of full. I think the bugs will do this morning,” one of them said. “Yeah, let’s go, Myrtle,” the other replied. “I’m not in the mood for Wheaties anyway.”

Life was better after that. Myrtle and Irving stopped threatening to eat us and eventually I came to learn that I was altogether mistaken about their identity. It turns out the couple wasn’t actually a pair of ancient flying reptiles, but rather, just a pair of middle-aged scraggly Sandhill Cranes. And truth be told, now that I look back on the whole situation, Irving might not have actually said that he’d come to “eat me.” He might have said, “we have come to greet you.”

Anyway, despite my initial misgivings, the Sandhills really have turned out to be stellar neighbors. They love all the neighborhood kids, just like I do, and they entertain the curious youngsters by eating breadcrumbs. They also hate drivers who speed and sometimes they’ll just stop and stand in the road when they think people need to slow it down. I even heard Myrtle laughing the other day about how fun it was to make the “that lead-footed a$$#&@* in the BMW” late for work.

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But what really impresses me about Irving and Myrtle and all the other Sandhill Cranes here in Jurassic Park is how they come together and help each other out when they need to.

Normally, the cranes live in pairs, but I read on Google that during migration or during harsh weather, unrelated Sandhill Cranes will even form temporary little families, or “survival groups” to help each other roost and find food. No wonder these birds have been around for at least 2.5 million years. A little cooperation, it seems, can go a long way.

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I noticed that humans can be smart and kind like that too. For instance, when Hurricane Irma recently blew through here, our two-legged neighbors couldn’t have been nicer. A really nice couple from Miami helped us board up all our windows before the storm hit.

We shared our hard-to-find tapcon screws, bottled water and gas cans with other neighbors who needed them. And the nervous lady next door even brought us extra bread she baked. On TV, recently, I’ve seen countless other examples of people, often strangers, pulling together in the wake of other storms like Harvey in Texas and Hurricane Maria in the Caribbean.

It all reminds me of the words of a very wise man named Mister Rogers. He always said, that when things get scary, like in a hurricane, to “look for the helpers,” because the darkest moments often bring out the very best in humanity—and that’s definitely the truth. Cooperation is everywhere. Look for it, and you will see it. Even here in Jurassic Park.

The Top Five Most Amazing, Remarkable, Greatest Things in the World

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By George Gurl

JURASSIC PARK—Truth is, I wasn’t feeling tremendously eloquent today. Maybe it’s because summer has been hanging on too long, and I’m over the sticky Florida heat. Maybe it’s because it’s been a long week and I’m TGIF-ing. I mean, who can focus after 3 o’clock on a Friday? Maybe my paws are just too tired to type. I dunno. Whatever it is, I decided to take the easy route and throw together my very own Top Something Or Other List. So here it is, folks: the top five, most AMAZING, REMARKABLE, GREATEST things in the world.

5. Shoes

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Oh shoes. How I love thee. So stinky and soft and utterly chewable. My humans discourage the chewing and people-pleaser that I am, I don’t want to disappoint them, so I just gather them up and innocently lie next to them. “Look at Georgie,” they say. “She just loves her shoes.” And I do, but sometimes, when they’re not looking, I nibble a little.

4. Swimming

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Y’all probably will think I’m spoiled when I share this bit of info: I have my own swimming pool. It’s big and blue and there’s a terrified octopus that lives in the bottom, who I WILL catch someday. Remember how I mentioned that it’s grotesquely hot here in Florida? Well, it’s not half as bad when you can romp around in a pool.

3. Water Bottles

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My humans will say, “Oh, look at that Georgie. So good about her recycling.” But the truth is, water bottles are just amazing, crunchy, crackly fun—and they’re everywhere. I can’t explain that feeling when I’m just strolling down the sidewalk and BAM… there it is.. another crinkly, Zephyrhills spring water bottle that fits *just* right between my powerful canine jaws.

2. Lamb Chop

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Wow. We’re getting near the end of the list. So that’s me and my girl, Lamb Chop, on the right. I think the human equivalent is what you would call a “bestie.” Only since Lamb Chop and I can’t text, we look out the window and snuggle and just generally find comfort in each other’s presence. Sometimes, if I’ve had a particularly taxing day, I’ll suck on her ear quietly while my humans watch TV. She never complains — and I carry her with me everywhere. She even went to my hysterectomy last month.

Everyone needs a Lamb Chop.

1. A Warm Lap

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And finally, we find ourselves here at number one, the best of the best, the cream of the crop, the most wonderful thing of all: the human lap. I pride myself on being a pretty independent dog. I’m not big into being carried around, I sleep comfortably in my own crate and I only tolerate the leash because I’ve been trained to. But even the toughest broads need some nurturing sometimes, and I can verify 100% that there’s nothing like a human lap. I’ll let you in on a little secret too. Recently, I overheard one of my humans say I’m getting too big to be a lapdog and that made me giggle a little. Silly humans. There’s just some things you never outgrow.

Growing Pains

IMG_7998 (1)Like most dogs, I like routine — and my daily routine goes something like this: Get up and get a long tummy rub from my human while I stretch and yawn. Walk around the hood and check out all the fantastic smells. Get a “Good Girl” cookie when I return home and do my little cookie dance, because nothing tastes better than the first treat of the day. Then, I jump up on my leather chair and keep watch on the postal carriers, sandhill cranes and mommies walking their kids while my human types away at her keyboard and sips her coffee.

It’s nothing spectacular, my morning routine, but it’s MY routine and it sort of keeps me grounded.

Only this morning, it didn’t quite go like that. I mean, I got my tummy rub and walk and stuff — and the cookie was lovely, as always. But when I jumped up into my viewing station, my usual perfect landing turned into a sloppy tumble off the edge and I realized I was stuck. Ack!

I hoped my human wouldn’t notice the embarrassing predicament, so I stood very still and rested my  head on the soft leather cushion. I’ve heard that if you stand very still, sometimes, you can actually disappear. Poof! Like David Blaine. But of course, she noticed, and giggled and boosted my rear back into my seat. I wasn’t sure what she thought was so funny about it. It wasn’t funny to me: A shrinking seat. A tumble. A ruined morning.

Anyway, I must have looked pathetic, because then she patted my head and told me something absolutely amazing. “Georgie, it’s okay. Your seat didn’t shrink. You’re growing, sweet girl.”

Huh? Growing? Me? Really?

I honestly hadn’t even considered the possibility — but then I thought about it. During our car ride yesterday, the view was better than ever before. Normally, I just see the treetops whizzing by in a dizzying blur, but yesterday I saw other cars and buildings! And then there was that wrestling session with my buddy, Ivy, night before last. I didn’t have to stand on my tip-toes to get a good grip on her. We were practically eye-to-eye. And there was also that fine moment last night, when I surprised everyone and leapt like a leopard right into the giant human bed. Wow! This growing thing might not be so bad after all.

After the revelation, my human and I headed out into the yard for a quick romp and enjoyed the warm Florida sunshine on my face. And when we headed back in, I leapt more carefully into my viewing station and didn’t slide off this time. Not every tumble, I realized, is a disaster. Sometimes, it just means you’re growing.