Pet Peeves: Toby and Mary Ann

The July installment of Hedy Wood’s Pet Peeves is here and brimming with positivity! 

Everybody seems to meet online nowadays. It’s just not like it used to be when a simple handwritten note and a trip to the nearest haystack resulted in a new pet… or partner…

No, no, these days a lot of relationships begin with a bit of online dating…. That’s how Toby (distinguished Fox Terrier) and Mary Ann (grunt gallery’s consultant and grant writer since 2006) began. And honestly, I do a bit of online cat dating myself sometimes, when my own cat, Blackberry, is getting on my nerves. I will go and look at adorable kittens and wonder if I would end up bloody and maimed after trying to trim THEIR toenails… I wonder if THEY would give me any respect… if THEY would not simply regard me as some kind of food dispensing, litter box cleaning, slightly slow-witted, slave kind of person…

Mary Ann and Toby do not appear to have any of these issues. They seem to be living it up in an atmosphere of mutual love and respect!! Of course, this is just the kind of relationship that gets me feeling curious. Undaunted by my utter failure to find any malevolence whatsoever in any other grunt/pet households, I sat down with Toby for a little chat.

Me: So Toby, how long have you and Mary Ann been together now?

Toby: About a year, and they just recently got me this new house! Don’t you love it? It’s right across from the park!

Me; Well, actually, I think that’s a cemetery…

Toby: And I’ve got a bed in almost every room!

At this point, Toby caught sight of himself in the glass front of the gas fireplace and began to dance, round and round in figure eights.

Me: What are you doing there Toby?

Toby: Oh sorry, sorry, I get distracted by reflective surfaces, and I have to dance. It’s something I’m practising for my podcast.

Now, I had noticed a complete absence of mirrors at doggy eye level in Mary Ann’s place, even the mirrored bedside tables had been covered up with pillows. Apparently, Toby cannot resist the urge to dance in front of them.

Me: Podcast?

Toby: Yes, I’ve decided to expand my online presence with a little something extra, Tobytv. It’s an inspirational dog channel, for fox terriers who have fallen on hard times. There will be dancing, motivational speeches, and I will be posing for some pictures in my beautiful new home. But I think the dancing may be the most popular part.

Me: Hmmm, that all sounds good, but maybe that’s enough dancing for now. I feel a bit dizzy watching you. And what do you mean expand your online presence?

Toby: Well, of course you’ve heard of Fox Terrier News? And Fox Terrier Nation?

Me: Oh, of course, yes. Always looking at those things… constantly… can’t get enough of them…

Toby: Well, I have a lot of followers on there, not to brag or anything. And I want them to know that no matter how dark things might look, it can all work out in the best possible way!!

Me: Well, I can see how that’s true. Actually, my life would probably be pretty much improved if I could only talk Mary Ann into adopting me… nothing like a bed in every room to make a person feel comfortable.

Toby: I KNOW! So relaxing. And you know that I have epilepsy, so I really do need a lot of soft surfaces around the home.

I think it was right around then that I realized what a lovely and sympathetic dog Toby is. It seemed like the perfect time to share a few of my own health problems. I only stopped talking when Toby appeared to be drifting off to sleep. His gentle snoring rose and fell around the story of my last visit to the rheumatologist…

Toby: Oh dear, so sorry, I drifted off for a moment, probably because of my medication, of course, and you have such a relaxing voice. You could be an influencer like I am, I think. But you really need to keep on top of your posts. Once Mary Ann didn’t post anything about me for 2 weeks! Well, all my American friends were very worried. They like to know that I’m alive and well and chucking my treats around the room… and dancing…

Me: Well, Toby, we all like to see that. It’s always good to see a dog like yourself enjoying such a perfect life. Yep, always good… but I probably have to head out now. Blackberry gets quite hungry at this time of day, and she does not like to be kept waiting. It makes her irritable, and scratchy….

Toby: Come back any time! And look me up online. There’s a very good video of Mary Ann cleaning my ear with a Q-tip which I enjoy more than I can even tell you!

Me: Yes, don’t want to miss that one. Goody.

I headed out after a few more moments of ear scratching and chest rubbing with Toby. Please do not listen to any little stories Mary Ann might tell you about me trying to sneak out of the house with him! These are complete fabrications on her part! What kind of person would try to stuff a Fox Terrier into her purse and take him home?! Ludicrous, and he didn’t actually FIT into my purse anyway… not that I tried…

As I was heading home, (without Toby) I realized two things. The number 8 bus goes REALLY fast, like, much faster than most buses in this city, AND, if I wanted to truly find some juicy pet complaints, I would have to speak to Blackberry. After our 8 years together, I’m pretty sure she’s got a lot to say… most of it probably fairly complain-y…

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Pet Peeves: Alfie and Linda

Salut! Pet Peeves continues with Alfie, a Burnese French Poodle cross with a taste for an unusual delicacy…

I had heard through the grunt grapevine that Linda’s Alfie was a bit of a bad boy, and what woman doesn’t enjoy that? I was looking forward to some of that bad boy charm when Linda Gorrie, (grunt’s business manager of 14 years) and Alfie, (Burnese poodle cross) dropped by the gallery for a visit one Saturday. Now, if any dog wants to tell me that he is European, even though I know darn good and well that he actually hails from Surrey, B.C., in Canada, and has no relationship whatsoever to a lecherous, mid-century cartoon skunk, who am I to argue? I just would not argue. I’m not that kind of person. No no no noooo, if Alfie wants to have a fake-y, Pepe le Pew accent, and swear that it is because he is a Burnese, French Poodle cross, well, so be it… I just like to roll with these things, it’s my way.

Now, I did not notice any spectacularly bad boy-ish behaviour during the visit, apart from a bit of basically uncalled for barking. But, I was determined as always to dig up some kind of dirt. As you might know, I had pretty much given up ages ago on finding out anything troubling about the grunt staff. They are all just so consistently nice, it’s sickening really. But surely Alfie was harbouring some dark secrets. He originated in Surrey after all. If I was lucky, maybe there’d be gang involvement!

Me: So, Alfie, how long have you and Linda been together?

Alfie: I do not care for zees details! I bark at your silly, silly questions!! Bark Bark!

Me: Alfie, have you got a little bit of an accent?

Alfie: But of course, mon Cherie! I am European by breed! Zoot Alors! Do you know nothing at all? I must bark!! Oh, sorry, I did not mean to frighten that poor visitor to the gallery… I feel so bad that she is running out ze door! Zese humans, they are more like big chickens? Non?

Me: Well, Alfie that was actually fairly LOUD barking…..but tell me, how do you enjoy life with Linda and her daughter? Anything about them really getting on your nerves? Just any little thing at all…

Alfie: I adore Linda and her daughter!! Zey are the most beautiful women in ze world!!! Every night I creep from one bed to the other, I love them so much, I cannot decide!! Zey like, a bit too much, ze HUGGING! I I must BARK every time! Too much with ze hugging!! BARK!

Me: Right. Hmmmm, so, Linda is giving you the right kinds of toys and food and everything? Lots of walks and things?

Alfie: Yes, of course! My favourite toy is ze hamburger, made of rubber. And Linda has taught me fifty of your English words for food! Although some things Linda does not understand too well. I zink she does not know the European ways…like ze poo bags for example…

My ears perked up at the mention of poo bags. I was pretty certain this could be that bad behaviour I’d been looking for!

Me: Ummm, what exactly is it about the poo bags Alfie?

Alfie: In Europe, dogs like to eat ze poop. We take ze leetle bags full of ze poop, and we TOSS them up into the air!! We eat ze poop! I do not understand why all of ze humans at the dog park hide ze poop when I come over. Zey run, but they cannot hide! I will always find ze poop!

Me: Well, that is kind of gross.

Alfie: Pah! What do you know of ze poop?! You are like Linda, you have probably never even tried la poop! So, how do you know? It is more delightful than anything you could imagine! Viva la poop!!!

Now anyone who has ever lived with a dog knows that they do enjoy smelly things. They like to rub themselves on smelly things, and sit in your car, happily stinking up the place. And I can honestly say that my old dog, Rhonda, had a habit of snacking on the kitty litter. So, I guess this is a doggy thing, I’d never met one who deliberately went after poo bags in the park… and I did not entirely believe that this was a European dog trait, but I thought it showed a lot of focus from Alfie. Dedication really.

Seemed like it might be time for a bit of a change of subject.

Me: So, Alfie, you are a Burnese, poodle cross? A Burna-doodle? Is that right?

Alfie: Gah! Stupid, silly, silly name! Are you a human doodle? What is zis DOODLE!? It is so silly, I must CHEW on zis rubber doorstopper, until it is RUBBLE!!! DOODLE!! PAH!!!

At about this point in our interview, It occurred to me that Alfie might be getting a little over-excited. He began to talk about ART, and how much he loved it, and how delicious it is, while wandering into the gallery…I’m happy to say that no art was actually harmed during the making of this interview, but I was a bit worried that the show might meet the same fate as a tasty little bag of poo.

Me: Well, you are probably getting ready for your walk now? And maybe a bit of a snack? I’m sure Linda is planning to take you somewhere really nice today. Thanks for coming in to meet with me, Alfie, and if anything at all comes to mind, just anything you might have a complaint about, you have my number. Don’t hesitate to call….

Alfie: Yes! I must go out for ze refreshing walk!! I seem to have a little bit of rubber doorstopper temporarily stuck in my throat… gack, cough, petoooey!

Me: It was lovely to meet you, and always great to see you Linda.

Alfie: Gurk, silly door stopper! I must go!!! Immediatement! Where is my hamburger?!!

And with that, my brief time with Alfie and Linda was over. I did hear that he recovered completely from nibbling on the doorstopper, and that he and Linda went on to have a lovely outing… I did not hear if any poop bags were consumed during that walk, so I can only imagine…

Despite his bad boy ways, Alfie charmed me completely, and Linda? Well, what’s not to like?

No, my only hope was to talk to Mary Ann, and her dog, but really, I should probably rename this whole project, from Pet Peeves, to Perfect Pets and Pukingly Perfect Owners. Really, that’s how it actually IS! As Alfie would say, PAH! Silly!

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Job Posting: Engagement Coordinator – The Blue Cabin

Job Description

Position: Engagement Coordinator
Project: Blue Cabin Floating Artist Residency
Location: Throughout the Lower Mainland
Reporting to: Blue Cabin Committee

Hours: $25-$27/hour, 18 hours per week. Some evening and weekend work. Flexible schedule.

Start date: July 29, 2019
Application Deadline: Thursday, June 27, 2019 @ 5:00pm

Project Description:
The Blue Cabin Floating Artist Residency (BCFAR) is a collaboration between grunt gallery Other Sights for Artists’ Projects and Creative Cultural Collaborations. The collaborating organizations have formed the Blue Cabin Committee to oversee the ongoing management of the BCFAR.

About the Blue Cabin:
The BCFAR provides artists with a unique opportunity to work in a completely restored and outfitted heritage cabin/studio with deep historical roots in both the foreshore past of North Vancouver on the West Coast of British Columbia and the early years of Vancouver’s contemporary art scene. Situated on a floating platform and anchored in a marine environment, the residency features a state of the art, self-sustaining “deck house” as accommodation. Responding to the unique environment, landscape and heritage of the region, the BCFAR will be a central feature of the selected artists’ experience. This is an artist–centred residency space that welcomes local, regional and national participants as well as international guests.

The BCFAR is open to artists in all disciplines and supports the creative development of all kinds, for artists at all stages of their careers. It is intended to support artists who wish to undertake research, reflection, contemplation, production or presentation activities. Artists are asked to propose a program of public engagement as the only outcome required of the residency.

General Description of the Position:
The Engagement Coordinator works with staff, contractors, volunteers, and membership to develop contacts, programming and strengthen relationships between the Blue Cabin Floating Artist Residency (BCFAR) and its partners in the community. This is a professional position that reports to the Blue Cabin Committee and associated staff.

The Engagement Coordinator is a planner, implementer, and relationship builder who is responsible for developing this new initiative in conjunction with multiple and diverse communities across the Lower Mainland. They are also responsible for developing strategies around programming, retention and recognition of audience members, volunteers and other communities, as well as strategies for outreach. This is NOT a fundraising focused position.

The Engagement Coordinator will work within the communities the facility inhabits making connections and strengthening bonds between stakeholders and increasing visibility and access. A major focus will be on the heritage and cultural communities, and the position will require the incumbent to familiarize themselves with the many different heritage stakeholders in Vancouver and on the North Shore including community groups, non-profits, government departments, universities and museums and archives. The Engagement Coordinator will work with these groups to develop programming for the BCFAR in the form of lectures, panels, open houses, exhibits and discussions around the Blue Cabin that are part of the project’s broader curatorial activities.

The Engagement Coordinator will work with the Blue Cabin Curatorial Committee to maintain relationships within the three Indigenous host nations; as the BCFAR will move throughout waterways in the region, we are committed to strong relationships with Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh (MST). The incumbent will play a fundamental role in continuing our conversations with the MST, and continuing to build strong relationships and opportunities for collaboration. The Engagement Coordinator will maintain relationships within the infrastructure of the cities of Vancouver, North Vancouver and the District of North Vancouver, including targeted relationships with stakeholders at Northeast False Creek, the North Shore and Port Metro.

The Engagement Coordinator is expected to work independently while maintaining a strong connection to the overall project and curatorial planning.

Required Competencies:
Collaborative Reliable
Committed Independent
Community Minded Tolerant
Creative Flexible
Social Resourceful

General Responsibilities:
● Work with staff and committees to develop and enhance contacts within the identified communities.
● Develop strategies for outreach and active community development.
● Produce and develop programming at the BCFAR engaging the Heritage and cultural communities
● Design and implement a community plan that builds strong, long-term, and loyal relationships with audience members, supporters and communities.
● Forge relationships within the heritage and cultural communities across the Lower Mainland, and explore opportunities for co-programming, cross-promotion and outreach.
● Continue to develop relationships with Indigenous partners and collaborators from the host nations (Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh) as well as the wider indigenous communities of Vancouver.
● Explore engagement opportunities from other communities as necessary, and in conjunction with the Blue Cabin Committee’s vision for programming and the residency.
● Produce a news feed around community engagement that is aligned with BCFAR’s social media, website and newsletters focusing on their respective membership and community activities.
● Collaborate and communicate with neighborhood organizations to develop activities that promote the BCFAR’s role in the community (eg. community events and festivals).

Required Skills and Education:
● Superior networking skills for arts and cultural-based environments.
● Strong knowledge and commitment to bridge-building within diverse community frameworks.
● Good understanding of artist-run culture.
● Post-secondary education in an arts related program, educational program or a relevant discipline is an asset.
● Previous experience (work or volunteer) in an arts organization, community centre, educational centre or activist organizing is an asset.
● Demonstrated supervisory and interpersonal skills; ability to perform well in a team environment and collaborate with others.
● Strong written and oral communication skills; ability to target events outreach materials to varying audiences and age groups.
● Strong organizational skills, able to identify and prioritize tasks with minimal supervision, work independently, and take initiative.
● Experience with youth/adult education programming an asset.
● Working knowledge of Social Media, e.g. Facebook, Twitter and mass email systems;
● Resourceful, hands-on and pro-active.
● Previous experience in developing and maintaining strong internal and external relationships.
● Demonstrated success with strategy development, implementation and evaluation.
● Proven ability to act in an assertive but professional manner and to represent oneself and an organization in a positive manner.
● Ability to work flexible hours.
● Ability to travel throughout the Lower Mainland.

Business Ethics and the Workplace:
• Must promote and set the example for ensuring a friendly, courteous, respectful and professional work environment.
• Must maintain the confidentiality of all personal, private, and professional information obtained within the course of employment.
• Must not accept any gifts, loans or anything of value from any individuals with whom contact is had during the course of employment.

To apply: Please send cover letter and resume to Sunshine Frere by email < sunshine (at) othersights (dot) ca >

Application Deadline: Thursday, June 27, 2019 @ 5:00pm

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Pet Peeves: James and Hillary

Welcome to the May edition of Hedy Wood’s Pet Peeves! Read on as Hedy chats with grunt founder and current editor, Hillary Wood (no relation), and the investigation takes a turn toward the possibly paranormal…

Of course I believe that Hillary has a part-time cat named James. I also believe that James comes to visit by walking across two balconies, and that he stays for a couple of hours and naps on the bed and all the rest of it. Hillary Wood is a founding member of grunt gallery and is currently the editor there. She is definitely not some crazy person making up things in order to get me to write about her and some imaginary pet. And, I would like to add, you don’t see me standing around with my index finger pointed at my temple making that little twirly motion. You just don’t! I believe in James completely!

I believe in the existence of James, the part-time cat, so thoroughly that I went over to interview him and see what he had to say about Hillary.

Food bowls left out for the elusive cat-like creature, James.

After standing around on Hillary’s balcony for about half an hour, yelling for James and jiggling my bag of cat treats, I felt like it might be time for a drink……there was no sign of what I was beginning to think was a mere fig newton of Hillary’s imagination and I had a powerful thirst building. Also my yelling JAMES, JAMES!!! was starting to annoy the neighbors.

The interview went something like this:

Me: So, how about we crack open some of this pickle juice, and you tell me all about James who I believe in and know exists?

Hillary: You’re starting to make him sound like God or something! He does exist, and he comes over here every single day! I think all of your yelling has put him off, that’s all.

Me: Ha ha! Where are the glasses? Oh JAMES, you can come over any time now!!! Because I know you’re real!!!

James:

 

Me: Come on James!!! Sit on the bed, eat some stuff, come and visit. Oh JAAAAAAMES!!

James:

 

Definitely, it was time to crack open a bottle of wine. If nothing else, I could ask Hillary about James, and how he has come to be her part-time cat. Apparently, James is actually owned by a neighbor two balconies over, but he prefers to spend a lot of his time at Hillary’s. He’s sort of a cat-share cat, like a timeshare condo I guess….

So Hillary and I settled in and had a glass or two. Occasionally I would get up and go and yell for James out on the balcony. I only actually stopped doing this when I could see that it seemed to be causing Hillary psychic pain.

Hillary Wood and James the cat? Photo by Merle Addison.

I also began to make little jokes and then laugh at them really loudly, then explain the jokes and laugh some more. You know, as you do. When I reflect on it, Hillary really must have the patience of a saint.

The afternoon wore on, and there was still no sign of the alleged James. He was beginning to seem like Bigfoot or Ogo Pogo, I mean, maybe there’d be a sighting or maybe not…..but I do tend to believe in them, so what could possibly be the harm in hanging about for a bit longer? Also, around this time, another bottle of wine kind of fell out of my purse. Maybe it would be smarter to take a different approach to this particular pet interview. I decided to direct my questions to Hillary and stop yelling and treat rattling for James.

Me: So, what would James likely have to say about you? You know, if he actually existed? Oh sorry, I mean, really, what would his complaints be do you think?

Hillary: Well, he doesn’t like it when I move my feet when he’s sleeping on the bed. It makes him attack my feet.

Me: More wine?

Hillary: And he’s very protective about the balcony. He doesn’t even like it when I go out there!

Now this was beginning to seem like a pretty detailed description of imaginary cat behaviour. It was like if someone was saying, But no! The unicorn’s horn is actually sort of a pearly colour!! And the hooves have rainbows!!! Sooner or later, you have to suspend your disbelief.

Me: So how did you and James first meet then?

Hillary: James started coming over for visits when he was a tiny, shy kitten. He would creep around the corners of my place, but now, he feels very at home here. He’s here every day, usually. Probably he is scared of you being here…..and all the yelling…..

Me: Well, I never! Yelling indeed! I’ll show you YELLING little missy. JAAAAAAMMMMEEEESSSSS! JAAAAAMMMMEESSSSS!

Hillary: Would you please shut up?

It must have been around this time that I realized I had better go home. I still had no evidence that James actually existed anywhere on planet earth, and Hillary and I were on the verge of our first fight. Plus, I had the hiccups.

As I was collecting myself and preparing to leave, did I see a flash of white fur whisking by out on the balcony? Did I hear a faint and slightly ghostly meow? I can’t say for certain, but when I got home and the drinker’s remorse began to set in, I found I had a different feeling about James. I believed in him truly and I knew he really did visit every single day and all the rest of it. Honestly, I don’t know why I ever doubted him……now the only thing was to check in again with Hillary and see if she was also suffering from a kind of big headache….

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