Creatives and Their Dogs

Alexis Krauss and Rizla. Photo, Bill Stepanoski

JournalArt & Culture

Creatives and Their Dogs

Canine culture publication Four&Sons helps us celebrate National Dog Day with a rundown of creatives and their pooches...

It’s 26 August. Which means? It’s National Dog Day. Did you know that? Starting in the United States, the day of the dog has inevitably found its way to ‘nation-of-dog-lovers’ Britain, and as far as Australia. Guess they’d better rebrand it International Dog Day.

Wanting to celebrate the human race’s global adulation for four-legged panters of all shapes and sizes, we got in touch with our pals at stupendous print and online publication Four&Sons — who have been covering the convergence of canines and culture since 2013. Having profiled countless creatives who share our passion for pooches, Four&Sons opened up their archives for us to scrabble about in; digging up ten hound-cherishing innovators from the realms of music; fashion; art; design and craft.

Raise your bowls of water in a toast to our four-legged friends, and lap up our top ten creatives’ canines…

Alexis Krauss and Rizla

Photo, Bill Stepanoski

Alexis Krauss and Rizla

Alexis Krauss is one half of Brooklyn-based noise pop outfit Sleigh Bells

“I’ve loved bull terriers for a long time. When Sleigh Bells was wrapping up the tour for our first record, Treats, my fiancé Tyler and I were obsessively looking at photos of puppies. I found Rizla at this small breeder in Iowa. At the time, she was being referred to as NeNe, from The Real Housewives of Atlanta. I saw her photo and totally fell in love. We picked her up in the cargo hold of the LaGuardia airport. She was so well behaved; she wasn’t frantic. It’s kind of been a testament to her personality to this day: she requires love and stimulation, but she is very chill.

She’s been on quite a few tours now. From a selfish perspective, it’s great for me because it really helps structure my days. We tour on a bus and pull into a city early in the morning. She’s already up, and I get to take her on a new adventure every day. By the afternoon, she’s pretty wiped out. So I soundcheck and play the show, and then spend time with her at night. It’s a very stimulating lifestyle for her because she’s surrounded by 10 people who care about her.”

Told to Nisha Gopalan, originally published in Four&Sons Issue One — Spring 2014


Wes Lang and Spider

Photo, Kenneth Cappello

Wes Lang and Spider

Wes Lang is a Los Angeles-based artist who rose to fame being commissioned by the Grateful Dead, then designing merchandise for Kanye’s Yeezus tour

“Spider is my second [Chihuahua]. I just love their personalities and love how tiny they are. They’re absurdly cute. He’s my best friend. I love him so much. I think big dogs are beautiful, and I’ve lived with a couple of big dogs before. But it’s like having another person in a house. I’m, like, 6 ́ 3 ̋ and over 200 pounds—Spider is five pounds. It’s a funny pairing, for sure. But it works.

He doesn’t love doing anything other than just sitting on my lap. Everything else just seems like he’s waiting for that to happen. My life’s pretty simple. I’m either at home or at work, so he just suits my lifestyle.

There was a painting I had done of this spider web. My girlfriend and I were trying to decide what to call him, and that painting just kind of did it. I bought him from someone in Northern California who breeds Chihuahuas and rescues cats with the profits. I’m definitely not a cat person. But I liked purchasing a dog to help another animal get surgery and stuff like that.”

Told to Nisha Gopalan, originally published in Four&Sons Issue Two — Autumn 2014


Julia deVille, Chilli and Scout

Photo, James Geer

Julia deVille, Chilli and Scout

Julia deVille is a Melbourne-based taxidermist and jeweller who crosses over into the contemporary art world

“[Chilli and Scout are] both Chinese crested dogs and are meant to be hairless, but Chilli is quite hairy. She’s a hairy hairless dog. She came first and is around nine and a half years old. Scout is seven and a half, but still believes he’s a puppy. I love them both, but Scout is like my little soul mate.

I had an awful childhood around animals. Our first dog, Jimmy, was a miniature schnauzer. I used to draw him all the time because we loved him so much. One year I even made a cake that looked like Jimmy for my sister’s birthday. Jimmy was at the vet at the time, because he had been sick. We took out the cake, and just as we were about to cut it the vet called to say our dog had died. I was beside myself because I thought I’d made a voodoo cake and killed my dog. Jimmy was only three.

We eventually got another miniature schnauzer, but he went missing around the same age that Jimmy was when he died. Mum thought he had been stolen. He never turned up dead. Mum said she couldn’t have another dog after that. I have to say it has been nice to have my two dogs pass the three-year mark. I’m a huge animal lover and I’d feel empty not to have animals in my life.”

Told to Nadia Saccardo, originally published in Four&Sons Issue Three — Spring 2015


Anna Plunkett, Luke Sales and Monaro

Photo, Max Doyle

Anna Plunkett, Luke Sales and Monaro

Anna Plunkett and Luke Sales are the founders of Sydney-based fashion brand Romance was Born, worn by the likes of Karen O, Cyndi Lauper, Debbie Harry, and M.I.A.

“We have talked about designing a whole range dedicated to [Monaro]. He has the most amazing brindle coat, and his little face would be so cute on everything!

We call him our company supervisor. He makes sure everyone who walks in the door knows he’s there—everyone is a potential pat. We have heaps of stupid things we say to him; Luke likes to say, “Today’s the day we throw you out the window!” [Laughs] You know, when something is just so cute you want to squeeze it really hard?

We got him from Staffy Rescue in Sydney when he was six. He was already named Monaro so we kept it—how can you change a six-year-old dog’s name? A Monaro is a type of Holden car. My partner loves Fords, but said he’s always had a soft spot for Monaros—that’s how I knew he was our dog.”

Told to Andie Cusick, originally published in Four&Sons Issue Two — Autumn 2014


Carrie Brownstein, Cricket and Toby

Photo, Neil Dacosta

Carrie Brownstein, Cricket and Toby

Carrie Brownstein is a member of iconic indie band Sleater-Kinney

“Some dogs have a certain air of dignity about them; they require a human name. But Cricket, I knew she would never have that air of dignity about her. [Laughs] Her legs seemed long, and she was bouncy. I wanted to give her an active, kinetic name that immediately implied spunkiness and a kind of effervescence that she has. I named him Toby because he had a kind of youthful, casual, boyish way of being. He looks like a classic hunting dog—he has a regality to him and an aloofness. I realised later that Toby was one of the top dog names. I should’ve named him Henry or George, but I didn’t want to give him an old-man name.

[I would say I’m a big-dog person]! I like that sturdiness. I know there are some small dogs that are sturdy, like a French bulldog. But there’s just a solidity to a larger dog and a presence that they have that I really like. I have friends with small dogs that I appreciate from afar. But, you know, I don’t like how people infantilise small dogs.”

Told to Nisha Gopalan, originally published in Four&Sons Issue Two — Autumn 2014


Pia Arrobio, Nina and Bruno

Photo, Curtis Buchanan

Pia Arrobio, Nina and Bruno

Pia Arrobio is Style Director at The Reformation, Los Angeles

“Bruno’s 12 so my boyfriend and I knew we needed a buffer dog. There was a video of Nina on this shelter’s website and it made me cry. I was like, “We have to go get her!” She is deaf, and her ears had been clipped in the most brutal way. She had been used to breed so she didn’t even know how to play with toys! She is so sweet and cuddly, but has separation anxiety because she’s never been loved before.

Downtown New York is more progressive than… anywhere. I think having pit bulls is kind of trendy. But it’s different in L.A. If I bring them to lunch, people are like, “Is that a pit bull? Can you not sit by me?” My neighbours are assholes. Nina got out once and someone pepper-sprayed her face. She was bright red and I had to pour milk in her eyes. I can’t wait to run into that guy!”

Told to Samantha Gurrie, originally published in Four&Sons Issue Two — Autumn 2014


Justin Lee Williams, Deanne Sarita Smart and Mack

Photo, Deanne Sarita Smart

Justin Lee Williams, Deanne Sarita Smart and Mack

Justin Lee Williams is a Melbourne-based artist who works across painting, drawing and sculpture; Deanne Sarita Smart crafts handmade pottery at the couple’s shared studio

Deanne: “Mack is 12 years old. Justin finds it funny to call him Brenda after his nanna’s sister, who he thinks shares a slight resemblance. He does it so often that Mack now responds to it. I got him for my 18th birthday from a horrible pet shop that has gladly closed down. When I saw him, I loved him straight away. At 12 weeks, he was already his own little man.

When he wanted to wake me up in the morning, he would sit on my chest and punch me in the eye with his paw. He doesn’t sleep in our bed anymore because he snores so loud that Justin can’t sleep. We have a rabbit, Arnold, whom he likes to use as a fluffy headrest. And what I love most is his attitude. If I’m telling Justin about something that annoyed me, Mack will make a frustrated moan like, “I know, tell me about it.”

Told to Samantha Gurrie, originally published in Four&Sons Issue One — Spring 2014


Oliphant Studio, Buddy and Strider

Photo, Winnie Au

Oliphant Studio, Buddy and Strider

Brooklyn’s Oliphant Studio create gargantuan hand-painted backdrops for fashion runway shows; television; film; events and more, and have regularly worked with photography icons like Annie Leibovitz

“Strider is a beagle–Australian shepherd mix. We discovered him at a New Jersey Dog Rescue and when we arrived to meet him, he was only 5.5 pounds. He wasn’t the easiest puppy, and was prone to flinging himself down and having temper tantrums in the middle of the street. But after about a year he really mellowed. We joke that it’s a good thing he’s so handsome because he is capable of raising quite a ruckus. He has a penchant for carrying around shoes, particularly my painting shoes—they are often found perfectly lined up in Strider’s dog bed!

Buddy is our beloved Chihuahua who is now over 12 years old. He loves taking long naps, and occasionally barking at extremely tall clients. He’s grown up in the studio, and now that he’s no longer a young man he gets carried in his doggie papoose pretty much everywhere. His funny antics (dancing for Greenies, rolling on carpets, and so many other things) keep us amused on a daily basis.”

Told to Andie Cusick, originally published in Four&Sons Issue Three — Spring 2015


Nacho Alegre and Lola

Photo, Wai Lin Tse

Nacho Alegre and Lola

Barcelona-based Nacho Alegre is the co-founder of revered ‘real-life interiors’ magazine Apartamento

“My friend Janna found [Lola] on the motorway near Barcelona. We’re not sure if somebody abandoned her or if she was running away. She was malnourished and all roughed up, only about three or four months old, wounds all over. I visited my friend the night she found her, and fell completely in love. She’s very nervous, but also extremely loving. She’s a stray dog, and behaves like one.

We go to this amazing park, Parc del Turó del Putget, by my house. To get her tired, I need to make her run for more than an hour. She’s a sporty dog and is extremely fast. Sometimes she hunts pigeons or rabbits. She tries with cats, but they climb trees too quickly. Whenever we go walking, she walks 50 metres in front of me, checking me out all the time. It’s a pain in the ass with the leash—I could never teach her. She comes with me to bars, and sometimes late at night I let her run free in Gracia or El Raval. She likes going out with the guys. That’s when she behaves the best.”

Told to Diego Hadis, originally published in Four&Sons Issue Two — Autumn 2014


Kathy Grayson and Bert

Photo, Beth Garrabrant

Kathy Grayson and Bert

Kathy Grayson runs New York contemporary art gallery The Hole

“I adopted Bert when my best friend went to Europe for a while, so I was home alone. I thought about my past relationships, how I tried to take care of and “mom” these much younger guys, and how destructive and lame that was. I decided that if I have these nurturing instincts of wanting to feed something and clean up after it, why not get a fucking dog and have a healthy relationship with it instead of a fucked-up relationship with a needy dude?

Bert’s [at The Hole] every day. Currently, our show has a squid sculpture, and he keeps trying to grab a squid to chew and I have to stop him. He’s so friendly, so he compensates for my standoffishness by wagging his tail at everyone who comes in. Bert came to Toronto with me for the JIM JOE show, tucked in a bag with a bunch of turtlenecks; to L.A. for Ben Jones’ wedding, wearing a wee tuxedo; and to Miami for NADA, where he guarded the booth and sold some art with us.”

Told to Mallory Rice, originally published in Four&Sons Issue One — Spring 2014