Our love for dogs is always inspiring, and sometimes we just need to express that adoration in any way we can. The results are often mixed, but who’s to say what good art really looks like? If you ask me, the world is always better off with more loving monuments that depict our canine companions, even if those monuments get a little bit odd. Maybe taking a look at the awesome and strange works from artists inspired by dogs will encourage you to make your own dog art, no matter how unusual it may be. Here are ten artistic tributes to dogs that are weird and wonderful.
This 900-pound bronze sculpture is creating a bit of controversy. Why would a dog-headed man in a business suit holding a giant apple be controversial? Well, this statue was supposed to be placed in New York’s Chinatown in honor of the Year of the Dog, but some local residents believe that its place in Kimlau Square, which honors U.S. soldiers of Chinese descent who died while serving, is inappropriate. They say the tone of the piece dishonors the solemn, respectful nature of the site, and some even claim that it alludes to the racial stereotype of Chinese people eating dogs. Others claim that the statue has nothing to do with Chinese culture at all and, therefore, doesn’t belong in Chinatown. As of writing this piece, people are trying to find a more appropriate location to display the sculpture.
2. Rocket Dog
What is a little dog doing standing on a rocket that’s turning into a hand? Well, that little dog is Laika, the first animal to ever orbit around the Earth. Laika was a street dog in Russia who was taken by scientists and placed aboard Sputnik 2. Unfortunately, there were no plans to bring Laika back to Earth, and she died of overheating five hours into the mission. Her sacrifice isn’t nearly celebrated enough, especially considering she had no choice in the matter, but this monument pays tribute to Laika by lovingly placing her in a gentle hand emerging from a rocket that acknowledges her place in the history of space travel. If only she were treated so well in life.
3. Queen Victoria’s Talking Dog
Did Queen Victoria really have a talking dog in the 1800s? No, but she did have a beloved pup named Islay that she regularly wrote about in her journal. Tragically, the dog died at the age of five years old after getting in a fight with a cat. Justin Robson, a sculptor in Sydney, Australia, created the small bronze sculpture of the terrier based on a sketch Queen Victoria made in 1843, and it sits outside of the Queen Victoria Building. In 1998, the monument was outfitted with a speaker that says, “Hello, my name is Islay. I was once the companion of the great Queen Victoria. Because of the many good deeds I have done for deaf and blind children, I have been given the power of speech. If you cast a coin into the wishing bowl now, I will say, ‘Thank you.'” Then he says, “Thank you. Ruff ruff!” The coins are donated to the Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children. Why does this monument need to talk? Who knows, but it’s pretty unique.
4. The Peeing Dog
Het Zinneke, also known as Zenneke Pis, is a bronze sculpture of a peeing dog in Brussels. The dog is a bit of a companion piece to the famous Manneken Pis, a statue of a peeing boy, but unlike that statue, Het Zinneke is not actually a working fountain with flowing water. There is also a statue of a peeing girl, in case you were wondering. What’s with all of the peeing sculptures in Brussels? I don’t know. I’m not from there. But they are certainly good for a laugh. Het Zinneke was created in 1998 hundreds of years after Manneken Pis, which was made in 1619, and was modeled after the artists own dog.
5. The Bigger Peeing Dog
If you like Het Zinneke but wish it were bigger and had more pee, then you should take a look at “Bad Dog,” a 28-foot tall sculpture that appeared at the Orange County Museum of Art in 2013. It even had a pump that shot yellow paint onto the wall. The piece was part of a temporary exhibit, but it caused quite a stir. Personally, as a dog lover that has to pick up poop on a regular basis, I don’t really see the problem. Clearly the artist, Richard Jackson, has a sense of humor that not everyone appreciates.
6. Peter & Willie
From a certain angle, there doesn’t seem to be anything that unusual about the bronze sculpture of Peter and his Dachshund, Willie in New York City. They’re two characters from a children’s book by Ezra Jack Keats, and the sculpture was created by Otto Neals. But when you take a closer look, you might wonder if Neals was having a bit of a laugh at the characters’ names, which might be considered euphemisms by some childish minds. It looks like Willie’s… Peter… is a little oversized. Well, it’s a lot oversized, and it seems to be the feature of the work that most people talk about–except for the NYC government parks website which carefully omits any reference to the appendage and features a picture taken from a very carefully chosen angle.
7. The Discovery Dogs
If you’re a history buff, you may have heard of Seaman, Meriwether Lewis’s faithful Newfoundland that accompanied him on the Lewis and Clark Expedition. In 2004, Sioux City created a public art project to honor the expedition, and about 40 5-foot-tall fiberglass sculptures of Seaman were placed around the city. They were individually painted and decorated, giving them all unique and creative appearances. The project was a great way to honor history and add a modern touch for the public to enjoy. You can still find many of them scattered around town.
8. The Chicago K9s
Chicago did a similar project to the Discovery Dogs in 2017 with 100 German Shepherd sculptures that were created to honor police officers and K9s in the city. The 54-inch-tall fiberglass dog statues helped raise money for the spay and neuter program from PAWS Chicago, a city animal shelter, and the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation, which assists families of officers killed in the line of duty among other things. Like the Discovery Dogs, each statue was individually decorated and displayed for public viewing.
9. Really Big Dog Tag Dog
“Sun Spot” isn’t just a big dog sculpture. It’s also a shiny dog sculpture. That’s because the 20-foot tall piece at Denver’s Municipal Animal Shelter is made up of 90,000 dog tags that glitter in the sun as they move in the breeze. At night, they are lit by LED lights that make them continue to shimmer. Adopters from the shelter are invited to contribute engraved tags with the names of their newly adopted family members to the sculpture as a loving tribute. It’s a very cool way to celebrate adoption and attract visitors.
10. The Sheep Dog Building
If you’re ever in the small town of Tirau, New Zealand, you may want to swing by the Big Dog Information Centre, a tourist information site and rest stop. It’s one of many giant animal buildings in the area, which include a cow, a ram, and a mantis. The Big Dog is appropriately situated where it can keep an eye on the Big Sheep building, which houses a wool and craft shop. Clearly the information center is a Sheepdog. These two buildings were made in the 1990s and keep watch over the highway that goes through the town of 800 people. Give it a visit if you’re passing through.
What other weird and wonderful dog tributes have you seen? Have you visited any of these statues and monuments? Let us know in the comments below!