Your choice affects your dog’s choice – a lesson I’m reminded of everyday. (Image credit goes to Lili Chin.)

Way back this winter, when Chalo started having growly reactions toward other dogs, I made the mistake of correcting him for it. Traditional wisdom and all the training books I’d read as a kid in the ‘90s told me firm discipline was necessary, so I spoke sternly and used physical corrections with a choke collar. Surprise: in just 48 hours, it became so much worse. A little growliness turned into full-on explosions of snarling and lunging and raised hackles and high emotions. The changes were happening so quickly it frightened me. This was not a dog I recognized. So I backtracked, devoured every bit of reactivity literature I could find on the internet, and soon wondered if, in Chalo’s mind, the situation looked very different. To him, it seemed to be, “Every time we see a dog, my person gets worried and bad things happen. She becomes a person I do not recognize. I need to growl more to make that dog go away, and to keep bad things from happening.” My whole perspective on the issue changed – or at least, made me more receptive to alternatives, out of desperation and concern that I was singlehandedly ruining my dog.

The next day I approached it differently, with a soft, open, patient mindset and a bag full of cheese. And in one session, Chalo was sitting quietly and sweetly, twenty feet away from the golden retriever who previously sent him into a growling frenzy.

In one week, he was walking past yards of snarling, lunging, barking, frustrated dogs with the same sweet, quiet, expectant look on his face.

Today, Chalo hasn’t growled at another dog in months.

I definitely don’t propose that there is any one-size-fits-all training method for every dog, and everything I don’t know about dogs could fill several rooms several times over. But Chalo teaches me so much, all the time: how to be a better teacher, how to approach problems creatively, how to be patient, how to motivate. So many canine behavior problems are misunderstandings, rooted partly in a failure of human imagination and empathy. And that is fixable. That can change. Chalo continues to show me what I need to give more of, not just in dog training but in life in general – reflection on my own actions, and consideration for how we all can be shaped, battered, or buoyed by the world around us. Dogs can make us better, and this dog is making me better. 


dogs of the world

Have you wondered where your favourite breeds of dogs came from? Illustrator Lili Chin may have satisfied your curiosity with a poster series of nearly 200 dog breeds and their geographic origin.

These prints and more are available from her Etsy shop. Other merchandise such as mugs, t-shirts and even doona covers of your favourite dogs can be purchased from her society 6 shop.

I went to Vincent Chin’s grave today, cleaned it, left fruit and incense at both his and his parents’ headstones.

I’ve been thinking a lot about you lately, brother. I’m the same age now as you were when you died, and as I grow and change, I think a lot about the impact Detroit has had on my life, and on yours. You didn’t expect to be an icon for a generation of struggle, and you certainly didn’t deserve to become an icon like this. I just want you to know that we remember.

And to Lily Chin: thank you for your heart and your organizing. You are missed. I hope you see that we remember your son, and you, and everything you gave us. Rest in power. - CM

(Picture of Lily Chin holding a framed photograph of her son, Vincent Chin)

“In 1982, at the height of anti-Japanese sentiments arising from massive layoffs in the auto industry, a Chinese American named Vincent Chin was murdered in Detroit by two white autoworkers. Chin’s killers, however, got off with a $3,000 fine and 3 years probation, but no jail time. Outraged by this injustice, Asian Americans around the country united for the first time across ethnic and socioeconomic lines to form a pan-Asian identity and civil rights movement.

VINCENT WHO? explores this important legacy through interviews with the key players at the time as well as a whole new generation of activists whose lives were impacted by Vincent Chin. It also looks at the case in relation to the larger narrative of Asian American history, in such events as Chinese Exclusion, Japanese American Internment in WWII, the 1992 L.A. Riots, anti-Asian hate crimes, and post-9/11 racial profiling.

Ultimately, VINCENT WHO? asks how far Asian Americans have come since the case and how far they have yet to go.

For in spite of Vincent Chin’s monumental significance in both the Asian American experience and the civil rights history of America, the vast majority of people today (including most Asian Americans) have little or no knowledge of him.”

Watch the full documentary on youtube: Vincent Who?

Senga Nengudi is an artist that is interested in dance, the mechanics of the body and the nature of spirit. She combines abstract sculptures often made using everyday materials and found objects such as tights and combines these with choreographed performances. The work and performances often question ideas of gender norms and the sculptures made from tights filled with sand resemble testicles or sagging breasts.

The images above are from Nengudi’s early work made in the late 70s and early 90s, while her themes and interest remain the same, the materials and approaches she uses evolve. Below are two examples of her more recent installations, This Way and Warp Trance

Nengudi choose to work under different names or personas depending on the medium she is using. As a poet she is Lily Bea Moor, as a painter she is Harriet Chin and as a Photographer she is Propecia Leigh. The choice to work under different names is an exploration into the fact that many of us will form preconceived ideas of what an artist’s work should look like relating to their ethnicity which can be indicated by their name. ‘An ethnic name attached to an artwork assumes us into an unconscious shorthand way of understanding the style of subject matter with expectations of what the style and subject matter should be’. Nengudi was born Sue Irons.

30 yrs ago today, Chinese American Vincent Chin was bludgeoned with a baseball bat by two white men, a father and stepson, in Detroit. Chin died a few days later when his mother, Lily Chin, decided to take him off of life support. Lily Chin would go on to become what some would describe as an "accidental activist”–becoming involved in political activism, sharing her story and that of her son. As a professor who teaches courses on race and racism and Asian American history, I have shown the film and watched it with my classes at least 20 times. As an Asian American, it fucks me up each and every time I see it. RIP Vincent Chin. RIP Lily Chin, who died in 2002, 20 years after her son’s murder.“ ~ Tamara K. Nopper

Lily Chin: Dogs Of The World

Dogs Of The World is a new series of designs that I have been working on Spring-Summer 2014. There are a total of at least 192 dog designs and 24 cat designs, which are available as grouped and individual prints at my etsy store.

You can buy framed prints/canvases, tote bags, pillows, mugs, phone cases, and more at

*Sept 2014 - T-shirts are now available at my new Doggie Tops store.!shop/c11bk