Independence Day - Jasper Johns and Lost Pets

Jasper Johns, FLAG (1983). Encaustic on silk flag on canvas.

Jasper Johns, FLAG (1983). Encaustic on silk flag on canvas.

One night in 1954, Jasper Johns slept and while sleeping dreamed of the American flag and, according to legend, immediately set about to create his own version of this “pre-formed, conventional, de-personalized, factual, exterior element(s)" (Johns, quoted in 1965). Three decades later, he painted this particular Flag (1983), which sold at Sotheby's Contemporary Art auction in 2014 for $36 million. Of this iconic imagery, Johns has said, ". . . the painting of a flag is always about a flag, but it is no more about a flag than it is about a brush-stroke or about a color or about the physicality of the paint, I think.”

And on another Independence Day note, for all y'all animal lovers, this weekend of exploding fireworks and raucous revelry is extremely stressful for our pets! Animal control officers across the U.S. see a 30-60% increase of lost pets between July 4th and July 6th. And the 5th? That day is one of the busiest days of the year for our animal shelters, nationwide. And a crowded animal shelter means higher rates of euthanasia for already crowded shelters as they try to make room for the displaced animals found on the streets.. So, what can you do to help? Here are some top tips:

1 - Designate a safe place in your home for scared pups and cats to hang out while "bombs bursting in air." I feel like the bathroom tends to be a safe room for my pup, Lucie.
2 - Play loud music or watch a loud movie to overpower the sound of the fireworks.
3 - Distraction methods with treats (bully sticks, et cetera).
4 - Always make sure your animals are wearing collars with relevant name, address, phone number.
5 - Keep your animals indoors and make sure all windows and doors are closed and secure. Fear = darting and darting = lost pets.
6 - You could try a holistic/homeopathic anti-anxiety treatment, such as dog-calming pheromones or a Thundershirt. There are also myriad treats and chews with passionflower extract, valerian, L-theanine, lavender, or chamomile that can be super effective for stressful situations like fireworks (or traveling, going to the vets, etc).  Do your research first, though, and never give your animals anything without consulting a vet or animal healthcare expert.

Happy red, white, and blue! In the words of Jasper, "Art is much less important than life, but what a poor life without it."