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A Friend in Need: Creative Prompt

Although most people know it as "Dogs Playing Poker," Cassius Marcellus Coolidge's 1903 painting is actually called A Friend in Need. It is part of a series of 18 paintings of dogs playing cards.

There are a number of famous art pieces in the world that feature dogs, but this is one of the few that so completely humanizes them. They are drinking, smoking, and the 2 at the front of the painting are cheating (hence the painting's title).

This human attitude towards animals is in great contrast to that of the Cosmonaut program that sent Laika into space. I hate thinking about the fear, confusion, and loneliness she experienced before she died what was probably a painful death.

Cruelty to animals is not new, or just for the Soviet Space program. Happily, neither is making animals relatable. So many of us grew up reading books in which cats, rabbits, bears, dogs, chickens, monkeys, elephants, ducks, mice, pigs, donkeys, and owls act very human; those young reader books then led to Charlotte's Web, Animal Farm, and Watership Down, among others. Books with animals are still very popular with young readers and YA readers.

Today's prompt asks that you think about your own feelings about animals. Let yourself be inspired by the books featuring animals that you have read, today's blog poem (and the history of sending animals into space), the ideas of dogs playing poker, your own pets, or some other aspect of human-animal relationships. Then depict what you come up with in your piece (poem, story, sculpture, ceramic, quilt, essay, etc.).

Have fun! This link might also help inspire you!

A Friend in Need by Cassius Marcellus Coolidge (1903)

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