Friday, June 6, 2014

Interview with Off The Leash cartoonist Rupert Fawcett

Off the Leash Cartoonist Rupert Fawcett.
Thank goodness its Friday folks (at least for anyone who has the weekend off). This year my boss gave me a copy of "Off The Leash: The Secret Life of Dogs" by none other than a Mr Rupert Fawcett. Of course I had to ask him if we are related - especially when a number of his cartoons featured a dog called Phil. What are the odds? Well, it turns out we aren't related, but Rupert F did admire the photo of Phil I sent him, and was polite enough to answer some probing questions for SAT even if he isn't my second cousin twice removed.

Hi Rupert. You've been a professional cartoonist since 1989, but your dog cartoons have recently recieved a huge response on Facebook. Why do you think everyone has been so taken with Off the Leash?

I went art school many years ago wanting to be a 'serious painter' but kept drawing cartoons and always enjoyed them. During and after art school I had a few wild years in which I started a punk band and drank too much, then in 1985 I cleaned up my act, got back onto the straight and narrow and a short time later created Fred which was my first big success as a cartoonist.

I think people identify with the situations and behaviour I portray in my cartoons and recognise their own lives. They frequently say "You must have cameras in my house!"

Your dog cartoons have some recurring themes: dogs using their wits and charm to take over the entire bed, sofa-stealing stunts and sleeping positions. What is your source of inspiration?

Funnily enough I don't have a dog at the moment but I grew up with them and remember all the behaviours really well and with great affection.

Humans often talk down to dogs or project their feelings onto them. Do you think they humour us sometimes?

It's impossible to know, but I like to think so. I like to think they are sophisticated enough to humour us, and yes we as humans project all sorts of stuff onto our pets. That's all part of the human/dog relationship which I have always found rich in humour.

Do you think there's ever a mismatch between what makes dogs happy and what we think makes them happy?

There may be and in some cases definitely is, but I think most real dog lovers instinctively know what makes their dogs happy and unhappy and anyone who doesn't shouldn't have a pet.

How could humans improve their relationships with dogs?

The important thing is to love your dog, but also to respect it's individuality and it's natural instincts and needs. We don't 'own' our dogs in my view, we simply care for them during their lifetime and it is a privilege to do so. If we care for them well we are rewarded with love, affection and loyalty.

Thank you Rupert. And in breaking news, a poor veterinarian mistook a zookeeper wearing a gorilla suit for an actual gorilla and tranquilised him. To compound matters further, the zookeeper had an allergic reaction to the drug. However he has made a full recovery. Moral of story: wear a safety vest when dressed in a halfway-decent animal costume (although I can appreciate this would have somewhat detracted from the desired look). Second moral of story: some poor person is always having a worse day at work than you are.