Monday, 1 January 2018

2018 The Year of the Unicorn Dog Bench

Yep, it's 2018 and from February 16th it's going to be The Year of the Dog Bench. I'm going to use my Benchsite magic to conjure up some fabulous dog benches. 


However, Ursula is our Unicorn-in-Residence here on Paradise Island and she's convinced it's The Year of the Unicorn. 

I can see why she'd think that, given the pastel hair, My Little Pony manicures, and Unicorn Frappuccinos we see everywhere these days. 

Ursula: I look forward to some magical unicorn benches for The Year of the Unicorn.

Bad news, Ursula. There is no unicorn year in the zodiac. It's the eleventh in the 12 year cycle of the Chinese zodiac so, like it or not, 2018 is The Year of the Dog. 

Ursula: I don't like it. 

Get over it. A whole year of dog benches is upon us.

It's going to be a real Dog Bench Show.

Ursula: What about a unicorn dog?

Not possible. 

Ursula: Are you sure?

There's no bench.

Ursula: So you're saying no to unicorns then?

Yes, 2018 is all about dog benches.

If you were born in 1922, 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, or 2006 you're probably a Dog.

Ursula: I guess I can't fight it.

You can't.

Ursula: I hope it's not a year of The Fire Dog. A hot dog is too hot to handle.

Don't worry. 2018 is Xu, the Year of the Earth Dog. No fire dog, no water dog. 
Everything is bone dry.

Sounds like a good year to go to the beach then.

Maybe. Dog people are sporty and they like water. They like fetching sticks.

And chasing frisbees.

You may have spotted dogs holding things in their mouths?

Well, dogs make very good bench ends.
  But they like relaxing too. Under a bench will do.

Ursula: Dogs are so lazy. They always have a hang-dog look about them.

Actually dogs are very hardworking. These labs have been holding up this bench for years.

The Chinese regard dogs as an auspicious animal so if a dog enters your house this year it could mean you're in for a fortune. If not, at least dog benches are excellent companions.

Here on Paradise Island Lord Brassica is the Fifth Earl of Drizzly. He already has a fortune and also a dog called Pru. 

Ursula: Is this another hamper from Harrods with Pru's steaks?

Yes, he has one delivered to Castle Broccoli every Thursday.

Ursula: Goes to show that a hamper is not just for Christmas.

People love to sit around on benches with their dogs.

And dogs love to sit around on benches with their peanuts.

Though dogs also appreciate a good library.

Ursula: Me, I prefer ice cream.

Ursula: Especially unicorn ice cream! You can't go wrong with one horn!

my photo, Montbaur, Germany

Well, yes, in the dog days of summer an ice cream goes down better than a dog biscuit.

Ursula: I'm not sure I believe in dogs. I'm not convinced they exist.

That's ridiculous. There is proof that dogs descended from wolves and . . .

Ursula: Well, as a unicorn I know I am descended from magical creatures. Here's the Danish throne in Copenhagen; it's made of gold and unicorn horn.

And in Colorado there's a beautiful unicorn bench made of wood. 

Enough about unicorns! This is a story celebrating the Year of the Dog bench. We should be looking at dogs -  I've got a whole yap of Chihuahuas to show you.

Ursula: I prefer dogs to be seen and not heard. 

Barking is a dog's language though.

Ursula: No matter how eloquently a dog may bark, he cannot tell you that his parents were poor but honest.

This sounds like some of my husband's philosophical rubbish. He doesn't care for dogs.

Ursula: I don't either. They're badly behaved.

They don't seem to realise there's no such thing as the Poo Fairy.

image by Joanna Michalak

Dog people aren't dishonest or criminal. They tend to be happy and good natured. Their needs are simple.

And they're very loyal. A dog will sit doggely while you try to take a photograph.

Yes, a dog bench is man's best friend.

Ursula: Who is a dog's best friend? Another dog?

A rabbit. 

Ursula: These rabbits look all loved up.

Yes, people born in the Year of the Dog Bench get on best with people who are born in the Year of the Rabbit Bench. 

Here is a goat bench. 

2015 was The Year of the Goat bench.

Ursula: Yes, but why are you showing it?

Because Dogs don't get on with Goats. A dog bench looking for love this year should avoid goat benches.

Ursula: Who said anything about love?

You did. You helped me do the blog for Valentine's Day, remember?

Ursula: I also wrote the blog about romantic white benches. 

But white is unlucky for Dogs. And blue and gold benches are unlucky too.

Ursula: What colour is lucky then?

Red benches are lucky. We have lots of red benches here on Benchsite. Here is a red bench in China that's perfect for the Chinese New Year.

And green benches are lucky too.

And purple benches.

Ursula: Is this actually a bench?

Yes, it's in the cafe of the modern art museum in Dunkirk.

Ursula: It's great. Finally something to crow about.

Speaking of roosters, Dogs don't get on with Roosters. You should see some of my cocky Rooster benches from The Year of the Rooster in 2017.

Ursula: No thanks.

What about Michael Jackson then? He was born in The Year of the Dog.

So were Madonna and Elvis.  

Ursula: Call me short-sighted but I don't see Elvis on this bench.

Other Dogs are Justin Bieber, Mariah Carey and Mother Theresa.

Ursula: I'm fed up with The Year of the Dog. Maybe you should let sleeping canines lie.

Don't you want to see the Year of the Monkey Bench?

Ursula: No.

Not even with ice cream?

Or a horse bench. 2014 was The Year of the Horse Bench. 

Ursula: No. I just want you to finish telling us about The Year of the Dog. For example, what's a good career for a Dog bench person?

Well, they make very good police dogs officers.

Also politicians. Winston Churchill was a Dog. And did you know that three US Presidents were born in 1946, the Year of the Dog?

Ursula: I hope they kept the peace.

Oh, I follow you. Make Benches Not War! 

If you want a dog bench to follow you, all you have to say is sit, stay, heal heel

And if a dog likes you it will wait for you.

Ursula: What choice does it have? This dog is tied up.

Golly, Ursula, you're in a bad mood today. Maybe we need to paws pause for a minute.

Why don't you go to the park and stretch your legs?

Ursula: It's January. It's cold and miserable. 

You need to get yourself a cute scarf.

It's The Year of the Dog so why don't you celebrate with a nice drink?

You'll have to leave your dog in the barking lot though.

Sorry, Ursula. I guess all this about The Year of the Dog Bench has made me dog tired.

Maybe I'll find a nice bench and read a book.

Ursula: This is a dog-eared joke if I ever heard one.

You're right, Ursula. I'd better ban the dog benches puns.

Ursula: You have made a dog's dinner of this story, Seashell. It's just a load
 of bull.

Oh dear, I've gone through this story like a greased whippet bench.

Ursula: Yes. You could have shown at least one unicorn bench.

You're right, Ursula. In thanks for your help, here's a unicorn bench.

Ursula: I'm going away to spread some glitter now.

Maybe some sparkle is what we need in 2018. Otherwise this Year of the Dog Bench is going to find us all in the doghouse.



Chinese New Year is an annual event here on Benchsite. In 2017 it was the Year of the Rooster and there's quite a bit about Chinese beer in that story as well. The Year of the Monkey Bench went on for far too long in 2016 and contained a lot of monkey business. Back in 2015 it was Goats and/or possibly Sheep Benches. 2014? That was Horse Benches

The Year of the Dog begins on February 16, 2018 and lasts until 4 February 2019. Within the 12 year cycle of the Chinese zodiac you are a Dog if you were probably born in the following years: 1922, 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018, 2030, 2042. Your lucky colours are red, green and purple;  you should avoid white, blue and gold. If you are a gambler you might want to avoid the numbers 1, 6, and 7, choosing instead the lucky numbers 3, 4 and 9. The three US presidents, all born in 1946 in The Year of the Dog, are George Bush Jr, Bill Clinton, and Donald Trump.

Ursula Makepeace is our Unicorn in Residence here on Paradise Island. She's extremely knowledgable about history, as shown in the story about romantic white benches. She can tell you the history of ice cream benches too. She knows all hearty heart benches because she has a heart. But most of all she's a peaceful creature who campaigns for Benches Not War. Just imagine it's World Peace Day.

Unicorns are everywhere this year. Unicorn ice cream? In summer 2018 we'll be screaming for it!  The colourful Ein horn ice cream was being served in a cafe in Montabaur, Germany this summer. Did I choose it? 'Fraid not - I prefer the single colour wassermelone.

If you love animals see which animal benches Noah saved on the Ark. If you like dog benches, then you're looking in the right place and there are more small, large and faraway dog benches at  On the other hand, if you prefer cats, let Meredith show you some great feline benches. Maybe you like rabbits: bunnies are not just for Easter you know. Sheep? We've got some Baaaaaad ones here on Benchsite. And monkeys? We've got those too. And finally, for the Cream of Bovine Benches, let Lord Brassica show you his cows. 

Mike Cogh lives in Adelaide and photographed the thirsty dog bench at Hove, Adelaide in the bright summer of January 2015. The bench is a public art piece by Rob Garrett.    Mike has an extensive set of over 800 Humble Bench photographs at 

Sophia Belegris in Athens, Greece has StickersForAll. There are wall decals of every description for everybody under the sun. There are decals for kids, for Christmas, for every room in the house. There are decals of animals, cities, music, cars, sport, holidays, and, of course, fantasy. That’s where the unicorn sticker came from. OK, it’s a sofa not a bench but it’s a brilliant decal.

Back in 2008 Otto Phokus took a picture of Lily the dog looking very much like a unicorn. The tail of the unicorn dog is well worth telling!

Boo the pug makes a terrific unicorn. She has a whole album of brilliant Halloween costumes at DaPuglet, which has featured on Benchsite before.

Trilby Button is interested in color, texture, illustration, words on walls, and weird hair. Back in 2009 her Second Life avatar got involved in the first of the Unicorn Wars. I’m not certain but I think Trilby was on the Pro-unicorn side.

The papier-mâché dog was seen in London fields in 2012 and photographed by acb, who is from Melbourne but currently lives in London. acb's albums are full of art and music events, and travel all over the world.  

The snarling dogs were photographed in front of  the Hotel Klughardt in Nurnberg, Germany in 2010. The photographer is Candy Schwartz, who is not a photographer, but somehow ends up with a lot of photos that she wants to share with friends. She lives in Boston and is a faculty member in the Graduate School of Library and Information Science , where she teaches stuff to do with organizing and classifying (these days it's called metadata and taxonomy).

The little dog in the hot dog coat was photographed by Linda Wanless.  It was the dog's Halloween costume in 2008. Linda is a self-confessed Flickr addict. Her site is called a pieceofheaven, which gives you a clue how much she loves photography. 

A dogbone bench comes in handy when you have a lot of hungry dog benches to feed, as I did when I wrote the Noah's Ark story. The Tenino Dogbone bench is from Marenakos in PrestonWashington. They make a variety of granite dogbone and other types of benches.  And who'd have thought a dog bone bench would be so useful? There are some very nice medical dogs on Benchsite at

DecoShoppe is in Seattle, where Jo offers fridge magnets, vintage posters, and fine arts in her Etsy shoppe. I love the New England Kennel Club Bench Show advertising poster from 1890 and I’d love to see those beautiful dogs on a bench. Jo offers this as a high quality fridge magnet which would be a great little gift for dog lovers of all shapes and sizes.

eyeforbeauty2007 is mostly an otter at heart, a lover of natural beauty, and old enough to remember the day man first walked on the moon. A road trip in the American west included a photo of the beautiful wooden unicorn bench, seen in Colorado back in 2009. The photo is dedicated to Beate Sigriddaughter, author of The Unicorn And  . . .  a collection of short stories about and observations by a white unicorn with opinions on pretty much everything. Ursula approves! 

Paul Lovine is a corporate ninja from Manila, currently living in California. He photographed his dogs Senna and Nickell when they were hanging out on a bench in the park on a Sunday afternoon in San Francisco.

Pru is Lord Brassica's faithful friend, along with his horse Tonks and his beloved 1947 Landrover. Another dog here in Fribble-under-Par is my dog Sit. Sit is a brilliant swimming companion as he guards my swimming bench. He's also well known on the footpath along the river Par. You can find out who's who in Fribble-under-Par at

Elvira Englebright lives in Bridgnorth in England, where she runs her etsy shop MelAriandMe. Elvira has been making cards for some thirty years and has built up a wide range of dies that will work for many occasions. She loves to do die cut and embossed shapes and toppers for birthdays, weddings, Christmas, greetings, showers, Valentines, Easter and New Babies. One of her lovely die cuts is the Merry Christmas Scotty dog beside a garden bench.

The Danish Coronation throne is at the Castle Rosenberg in Copenhagen   It is sometimes known as the Narwahl throne because it is made from the tusk of the narwahl (whale). For centuries the Danish court managed to keep the myth going about the magical and medicinal properties of its unicorn horn. For a full story of unicorns and their magic see

No matter how eloquently a dog may bark, he cannot tell you that his parents were poor but honest. This is a quote from British philosopher Bertrand Russell. He was making the point that words are needed for language - barking won't do - and that it is language which defines us as human beings. 

Glen Sherwin from Broken Arrow, Oklahoma is an Aeronautical Engineer with a passion for design and woodworking. For his etsy shop Plans4Wood he has created many original designs of furniture that are fun and durable. In the Benchsite story did you spot the pair of Dalmation dogs holding up a bench? You can build these yourself using Glen’s downloadable plan. The designs are easy to build using simple construction techniques and designed for years of enjoyment. Each plan provides all of the details to complete the project.

Jonah photographed the man and dog sculpture in Vancouver in 2001 Jonah, aka afrowolf, has an eclectic collection of albums including toys, animals, canned fruit, health rubbish and what he calls afrocrap. 

The statue of a man on a bench with a large dog beside him was photographed in 2009 by Ruby Blossom
Ruby is a wife and mother in a small town in the UK. Her passions are photography, photoshop, and her two Jack Russells.  Her albums show her love of animals, among other interesting things. 

Snoopy is a very famous dog who doesn't work for peanuts; it looks like he gets paid in chocolate chip cookies. The photo was taken by Thom Watson in 2009 at the Charles Schultz museum in Santa Rosa, California  Thom is from Virginia but now lives in California with his partner. There are lots of cats in Thom's albums.

Wonderlane from Seattle is one of my early contacts for benches. She is simply wonderful. In this story I have used a photo of her lovely dog Rosie, who is standing on a bench in Seattle. Wonderlane travels widely in places like Tibet and Nepal and her work is an inspiration 

Bunny benches  are not just for EasterThe loving rabbit couple are from   There are lots of cute animal lovers on benches around but this couple are convincingly love-struck. They have appeared on Benchsite before. In fact, they were inspirational when I met my imaginary husband Mungo and we decided to get married in Las Vegas on the spur of the moment. Well, it wasn't a rash judgement: we had met that same morning and had a few hours to consider it.

We have a whole story about red benches here on Benchsite. The beautiful red bench images are the Qinhuangdao Red Ribbon Park in Hebei Province in China. The park was designed by and completed in 2008. The ribbon of red steel bench runs for half a kilometre through the Tanghe River Park, which was created in a derelict area on the edge of an urban area. The aim was to preserve the natural habitat and to create a space for recreation. The work has won the American Society of Landscape Architects award and Condé Nast Traveller magazine called it one of the seven wonders of the architectural world.

Karina Garasimyuk from Poznan in Poland runs Decal My Happy Shop, where she sells unique vinyl nursery wall Stickers and decals for every room in the house. She also has yoga decals, wall decal quotes, window decals, car stickers and custom wall decals. Her 2015 Year of the Goat sticker starts the story and I love the bright green sofa, even if it's not exactly a bench. Many thanks to Karina for organising this image for use on Benchsite.

Erika Crofut from Connecticut made the beautiful goat bench on the porch. It was one of the animal benches Noah saved on his ark back in 2013. Erica has other bright, fun animal benches and sofas on her website at  Erika explains I have always loved the process of transforming a thought from my head into something physical that can be shared with people . . . My projects are all attempts to interpret and visually articulate ties between history, family, and stories. . .  I use my art to express my amazement and gratitude for how beautiful an average day can be.

The cocky chicken relaxing on a bench was drawn by  Laurie Pink back in 2006. Laurie comes from Bristol but now lives in Stockport. 

Zoomar lives in Seattle and likes pugs.  His albums are full of them, including Roscoe. He took the photo of the pug with the empty drinks bottle on a bench way back in 2006. And in 2009 he took photos of an intriguing Hippo Pumpkin Event. The mind boggles.  

OxOx lives in Portsmouth in the US and photographs a lot of animals, including dogs. The dog asleep under a bench was in Thailand in 2009,  Flickr has a group for every kind of photograph: this photo is in the Let Sleeping Dogs Lie group. 

The handsome black and gold horse is by 3D Rivers, whose mission is to help the internet community meet the growing need for a wide range of well-designed, high quality 3D models and consumer goods products in a constantly changing environment. They offer a huge range of 3D products including things like buildings, transport, everyday objects, characters, model packs, animals, and yes, of course, benches. This Indian-style horse is one of the many different kinds of benches available via their online site at He has already appeared on Benchsite as one of the animals on Noah's Ark

We are fond of festival benches here on Benchsite so we have already seen Elvis live. The Elvis is Here bench is from Jack Huerta at   Jack, from Portland, Oregon, does a lot of great photos of beaches, carnivals, festivals, and other colourful things. It's great to have his Elvis bench. 

The Michael Jackson bench was also at the festival. It's a fibreglass replica made by Asian Replicas at in the Philippines. They do a lot of celebrities on benches in their extensive catalog  at

Terry Ross, aka qnr, is a retired military man now living in Corpus Christi, Texas. He describes his work as 'a little photo dump' which is not art, but just his way of inconveniencing electrons. He loves to take photos with little concern for technique and they come straight off the camera/scanner. This includes the photo of the bench with the no dogs sign

The barking lot sign, the dog philosophy sign, and the German shepherd dog having a photo taken are all from MTSO fan John, aka MTSOfan.   John is a pastor who says that photography isn't just a hobby; it's his attempt at sanity, a diversion in a life with much responsibility, and also a way of looking at the world.      

Mexican Xoloitzcuintle dogs have been around for 3,500 years. The trio of Xoloitzcuintles was photographed by Christiano Oliveira in Mexico City in 2009  And elsewhere on Benchsite there is a fabulous fiesta of Mexican benches.

The police dog drinking through a straw was something I found in a window of a shop in Sandown, Isle of Wight. You don't often find objects d'art in Sandown so it was lucky I had my camera with me. Strangely, I saw another dog like this in a window in Barcelona some months later.

The pawprint benches were photographed by Kate Robertson from Idaho Falls. Kate is the Queen of Creativity. She describes herself as a painter, mixed media artist, weaver, spinner and writer. Besides that, she photographs all kinds of stuff wherever she goes on her creative pursuits. She is a Kaizen-Muse creativity coach and she has loads of ideas on how to get your creative mojo working. She has various blogs; I first saw her at

The long and skinny person on a dog bench is an image from page 104 of The union Bible dictionary, for the use of Schools, Bible classes, and families (1837). Its author is Frederick Adolphis Packard (1794-1867) and it was published by the American Sunday-school union. It comes from The Library of Congress at

The stone dog benches are at Kok Lok Si Buddhist temple in Georgetown, Malaysia. These and the monkey benches are very popular photographs for visitors such as David Clarke, who is a retired farmer, photographer, greeny, and bush philosopher from Clare Valley, Australia. His albums are full of travel to Vietnam and Malaysia and life in the bush, including bushfires, animals and eucalypts.

I love the photo of the patient dog and the coloured seats. Kay Gaensler from Germany took it at the Vitra Design Museum in Weil am Rhein in 2012.  Kay says that the dog was tied to that bench while the owner was inside the building and the dog was targeting the entrance to the building to see if the owner was coming back. Beautiful dog, beautiful photo!    

Michael McCauslin is a well travelled fourth grade teacher in San Francisco. His albums are full of travel to all sorts of places. The little dog drawing on a bench with a stick was photographed in 2007

The painted dog bench with the frisbee was taken in Chicago 2005 by Mo Morgan Mo lives in London and has albums of Iceland, Palma, Chicago, Pembrokeshire and his brain. 

Joe Connolly from Wales has some beautiful basset hounds, including this one with a hang dog look. Joe took this photo in 2007. His site, so far, is still lifes, and life stills

Wombatarama from Wales is a freelance writer and unemployed zookeeper. She loves pugs. Oh yes, she certainly does. Her own pugs are Rose and Lily but she goes to Japan as a pug herself and her album is full of them. The three pugs on a bench are at

bcgrote lives in California and has way too many interests, including animal photography. Sit Stay Heal is a bench from the Gaslamp District of San Diego, where she comes from. It was photographed in 2008 in front of the Gaslamp Hilton

The lifted leg dog bench is actually a table: it's called Bad Table. It's one of many flabbergasting designs made by Judson Beaumont at Straight Line Designs Inc. in Vancouver.  None of these designs are straight lines; each one throws a wobbly in an entirely different way   This amazing work has already appeared on Benchsite when the dogs on Noah's Ark didn't behave themselves.

There's no such thing as the Dog Poo Fairy appears on stickers all over the Isle of Wight, and probably elsewhere. This one was photographed by Joanna Michalak. 

The dog reading a dog-earred paperback book is by Paul Locke, whose albums are full of sporting events and marathon   Paul claims that the book the dog is reading is poetry by ee cummings: I'll have to take his word for it. We have loads of literary benches here on Benchsite, each one celebrating World Book Day. Dewey need libraries? Do we need books? 

The two stately Labradors were chosen for Noah's Ark. They were made by Stephen Huneck, a self-taught sculptor who carved by hand. The Stephen Huneck Gallery is at Dog Mountain, in St. JohnsburyVermont  Dog Mountain is set on a 150 acre private mountaintop and is always open to people and their dogs. Its unspoiled haven is covered with hiking trails and dog ponds. There is no leash law on DogMountaindogs are not just welcome here, they are cherished! Dogs are free to run, play, swim and best of all meet other dogs! Stephen's artworks, include paintings, sculptures, books, and a Dog Chapel, "A place where people can go and celebrate the spiritual bond they have with their dogs. It is the largest artwork of my life and my most personal." Stephen died in 2010 but his love of dogs lives on in his artwork.

The dog sleeping on a bench in the black and white photograph  was seen in Bangkok. It was photographed by Ronn, aka Blue Aldaman in 2010.  Ronn currently lives in Thailand and has albums full of beautifully photographed portraits and slices of life in Thailand, many of them in black and white. 

Jay Melnick lives in Colorado and he photographs a lot of dogs as ArgosPaw's. This includes the brilliant Bulldog Reunion, taken in 2014. It's not easy to get dogs lined up on a bench so it's great to see this.

Régine Debatty from Liege claims to make money, not art, but nevertheless her Flickr site is full of art. It's the kind of Flickr site where I get distracted and waste vast amounts of time looking at pictures and following up artists and exhibitions I've seen there. I can't blame Régine for this, can I? There are several whippet benches around, mostly with the same whippet ends as this photo by Régine  at

The unicorn bench was seen by Glamhag in Bovey Tracey in Devon in 2015. It was part of a collection of Jolly Roger creatures, some of which are benches. Several of them feature in other Benchsite.

The cat in the doghouse is Billy, who should probably not be here, since it's a cat picture rather than a dog one and we already have a Cat Bench story on Benchsite.  The photo is by CelloPics in 2010 at  I know nothing about Billy or CelloPics but I have to say that I have rarely seen such a collection of beautiful cats, all beautifully photographed. And I am reliably told that the doghouse is now occupied by a rather splendid beagle puppy.

The two elegant guard dogs wearing collars were photographed outside a house in Yarmouth, Isle of Wight. It used to be a chapel, now it's a lovely house with a lovely garden and I guess these dogs keep the vandals away. We don't have vandals here on Paradise Island. Do they have vandals on the Isle of Wight? I'm not sure. 

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