Two Family Trees, George Rodrigue 2013

If you’ve been to New Orleans before, or if you’re enjoying your first visit to the city, or even if you’re just doing some pre-trip research, you’ve almost certainly seen the now iconic blue dog somewhere around the city. The dog has his origins in a series of paintings by local artist George Rodrigue who began painting the dog in 1984 when he created the painting Watchdog, modeled after his own deceased dog, Tiffany, for a book on Cajun ghost stories. The original blue dog was thus a pictoral representation of the Cajun myth of the loup-garou, the local take on the werewolf. The legend of the loup-garou has it that a human-like creature with the head of a dog or wolf prowls the swamps around New Orleans. Some variants on the legend include the additional detail that the loup-garou prowls most actively in the weeks between Mardi Gras and Easter, when it seeks out Catholics who have broken the rules of lent. Since 1984, Rodrigue has painted hundreds of works featuring the blue dog in all kinds of different situations illustrating our Louisiana heritage and lifestyle and the canine has since become a modern staple of New Orleans culture. You can find more information on Rodrigue, including his New Orleans galleries, here.