[00:00:00] Lili: And like another common misconception too is that, you know, with the Halloween cat pose when there’s a arch back and piloerection and the fluffy tail and hissing, people think, you know, the sort of like general assumption is that the cat is being mean and that’s an evil cat when they’re just terrified. So, it’s like normalizing these, you know, what I’m hoping to do is help normalize a way of looking at behavior that doesn’t label the cat as being a bad cat or a mean cat. To take, you know, what they’re feeling into consideration.
[00:00:34] Allie: Welcome to Enrichment for the Real World, the podcast devoted to improving the quality of life of pets and their people through enrichment. We are your hosts, Allie Bender…
[00:00:52] Emily: …and I’m Emily Strong…
[00:00:53] Allie: …and we are here to challenge and expand your view of what enrichment is, what enrichment can be and what enrichment can do for you and the animals in your lives. Let’s get started.
Thank you for joining us for today’s episode of Enrichment for the Real World, and I want to thank you for rating, reviewing, and subscribing wherever you listen to podcasts.
The voice you heard at the beginning of today’s episode was Lili Chin. Lili Chin is a self-employed artist. Since 2008, she has been providing custom illustration and a catalog of art products for sale. Lili Chin’s dog behavior infographics have become a popular tool for dog training professionals, veterinarians, behaviorists, and welfare groups who advocate for humane animal training methods.
Her first illustrated gift book, Doggy Language was published by Summersdale in October 2020, and has been translated to 16 languages. And her newest book, Kitty Language, will be published by Ten Speed Press in June 2023. Lily Chin is Malaysia born and currently lives in Los Angeles with two rescued cats.
Even if you’re not familiar with her name, you’ve likely seen one of Lily’s illustrations if you spent some time down the dog training rabbit hole. She started off with the Boogie illustrations, her Boston Terrier at the time, and now illustrates all sorts of animals. We’ve been using her infographics for years to help teach our clients, and I am so excited that we got to sit down and chat with her. She is fantastic.
In this episode, you’re going to hear Emily and Lilly talk about how familiarity makes observation easier, an intersection of expertises, penguins, and staring obsessively at your pets. All right. Here it is, today’s episode, Lili Chin, Behind the scenes with Doggy Drawings.
[00:02:42] Emily: Okay, as per usual, I’m gonna have you start by telling me your name, your pronouns, and your pets.
[00:02:48] Lili: So, my name is Lily Chin. My pronouns are she, her, and I have two pets, two cats right now, Mambo and Shimmy. Mambo is a black, fluffy cat with one eye, and Shimmy is a tiny gray and white cat, and they’re best friends.
[00:03:02] Emily: I love that. That’s so sweet. I don’t have cats anymore, so I get inordinately excited when guests have cats cuz I get to live vicariously through you. I miss my kitties. So, tell me your story and how you got to where you are.
[00:03:15] Lili: Okay, so my story’s quite long because I’m old, but I’ll try and keep it short. So, my background is in animation, like I used to work on cartoons for the internet, for TV, and for film, and which is kind of how I moved to America in the early two thousands because I was working on an animated series for Warner Brothers Animation, and I ended up staying in LA. So, that was from Australia, and that’s the accent that you hear. So, everything changed when I adopted a dog, and this is sort of the cliche, but it’s true. And my dog Boogie is Boston Terrier, he bit somebody and, who happened to be my landlord, and I almost got evicted from my apartment. I was given an ultimatum to either get rid of the dog or move out, and in my desperation, I tried to find a dog trainer because I, I really fought to keep my dog and to stay, and I didn’t really, I didn’t know anything about dog behavior at the time. Like I just did what everybody else did, watched TV, and believed what I heard on tv. And so, I found a dog trainer who put a prong collar on my dog and did the whole, you know, “You have to be dominant, and you have to show him who’s boss.” And did all that.
And my Boogie got worse. He became shut down, he got terrified, became more scared of people. He became more aggressive, and I started reaching out to the internet and asked questions like, “This isn’t working. Like, what am I doing wrong?” And Grisha Stewart answered me on the internet and said, “Well, first of all, get rid of the prong collar, and look into something that I’m developing called BAT, Behavior Adjustment Training.”
So that was kind of how it started. I started reading. I was reading books by Karen Pryor. I was, um, I discovered this thing called clicker training, which blew my mind. I started, I bought a clicker, I started trying little games with Boogie, and I just saw like a totally different dog emerge out of that experience, like he was happy, he was just so much more relaxed. And so, I wanted to learn more about positive reinforcement training. And like, you know, I could go on and on and drop all these names, but, but I just connected with all these amazing people like Emily Larlham, and, and Sarah Owings, and who became our trainer.
So, Sarah Owings became Boogie’s trainer, and she introduced me to like, you know, dog body language, Turid Rugaas DVD, um, and then we did some sessions with BAT, and we did more clicker training. And at the same time, I also had discovered Dr. Sophia Yin’s website, and so she had written a big article about the dominance controversy and how that was all a myth. As I was kind of going through my learning experiences and, you know, starting out clicker training Boogie, I also kept a blog and I would document everything I was learning, and because I’m an illustrator, I illustrated this blog. So, I had lots of drawings of BAT sessions and body language and, and that was kind of how Grisha hired me to illustrate her book. And from then on, other people started hiring me to illustrate dog body language charts and behavior related infographics. And so, that’s kind of how it started.
I, I, I sort of went from working in animation, to becoming an illustrator and I started off drawing people’s pet portraits, and then I sort of, you know, got into doing behavior, illustrations, and then over the years I just did a lot of these body language illustrations for various trainers in various companies. And in 2019, like I got contacted by Summersdale Publishers in the UK and they said, “You know, we saw your doggy language poster. Would you be interested in turning it into a gift book?” And they suggested drawing lots of different kinds of dogs, so it wasn’t just one dog. And I thought, you know, that was a brilliant idea because Boogie doesn’t have a tail. And you know, there’s so much, there’s so much more that could be communicated with a tail. And I felt that this is stuff that people should know about, like learning to read your dog.
I mean, it made such a huge difference for me in the way I trained, and in my relationship with Boogie that I just felt that this was really, it was something really good to put out there. So, and now I’m, and then, you know, I got invited to a Cat book and to do another book, and so this is where I am now. I’m, I’m still working on infographics, I’m still drawing people’s dogs, and making my own art, and I’m also working on books.
[00:08:08] Emily: I love, I love everything you do, and also, I have to just say because I haven’t had a chance to thank you in person yet. Thank you so much for doing our infographic on the different categories of enrichment because it is so special to see our pets represent the different types of enrichment that we can provide for animals, and I just love it. It, it’s super beautiful. I’m sure Ellen will put it in the show notes to show everybody. So, thank you for the wonderful work you do.
And you touched on something that I actually wanted to talk about, which is how important it is to teach people body language and behavioral observation in order for them to be able to better meet the needs of their pets and provide enrichment, and also to address behavioral issues that that people encounter.
I’m sure you know, you know how important that is to us, and how much we emphasize it, and talk about it all the time. And also, how we teach those skills is sometimes easier said than done. And what we love about your work is how accessible it is for people of all ages and backgrounds, even people who are brand new to the world of body language and don’t know anything about how to read dogs, or cats, or any other species. And especially for kids. One thing that I’ve found when I work with clients, and especially clients who have children, is that it’s not always easy to get a child interested in watching a body language video and identifying body language signals.
But when I hand a child your book, there’s something about illustrations that, for whatever reason, a lot of children just find so much more engaging, right? I, I’m just personally so impressed by how you’re able to capture body language signals so successfully in these little cute illustrations, that are su such a successful teaching tool.
So, what did that process look like for you? Or what does that process look like when you’re looking at an animal and then you’ve got a simplified representation of that, like an animation? How are, how are you? Like how, how do you do it? How, explain the magic is what I’m asking. Like how do you make such a simple illustration so clearly communicate the body language signals.
[00:10:29] Lili: So, first of all, like I, didn’t do any of this for children, so, um, when I illustrate the work that I do as well, the dog, my Doggy Language Book, like I didn’t have children in mind. Like I don’t know how children learn. I, I was, I had in mind somebody like myself, like, you know, an adult person with a dog who’s trying to figure out what’s going on. And, and what I was like 10 years ago, or 15 years ago. And the big aha moment for me was back when I first adopted my dog, and I would take videos of myself and Boogie like, and I would send them to our trainer and say, “Look, I, look, I, we did this thing and, and it worked.”
And she would say, “But did you see that lip lick, and the head turn? And the yawn?” And, and I’m like, “Oh, no, I didn’t.” And, and, you know, and it was about those moments of seeing behaviors that I hadn’t previously seen and suddenly not, you know, not being able to unsee them again. So, a lot of it was from my own personal experience of seeing behaviors in my own dog, and realizing they were significant.
And so, so when I draw, it’s like I, I ask, “What’s significant in this? You know, what am I communicating?” Um, and it takes my being able to see it, to be able to draw it. So, so that is kind of, you know, I don’t know if that’s a good answer or not, but like if you asked me to draw, a species that, you know, how you draw an anxious or fearful, some other species, I don’t know, I dunno, like an armadillo or whatever. Like, I, I wouldn’t know how to do that because I dunno what that looks like. So, it’s just, you know, it’s, it’s a learning process for me as well when I, when I do these drawings.
[00:12:22] Emily: Yeah, and I think you touched on something really important about behavioral observation in general, which is, familiarity with an, an individual or with a species makes you better at noticing those nuances. It takes practice to really sit and observe an animal and go, “Oh, you know what? Whenever I see their nose scrunch up, they’ll walk away from whatever it is they were investigating, so that nose scrunch up tells me, that maybe that’s some kind of distress signal of some type, right? Either dislike or fear, I don’t know, but there’s something about like, that nose, crinkle, um, indicates of they’re having an aversive, res, reaction to the stimulus in the environment.” I think that’s one of the things that, is hard for people because, uh, a lot of times we as humans, and I think there’s, you know, a really good reason for this in, in evolutionary terms, we sort of take in the whole picture, and just sort of follow our gut, right?
And, and that, that definitely serves a purpose. I’m not, I’m not poo-pooing on, on using your gut, right? I think there’s a definite reason that we have that sort of subconscious processing of information. But, when we’re just going off of that, we can miss why our gut feels that way, which then can help us to maybe catch when our gut is misinterpreting a scenario, right?
And so, when you’re, when you are, I’m actually gonna veer a little bit away from dogs because what you said, just like sparked this train of thought for me. When you are illustrating a new species, how do you go about recognizing those body language signals or the, like you said, the significant differences?
Is it a matter of, do you ask experts to sh, to point things out? Do you sit and just observe them? Like, what is your process for learning the, the signs of a new species?
[00:14:15] Lili: I do ask experts. I do, I ask for photos, and videos, and I look at those and, try and see the differences, but sometimes I can’t see the differences. So, so for example, I’ve done body language drawings for like hedgehogs, and rats, and pigs, parrots and, and you know, my untrained eye, uh, I have an untrained eye for these species.
So, I don’t know, like some, some photos look very similar, and I can’t tell what is the distinguishing behavioral, the difference. What’s different from one photo to the next? So, I do ask a lot of questions. like, I will ask the expert, “Can you point out to me what it is that you know I should be looking at?” And, and that helps. So, that’s what I meant by, you know, when I’m drawing different species, I’m learning at the same time, I’m not a natural expert. Like I I may not know what I’m doing.
[00:15:14] Emily: Well, I think, I think where, I love that you have some like intellectual humility, like I’m not an expert on animals, but I think where your expertise comes in is your ability to, once you’ve learned what is salient, you learn how to communicate that in illustrations, right? Which is the part that blows my mind because I have your book, right, and I w and I’m looking at the like little line, the differences in how, like where you place the lines that are really like kind of subtle, but precise that make a huge difference in like one body language signal versus another, right? So, you do have expertise. It’s just a meeting of expertises. But I think that’s a really important thing for you know, people to recognize that, what I’m hearing from you is that you, you’re asking experts for guidance. You’re also putting in the practice to try to figure it out, and the, the subtext that you didn’t, overtly say, but what I hear from how you’re talking about it is, you don’t shame yourself or beat yourself up when you can’t see the differences, you just get curious and go, “Oh, okay, I can’t see it yet, so I’m gonna ask for more help. I’m gonna, I’m gonna keep practicing.” And I think that’s an important point because a lot of times people, if they’re not immediately good at it they can get discouraged. So, can you talk more about that mindset that you have, the kind of curiosity mindset?
[00:16:41] Lili: So, I, it, it’s also that feeling of responsibility that I have, that, you know, I’m putting something out into the world and I want it to be right. So, um, so there’s also that, like, I don’t want to put out incorrect information. I want to make it as clear as possible. But the curiosity mindset, um, I guess I’m just not, I am curious, like I want to know, for myself, it’s interesting to me. Like, animals are interesting, how, how they move and how they behave and behavior is interesting to me. So, so I come from that place of already being interested in the subject.
[00:17:18] Emily: Yeah. Yeah. That’s a good point, so maybe if we’re struggling with getting clients to care about body language instead of trying to convince them to do the work, we need to help them develop interest. Maybe that’s the direction that would, that would be helpful.
[00:17:34] Lili: It’s also a two-way communication like with your dog or your cat when you can see behaviors. It helps you know how to respond, so it is part of a conversation with your animal, if that makes sense.
[00:17:50] Emily: It does. It does. And, and that’s where I often see that spark in people who are new, right? The moment that they realize that they, they have the ability to say something, not with verbally, but say something with their body to an animal, and the animal responds with their body, and they have that ability to have a conversation. That’s often where I see people come alive and go, “Oh, this is really cool!” Yeah, I love that. Can you share any experiences of using your own resources to help others learn body language?
[00:18:20] Lili: So, I’m not a dog trainer, and I’m not, I don’t directly talk to people about body language. I, I guess I do all of it through my drawings, and what gets published, but so a couple of weeks ago I got an email from somebody who had just bought my book. And they gave me a lot of feedback. They said, “Look, you, you know, I learned so much looking at this book, like every time my pet, my dog, she shakes off. Like, I didn’t know what that meant before, but now I’m wondering if she’s uncomfortable with the way I’m petting her. So do you think I should maybe let her initiate the petting?”
And I, like, I remember I, I got this email, and I was like, it really made me feel like it was so heartwarming to hear this. And I said, “Yes. You know, I think that’s a really good idea to let your dog initiate the petting.” And, and, um, so, so little stories like that, I get emails like that from people who’ve bought my book, and I dunno, these people, I’ve never met their dogs, but, um, you know, just knowing that it’s making a difference. You know, makes me feel like it’s worthwhile.
[00:19:29] Emily: Yeah, I think that’s a really good pitch for, I mean, not everybody’s the same, right? And everybody’s different. But, um, I think that’s a good pitch for like, reach out to the, the content creators who are influencing you because, we put stuff out in the world, and we don’t know how it’s being received.
And so, when, when you get an email from somebody saying, “Your work has helped me, and also like, what, you know, I’d like your input.” That can actually be really delightful for people who are, who are creating content. I think it is, it is nice that, uh, people are reaching out to you.
And they should because you, you may not be a dog trainer, but you have now spent years learning how to communicate body language, you know, animal body language. So you do have some expertise at this point, I think.
[00:20:20] Lili: Well, maybe not the, not the sort of, Like I do it with drawings better than I do it with words sort of expertise.
[00:20:30] Emily: Right, right, right. Yes. Yes. Because that’s your niche. That’s where you do need to be successful at it, right? Yeah. So, let’s talk about other species, because they’re near and dear to my heart. I do wanna just quickly fan girl about the, the penguin poster that you made. I, I’d never seen it before. And then Eddie Fernandez showed it to me, and I was just like, “It’s per, it’s perfect. How is it perfect?” So, just outta curiosity, this is just my own personal curiosity, I need to know how that happened. Like how did you end up doing a penguin poster?
[00:21:06] Lili: We know, I, I, I mean, I have drawn other animals. Like I’ve done a par, I’ve got a parrot poster, and I’ve got one with cows, and one with pigs, and other animals. But, but the penguin one started because, I was reading this paper by Eddie Fernandez on penguin enrichment, and I, you know, I took notes and I had these little doodles of penguins and he was really amazed. I, I think he goes, he got very excited about the penguins, and then, you know, I started talking to him about penguins and then I, it, I guess it came out of that, like, he, he, were just talking about penguins. I said, “Oh, you know, send me some photos of penguins.” And suddenly I got all these photos of penguins and I thought, “Wow, that’s really cool. There’s so many penguins. Wow. There’s like, you know, all these different types of penguins!” And Eddie Fernandez also said, “And they fly.” And I said, “What do you mean they fly?” And then he sent me videos of penguin swimming underwater in the ocean and they’re flapping their wings as if they were in flight.
And I thought, “Well, that would make a really good penguin poster because most people see images of penguins standing, just, you know, standing on their feet rather than swimming, so, so that was the inspiration.
[00:22:19] Emily: I, I’m not, I’m not even a little bit shocked to learn that Eddie was behind the penguin poster because he loves penguins so much. But I, I love that because it is really dynamic. It is, you know, you’re getting to see them doing what they’re good at and you know, maybe I should, maybe that’s a, a misstatement because they’re also good at walking, it’s just that when they walk, they look kind of derpy. But when you get to see them in their element where they’re swimming and you’re like, “Oh, they’re birds. They’re birds. They look like birds now.” So, I love that poster and, and your choice to, to illustrate them in motion, right? That’s beautiful.
I’m gonna have to, I feel like I have seen your parrot poster at some point, but I’m gonna have to look at the pig one, and the cow one, that’s, I’m sure it’s pretty cute too. So, what happens with those other species posters? D does, do people reach out to you or are you just, you develop an interest in the species? Like how does that happen?
[00:23:17] Lili: Oh, the, I mean, those posters, like the penguin one, they just stuff I do for fun. So, I, I sell them as prints from my shop, from my online website. So, I have a web store, and I sell prints that I make the, these are just images I do for fun. They’re not educational in the way that some of the other ones are.
[00:23:39] Emily: I, I love it though. I mean, first of all, I love when people can, you know, take their expertise and use it to fill their own cup and just, you know, experience joy in what they do. Secondly, we benefit from it because I, I also find a great deal of joy in what you do. but the real exciting new species is your new cat book. Do you wanna talk about that and how that came about.
[00:24:03] Lili: Yeah. So, after Doggy Language was published, I got a lot of requests to do a cat version from various cat people, and also from my publisher. And at the time I thought, “Well, I dunno anything about cats.” But, uh, so in 2020 my dog Boogie passed away, and in 20 20, 21 we adopted two cats, Mumba and Shimmy, who are with me now. And as I was getting to know them, and like obsessively watching them, and drawing them, and I thought, “Wow, you know, they’re really interesting, and they have so much to say, and they took completely different personalities.” And so, you know, as I was learning about them, I, you know, I kind of took up that offer to do a cat body language book.
So, it’s, it’s a gift book. It’s sort of in a similar format as Doggy Language, like a divided the book into chapters according to eyes, ears, tails, posture. Um, but there’s a, there’s more to kitty language than doggy language in that there’s some more species-specific information, uh, that is about cats, like how important scent is to them, and hunting and um, so that’s gonna be out June the 13th this year. And it’s, uh, published by Ten Speed Press, a different publisher, and it’s, it looks really beautiful.
[00:25:31] Emily: Yay, so, so imminently. It’s coming out, the book is coming out very soon, oh my gosh. And I cannot wait. I cannot wait to get a copy because I have to tell you, I’ve done a lot of work trying to help shelters develop some staff training, and there are some really good resources that are out there for shelters on specific aspects of cat behavior and care, but I have really struggled to find good comprehensive cat body language resources that are, that I can provide for staff training. And I find that interesting because there are a lot of cats out there. It’s not, you know, it’s not like cats are some kind of rare pet that you rarely come across. And yet the, the resources that have been created and, you know, big thanks to people who have created the resources that are, that exist, but they’re not nearly as comprehensive as the dog body language, resources that exist.
And I think that’s an interesting comment on how we view cats, and the difference between how we perceive dog behavior versus cat behavior, and its importance and relevance to pet parents. So, I’m really excited about your book, and I’m really appreciative to you for creating a more comprehensive resource for cat people.
[00:26:50] Lili: As I was researching the book, I also, I agree with you, like it was, there was so much, there was less information available on cat behavior than there has been for dogs, even with science papers. And I ended up spending a lot of time on YouTube, and also talking to cat experts, and cat behaviorists, and, you know, so yeah, I agree with you. There, there needs to be more cat stuff out there.
[00:27:20] Emily: For sure. So, yeah, so thank you for doing that. I wanna circle back to what you, something you said earlier about cat body language being a little bit more challenging because there are more, I guess maybe a connection, a deeper connection between their body language and their species-typical behaviors. Can you speak more to that? I would love to hear more about what you mean by that.
[00:27:42] Lili: So, one example that comes to mind, which is also covered in the book is, when one of my cat, when Mambo, the big, fluffy cat attacked, Shimmy my, the little cat and they’re best friends. And one day he attacked her, and I couldn’t, you know, it was absolutely horrifying to me. And I, and what, what that was, was that she had just come home from surgery at the vet, and she smelled different, and he didn’t recognize her. And this is a thing like, uh, they have a word for it called non-recognition aggression, which I didn’t know about being a new cat person. And when I knew about it, it was like, wow, there’s, I mean, there was another, uh, dimension of behavior that I guess, in my own education about dog behavior, a lot of it, you know, we think in terms of respondent and operant, and with cats I’m learning there’s another dimension to take into consideration, which is how important scent is to them. Uh, so, so, you know, within like a couple of days, that whole issue between Mambo and Shimmy was resolved and they were best friends again, and they were all lovey dovey and cuddly. But, you know, but knowing that now, you know, that that’s changed how I deal with vet visits. And also hunting, you know, I think people think cats are being aggressive when they pounce and, and, and, you know, all that sort of stuff, but that’s just a normal, a very normal cat behavior. Like they are predators, they’re little predators, and that is how they play. Catching things and putting it in their mouths, and biting, and scratching, so.
[00:29:27] Emily: Yeah. Thank you for elaborating on that. I think it’s really interesting because, you know, respondent in operant conditioning are methods to analyze and observe what the outcomes are of learning, or how, or how an animal is learning something. And so, I, you know, If you’re a sentient living being, you are under the, the universal laws of behavior.
You’re experiencing respondent in operant conditioning. But what you’re describing, I think is more of like the ethological component of behavior, like the species-typical behaviors and the modal action patterns, and every species experiences those too. We talk a lot about them on the podcast with dogs and, how important scent is for them and, you know, species-typical and breed-typical behaviors in dogs.
But I think, where the difference is that you’re describing is that cats are much less domesticated than dogs, and so there’s perhaps less fluidity in those modal action patterns. Whereas with selective breeding with dogs, we’ve maybe bred certain modal action patterns or behaviors within those chains to be stronger or weaker.
But what we see with cats is that they’re still pretty, they’re still pretty strong. They’re still pretty intense. There hasn’t been as much selective breeding, and so we see that they do tend to have these really big reactions to things that, to us seems alarming. Like I don’t recognize your smell, so I’m going to attack you.
And I love that you’re addressing that in your book because that’s really hard for, for pet parents to understand and to process. And a lot of times people can take it personally, or lose their trust in their pet, and but when they learn about it, especially through something as engaging and disarming as um, your book with illustrations, it, it kind of normalizes it for people, and helps people to feel like, “Oh, my cat isn’t terrible or evil. My cat’s just being a cat. This is what cats do. So, what can I do to maybe change the environment to make my cats more successful?” Right?
[00:31:39] Lili: Yeah, and, and like another common misconception too is that, you know, with the Halloween cat pose when there’s an arch back and piloerection and the fluffy tail and hissing, people think, you know, the sort of like general assumption is that the cat is being mean and that’s an evil cat when they’re just terrified. So, it’s like normalizing these, you know, what I’m hoping to do is help normalize a way of looking at behavior that doesn’t label the cat as being a bad cat or a mean cat. To take, you know, what they’re feeling into consideration.
[00:32:18] Emily: Uh, yeah, I, I love that so much, because empathy has to be a part of caregiving. We can’t provide an enriched life for our pets if we can’t empathize with their experience. And so, when we shift that perspective from the cat is mean to, the cat is scared. That helps foster more empathy for that cat, which is super important, right? I love that. Okay, so what were some of your favorite things about making this cat book? Like did you have any like really exciting aha moments? Any journeys? Was there any particular thing that you found extra delight in illustrating? I need to know, I need to know.
[00:32:56] Lili: Yes. So, um, so one question that came up a lot for me personally was, are my cats playing or are they fighting? Because it’s hard to know, right? Like, I mean, even, and, and you know, as I was so Googling, cat fighting, cat playing, um, or even on Instagram, like when I search hashtags, cat fighting, cat play, like I, I noticed that a lot of people, you know, couldn’t tell like if their cats were playing, they said they, they thought their cats were being aggressive and fighting. I had some conversations, I took videos of my cats, and I would send them to cat experts and say, “What are they doing? What’s going on? I don’t understand.” And um, I had cat experts break down the behaviors for me, like saying, “Oh look. They’re not fighting. They’re having a conversation, or they’re playing.” Um, so, so I, one of my favorite things in this book was drawing cats playing. Like I have drawings of cats wrestling, and they look like they’re really, you know, beating each other up, but they’re not, they’re actually playing.
So, I’ve got a chapter on play, and I’ve got drawings of cats playing, and I had a lot of fun, looking at YouTube videos and watching my own cats and taking videos, and drawing from those.
[00:34:16] Emily: I can’t wait to see that book. I’m so excited. Oh, it’s gonna be such a wonderful resource. Oh, my goodness. So, I, lily’s getting, showing me some of the illustrations right now and they. Are adorable. Oh, my goodness. Okay. Y’all need to buy this book when it comes out because it is super cute. Super cute. And I think it’s gonna be so helpful for people to learn what, what’s actually going on with their cat or their kitties. Um, so, Ooh, I’m so excited for that.
Okay, so. So based on our discussion, what would you say are some observable goals and actionable items for that people can take away from this discussion?
[00:35:00] Lili: Well, I, I would love people to buy my books, and get curious about your, your animals and, you know, observe them. Be obsessed with them. That’s what I’ve done.
[00:35:12] Emily: I love that. I love that. I, I’m an advocate of that too. I can’t tell you how many hours in my life I have spent just sitting and staring at the animals in my care and just watching them exist. I think I underestimated how valuable that spent time was until I entered this profession, consulting, specifically behavior consulting, and realized that all of those years from childhood on that I had spent just staring at animals actually makes me a better consultant.
So, yes. I I love that. Yeah. Just get curious and, and watch ’em watch, watch your pets, right? I love that.
Okay, so we give our Pro Campus and Mentorship Program members the opportunity to ask questions of our guests, and the big question that we have is a little bit sensitive, but we’ve heard that you had some intellectual property stolen and that people were selling your illustrations.
So, can you talk about where we can go to make sure that we’re buying your products that are from you, that aren’t, haven’t been stolen from you, talk about that process cuz we wanna make sure that we’re actually supporting the artist and not thiefs.
[00:36:25] Lili: Yeah, thank you so much for bringing this up. So, um, I have had a lot of art stolen over the years, and the biggest problems were with very large companies, clothing retailers selling my art on t-shirts and socks and various things. Hopefully that’s not happening anymore.
But, you know, one of the big issues with copyright infringement is that my customers don’t know if what they’re seeing is legit products, uh, if they’re legitimate products or if they’re stolen goods. I do officially license my art to some companies, and one of them is Berkshire Blankets. They’re a company based in Massachusetts and a lot of these blankets are sold at Home Good stores, TJ Maxx, and I think Marshalls. So they have dogs and cats on them. So tho, those are cool. Please buy those blankets, I get paid in royalties from those sales. Um, they’re also jigsaw puzzles by True South Puzzle Company and I do sell my dog pins to various stores around the country. So, if you see my pins in a store, those are, and if they have my name on the back of them, then those, those are fine. You can buy those pins. But usually if it’s something you’ve seen on the internet, and that, and it’s not connected to my website, it’s probably stolen.
[00:37:46] Emily: Yeah, and we’ll have, you know, links to all of that in the show notes so that people can go, go to, to the show notes to actually get links. And then also you sell stuff directly from your website, correct?
[00:37:59] Lili: Yes. I sell stuff directly from my website.
[00:38:01] Emily: perfect. Okay. We wanna make sure we’re supporting the artist, and all the really diligent work that you’ve done to learn animal body language and, really deftly communicate that in illustrations and not steal from you, not participating in stealing from you.
All right, so at the end of every interview, we ask every guest the same questions. So, the first one is, what is one thing that you wish people knew about this topic, your profession, or enrichment? Your choice.
[00:38:31] Lili: Well, I, I feel like this is something I’ve already mentioned and that is, you know, I just want people to look at their animals differently, I guess. To be more sensitive, to consider that animals are communicating with us all the time, and they are thinking, feeling individuals. And I hope that my work helps encourage that.
[00:38:55] Emily: It does. Yes. Thank you for that. Uh, what is one thing you’d love to see improved in your field? And that can be illustration, it doesn’t even have to be. In the animal field, but it could be either.
[00:39:07] Lili: What’s one thing I’d like to see improved in my field? So, this isn’t really my personal field in that I don’t work in the world of animal behavior, like I’m not in the middle of it. I’m just sort of on the sidelines. But, uh, I would love to see more diversity, more cultural diversity, more different cultural perspectives in this field. Like I, I feel like that’s starting to happen now. And, you know, more perspectives from different countries, from different cultures, from different subcultures, and that’s really exciting.
[00:39:39] Emily: Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. I, I whole. Agree with you, and I’m grateful to you for saying it, so thank you for that. What do you love about what you do?
[00:39:51] Lili: I love the variety in what I do. Like, I love that I can do so many different things within, being an artist. I, I get to work with amazing people. I get to learn from amazing people. I get to do my own thing like create my own art. I get to make money selling my art. Um, right now I’m working on a book, uh, that’s a new thing, that’s a different area for me. I’m sharing what I know and I’m also learning new things at the same time, and I get to look at photos and videos of animals, and draw dogs and cats, and, um, yeah. I think that’s a pretty good life.
[00:40:28] Emily: I agree that, that’s delightful. Right? Um, it’s, it’s a moment where you look around and you go, “Wow, I’m really fortunate to get to do what I do.” Yeah, I can, I can relate to that. What are you currently working on? If people want to work more with, or learn from you, where can they find you?
[00:40:48] Lili: Okay, so I’m currently working on a new book, it’s called Dogs of the World, and it’s actually, drawings of dog breeds from around the world, but not like, not only breeds, but you know, mutts and land races, and village dogs. And, and there’ll be new infographics in this book as well. So that’s what I’m working on.
And if people want to find me, my website is doggy drawings.net. From there you can find me, you know, links to my social media and, and my book websites as well.
[00:41:18] Emily: Excellent. I wanna thank you once again, so much for joining us today. It was so delightful to talk body language with you, and get to learn more about your background, and what you’re working on, so thank you so much for being here.
[00:41:32] Lili: Thank you so much for having me.
[00:41:34] Allie: Getting to interview Lili was kind of a surreal experience. I’ve admired her work for so long, and she’s just such a kind and down to earth human. And I think one of the things that I love about her work is that it’s a beautiful example, that it takes all kinds of people to make a difference in the lives of pets and their people.
That no matter what your skillsets or experience are, you can make a meaningful and lasting impact that’s unique to you. And that’s true for professionals and pet parents alike. Next week we will be talking about why you need to video your pets.
Thank you for listening. You can find us at petharmonytraining.com and @petharmonytraining on Facebook and Instagram, and also @petharmonypro on Instagram for those of you who are behavioral professionals. As always links to everything we discussed in this episode are in the show notes and a reminder to please rate, review and subscribe wherever you listen to podcasts a special thank you to Ellen Yoakum for editing this episode, our intro music is from Penguin Music on Pixabay.
Thank you for listening and happy training.