An old internet friend commissioned me to do a double portrait of his sweet dogs, who have sadly passed on. Rooney, a chocolate lab and Magic, a black lab were my subjects. I’d never met the dogs, so only had pictures and my friend’s description of what the boys were like.
It is a funny thing but as I draw, I feel like I’m actually getting to know who or what ever I’m drawing (yes, if I draw a rock, I start to feel I know the rock) and it was the same with these two. Rooney seems such a hopeful, serious sort and Magic goofy and playful. Both seemed open and loving and most of all, loved.
So, here’s Rooney & Magic, approximately 16×20 in graphite. It was great getting to know you.
Rooney & Magic, 16×20, graphite.
Loki has a favorite ball. It’s a red ball that flashes light when it is moved, jostled, or nudged. My cousin, Donna gave her this ball many years ago — at least 8 or so. We’re all amazed that the flashy thing inside still works.
Loki doesn’t really like playing fetch. She has her own way of playing ball. She gets the ball of choice, runs up to the human she has decided needs her attention, and growls menacingly. This is her invitation to the human to try and get the ball. As you go to take it from her, the pitch and volume of her growl grows and she does her best imitation of an attack monster-dog defending her young. If you back off or try to ignore her, she will continue to close in, eventually nudging your hand or dropping the ball in your lap while continuing to growl with gusto, as if to say, “stupid human, you are supposed to grasp the ball with your hand and pull on it while it’s in my mouth. Hasn’t anyone taught you how to play?”
Sometimes she will go to a spot in the room or out on the deck with the ball or other toy in her mouth, sit facing the humans with the hope that they will notice she wants to play. If they fail to notice after a certain amount of time (say, a few minutes), she will drop the ball with a sigh and stare at you with the saddest look I’ve ever seen on the face of a most well-loved dog.
So, I sculpted Loki waiting with her ball. She’s done in red, outdoor sculpture clay with a pigmented wax patina. It doesn’t do her justice.
I’ve entered her in a juried art show and I really hope she gets in. I also hope to get up some better photos of the piece to put up on Flickr and my website. But for now, here’s Loki, waiting to play.
Another view plus a detail of the head below.
Sometimes my animals are just too cute for words.
When the weather is nice, Loki will go out on the deck, choose one of her balls, and then sit there, ball in mouth, waiting for one of us to notice that she’d like to play. She will wait for quite some time, as she has the patience of a saint.
Milo likes to hang out at the front window, watching the neighbors.
The two seem to like each other. One day, Milo was perched on his cage door, eating a snow pea. Loki likes to sit under him and wait for crumbs. This time, Loki reached up and gently took the pea from Milo’s beak. Milo didn’t seem to mind as nary a feather was ruffled. He just went inside and got another pea. That’s one picture I regret not getting.
I can hardly believe that Loki is 9 years old and Milo is 24.
So this week we had Leo and Buddha staying over. They both arrived on Friday afternoon. It was kinda interesting watching how the three dogs got along. Buddha is a gorgeous, high-energy pit bull who is all about “the love.” Leo is a very small beagle who’s coloring is on the red side, with moderate ticking on his white areas. He’s a feisty little guy who just doesn’t seem to know he’s pint-sized. And of course, Loki, our pit bull/beagle mix is right in the middle size-wise, but full of disdain when it comes to these raucous male interlopers.
I must say, all three dogs got along way better than I imagined they would. There was minimal posturing among the boys. Turns out, Leo is a bit of an instigator, hoping to get the larger Buddha in trouble so he could win a better position (closer to the people/food). When dogs vie for place, I tend to send all bickering parties far away. No winners in this house.
The very funniest “bout” was the first night. We brought all their beds into the bedroom with us. Leo ran and claimed Buddha’s bed and Buddha tried to claim Leo’s. Watching Buddha try to make himself small enough to get into Leo’s bed was quite amusing. Buddha’s head is bigger than Leo’s whole bed. It was even funnier watching Brni try to get them in the right beds. Loki, of course, claimed our bed, which is her domain (she gets the middle).
Leo went home last night and now I’ve added my neighbor’s cats to the list of animals I’m taking care of. The cats, thankfully, get to stay home so all I have to do is go feed and water them twice a day. Buddha will be with us for the next week or so.
I wonder if I should start an animal-sitting business?
Yesterday was hot and windy while we waited for hurricane Hannah to move closer. A couple gutter guards blew off the roof. I moved plants, bird feeders and anything that could become a projectile off the deck, pinning them down safely under the porch, while Brni fixed things up on the roof.
Loki woke up around 4 AM asking to go out. I had expected her to rush down to pee, but instead she slowly walked out the back stopping and sniffing the entire perimeter of the deck, then went down to inspect the backyard. The sky was gray and overcast, but strangely brighter than it should have been. I waited, tapping out the rhythm to an old 50s rock and roll song that has been plaguing my head for days now. Finally, I whistled her in. I mean, it’s after 4 AM and I want to go back to bed. She got up again around 7. Brni’s turn.
Up at 9, sipping coffee, I went out to get the paper. The sky is still a uniform gray and the air is deadly still and full of water, though it’s not raining. Four crows are sitting on the dead branches of a maple across the street. The youngest crow is nervously complaining about the coming storm. I understand. Waiting for weather has gotten to everyone it seems.
Have you ever heard a dog scream? It’s chilling.
Both Loki and I stopped dead in our tracks when we heard Zappa scream. Rocky, the gorgeous, unfortunate German Shepherd across the street had gotten out again and ran past Zappa’s owner, grabbed her around the middle of her small body and tried to shake the life out of her.
Rocky’s owners have created a monster out of a beautiful animal by chaining him to a clothes line for the past few years. No exercise, no socializing, no job or purpose for an intelligent, powerful working dog. Rocky is about as neurotic and out of control as a dog can get without being completely insane. And I’m sure he could still become a wonderful dog if he was with a family who knew how to fulfill his physical and emotional needs. As it stands now, his family will either do nothing or put him down. I doubt if they have what it takes to rehabilitate him or to find him an owner who can.
Zappa made it through surgery. The emergency vet was able to repair the tear to her abdominal wall and she’s resting in recovery now. She will have a slow recovery because of her age, but she should be okay. Zappa is blessed with an owner who knows how to give her the kind of life a dog needs.
My son, Jess, and his girlfriend went to DC to a coffee convention for Jess’s work, so Brni and I are dog-sitting. Of course, I took the opportunity to whip out the camera — Lindsey has the most adorable little beagle named Leo.
and here are Loki and Leo, squared off with their peanut butter filled kongs.