Several years ago I was house hunting with friends. One of the homes they looked at had a large slightly whimsical painting of a dog in the entrance way. It was the first thing you saw when you walked through the front door. I liked the house immediately 🙂 I remember thinking to myself, “I should paint dogs – I used to enjoy drawing – maybe I can paint.” But in my typical way, I didn’t follow through.
Then Lola came into my life. Lola was my heart dog. I have loved all the dogs in my life but Lola and I had a special bond. Lola was a companion, a protector, and a clown. She was full of personality – everything she did was intense – even her bum wiggles. Lola’s life here was far too short – a terminal illness took her from us two months before her sixth birthday. The six months we fought her illness were among the hardest in my life and the heart break I felt when she passed away was excruciating.
When I was in the early part of my grieving process, a wise and spiritual friend of mine said that once some time had passed Lola would give me a gift. I started experimenting with painting several months later with the end goal of painting Lola. After several practice paintings – I painted her and then I just kept painting. I did three memorial dog paintings as gifts for friends and my sister who were all grieving recent losses and was completely caught off guard by how emotional their reactions were. It was like they were re-connecting with the pet they had loved so much. I felt like I had done something very important and very special and it occurred to me that this was Lola’s gift.
May has become a bittersweet month for me. I love seeing nature come back to life – flowers bloom, trees get new leaves, the hillsides so lush and green. May also reminds me that life is precious and not to be taken for granted.
Three years ago in May our five year old Olde English Bulldogge, Lola, progressed through the end stage of liver disease – “idiopathic canine hepatitis” is what the vets called it – a fancy way of saying its a terminal liver disease and we don’t know what is causing it. We fought her illness hard but it was a fight we were not meant to win – she passed away at the end of May. Those who don’t understand the bond that can form between people and their dogs may think that after three years I should be “over it”- but the end of May still comes with a sting for me.
Lola is the inspiration behind Scully Dogge Art. I started painting because of her and I continue to paint as a way to honour the incredible bond many of us have with our pets. They enrich our lives and they have so much to teach us about life and love. Here are just a few lessons of the many lessons my Lola taught me:
1. Be in the moment – get out of your head and take in the sights, smells and sounds of nature – there is so much beauty all around us – don’t miss it. 2. Never give up on your dreams – one day that squirrel will fall off the fence and you need to be ready! 3. Don’t let fear stand in your way – even though bears may seem way bigger than you, the right amount of confidence can make them flee up a tree. 4. Celebrate the people you love – run up and down the hallway and spin in circles every time you see them – even if they were only gone for a few minutes. 5. Farts are scary – ok … I may have already known this one 😉 6. Tackle large tasks from the bottom up – the best way to take down a dog that is much larger than you is to bite his ankles until he falls over – then pounce! 7. Be nice – show haters your big goofy smile whenever you get a chance – you will win some of them over. 8. Everyone loves a bum wiggle – it’s true – wiggle your butt and see what happens, I dare you. 9. Take care of your people – make sure they know about every wild animal in the neighbourhood, especially the ones that are out at 3 a.m. 10. There is no such thing as too many kisses.
There is so much we can learn from our dogs – as long as we take the time to be truly present. Love you forever, Lola. 💕
Diego turned eleven today. Diego is our chocolate lab. He was re-homed to us when he was eleven months old because … well… because he was nuts.
I remember the day we went to meet him after seeing his smiling mug in the “pets for sale” section of our local news website. I was so excited! I always wanted a chocolate lab because they are chocolate – I am a simple girl.
We called the number in the ad and arranged a meet and greet. The address wasn’t easy to find – we drove down a mud road deep into the forest in our trusty old beater Jeep. We found the house, knocked on the door and a very tired looking young woman answered it – she had a baby on her hip and two toddlers at her side. “Oh, you are here to see TJ”, she said. “Just a minute. He’s not here, but he will be,” she added. She stepped out on to the porch and screamed at the top of her lungs “TJ!” and we waited … “Tee Jay!” … nothing – it was getting awkward … “Teeee Jaaaay!!!” Off in the distance, a brown blur of craziness emerged from the tree line moving towards us at a speed our brains could barely comprehend – jowls flopping in the wind, drool flying through the air, eyes spinning in circles. “There he is,” she said nonchalantly “he always comes back.”
I remember thinking – is he going to be able to stop or will he just run right through us? The answer was both. He managed to skid to a hault in front of my husband and I but not before knocking both toddlers into a puddle and covering us all with mud. “We’ll take him!” we said in what was probably a moment of temporary insanity. And then, we – paid – her. In retrospect, it probably should have been the other way around.
We put him in the Jeep with us and off we went envisioning this to be your typical drive with a dog – you know, the one where you open the window, the dog sticks his head out with a big-ass smile on his face taking in all the scents and sounds of the journey. It wasn’t quite like that – instead he climbed into the front and ran frantically back and forth over top of us barking maniacally at every vehicle, person, bicycle and street sign we passed – taking a break only to chew on the little hair my husband had left at the time.
When we got to our house I was convinced things would get better – after all I was prepared after having googled “how to introduce a new dog to your home”. Google said to keep him on a leash and walk him calmly through the house so he wouldn’t feel overwhelmed – and so that’s what we did except he pulled like a rabid ox until he choked and his eyes bugged out of his head … and then he pulled some more. He settled for a brief moment – just long enough to lift his leg and pee on one of our house plants.
That moment not only marked his territory – it also marked the beginning of our journey with Diego who turns 11 years old today. It hasn’t been easy and it certainly hasn’t been boring but we never, ever gave up on our Mr D. We gave him a new name and a forever home and in return he taught us about patience, commitment and unconditional love.
The sun is shining again, the trees are budding and our backyard looks like someone blew up a port-a-potty back there. It must be spring. Normally our winters here in the Okanagan Valley of beautiful British Columbia are all about short-stay snow. It falls, hangs around for a bit and then melts. Not this year – we got dumped on almost everyday – it went on forever – it didn’t melt – it just piled up and up and up.
Speaking of dumps, our two dogs have been diligently trained to use a designated area of the backyard as their doggie loo. I know – impressive, hey? Well apparently our fancy pants dogs don’t like pooping in what literally became a snow and shit sandwich – maybe a snow and shit layer cake is a better way to describe what happened this winter – poo, covered with snow, more poo, more snow, more poo… I know you are thanking me for the visual on this.
Anyways, our well trained fanny fudge makers decided enough was enough and started baking their brownies all over the yard – now as the snow melts we are left with what is essentially a fecal minefield.
I’m all for gender equality and I believe that women can do anything men do but I must admit that there are times I really like the concept of pink and blue jobs – this is one of those times. I will take scrubbing dog slobber off my stainless steel appliances over standing in a sea of butt-truffles and scrubbing down the poop-deck any day.