Warning: You might need tissues (according to the folks on Facebook who watched it already). I am humbled and grateful to have had my work and message captured so beautifully by Enero J. Ray and Chad Fedler of Touchvision. This was edited down from a 40 minute interview with me as well as a visit from my client Claire and her pups Medi and Tula. We also took a field trip over to the new Urban Pooch Canine Training Center to get some footage of the new mural I designed. What a gift to have this tribute to my pups Izzy and Alice who were such an integral part of growing my art business and inspiring me to get involved with addressing the Homeless Pet situation so prevalent in our society.
In the weeks since she has been gone, I seem to have amassed a ‘shrine’ to Alice: her clay paw print, an envelope with clippings of her fur, her collar, her food bowl, the bone photo/frame: a gift from Laura Nugent years ago, (she and Alice became fast friends after a week long slumber party in our living room, when she stayed with us for a show), a beautiful copper enamel heart condolence gift from Mary Laskey, and the photo I took of us mounted on a resin frame, a suprise gift from another artist friend, Juana Ryan. Oh, and that little pewter dog, I picked that up years ago, it just represents her silly spirit. I still can’t bear to put away her dog bed, so that remains in my little living room and I step around it twice a day when I open and close the blinds. Her leash and harness still hang on the hook by the door. I can’t put the key in the door without thinking, she’s not there waiting for me. I’m really doing okay, but grief has a way of sneaking up on you when you least expect it. Yep, I really miss her…hug your doggies, if you have’m!
One life…a gazillion photos, countless drawings and paintings, boundless love and joy. So sad to tell you that Alice is no longer with me, but so grateful for having had her lovely spirit in my life. She brought a smile to the face of every person that had the good fortune to meet her!
Alice arrived at our front door on September 4, 2004 in the arms of a volunteer from Chicago Canine Rescue. Her whole litter had been found in an alley next to a dumpster…we had been talking about getting a 2nd dog and decided maybe a foster would be a good way to test it out. Izzy (10 at the time) was certainly not thrilled with this little gal that turned our house upside down, stole all of her toys and the attention – but in the end she was Izzy’s ears and constant companion.
August 2011, Alice and I, the first night in our tiny new apartment. She was by my side through one of the biggest transitions of my life…can’t imagine having gone through it, without her!
Christmas 2012 at Mom’s up in Wisconsin. Alice had so much fun and she loved snow!
I took these last 3 photos with my phone a week before she died, she was so adorable and peaceful sleeping in my bed. I had no idea they would be the last ones of us together. By now, I’m sure she’s busy tearing it up in doggy heaven…so I won’t say rest in peace, just run and play, my sweet, silly Alice!
….so on Saturday Alice went in for her follow up appointment at Roscoe Village Animal Hospital (see doggie drama…part 1)…while there, I mentioned to the vet that Gracie had been sick several times over the last 24 hours with obvious signs that she had chewed up and consumed 1/2 of a large, black ‘extreme’ kong. She said to keep an eye on her and play it by ear…within 2 hours of being back home, things coming out the other end indicated something more serious, so we took her in. They did an exam and xray and it was not good news – pieces of the kong were blocking her lower intestine. They sent us to the Animal Emergency Treatment Center on Belmont for immediate retrieval of what turned out to be the most expensive 3 pieces of kong we would ever see! Luckily there were no complications and she is at home healing up, her incision is at least 8″ long. No more kongs for Gracie, someone suggested deer antlers for pit mixes – got one and she loves it. Here are some photos from the ‘canine infirmary’: all the drugs for the 2 dogs and…oh yes, in the baggie are the 3 very pricey pieces of retrieved kong! (kind of strange though, only one was black the other two were tan colored…maybe her stomach acid bleached them?) The staff at AETC were great, and they loved sweet Gracie (who looks much smaller than 60 pounds with that cone on her head). I was taken aback walking into their beautiful contemporary hopital to see all this vacant wall space – whose art do you think would go perfectly in this pet ER? (where people definitely need a reason to smile!) Could have outfitted the place if we had done a trade for the surgery!
I guess 'part 1' is not an accurate statement, the real drama started back in February with Alice having seizures, it was very scary to witness. I'm happy to say they are now under control with Potassium Bromide – her diagnois was Canine Epilepsy. Now that she's adjusted to the drugs she's been pretty much herself agian – with the exception of a little problem with one of her toes that has grown to be a bigger problem….the photos are from last week, I called it her Easter Paw, the i.v. bag was given to us as her official rain gear. She has now downgraded to a sock and 'whirlpool spa treatments' twice a day…these entail filling a rubber surgical glove with an anti-bacterial solution, inserting her paw and pumping on the fingers of the glove…and voila, the canine paw spa is born! Stay tuned for Part II – it's a doozie…
This is the long overdue Narrative Portrait that I'm working on of my dog, Alice…. The image below was my initial sketch. There are so many silly things about her, it was hard to narrow it down, but I think these translate well:
I vowed not to design any pet sympathy cards until Izzy left me…4 months after her death I started sketching designs, it was a heavy hearted exercise. I had to put them away for awhile but last week, one of my clients sadly and very unexpectedly, lost their dog so I decided I should finish one…this is it. My grief does not arise without an equal amount of gratitude for having had her in my life.
A very belated update on Gracie…made even later by a freak and unfortunate step on Friday which resulted in a sprained ankle for me! More about that in the next post. So back to Gracie girl…we took her to our vet for the first time so he could take out her stitches (from spaying) and give her a good check up. What he found was the end of her tail in very bad shape (it was hidden by her very dark fur) basically raw to the bone. “Happy Tail Syndrome” is a somewhat common occurrence for shelter dogs – every time someone comes into the kennel area they get so excited that they wag their tales so hard that they break on the back walls of the kennels which are usually cement. I know, ouch. Almost impossible to heal in a shelter environment and even challenging in a regular home, as we can attest to! Dr. Rovner bandaged and wrapped up the tail (like a flower complete with pink end and green stem) and suited her up with a cone collar to keep her from going after it. This means she no longer fits comfortably in our kennel so I took her to the studio that afternoon where she proved herself a natural snoozing away in the front window among the adoring public. While fun for her, this scenario proved to be very unproductive for me so Plan B ensued: sequestering her to the bathroom when we couldn’t be home with her.Did I mention she had the bandage off within the first 12 hours?! (we wanted to give her a break from the cone). Over the next several days Rich played doggie MD and re-wrapped it with a pipe insulator to soften the blows. It was not a pretty sight and soon she found a way to get to it even with the cone on! So I rigged it up with duct tape to add some inches around the perimeter, she looked so silly – but it held up until we got her back to the vet for 30″ cone and a new bandage – this one reminiscent of a sock monkey! At this point we have made it through 2 of the 3 weeks they predicted for recovery. It’s been a little exhausting to say the least and training is going very slow but she and Alice are warming up to each other. I do have to add that she is one of the most affectionate, snugly dogs that I have met, even while sporting the plastic satellite dish couture!