Rowan– My Gentle Boy

As I mentioned in my last post, Rowan often seems more human than dog. His gaze is both intense and soft at the same time and holds much wisdom.

Rowan knows me so well and can always seem to tell when something is amiss with me. He alerts me to when my blood sugar drops before I realize it; he’ll sit nearby and snort at me to get my attention. If that doesn’t work he’ll bark at me until I respond.

I’m not always sure what Rowan is trying to tell me, but I ask him questions and he “answers” me in a way he’s figured out to communicate with me. First I usually ask if he wants to go out. If yes, he perks up his ears and trots to the door. If no, he turns his head aside or crouches low. Then I ask if Petra wants to go out, since he’ll often let me know (since she doesn’t usually let me know and just crosses her legs). If yes, he perks his ears up and take a few steps toward the door, then stops when she runs past him. If no, he’ll avert his head.

Next I ask if he needs water. If yes, he perks up his ears and trots to the dish. If no, he averts his head. Then I ask if I need to eat. If yes, he trots to the kitchen and lies down as soon as I start to get myself some food. He is such an awesome dog!

If I’m asleep when my blood sugar drops, he’ll jump up and paw and sniff me to wake me up (normally I can’t get him to jump up to put his paws on the bed). Sometimes I’m so sleepy I ignore him; at those times he gives me a minute, then comes back more strongly, insisting I get up. As soon as I get up and head for food, he curls up and goes back to sleep. Such a fabulous dog!

Even more than all of that, though, what I love about Rowan is how connected we are. He loves to be with me; I love to be with him. He doesn’t ask for a lot of attention and he almost never pushes for affection when the other dogs are around, but I know I’m always in his awareness. All I have to do is quietly say, “Rowan, I need you,” and he comes running. I love this dog so much!

Painting the bond

I’ve been home for over a month now recovering from bronchitis (almost better now), and my dogs have been my constant companions, rarely leaving my side, following me from room to room, warming my lap, making me smile and laugh.

Milo dances gleefully, wags his tail wildly, and bobs his head with unmitigated joy. Petra slips up silently to gently rest her muzzle on my leg, then gazes up with such loving eyes she instantly melts me and any concerns on my mind. Rowan’s been watching me, clearly concerned that I haven’t been my normal healthy self, and I often look up to see him staring at me from across the room. I do wonder what’s going through his mind; he often seems more human than dog.

While I’ve been enjoying my dogs so much, I’ve been painting dogs, both mine and others. In each painting I try to capture something of the essence of the bond that dog has with someone. The person might not be in the painting, but hopefully they are inferred by the look in the dog’s eyes, by the happy doggy smile, or by the intense focus as the dog is obviously giving his or her attention to someone. Our dogs are in so many ways an integral part of our lives, and we are also an integral part of their lives. Each of us needs the other in the unique and special connection we have.

Musings and Doodlings While Sick with Swine Flu

Well, this really is a nasty bug, and it has knocked me down for a spell. I’m on the mend now, though, and getting up for brief periods of mild activity in the house in between rest times on the couch. I’ve canceled nearly everything on my calendar and I’m focusing on getting a few things done that I can do quietly at home. I’ve also had lots of time to read, which is always a treat.

I’m taking an online artist journaling class, which has especially been a boon while I’ve been under the weather. The class is fun, inspiring, and freeing. Cathy Johnson, the instructor, is very encouraging and inspiring. She opens the door to possibility, something that is so important to art, and she’s showing us how to use journaling to explore possibilities, ideas, and daily life. My journal is becoming a place to record memories, to explore ideas and thoughts, and to hone my skills, all without pressure. A pretty ideal companion for an artist, and one that makes what could otherwise be humdrum hours and days full of interest.

Here are some of the pages I’ve done in the past few days:

Despite being sick, I also got a bunch of paintings together for two exhibits that both opened last Saturday. One is at White Birch Fine Art Gallery in NH and is an exhibit of just ACEO’s (Artist Cards, Editions and Originals. ACEO’s are little paintings that are always 2.3 by 3.5 inches and can be any medium.

I painted some as ACEO’s and others I cut from larger paintings. I loved doing these and hope to do many more. I’ve always tended to paint small, and it’s thrilling for me to find there’s a place for small art works. These are the ACEO’s I sent in:

I also have two paintings and a pen & ink drawing in the Holiday Boutique at Duck Pond Gallery. I didn’t think I’d be able to get them there, but a friend drove an hour each way to pick them up and deliver them for me. Thank you! I’m excited about exhibiting in this gallery because I’m also going to have my first solo exhibition there sometime in 2011.

It’s very encouraging to me to have these paintings in exhibitions and has certainly lifted my spirits while I haven’t been feeling well. It also gets me thinking and planning for more paintings that I want to do. One of the things I love about painting is the freedom to do what I want with it. I can dream and pursue my dreams. If they work out the way I like, that’s great. If not, it’s just paper.

A side benefit of this flu has been the ways I’ve been reminded of how many people really care about me. People have written encouraging notes, prayed for me, offered to help in many ways, called to cheer me up and make me laugh, brought me soup (delicious soup!), and generally been wonderful. Stephen has been great; driving me to the doctor, making tea, keeping a cheerful, crackling fire going in the fireplace, and so much more. I truly am blessed with wonderful friends and family.

I’ve had plenty of quiet time to reflect in the past two weeks, and I have to say, I love my life as a wife, mother, friend, dog trainer, writer, and artist. There is nothing I would rather be doing than living the life I now live.

“The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.” Psalm 16:6