For the Love of a Dog

Snowdog

Last Friday, November 8th, we lost our Golden Retriever, Lucy. She collapsed in our yard while running and playing and died instantly. She was a mere eight years old and was full of life until that last second. The vet speculated that the cause was cardiomyopathy – a weakening of the heart muscle. The photo you see here is of a colored pencil piece I did of her last year, her muzzle full of snow. It’s titled, Snowdog. She truly was the best dog we’ve ever known in my family and even though it’s been a week, the grief I’m suffering has not abated. Not one bit. I’ve never known a dog with more spirit and character and the house feels empty without her in it. Our poor other golden, Gracie is grieving right along with the rest of us, her leader and playmate nowhere to be found.

Lucy loved her people. She liked to be nearby…I mean really nearby. She’d often times lean on me, or plop her head in my lap in order to get an ear scratched. If that didn’t do it, I was likely to get the paw slapped upon my knee until I paid attention. She knew how to get your attention. She had a little trick she’d do if you weren’t paying attention. We called it “the head toss.” If she wanted to go out, or wanted a bite of what we were eating, or simply needed you to pay attention to her, she would flip her head in the air – often twice in a row. Then she’d stare at you and command the stage. You became her audience and she was on the stage. She didn’t like loud noises and she hated it if I swore at the television when my favorite football team was playing poorly. If you called her over, most times she would go find a ball or another toy to bring to you – an offering. She knew how to make you smile and she loved to please her people.

My artwork centers mainly around two things – the very realistic still life (such as my guitar and saxophone triptychs) and animal art. Many people shun animal art in favor of more trendy or contemporary art. I’ve met plenty of people like that and I don’t understand that mentality. They really criticize works that depict horses, dogs, or even the family cat. If that inspires the artist, then why not a painting of your favorite pet? I think animal art has just as much significance in the art world as a still life of two apples on a table – maybe more. For some reason, animal art is much more challenging to me to portray the animal realistically enough. Often, fur comes out somewhat stylistic, which is not my intent. My therapy in this time of grief is to do a portrait of Lucy. My photo reference is a favorite of mine, her playing in the snow again. I don’t love the lighting in it because it was taken on a cloudy day, but I love the expression on her face. I just hope I can do her justice and capture that expression. My favorite part of illustrating animals is working on the eyes. They really do capture the soul and if I can depict the expression properly, I can capture the animal’s personality.

Hopefully, I can post some works in progress of her portrait. I’ll have to put the work aside for a bit to prepare for the upcoming holidays and get ready for a workshop I’m having in February, but I will endure and see this portrait through. I read something written by Peter King, the Sports Illustrated “Monday Morning Quarterback” writer who lost his Golden Retriever the day before we lost Lucy. He said, “The easiest way not to feel this grief is to never have a dog. And what an empty life that would be.” Rest in peace, Lucy. I hope you have finally caught that squirrel you so desperately tried to catch while you were with us for those brief eight years.

Advertisements

2 Responses to “For the Love of a Dog”

  1. Sandra Rozsa Says:

    Your artwork is beautiful, but it was certainly the subject that enticed me to read Lucy’s story. She had a wonderful happy life, and I truly understand your grief. I have a female Golden, also named Lucy. She has many of the same mannerisms you mention about your Lucy. She turned 8 years old in June of this year, 2013. She is my best friend, my buddy in everything that I do. Her unflagging joy in life and every new thing or person she discovers constantly makes me smile. I understand your pain and offer you real sympathy. Be consoled that she died so suddenly, so quickly, that although it was unexpected, it was so much better than having to watch her waste away in pain. I hope my Lucy is as lucky as yours was. You were a perfect human to her and gave her the best that a dog’s life can be. Thank you for writing this eulogy. I cried when I read it.
    Remembering Lucy,

    Sandy Rozsa

    • Sandy, I so appreciate your words of sympathy. Enjoy every moment that you have with your Lucy. Goldens are special creatures and our time spent with them only enhances our lives. Best, Lisa

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: