Bacchus and I slogged along this morning, our mood matching the day. Cloudy - though the sun was struggling mightily to break through. He had lost a buddy and I had lost two. I gave him about 6000 extra hugs when we got back home. How odd. Yesterday morning I had an e-mail from an old friend in Toronto. Last evening I received an e-mail from an old friend in Seattle. Both were telling me they had lost their dogs.
When first we met Zorro his Dad was working for one of our favorite galleries in Vancouver and he was the gallery dog. His owner, who had recently passed away, had willed him to Rick. The two had become inseparable. Zorro, so named for a prominent white Z on his side, was so much a part of the art scene in the gallery that one of the native artists carved him as a mask. No small honor for Springer Spaniels aren't known to be part of Northwest Coast Indian mythology.
I too was carving at the time and had just ventured into theme chess sets. Rick's good friend, the French Consulate in Vancouver had a male cat and he asked me to build a Dogs vs Cats chess set for her. My first chess set commission. I was thrilled.
While the set was in progress we moved to Rochester, New York. Shortly thereafter and much to my surprise and pleasure Rick and Zorro moved to Toronto. When my guy had business in Toronto I would go along and spend the day at the gallery. I'd take the pieces I was working on, cats at the time, for Zorro's approval. We had such great laughs as we lined them up on a desk and Zorro would sniff each with great disdain then retreat to his couch. If he let me sit down and scratch his ears I took it as a sign of approval.
The last time I saw him we had just gotten Bacchus and took him to Toronto to meet Zorro. Yorkville will never be the same. Declining an offer to take Bacchus into the gallery (we didn't want to own gobs of fragmented Inuit art) we perched on the steps in front and waited for Zorro to honor us with his presence. Well. The expression on his face said it all - this slobbering, floppy jowlled ball of fur didn't deserve the time of day. Rick made him stay and we enjoyed the battle of canine egos. Of course a Saint Bernard puppy is an attention magnet. But, being the refined gentleman that he was, Zorro waited patiently. Soon a couple came by and absolutely ignored Bacchus - they LOVED Springers and Zorro was a handsome guy. He accepted their accolades with a brief wag of the tail, took one last disdainful look at Bacchus and retreated into HIS gallery to HIS couch.
Ah, Zorro. You were one of the great ones.
Then in Seattle, Sue and Chigger. I didn't know him as well as Zorro but I knew his predecessors and his Mom is a great friend. Chigger lacked the sophistication of Zorro; he was, well, Chigger. Sort of like Bacchus is, well, Bacchus. Sue is an animal person. We met while both working at a small local zoo. The friendship continued long beyond. She, as Rick had been, was instrumental in the development of my work - encouraging me and giving me my first real commission. A group of Medina ladies gathered daily to walk their dogs in Medina Park. Sue asked me if I'd do a tableau of the group and their dogs. Oh, what fun it was. I'd meet them and take pictures but someone was always missing. Wanting to see the project done in their lifetime, one of the ladies took matters in her own hands. She invited all the dogs and their people to a party at her estate. Here were about eight couples sedately sipping wine and feasting at a fabulous buffet while a dozen dogs of all sizes and shapes over ran the house and grounds with great abandon. And there was Mari in hot pursuit clicking away like crazy. Chigger wasn't there but Chrissy and Tigger were and I'm sure Chigger heard the story - if indeed he didn't eat the piece.
Ah, Chigger. You mark the end of an era of memories for me.
So from those of us who would mortgage our lives so you could live yours - may the aches and pains you endured teaching us have vanished, freeing you to romp through Elysian Fields for eternity. All dogs go to heaven!