The dog decision

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Dear Artist,

Yesterday, Janet Badger of Bangor, Maine wrote, “You speak often of your dog, your faithful studio companion. We’ve owned several dogs over the years but I’ve found them to be like having a toddler around — you have to know where they are and what they are doing at all times. As a printmaker, I need my focus and concentration, to work without distraction. Is there a perfect breed of studio dog? I think I need a quiet companion, though we can all benefit from morning and evening walks. It’s my husband who thinks we should have one again, despite the expense. Can someone who lives happily without a dog learn to live happily with one?”

Thanks, Janet. Dogs are angels sent from heaven to make us into better people. A few minutes of petting a dog releases oxytocins into the bloodstream of both dog and human, reducing stress and lowering blood pressure. Dog people may live longer.

Every puppy begins in joy and ends in tears. Sometime ago I wrote about the loss of our former dog, Emily. The email condolences that came in here were overwhelming. As far as I’m concerned there are two downsides to having a dog. The first is when you finally lose them, and the second, an ongoing problem, is what to do with them when they can’t travel with you. Lining up trusted dog sitters is vital.

Having said that, a dog will increase your studio hours and prevent you from wandering off and getting into trouble. Benjamin Franklin said that in order to be happy a man needs “a good woman, a good dog, and ready money.” I’ve noted that none of my dogs have ever criticized my work. A loving tail-wagger in the studio goes a long way in a profession of loners.

For an assessment of breed appropriateness, intelligence and size considerations, you might read Dr Stanley Coren’s The Intelligence of Dogs. I happen to think that dog people are the best people, perhaps because dogs, just like artists, have excellent dreams and fantasies. But there are cat people too, and they are just as passionately converted. Gerbils, weasels and rats do it for some folks, particularly as starters. You have a good husband — I think you should also have a good dog. Forget about the ready money.

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No matter where my art may fail
Dorothy goes to wag her tail

Best regards,

Robert

PS: “Just like humans, dogs dream about the activities which they are most familiar with and things that have gone on in the previous day.” (Dr. Stanley Coren)

Esoterica: Dorothy the Airedale has a particularly spirited personality. Good for my cardiovascular, she is always eager to go for a walk. Uniquely, she is also content to play ball with herself. She is a happy girl, rather overly bonded but universally friendly. She’s fully employed patrolling our property but unfortunately gets poor marks for squirrel and mole control. An occasional garden digger, as I write this she is curled up with dirty feet in a pile of paint rags. To her credit, she steps carefully around paintings when they are casually thrown here and there.



Living happily without?
by John Crowther, Los Angeles, CA, USA


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Untitled
illustration by John Crowther

I find something terribly sad about the question posed by Janet Badger: “Can someone who lives happily without a dog learn to live happily with one?” How can the happiness of not having something that can bring inestimable richness to one’s life possibly compare to the happiness of having it? Besides being constant muses for me, my two dogs are wonderful company. And they know to curl up together and sleep (on their bed in my work space) while I’m at the drawing board or painting.





There are 3 comments for Living happily without? by John Crowther

From: Anon — Jun 07, 2011

I adore dogs and cats, but my happiness comes from my human curled next to me…anyone else?

From: Jim Oberst — Jun 07, 2011

I also prefer humans.

From: Barbara — Jun 08, 2011

My husband and I got our first dog when I was 45 years old. I am now 60, and we are lucky enough to still have our original dog, Riley, as well as three others. We don’t have any children, so our pets (dogs, cats, birds, horses) have been lavished with all our stored-up love and nurturing instincts. How lonely we would be without our pets! For a wonderful, laid-back companion, we both recommend a golden retriever.





Rescue a dog
by Dianne Clowes, BC, Canada


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“Angus Resting”
acrylic painting by Dianne Clowes

The best way to find a suitable dog is to go to the SPCA or Pound or a Rescue Society. The people there can tell you all about the dog’s nature and you will give a lonely creature a loving home. Also you won’t have to go through puppyhood unless you want to. A cat isn’t a good idea as their hair floats everywhere and I hate picking hair off a wet painting. A dry painting is even worse! My pets have been endless inspiration and I do pet portraits in any medium including on glass mugs! If you provide a cuddly bed the dog will lie there out of your way — usually.

There is 1 comment for Rescue a dog by Dianne Clowes

From: Libby — Jun 07, 2011

You seem to think that no dogs don’t shed, but all cats do. Really?





Courage and a broken heart
by John Hulsey, KS, USA


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“Fall in the Moraine”
oil painting by John Hulsey

We have always had dogs around — once up to four! But then, we live in the country with a big fenced yard and a big dog-door, so no worries there. We now have two Great Pyrenees — our favorite breed so far for intelligence, kindness and watch-doggedness out here in the woods, though they do tend to lay their massive bulks right behind me when I work at the easel! You are so right about the dog-sitter, but our travel schedule is determined by when SHE is available. (We made the mistake of telling our retired traveling friends about her). They are now 13 years old, ancient for Great Pyrs, and are facing a double-departure, perhaps this fall. It takes courage to take on the love of a new dog knowing that it will end with a broken heart!

There are 5 comments for Courage and a broken heart by John Hulsey

From: Sandra Bos — Jun 07, 2011

I lost my Great Pyrenees, “Tango” a year ago on good Friday. I still have a hard to thinking of her, because it still hurts my heart so much. I have had alot of dogs, but Tango was, by far, the best. She was so kind, and so smart and so beautiful that people would stop their cars to look at her and talk to me. I miss her still. Tango was 10 yrs. when she made her transition. Thanks for sharing.

From: Libby — Jun 07, 2011

Your colors are stunning!

From: Tatjana — Jun 07, 2011

Beautiful painting!

From: Bev Searle-Freeman — Jun 14, 2011

LOVE your painting! My heart is with you … losing our four-legged family members is one the hardest things to do. We outlive them … but it’s better that way xoxox … the alternative would be awful.

From: Kathy Farmer — Jun 29, 2011

Wow, John, your painting takes my breath away. Wonderful! A dog and cat lover from childhood, I have the freedom now of being “on my own.” They have given me much love and taught me a lot.





Being new
by Gwen Fox, Colorado Springs, CO, USA


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Untitled
original painting by Gwen Fox

Janet… here is what will happen when you get your puppy or dog. You will view the world with different eyes due to the purity of your new companion’s soul. Your creativity will grow in leaps and bounds because dogs teach us to be new.

To be new we must be willing to be clumsy as being clumsy means you are exploring and never on solid footing.

Being new means never having to apologize for being different, creative or failing.

Being new gives permission to rest and dream.

Being new presents a life without judgment.

Being new is curiosity in full bloom.

Being new allows laughter to come from deep within your belly.

Being new says it’s alright to cry.

Being new opens the door to creativity.

Being new invites quiet.

Being new is pure love.

Enjoy your new companion and learning the joy of “being new” each day.

There is 1 comment for Being new by Gwen Fox

From: Anonymous — Jun 07, 2011

I LOVE this painting!





Greyhound historical choice of artists
by Renato Muccillo, Maple Ridge, BC, Canada


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“Disposable Savage”
oil painting by Renato Muccillo

The ultimate dog breed for every artist, especially those who spend a lot of time in the studio are Greyhounds as they are extremely docile and quiet and seek nothing more than a comfortable bed to sleep on. Their favourite things to do in life are to go from 0 to75 km an hour in search of the most comfortable couch in the house. They will also sleep for hours at a time without moving which makes for a great subject to paint. There is a reason artists have kept greyhounds and other breeds of sight hounds in their studios over the centuries… They are just a great breed of dog for artists. Plus they’re always in dire need of compassionate people looking to rescue these beautiful animals that ultimately get discarded from racetracks with nowhere to go.





There are 3 comments for Greyhound historical choice of artists by Renato Muccillo

From: Jen — Jun 06, 2011

I second this. I am an artist with a whippet and she’s smart, independent and perfect as a studio companion.

From: Debra LePage — Jun 07, 2011

Your beautiful painting looks just like our late Samantha-a perfect companion, indeed. She spent many hours curled up on a futon in my studio while I worked.

From: Deb Munro — Jun 07, 2011

I agree with your comments. I have a lurcher (greyhound x collie) who is the most calming gentle soul I have ever known. Contrary to popular belief, greyhound types require a short run or two per day followed by hours of sleep on a comfy bed. Ideal companions for artists and others to!





Rescued pit bulls ideal companions
by Amber Grey, Waynesville, NC, USA


As a writer (no wet artwork to worry about) and someone who works with people with disabilities and, along with my son, also does animal rescue, may I suggest that Janet consider adopting either an older dog from an animal rescue group (they will already know the dog’s disposition and she can ask for an older dog who is calm and content just to “be” with his or her human) or a service animal who is retired from his/her work with someone with a physical, visual, or hearing disability. The latter are all carefully trained to lie calmly where they are told — either beside the artist or nearby under a table (no worry about stepping on them or any part of their anatomy).

I have two rescued pit bull mixes who think nothing is better than to lie beside me or on the futon behind me all day until I get up to refill my coffee or head to the bathroom. Then they would like to have an hour in the huge dog pen on our rural property, going on walks with me only early in the morning or before dinner. I’ve had them now for more than 9 years and they have won the sleep on/off the bed debate. But other than that, they do what they are told when they are told. And bring a lot of joy to my heart 24/7.

There is 1 comment for Rescued pit bulls ideal companions by Amber Grey

From: linda b — Jun 18, 2011

i have a hearing dog and have lived with her for 9 years. She is a pit bull mix. i am 62 years old and have had dog comnpanions for a long time. This dog is the absolute best behaved and most loving dog who has shared her (his) life with me. As you said, she is content to lie on her bed for hours, only getting up when i do. I take her out many times a day and give her extra attention. I have no trouble getting people to stay with her when i am away. Most people want to take her home with them. Her name is Acadia. linda b ME, USA





Think of it as courtship
by Beverly Smith, Rose Valley, PA, USA


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Beverly and her dog, Tony

I have had a dog all of my life. Some dogs are like soul mates. You know each other immediately. They are special in this world and if you’re lucky enough to find one I suggest you take him home immediately! I have a schnoodle (schnauzer /poodle) mix. Yeah, he’s funny looking but he loves me and I love him and that’s that. He looks at me like I’ve never seen my husband look at me. He travels nicely beneath an airline seat. He sleeps with us at the foot of the bed unless I invite him up to be squished like a stuffed animal while I fall asleep.

Tony (my dog) loves my work. He thinks I’m great. He can see the promise of a blank canvas, has faith in the first few brush strokes and is in awe after I’ve finished the painting or even if I just put it aside for a bit. If I want to walk or play, he’s ready. If I feel like reading, he warms my lap. If I’m happy or sad he always takes my side.

I cannot imagine living without a dog. It would be cruel and unusual punishment for me. I would say do a little homework and notice breeds that work with your lifestyle and surroundings and be prepared to do a little training at first for your investment in your future. Think of it as courtship.

There is 1 comment for Think of it as courtship by Beverly Smith

From: Loretta West — Jun 07, 2011

I agree completely. I have been without dogs once or twice and it was just plain sad. They make my life far less serious. I also admit that one of our labs likes to be smashed between us on a cold nights.





Affirmation of emotional wisdom
by Barrett Edwards, Naples, FL, USA


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“Poppy Passion”
oil painting by Barrett Edwards

You will never know, of course, how many times I mentally compose fine and pithy responses to your wonderful letters but fail to commit words to paper. But as one who has just plunked down an irrational amount of money to get on the waiting list for a puppy, I just had to write and express how your words buoyed me this morning. Although I am eager to get my companion (despite my husband’s muttering about cost and life complications), I too have wondered if I can afford the time away from my art that it will take to train and love this precious animal. So your words are an affirmation of what I know emotionally, if not yet intellectually. The real remaining worry is that, in my application, I failed to specify that my puppy must have a good eye for composition, temperature and values.



Dog contributes to improved art
by Ron Dotson, Jamul, CA, USA


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“Bird’s Eye View”
watercolour by Ron Dotson

I am presently owned by a female black lab who tolerates my time in the studio. She requires play time in the morning when we get up and while I’m immersed in painting she lies either in the hall outside my studio room or on the bed in the adjacent bedroom. She generally won’t come into the studio, probably because she doesn’t like walking on the hardwood floor. However, every hour and a half or so, she will come to the door to remind me that she needs attention as well and so I take a break and we go out and play for fifteen minutes or so. This not only serves to keep her happy but also gets me up and moving for a bit since I tend to paint sitting down at a table and a break is really beneficial. The other thing I’ve noticed is that coming back to a painting after that short break, I’ll often see things a bit differently than when I was immersed in it before leaving. This can be advantageous as I often get too focused on details and fail to look at the whole. Hence, my dog is contributing to improving my art. I also get to transfer some of that love of dogs over into my art as animals, and especially dogs, are a large part of what I do. Not to mention the fact that exchanging that unconditional love with your dog opens you up to deeper relationships with people as well.



Confessions of a cat lady
by Kristine Fretheim, Maple Grove, MN, USA


060711_kristine-fretheim

Munch, the cat
photograph

I seem to be a cat person. I’ve painted several. But I do love all animals and would love to have a dog, too, but Mr. Munchkins vetoed that. After almost losing our cat this winter, I decided no more animals because saying goodbye is too painful. I find cats to be very quiet studio partners. The best advice mine has given to date is to just relax. And Mr. Munchkins adds a great deal of texture to my paintings by way of a film of fine white cat hair in and over everything. I’ve also learned over the years to keep a lid on my water bucket when not in use. I once had a cat, a trickster type, who loved to take a sip when opportunity presented. I would find Buster’s paw prints in rainbows of colors dancing across the studio floor, so I am sure to cover my palette as well now. As Buster’s protégé, Munch is very laid back. He prefers yoga to long walks. And we paint to choruses of birds through open windows as much as possible.



My dog is my personal gain
by Gerti Hilfert, Langenfeld, Germany


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“waiting for you”
original painting by Gerti Hilfert

There is so much help possible today in training a dog for several situations. It’s a question of understanding but also gentle consequences and clear signals for the dog. It also depends on the both sides’ trust. If the dog feels safe and comfort just from the holders serenity it might be much easier. On the other side… a dog helps a lot to calm you down.

For example… a dog can be used from the very beginning to an indoor bench (in case of a puppy already large enough for the adult). Quite soon it learnt the positives from this sheltering. Most dogs love staying inside there and learnt that the open (!) bench is a nice and safe place to relax, which is quite important. Best bench position is when it doesn’t allow the dog to control everybody or anything (the bench door should not point to open room or positioned opposite to a chamber door or perhaps the front door). For that purpose use covering towels or plaids on the bench top including the sides, except the open bench door. My dog learnt to step aside when I appear. So she’s not in my way but respects me.

It doesn’t depend on the breed only. You can have any breed… it all depends on how you interact with your dog. Even non-acting means for dogs a communication.

Very important are in between breaks for the dog’s temper, its needs and to keep it species-appropriate busy. After such breaks it will enjoy its food, following return to the safe bench for a long nap or chewing a goody = your own work phases.

My work keeps me always busy for hours but my dog learned to wait until I signal her, let’s go and start! Without such breaks I would live unhealthy and forget about any breaks. My dog is my personal gain.



 Featured Workshop: with Robert Genn in the Octopus Islands, B. C. coast
060711_robert-genn Workshop with Robert Genn in the Octopus Islands, B. C. coast. Don Hodgins, Susie Cipolla, Dennis Fairbairn, Lianne Gulka, Doria Moodie. Our Mothership Columbia III cruises anxiously beyond.

The Workshop Calendar provides up-to-date selected workshops and seminars arranged in chronological order. 




   
World of Art Featured artist Sharon Stone, Victoria, BC, Canada
 
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Invitation to Wade II

acrylic painting 36 x 36 inches
Sharon Stone, Victoria, BC, Canada



You may be interested to know that artists from every state in the USA, every province in Canada, and at least 115 countries worldwide have visited these pages since January 1, 2013.

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Jim in the studio

That includes Jim Few of Navarre, FL, USA, who wrote, “For a studio companion, you can’t beat ‘The World’s Fastest Couch Potato’ – a retired greyhound. They really don’t need a lot of exercise: ‘If it ain’t moving – forget it!'”

And also Debbie Langston of Oklahoma City, OK, USA, who wrote, “You referenced in your letter, ‘The Dog Decision,’ that you had previously written about the loss of your former dog, Emily. I would appreciate knowing the name of that letter, so that I can look it up on your website. I would like to read it.”

(RG note) Thanks, Debbie. “Emily (1996-2003)” can be found here.



Archived Comments

Enjoy the past comments below for The dog decision

   
From: Deborah Strong — Jun 02, 2011

As an artist, I owe so much to my dog that I can’t imagine not having one around. My collie Riley is my studio buddy, my walking companion, my muse, my model, my confidante and so much more. And just today my vet informed me that, at the age of almost-10, arthritis is changing my girl’s ability to do one of the things I’ve come to rely on. I’m already mourning her loss that is likely some years away yet, but moreso I’m mouring the fact that she won’t be taking those long, rambling walks with me and my camera as I seek out reference material for my art, much longer. However I gratefully expect that she’ll be lying around my studio floor, creating a tripping hazard, for some time to come, and will be charming all those we meet on our now more-limited neighbourhood walks with her beauty and good nature. Now cats in a studio… that’s another story! Clambering, pestering, poking into everything. They are loved in this home but banished from the studio. Give me a dog any day!

From: Paula Christen — Jun 02, 2011
From: Charles Frizzell — Jun 02, 2011

My dog and best friend, Mr. Dudley, is now 13, and many years ago learned to lie on one side or the other of my ‘path’ of walking back and forth from the easel. He walks me daily to get me out of the studio for some exercise, and keeps me generally sane. I have noticed in many older photos of artists working in their studios, that a dog is curled up somewhere near the workspace. I cannot imagine not having one to keep me company in this solitary endeavor of painting.

From: Jeanne Marklin — Jun 02, 2011

I’ve had 3 standard poodles, and now have a 25 lb. Cockapoo. The poodles were wonderful, devoted pets who loved to be in the studio – or anywhere I was. The cockatoo is more likely to be out chasing birds from the yard. When our last poodle died at 10 years of age ( their average life expectancy) I vowed that I wouldn’t get a dog until I was sure I would outlive it. But I missed the company and devotion and now have my little Romeo. If the dog seems like it’s getting into things, it means it needs more attention and direction. Most dogs want to please their owners, so teaching them is the first responsibility of a dog owner – and pick the right dog for you, and your lifestyle.

From: Barbara Carter — Jun 02, 2011

Dog people are good people. Dogs know that which is why they overlook all our shortcomings and concentrate on our positive qualities. But people have to know themselves to pick a breed that is compatible with their lifestyle and personality. Read about the breeds before you choose one. And remember that there are many dogs at the shelters waiting to become a best friend. As for me? I may be a bit biased toward dogs since I currently share my life with five of them. Three West Highland White Terriers and two Brussels Griffon. The personalities of my Westies are as different as they can be – one pops like popcorn on a leash, one is a sedate and gentle lady (until she hears the word bird! or cat! or just about anything with an exclamation point and one is a boy who only wants to do what I want. They are a continuing joy in my studio and all perk up their ears at “time to take a break and go for a walk”. People in North American should get to know Brussels Griffon more. They ask only one thing – to be with me. And they are quiet little dogs that just, well, they just “be”. That”s inside. Outside? They can outrun the wind and look over their shoulders to see if I am watching. “Look at me!” They want me to laugh and when I do, they return to my feet and jump around enjoying the merriment they have created. Dogs are great. And they seem to believe that we are great too. That’s very important for people who have a muse that occasionally whispers unkind remarks about us and our work. I’ve never painted a picture that my Griffie doesn’t like. There are no small dogs – only little dogs. It’s people who can be small.

From: Bette Laughy — Jun 02, 2011

My Airedale experience was a lovely dog who occasionally visited our neighborhood. One day she chuckled down our driveway to our deck and silently whiffed up to our sleeping cat, whereupon she leaned down over him and whispered “whuf!” The cat leaped in a spiral and sped off, and the Airedale grinned as she continued on her way. In spite of her effect on our cat, we looked forward to her occasional visits; she was truly special. My beautiful white collie/retriever girl had her 15th birthday last Tuesday. Thanks to some great supplements & medications, she is still going strong, although her greatest tricks now are being able to negotiate the stairs and crouching for a pee. She is selectively deaf, blind enough to prefer to walk on a leash, now allows her brother the cat to lick her and even occasionally licks back, and is my companion in everything including painting. She is 93 years old, according to the vet’s chart. She is my joy, and I will not travel far from home as long as she is with me. Every day is a gift.

From: Susan Holland — Jun 02, 2011

Like Jeanne Marklin, I decided I would not get another dog after my two wire fox terriers died this year. And I am still dogless, though I have a cat who thinks he is a dog and does all the doggie things, including accompanying me on walks. However I would like to say that TWO dogs can be easier than one. They bond with each other (mine were littermates) and so keep each other content when one is busy. Saying goodbye is really terrible. The memories are stellar. A large golden retriever comes to be babysat for a week at a time, though, and we have long and important murmurs about painting, weather, and food. Woof.

From: Randena Walsh — Jun 02, 2011

Oh, I love the companionship of a dog in the studio, and in the field as well, where I get my inspiration for my work. I’m raising a four-month-old Golden Retriever, having had two before. While Katie’s a busy puppy now, exploring, chewing, etc., and I’m training her, I am getting NO art work done yet. However, from experience I can tell you my previous Goldens have been wonderful studio mates and convenient models. I am sure my pup will get there too. Loving human companionship as they do, Goldens are happy to just be in the same room with you. Exercise is a must, though, for a happy artist and her dog! Initially, it’s a huge commitment of time and energy, so be sure you’re ready!

From: George Forder — Jun 02, 2011

As a master of the esoteric, their are few places my mind has not fathomed at some time or another. But the biggest quandary remains unsolved. What are “dog” people and what are “cat” people, and what is the difference between them? I grew up with 6 dogs, but when I left home, gradually realised I was a cat person. Cats find me. I find cats. We share a purrfect love. Kitty love is the purrest kind of love. i know who I am, I just don’t know why. Nature/Nurture; who knows? I tolerate dogs, but am old enough to not have to fake it anymore. Every argument voiced for dogs can be applied to cats. I think dogs are simpler, less intelligent creatures, easier to manipulate, and of course dogs need you, cats don’t. But if a cat decides it wants you, you will burn in the radiance of its light. I think Dogs vs Cats is about control and dependency, but I could be wrong. P.S. My cat is a consumate critic. He listens attentively and then asks for food.

From: George Forder — Jun 02, 2011

Sorry, there, I, etc, Should’ve proofed.

From: Daniela — Jun 03, 2011

I love both cats and dogs, cats are consummate critics with distinct personalitites, dogs are more needy and maybe easier to manipulate and they want so to please, I haven’t heard of a studio dog, unless it is a stuffed toy.

From: Judy — Jun 03, 2011

“Can someone who lives happily without a dog learn to live happily with one?” Yes but it involves a bit of letting go!!! Like art in a way, letting go, not sure of the outcome but welcoming the opportunity to express. To me a Dog is an expression of pure love. Getting through the Puppy stage and then the adolescent stage is a challenge at times, more dogs are surrendered to shelters during their adolescence than any other time I am told. Once again like art perseverance pays out in the end. Socialise them, guide them and you will be rewarded ten fold in love and loyalty. I cannot be whole without a dog in my life.

From: Liz — Jun 03, 2011

As a long time dog owner and dog rescue person, my suggestion is to get an older, mellow dog from a rescue/shelter. There are so many sweet, loving older dogs in shelters who no one wants. Everyone wants the cute puppy, but when you get a puppy, you might as well have another child. Puppies are wonderful, but require a lot of time and attention. I really think an older dog, who is through the puppy years, is a good choice and I swear, shelter/ rescue dogs seem to know that you have saved them and they can loyal to the end…good luck.

From: leslie ditto — Jun 03, 2011

well I think a dog in the studio is a great idea, my studio space is kinda small right now so I have a cat, I did have to do some cat proofing . I lost a few unpainted canvases but never a painting , I don’t leave her alone in there and I made a space just for her . So she kinda knows now where she can roam and where she can’t. But I would probably not suggest a cat for everyone because they can get into alot in a studio. But as any animal in our studio goes, make all toxic materials are up and out of the way. And here is one thing that I had to learn the hard way..groom your pet often and out of the studio because when they shed the hair can go EVERYWHERE , and it got into one of my oil paintings.

From: Betsy Doody — Jun 03, 2011

I paint best with a minimum of 4 dogs around me. What is life without a dog? Betsy Doody

From: Susan Stetson — Jun 03, 2011

I cannot see myself without a dog, actually two at the moment, cocker spaniels. When I say, let’s paint…tails start wagging, they hurry down the stairs as if supper were waiting. Even if they have just come in from outside…they go out the studio door, run about the yard, come in and Reilly settles on the couch, Lily under the ottoman (the tail and paws stick out a bit ?) and painting begins. After an hour or so they are just as excited to go have a cup of tea (and dog cookies ) and again with such enthusiasm we go back to work. It brings a smile to me when they do it and now when I picture their little paws running down the steps. What fun to have such enthusiastic (and quiet) working buddies!

From: Troy Gervais — Jun 03, 2011

As my faithful companion is now reaching his final days it is bittersweet. He has been my best friend since he was a few weeks old. He has listen to my rantings and the many ideas I have bounced off of him. He has gotten me out for a walk every day of his life even when I was reluctant to do so. I have witnessed many spectacular sunrises and sunsets that I would have probably missed otherwise. I have drawn and sketched him many times. How do I thank a friend like that? He has never forsaken me like some humans can do. He has always been honest especially about his dislike of cats and his love of a soggy tennis ball and a good dinner. While it is a little difficult watching him in his decline it is part of the “deal” when I picked him up as a puppy many Thanksgivings ago. When I think back at all the times we have had how can I do anything but thank him for the time he spent here on this earth with me and wish him well on his next journey where ever that might be. Thank you my friend.

From: Wendy Packard — Jun 03, 2011

Hi Robert, I replied to your letter and attached doggie pictures via email. Not sure if that works so I added some comments here. Thanks. I am a doggie lover. Missy (Chow/Shepherd) and Currie (Golden Retriever, Yellow Lab, Border Collie) are like my kids because I don’t have any. My great husband and I got Missy from a Shelter and Currie from a crate at Pet Smart. The hugs, kisses and companionship are great. They do look at you like they understand what your saying also. I think they pick up on the emotion too and comfort me at times. Yes, I am over the doggie edge.  When I take the dogs for a walk in the local park I always pet other dogs there. Plus, it is a great way to meet and talk to people. There are so many wonderful, loving, sweet dogs in the world. Yes, you take a chance when you get a shelter dog but if you give the dog love they give it right back. It is important to have great doggy sitters when you go out of town. We keep our dogs at home. Our sitter is a young girl who was referred by our previous doggy walker/sitter, who was referred by another previous walker/sitter etc. Some people drop their dogs at a friends or neighbors house who have dogs. Whatever works. I also painted a picture of Currie and Missy with acrylics. They inspire me and love me. It is wonderful! I attached some pictures of Missy, Currie and my back yard where I hang out with the dogs. The other pictures are of flowers I was painting one day. Thanks for talking about doggies. I took off work today and am going to take the doggies for a walk this morning. I agree that it is great exercise too. Have a wonderful day. Wendy

From: Cheryl Poulin — Jun 03, 2011
From: Doreen E. Lepore — Jun 03, 2011
From: Sandie Halyk — Jun 03, 2011

When I paint my golden retriever Jessie is right there in the art room, usually curls up and sleeps. It is such a comforting feeling. Wherever we are, that is where she is. If you aren’t feeling well she’s nuzzling you or laying beside you. She is also our 4 legged physiotherapy. She is a devoted, caring and loving dog. I wouldn’t change a day that we’ve had her. Initially there is a big committment to the training and also there are frustrating times when you have a puppy. We are now starting to go through hip problems as she is older, we do physiotherapy, heat etc. twice a day to keep her as mobile as possible. Just be sure you are willing to put in the time to look after a dog as they will put in the time to look after you and be there for you. Hope this is of some help in assisting you to make up your mind. Regards, Sandie

From: Eileen Connor, L.Ac. — Jun 03, 2011

Just wanted to tell Sandie and others that acupuncture can work well for dogs (and other animals too). Talk with a vet in your area who’s trained in it.

From: Pat Kochan — Jun 03, 2011

I was debating over 3 different paintings to put into an up coming art competition; so I put 3 cookies on the floor, one in front of each painting and the one my sweet dog picked was the one that went into the show. It won a top award. Mindy lived 18 years and was the greatest companion and friend to our whole family.

From: Bunny — Jun 03, 2011

I have a just turned one year old puppy Buddy (named by my grandson), who is my studio buddy. He has a pile of toys nearby and is content to chew on those, usually. I had to learn to watch before I step back, get the paper towels that accidentally fall to the floor quickly(he loves paper) , — or pencils; otherwise he is a great studio friend.

From: Cindy Mawle — Jun 03, 2011

I like to take my 6 year old chocolate lab, Jesse, with me while painting outdoors. She keeps an eye out for bears and lets me know if someone is coming. I am able to totally absorb myself in my work without anything sneaking up on me. I just have to put up with a few loud sighs from her at the beginning after she realizes that we are staying put. Once on the kettle river she put up a big fuss and I looked up from my work and a coyote was intently watching us from the other bank. As a woman painting out there alone, it can be peace of mind as well as great company.

From: Teyjah McAren — Jun 03, 2011

Love dogs but am a cat lover as well. Recently had to give up my cats for adoption due to asthma. Their presence in and around your life lifts you up. Their antics make you smile and their unconditional love are a reminder to us as to why we are here – to enjoy the passing of time with those who give our lives meaning. Their loss leaves a hole in your heart but right now the neighborhood dogs are getting great hiking experience.

From: Carol — Jun 03, 2011

MMM, what everyone’s already said about the benefits of dogs. A thought I have for the writer would be an adult rescue dog…the training is already done, the hyperness is tamed and you can work w/o having “a toddler” to train. My last dog was an 18 year old poodle/shepherd/schauzer cross. He was great. Learned not to sleep where I walk, and then all he wanted was just to be with me. The perfect studio companion…slept most of the time, until it was time to wake up and go for walkies. I work in glass art, so my dogs need to be trained differently than for those of you whose work doesn’t break. I currently have a 10 mo old chocolate lab, so leaning glass against the wall or work bench is currently a no no. She is, however, learning to put the brakes on before she enters the studio, so my need to modify my behavious will change with time. Love having her with me, and at the moment, a crate is my best friend. She can sleep (or be) safely beside me and I can concentrate w/o worrying what trouble she’s getting into. Lately I can leave the crate door open and she goes in willingly for a nap, and nudges me when she wakes up. Eventually we won’t have to move the crate in. Dogs are great…they also remind you to take breaks…a gentle wet nose bringing you back into the “here and now” is a plus.

From: Linda C. Dumas — Jun 03, 2011

Blaze, a golden retriever mix, was a gentleman from the day he was born. Never got into anything he shouldn’t. Pancho, the Maine Coon cat, would climb into his little box and sleep the studio time away. Annie, mini-Australian Shepherd and current dog, is very well behaved, but decided she found the studio boring. I bought some special treats, and whenever we went to the studio, she got one. Pretty soon she was barking a “hurry up” when I said the word “studio.” As my husband and I are both retired, we’ve decided that we won’t have another dog until we can no longer travel. At that point, we will adopt an older rescue dog that has passed the puppy stage. Look for breed characteristics. A beagle is probably not the most fortuitous studio dog – darling dog, but way too energetic.

From: Mike Young — Jun 03, 2011

Please remember that for some of us dogs, cat and birds produce unwanted allergic reactions such as rashes and asthma. For me this has been since childhood and in spite of series of desensitization shots a reaction still occurs in the presence of such pets, albeit somewhat reduced from my childhood. Studios with pets are out of bounds for me and many like me.

From: Lorrene Baulm-Davis — Jun 03, 2011

Oh Robert…! Love my cats too. Although when I am doing graphics at the computer they want to have their say….. and block my view. All I can add is that is their form of love… just being with me. Sigh. Now I do occaisionally get black hairs in my polymer and metal clay work. Could it be that I just HAVE to pick ‘um up and love ‘um several times a day? Thanks for the post.

From: Bela Fidel — Jun 03, 2011

I used to have my 2 dogs with me at the studio: a collie mix and a greyhound/sheppherd. I lost the latter last year but I know she is still there, barking away, voicing her opinion on everything. The Collie loves to come to the studio, check out the perimeter (desert) but mostly sleeps peacefully as I, alas!, struggle as usual. The cats stay at home. As a rabid animal lover, I strongly recommend adopting or fostering – but do get a dog by any means! As Robert Says, dogs will help you not only live longer, but more happily. By relaxing you and warming you up inside, they are certainly a great creativity “tool”.

From: kaki birtel — Jun 03, 2011

I have three pups…Emmy, Bebe, & Hank…they all like to watch as I paint and are pretty good about not getting in the way….I enjoy having them around….I think Emmy would like to pickup a brush and paint on a canvas herself….Dogs are wonderful….albeit, spoiled…

From: Sheryl Getman — Jun 03, 2011
From: Nancy Oppenheimer — Jun 03, 2011

My two studio dogs, Lulu and Maggie,provide love, inspiration, and motivation. I love to paint black bears, all of whom wear Lulu’s intelligent eyes. Here are some tips: provide puppies with wet frozen washcloths to chew on. This will numb their gums. Our oldest dog is now receiving a round of adequan shots which are helping with her arthritis enormously. She is now off of her pain meds. I cannot live without dogs. They possess true empathy. Surely they were created to be our companions. Thank you Robert for saying dogs are angels sent from heaven to make us better people. So true.

From: Mary — Jun 03, 2011

Your story reminded me of the best cat we ever had. A Himalayan mix. When I was working on drawings including ink drawings she would carefully leap and land on my table not disturbing a thing. Then sit there moving her head this way and that watching my pen. Always wondered what she thought of my work.

From: Sandra Taylor Hedges — Jun 03, 2011

I like dogs, but like your friend it’s like having a 2 year old around all the time. Cat’s and Art studios are a natural mix, they mind their own business most of the time and when they think you are too tense they remind you to take an affection break. They keep the mouse population at bay to save your canvas being turned into bedding and they make great models. When I had a studio cat and was lacking inspiration I would paint my cat. They are the perfect gesture model while bathing, they will pose for long periods if they are occupied with a window to look out and only ask for a meal to compensate them. Yes, dogs drool and in the Studio Cats rule!

From: Laudine Borges — Jun 03, 2011

Dogs are wonderful. Choose a breed compatable with your lifestyle. Visit dog parks or breeders to see how different breeds behave. Don’t choose a dog that needs a herd of cattle or a long distance runner to be ok. It took me a long time to choose the right breed for my lifestyle, a walk by the ocean in the morning and then working in my studio. My dog adds so much to my life.

From: John Ferrie — Jun 03, 2011

Dear Robert, My ex partner and I had two Dalmatians we rescued from the Pound. As fulfilling and wonderful as my life was with them, they ruled our lives. Any “Ready Money” was systematically sucked out by trips to the Vet. We paid for the Vets second home in Maui. And sadly, when they passed, I was not only devastated, but it lead to an immediate break up. When asked at the park how long my dogs would live, I wondered if people would like if they were asked how long their child would be alive. People kept asking me if I was going to get another dog. I felt like I had lost my children. Dogs are wonderful creatures and very loving. You can have the worst day and then upon taking them to the park, you’re having the best day ever. Dogs want to be with you. So, as long as they feel included and are in your line of vision, any dog will be a wonderful addition to your studio or home. My experience with Dalmatians is they are particularly hyper dogs. And while they are loyal to the family, they are not great with children. They can also be terribly inbred which can lead to all sorts of heath issues. So, make sure to find a good and reputable breeder. And realize a dog is a commitment and the sign of a good dog is a good owner. John Ferrie

From: Gloria Ainsworth Mout — Jun 03, 2011

Yes, animals are a great asset to your studio. Last year I lost Sophia, my Calico cat. She was always there keeping me company while I painted. At times she would sit on a high stool beside me and look out the window; at other times she would be curled up on a chair or maybe inside a box that was open. She was even known to sleep inside an empty frame! Occasionally I would feel her rub up against my leg, and I would run my hand through her soft fur, giving me that warm fuzzy feeling. Well yes, there was that one time when she was young. She came in through an open window with mud on her paws and walked accross my latest watercolor on the drafting board…..but most of the paw prints were able to be washed away and she never repeated the performance! Her calming presence was well worth any inconvenience ! My studio is very empty now that she has gone. I have lost my muse. Gloria Ainsworth Mout

From: Gloria Ainsworth Mout — Jun 03, 2011

……….I forgot to say, Sophia kitty was from our local SPCA. don’t forget all the animals who need homes. They will reward you with their great love and devotion.

From: Kristin Gjerdset — Jun 03, 2011

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on dogs and artists, Robert! After my 14 year old Golden, Andy, passed away in August of 2009, I considered not getting another dog. Life would be easier and less heartbreaking right? I could sleep in in the morning with the cats. I could get right to working. For six months I did without. In February of 2010, along came Annie – an 8 year old beagle/shepherd mix at the local Humane Society with eyes that gave me the look, like Andy, that I was to take her home. I did. I realize now I will not live without a dog as long as I can. For six months, I had missed out on sharing quiet, early morning walks in the outdoors to observe and discover nature. I had missed out on conversations with neighbors and being a part of my community. I had missed out on having a friend who nudged me with a wet nose, reminding me it was time for a walk, a break from studio work, to get outside and experience life. So despite the animal hairs that occasionally end up in paintings, the concern about getting home to let the dog out, or the vet bills, I would not have it any other way. It has been a joy to have a dog as a companion (and cats, too!). The pros outweigh the cons in my view but only you know in your heart, Janet. You have to be committed from beginning to end for it to work…. it you decide yes, there are many older dogs, mellow, lovable and inspiring in need of homes who would happily sleep by your side while you paint.

From: Kathleen Kelly — Jun 03, 2011

I have a Wheaton terrier that lays in a corner watching me paint or simply sleeps….extra bonus, no shedding, no barking and they don’t touch a thing. The PERFECT studio dog!

From: Marilena Fluckiger — Jun 03, 2011

I think the Chinese Crested Hairless dogs are the most intelligent and the best studio companion dog! They are the total parcel albeit with minimal packaging…hey, eco friendly, too!

From: Anne Baird — Jun 03, 2011

I had a beloved black lab named Woofer. She was such a loving girl. She also stayed with me in my studio, and lovingly stared at me while I worked, and followed me back and forth to the sink to wash out my brushes, or sharpen my pencils. When I had back surgery, I couldn’t sit for a while. I missed being able to sit at my drawing table/easel, to do my work. As a second best, I lay on the floor close to my table, and thought of work I would do when I was better. The trouble was that Woofer lay beside me. This was fine. But she kept creeping closer and closer. Finally, she laid her head my chest, and lapped my face lovingly. Since I couldn’t easily roll away or get up, I was at her tender mercy! I think her endless wet kisses spurred me to get better even faster. Soon, I was back at my easel, and even taking Woofer for her usual walks around the neighborhood. No, she took me. But that’s what dogs are for!

From: Miranda Gray — Jun 03, 2011

I am an egg tempera painter, which is a very slow, tedious, time consuming medium. One day I set my painting down on the floor to get a better distance look at it, when the phone rang. I turned my back on the painting to talk on the phone. My mistake. I heard a slurping noise, and low and behold, my dog had licked off many days of work from the painting. Fortunately, egg tempera is a very forgiving medium, and I could repair it. I’m forgiving too. I truly need my dog in my studio to keep me company while I work, but I no longer put the paintings in tongues reach. I too believe that dogs are angels sent to make us better people. I’ve said that very thing many a time.

From: Cindy Fankhauser — Jun 03, 2011

I so needed to hear this answer to a very good question. We lost our beloved Wheaten Terrier this last December and I have been toying w/the idea of getting a new puppy. My dilemma: Do I really want to go thru the puppy “training stage”? Can I love it as much as I loved Bailey? I really just want my Bailey back!! But, after reading your letter, I am thinking I better go puppy shopping and give my heart away again! Thanks!!

From: Rick Rotante — Jun 03, 2011

All the beneficial health reasons for dog ownership are renowned. Apart from that they are the lovers that don’t complain; are there when you need them, and always get me out of my funks when I’m down. I have two that seem to have an infectious smile on their faces all day long except when my wife or I have to leave. When we do have to be gone, their heads drop and they mope into a corner together and won’t come out even when I say “I’ll be back soon.” Both are rescues, which seems to endear them to you even more. I can’t say for certain, but they know that if you didn’t save them, their lives would have been doomed to neglect or worse, slaughter. What greater gift can one give than to save a life even when it’s a dog. My wife and I doubly blessed and will probably live doubly long because of them.

From: Paula Timpson — Jun 03, 2011

Dog-God a Dog provides the Love we need as Goldens sit by Pals of Writers they sigh , simply high… knowing our breath~ To be an Artist, is to be open, full of hope Animals provide so much more than we can ever have , alone Cats meditate ,sharing their energy and Light! The great artist always has an animal close at hand, selfless, ‘teacher,’ free~ focused not only on, ‘Me’ but the spaces between the dreams, alive!

From: Diane Overmyer — Jun 03, 2011

Our family is made up of two parents, three young-adult children and two middle-aged dogs. Unlike my children, my dogs never complain, sulk around or slam doors. (my kids don’t do that much, but we do still have a 19 year old daughter, who can have her times…) My dogs love to be near me. They are getting older so if I am quiet they tend to be quiet as well. They often sleep or lay on the floor and look out one of our glass doors. When the weather is nice they spend a good deal of the day out in the yard. They really are wonderful company and I seriously can’t remember ever feeling like they have gotten in the way of my art. The breeds we own are a Sheltie which is a very intelligent, well mannered, loving dog, but ours is more high strung that our other dog. The second dog is a Pembroke Welsh Corgi, which is also pretty smart, but ours sometimes reminds me of an eager two year old. Our Corgi is very protective of me and wants to be near me whenever he can.

From: Yvonne Morrish — Jun 03, 2011

I remember Emily well, meeting her a few times at Stuarts at Hambleton Gallery on Bernard Ave… the beautiful old heritage home. What a special dog she was to you. I was in the gallery then too. I just lost my beautiful cat “Mistry”, and I miss her so. Looking forward to seeing you in Penticton at the Shatford building and the reception for the first 3 Chapters Show. Triptych 2011

From: Denise Bezanson — Jun 03, 2011

Ah, Robert, that’s such a great topic. A dog can be so much work, and yet give so much back in love, exercise and companionship. I think Jane will find that the rewards outweigh the negatives. I agree with you about the only 2 drawbacks to owning dogs. I’m betting Jane will be charmed by her companion. I’m writing this with Sabre lying at my feet, loving his faithfulness and companionship that he is always at my feet.

From: Susan Vaughn — Jun 03, 2011

I agree – dog people are special. I have 2 dogs – A German Shepherd and a Malti-tzu (a cross between a Maltese and the Shih-tzu) They both come into my studio when I am painting and curl up together and sleep while I paint and listen to my iPod. They are great dogs and I enjoy their company. I think I am a better artist because of the love they give.

From: Andrea Pottyondy — Jun 03, 2011

I have two labs, Angel (10) and Buddy (6 months) and they are my constant companions and always remind me what the word “joy” looks like! Before Buddy, Angel would spend hours with me in studio and when she thought I needed a break she would let me know and we would stretch and take a walk….a great way to avoid overworking paintings! Now that Buddy is in the picture (I had a weak moment and adopted him) they spend time on the verandah while I am in studio. I can peak out the window and keep an eye on them and know exactly when we need a break! The daily dog walks are good for clearing the mind and for inspiration.

From: Guru Kaur — Jun 03, 2011
From: Dave C. — Jun 03, 2011

When I think of cats in the studio, I only think of two words: Cat hair. I’ll take a non-shedding poodle any day. Besides, as has been pointed out, dogs need you and your attention and are happy as all get out when they get it. Cats couldn’t care less. All they want to do is eat and find a sunny spot to take a nap. Oh, and sit on the brick wall out back at two in the morning and serenade the neighborhood.

From: Sheila Minifie — Jun 03, 2011
From: Paul deMarrais — Jun 03, 2011

As a newly converted dog lover, I think dogs are hard not to love. So loyal, so devoted, so positive. If only we had just a portion of that in our people lives. My big mutt Bruno is the perfect studio dog. Part Chow, German Shepherd, and Akita, he lives for loafing and really improves the ambiance in the home and studio. My little Shia-poo Grady is a napping expert and will happily join and inspire you in this important past-time. My other buddy, Snickers the Papillon, is a ball fetcher extraordinaire and keeps me in shape. I like cats too, but dogs are much more interactive. They want to be with you, to worship you. How can you not like that???

From: Lottie Anderson — Jun 03, 2011

I had two beautiful Engish Springer Spaniels who I have lost since February. We lost Hershey to cancer (very unexpectedly) just last Saturday. I have art photos, paintings and drawing of them and they always were nearby often chasing squirrels or rabbits in their dreams. After speaking to other artists/pet owners the odd paw print or or few dog hair only gave the work extra value from both the aesthetic and content standpoints. They were excellent companions in the print studio as well. Our lives will never be the same without them.

From: Deb Lacativa — Jun 03, 2011
From: Wendy Packard — Jun 03, 2011

I am a doggie lover. Missy (Chow/Shepherd) and Currie (Golden Retriever, Yellow Lab, Border Collie) are like my kids because I don’t have any. My great husband and I got Missy from a Shelter and Currie from a crate at Pet Smart. The hugs, kisses and companionship are great. They do look at you like they understand what your saying also. I think they pick up on the emotion too and comfort me at times. Yes, I am over the doggie edge. When I take the dogs for a walk in the local park I always pet other dogs and talk to people there. It is important to have great doggy sitters when you go out of town. Our sitter is a young girl who was referred by our previous doggy walker/sitter, who was referred by another previous walker/sitter etc. Some people drop their dogs at a friends or neighbors house who have dogs. Whatever works. I also painted a picture of Currie and Missy with acrylics. They inspire me. It is wonderful!

From: Kay Rodriguez — Jun 03, 2011

Oh but cat people can get the best support..Sofy is always in my room quietly checking out what I’m doing, making sure I know she’s there. I never have to take her out for a walk though she will take one on her own if the door is opened. I’d prefer to keep the door closed cause her walks can take a couple of days. She checks my watercolor paper and makes sure to let me know that it’s also hers. Ditto for the brushes and she always wants to take a little drink from the water if I’d let her. she wants me to know it’s all good. Sofy takes a nap right there beside me patiently waiting for me to finish. When she’s ready for me to stop and give her a little attention, she will begin to walk across my lap or sit down on my paper giving me a purring message. She is a fine forgiving companion gives me room to do my work under her approving eye. Cat people get to watch those personality crazy funny things that make you want to call up your friends to tell them. All these pets take their places in your life and become so much a part of it that you can’t remember when they weren’t there..

From: Louise Francke — Jun 03, 2011

Never thought I’d see the “dog” theme in your newsletter! Dogs have been my life long Co-pilots. I’ve been accompanied through life by German Pointers, a Dalmatian, a German Shepherd, two Australian Shepherds, a Canaan, and a Canaan mix from Mackie’s wild night out. They all had distinctive personalities and yes I mourned when I had to put them down. It took me a year to recover from Zeppie, my red merle Aussie with blue eyes. He was the closest and the easiest to train but I can easily live without the shedding. He would lie at my feet while I painted. Now, I have a very independent minded rare breed Canaan Mackie who is nearing his 13th birthday. He is from Israel and was really a basket case when we got him. He still is dreadfully afraid of any engine sounds but has finally given up watching airplanes as they pass overhead. Mackie is much too intelligent! Pavlof training worked once and that game was over. He is protective but not aggressive and isn’t gregarious with guests. After he has inspected and sized up the intruder, he retires to his bed or near the ac vent in hot summers. As I age, I know that in the future I need a smaller dog something like Toto to be my side as the tornadoes blow into NC. I have had a good feeling because my last three dogs have all been rescued. There are no bad dogs only bad owners who need to learn how to properly train their dog not to be a pest. That bond is strengthened with the attention you give in training your pup who to fit into your life. They want to please and be loved. I know that we will be first in line to enter those pearly gates if God happens to be a Dog.

From: Carol Taylor — Jun 03, 2011

Yes, I too am a dog lover…they both have enhanced my creativity…..”Rylee” the Golden Retriever, patiently waiting, always happy with my work…”Zena” the elderly member, who has watched my art evolve over the last decade….I agree wholeheartedly! You can see them on my Facebook…well, thank you, I’ll go pet the two of them, and get the “Tocins” flowing before work on the Labor and Delivery unit (with plenty of Oxytocin flowing).

From: Cindy Michaud — Jun 03, 2011

I think you should point out to Janet that a “recycled” dog from the pound is always, always grateful for a second chance and usually very easy to take care of. I don’t relish the puppy-hood anymore than I desire another 2 year old, but an older, adopted dog has always been a joy. Breed does not matter so much, and dog pounds let you test drive. Just a thought!!

From: Bruce C. Meyer — Jun 03, 2011
From: Lynda Davison — Jun 03, 2011
From: Rosemary Cotnoir — Jun 03, 2011

Perhaps Barbara should look into a greyhound rescue dog. I had the opinion that this breed was high energy because they were used for racing. However, I’ve met several people who have greyhounds and they all say they are couch potatoes. The only downside is that you can’t let them off leash except in fenced in areas, but that’s probably true of a lot of dogs. I was also surprised to find out that they have universal blood.

From: Larry Moore — Jun 03, 2011

You want a quiet companion? Get a cat. No walking. They sleep 20 hours a day, they go in a box, don’t bark, pretend not to like you most of the time and can be left on their own for a day or two with proper food and water, of course. When they do decide it’s time for companionship they are pretty sweet. Might be some issues with hair in your wet paint and hairballs but, overall. they are great studio animals.

From: Catherine Orfald — Jun 03, 2011

I agree! My dog Gita is an essential companion. While not content to lie around in the studio while I paint (she’s an old, but still active Australian shepherd mix), she’ll lie outside and wait for me. She happily accompanies me on long walks to scope out new scenes and spends long days outside with me when I paint. I have attached a painting I did with Gita as subject this winter: Dog and Snowmobile. My cats occasionally stroll through the studio, but are also too busy and noisy to stay. The best companions I have there are two rabbits. Quiet. Clean (they’re litter-box trained). They joyfully race around the studio when I let them out of their large pen and then they settle down contentedly while I paint. I like having different folks for different strokes while I work.

From: Guy Giersch — Jun 03, 2011

I would recommend a rescued greyhound. These dogs are big couch potatoes. Loving, and always ready for a walk; but stately occupying the couch as you work.

From: Claudia Roulier — Jun 03, 2011

I think the printmaker needs a quite breed a couch potato of a dog maybe adopting an older dog, greyhounds are good couch potatoes, I’m getting ready to replace our Newfie who died last year I plan on taking her to studio down in town with me, the key is to know what you can put up with and what you can’t. Newfies have their drawbacks but we love the breed so much that it doesn’t matter to us, the same is true of any breed you love. Training is key. Plenty of sources to help you decide on the dog for you. I agree totally with you about dogs and dog people.

From: Jenny Richards — Jun 03, 2011

Personally my husband and I have found that Rottweilers are great studio dogs. They are high energy puppies but at about the 4 year mark they are content with ball throwing, long walks and just being by your side. Our dog Charlie and our former “child” Henri were and are the best companions. Charlie knows where his spot is in the studio and after a good run/ play session he is content with sleeping as long as he has us in his sights. :) I think bigger, intelligent dogs are more “responsible” and require less monitoring but that is my opinion.

From: Veronica Funk — Jun 03, 2011
From: Joela Nitzberg — Jun 03, 2011

SO TRUE…LIFE WITHOUT A DOG IS EMPTY! about 9 mos ago I adopted a 6yr old cat, My 103 lb yellow Lab and my 15 lb cat sleep together and eat together. They are great friends. My heart constantly melts!

From: Jeanne Long — Jun 03, 2011

I wonder how many studio dog stories you’ll get in response to this post! For the record, here is my studio companion, Teddy. I got him at a shelter about a year and a half ago, and his acclimation has been very challenging. He came to me with severe separation anxiety and an urge to attack any dog he encountered, but with the help of a lot of Paul Newman organic dog treats, meted out judiciously whenever another dog appeared, he’s now a pussycat, happily, tail-waggedly greeting other dogs of all sizes and breeds. He still hates to be left alone, only tolerating it begrudgingly, which keeps me on task when I want to roam. While I paint, he dozes and chews his chew bones patiently and only interrupts me for scheduled walks and feedings. He can tell time year round, without the aid of the sun, and always lets me know when it’s 5:30, his desired dining time. Plus, he announces with great vigor that the UPS truck has again arrived to deliver my next eagerly anticipated art book.

From: Dorothy Gardiner — Jun 03, 2011
From: Celeste Nikkel — Jun 03, 2011

Loved this article; our dog Rexie loves to be with me in the studio….as close to me as possible which doesn’t always work well for either of us. Removing paint from dog hair is not fun. But, as a friend of mine said, “if the work doesn’t have dog hair in it, its not original”!! Ha!!

From: Marsha Schuld — Jun 03, 2011

Thank you for extolling the virtues of Dog in the studio. I have attached a pic of my own German Short-haired Pointer in my favourite studio chair. One other bonus that you neglected to mention is the fee-less modeling these animals are willing to do. Many of my daily sketches are of Rupert’s nose or his toes or even his pose! He has great angles and curves and moves around a great deal so the challenge is to capture my favourite bits in the time he allows. The companionship is wonderful and, as you yourself are aware, completely non-judgemental! On another topic – if you get a chance and/or get to thinking about it – can you comment on canvas size and shape? I have taught art to adults for over 20 years and one of the things I find important to do is to get them out of the “standard size” habit. With most of their reference photos 4×6 or 5×7 and nearly all their doodling and dabbling on standard rectangles of paper or canvas – I find they are restricting their creativity and compositional skills to a high degree. The marketplace doesn’t help much with standard sizes in ready-made canvas and frames being less costly than the “odd balls”. I compensate in my classes for this issue by forcing them far from their comfort zones and making them paint on long narrow or square canvasses – sizes like 8×36, or 12×24 or 24×24 have all come into play. They always argue and struggle and then – magic happens and they realize they are no longer held to the conventions of a camera or a book and they start to enjoy plein air and life studies with a new outlook and fresher work. I have attached some images of my own work done in “out of the ordinary” shapes. I have also found that these less run-of-the-mill shapes also draw the viewer in and invite comment from the gallery public – can’t be all bad for marketing!

From: Penny — Jun 03, 2011

We adopted a Great Pyrenees from a shelter just over 2 years ago. He may be large, but he is the most laid back, low energy dog we’ve ever met, on top of being adorable and bright. He’s willing to lie wherever we are for hours, including my studio, but is a great walking companion when required. He just oozes love and affection and is quite the centre of attention wherever we go. A good solid daily walk is all that’s required. I have attached a picture of His Royal Cuteness Yukon so you can see his smile. Our cats are more intrusive than our heffalump of a dog! PS Although he’s large, he’s a picky eater and doesn’t eat as much as one would think.

From: Susan Faye Martin — Jun 03, 2011

I know what it is like to have disruption with my sweet little pup in the studio. But since she has turned 2, we seem to have more harmony. She loves to be there and if she doesn’t, then she wanders off to her bed (or should I say our bed) upstairs. I have a covered garbage can now to prevent the dragging of miscellaneous items around. I also have learned to leave everything beyond her reach if I want it to stay the way it is. Life is wonderful with a dog in it :-)

From: Janie Cohen — Jun 03, 2011

More times than not I think you are my doppelganger; or you at least follow me around and hear my every thought and anxiety concerning my art. Your loving doggie stories are always welcome here, for I have a very special artigiana without whom I could not paint. Having been diagnosed with stage IV cancer in 2003 (in remission 5 yrs. as of now) and having to spend much time in bed, we decided that a companion pet would be comforting. Clara is a rescued kitty from a local shelter. Like everyone’s child or pet, mine naturally is the best.

From: Judie — Jun 03, 2011

We are a foster home for Italian Greyhounds (have 3 of our own). These are the tiny greyhounds, not the big ones, but 2 or ours are rescues. Your service of directing surfers to websites sounds interesting. I’ll read the email more thoroughly when I have time (have to leave the house soon). If there is not more info on your service, can I get more? Recently I finished my first book which involves dogs, mystery, fantasy and God knows what else. Its not published, I am going to do a book proposal and query letter soon but I understand that in today’s world, an author must have a website and a plan to assist the publisher (if one would get so fortunate) with advertising. Your service sounds like it could be very helpful once I get the website for the book finished.

From: Carla — Jun 03, 2011
From: Sandy — Jun 03, 2011

We have had several dogs, but most recently 5 Alaskan Malamutes. Unfortunately, we’ve done a lot of crying the last two years and we are down to one. He is a treasure. While we still miss all of the dogs we have had the joy of sharing our home with we must admit that 5 large dogs that need to be kept away from each other as the boys were not neutered and wanted to be Alpha and one female who actually was in charge was quite an experience. Looking back and knowing all that took place, we’d do it again. Even though there were some very interesting and heart wrenching moments when they visited my studio, they were still my favorite models.

From: Diana Rutherford — Jun 03, 2011

Nowadays people say a new puppy LIKES to be in his/her own cage (security) some of the time. I never did this, but as a printmaker, Janet might find that’s the way to have control over her time. Travelling around the US in an RV, I painted and always had a dog. My car has a bumper sticker saying “Dog is love” and I’m a religious person, and I mean it.

From: Marilyn S. Mylrea — Jun 03, 2011

I just recently got a kitten and cats can also make great companions. My cat loves to watch me paint in my studio. He is not a distraction at all as he just lies there and stares up at me. I love that he is the first being outside of me to see my art as I know his love will always be supportive. I also like dogs and may someday get one. Yet, right now my cat is so sweet and cool that I’m not sure how I existed before him. The famous American artist April Gornik also has pets and is a big animal lover. And Emily Carr preferred animals to many people. I think they lift our spirits which is always great and inspirational!

From: Heather Duff — Jun 03, 2011

I am a true dog lover and this is my w/c portrait of my little Boxer, Salsa, who is from Mexico, and was diagnosed with severe cardio myopathy one year ago. At that time, she was given one month to live, and here she is, still with us today, bouncing and pouncing, good days and bad, but so loving and giving. Her little short stubby tail tells all. She is a doll, and we’ll be devastated when she goes. We also have a 100lb Labrador, who is a geriatric, however the tail never stops wagging. Love them both. Thanks for your “inspirations”.

From: Caroline Planting — Jun 03, 2011

Ever since we moved to Charlottesville I’ve been having problems with allergies, so I haven’t gotten a dog (there’s also the travel problem). I finally decided that if I ever get the allergies under control (maybe shots, have to see) I’ll get a Shih Tzu. They are small, lively, and do nothing but love people ( I hope).

From: Stede Barber — Jun 03, 2011

I’m writing this as a little way to say thanks to my two steady companions through years of upheaval, change, and time at the easel. Thanks for touching on this subject. My home is my studio. Or vise-versa. My dog Ari (Sir Aragon Blue) and cat Missy also call this place home. Working in the studio makes for a great life for us all, as I’m home a lot…the thing they both love best. Ari has also claimed my old Jeep Cherokee, my “portable studio.” The back seat is almost always down, covered with a thick old sleeping bag — his personal piece of heaven. He’s not particularly fond of sharing it with my larger plein air adventures, but… always flexible. He is part Great Dane, part Lab, with a personality combining the Great Dane’s calm outlook on life with the joy of the Lab. I would say our biggest challenge is shedding; his black fur plus Missy’s golden fluff can be a challenge. All 100% worthwhile, however, for the humor, intelligence, and joy they bring to every day. I find bigger dogs easier to deal with than really small ones…they seem less demanding, happy with good companionship, make great “guard dogs” for those of us who wander off the beaten track to paint (just his presence has changed the course of a few people with odd energy who approached me in remote areas ), and have their own independent lives. I am a big fan of adopting animals from the shelter, and of mixed breeds. Ari has none of the problems inherent in the purebreds of his lineage, and is living a remarkably long life for a big dog…12-1/2 years old and still playing. You do have to devote time and energy to pets, which I find healthy. The walks, play sessions, cuddling all help keep me happy. Vet bills can get steep as they age…but again, 100% worth it.

From: Wendy Hale — Jun 03, 2011

I couldn’t agree with you more. Life in the studio is way too quiet alone. I have an Australian Shepherd. They are one of the smartest breeds and love lots of exercise. We start our day with an hour long walk (sometimes more if I’m avoiding an issue) and then come home to get to work. Not only do we get the blood flowing first thing, but during our walk, with the juices flowing, I work out my plan for the day. We come back refreshed and invigorated, ready for a day of painting. She takes a nap on her bed in my studio and I can get my work done. When I need to let paint dry, I play the piano and she comes along side to listen. She’s my shadow and best friend. I don’t know what I’d do without her.

From: Darrell Baschak — Jun 03, 2011

I have had dogs around me for as long as I can remember, usually Shelties. Currently I have two of these wonderful dogs and I know I am going to be a sad puppy when they leave. They are great to have around the studio as they cause me no grief and are content to catch up on their Z’s, knowing that when its time I will grab their frisbee and toss it until their tongues are hanging on the ground (or snow). After a few hours in the studio with me the youngest one will come over and gaze at me with those beautiful brown eyes, or if that doesn’t work she will jump onto my lap, signaling me that painting time is over and its time for some excercise for them and me! Maybe that’s why dog owners live longer, their dogs take charge of our exercise schedule. To date they haven’t eaten any of my paint although they have rummaged through my plein air kit for sunflower or pumpkin seeds. I always forgive them and they never hold a grudge. You are right about them being angels.

From: Janet Badger — Jun 03, 2011

Thank you all so very very much for your supportive and helpful ideas. I feel surrounded by caring friends, and I hope to prove worthy of the dog that will eventually become part of our family.

From: George Wolfe — Jun 03, 2011

I don’t know whether anyone has suggested it yet but Janet Badger should consider getting a badger. They make very good and docile pets–some people even prefer them to dogs–especially when raised from infancy. In the USA there are laws preventing owning them in some cities, but most states issue licenses for them in rural areas. It would not be too cute for Janet to have a badger as a motto, a logo and a spiritual presence that would help people remember who she is.

From: Judy Feldman — Jun 03, 2011

My dog, Cleo is my muse – I love sketching her and she appears frequently in my paintings.

From: Adrienne Moore — Jun 03, 2011

Hi Robert, your most recent letter The dog decision set me thinking about losing my beloved Chewbie, a cross Pyrenee lab retriever,to cancer at the age of eleven . He had been my trusted friend and shared my studio since I adopted him as a pup. He was an alpha male , strongly independent and was always pushing boundaries, so determined was he to have things his way . His antics were amazing and I kept a journal about the amusing situations he got into . When he was no longer with me ,I composed a book ,illustrated it with a few colourful paintings and recently received the first edition which I published. The entire process of writing the book was an opportunity ,to some degree ,to make our parting more bearable. I watch dog owners with envy and I will get another dog one day but first, it is time for me to travel because my favorite companion kept me close to home for many years ..

From: Sylvia Hicks — Jun 03, 2011

Several years ago, I participated in an Art Show at the local gallery in Kent, Washington. One of the artists, a wee gal with big dreams was hanging large abstracts with limited color schemes. One of the painting, a large creme one was the hit of the show. Her dog (big dog), had walked across the canvas and left tracks “in the snow” of the painting. IT WORKED! She decided to leave it and it was the hit of the opening! Don’t know if it ever sold. Sylvia Hicks Artist in Residence Water Lily Lane Studio Hudson, Florida

From: Marilyn Smith — Jun 03, 2011

If you want a quiet gentle dog, look into fostering or adopting an older dog. They are usually trained and their personalities are evident and they are grateful to have a companion.

From: Allan Pitfield — Jun 03, 2011

Badgers are notoriously nasty animals. If you have one, get it to a wildlife rehabilitation place asap. They are not good pets. Further, they are not interested in art.

From: Susi Franco — Jun 04, 2011

I have two precocious and brilliantly clever Brussels Griffon ( the dog that was featured in the film “As Good As It Gets” w/Jack Nicholson.) They are not just my constant companions but my dear little friends. Last August I bought a 6 acre farm/house with a separate building I renovated to be my studio, about 600 sq ft. I put a woodstove out there and the pups love to “go to work” with Mama. As with Mr. Genn’s dogs, they don’t pass critique on my work. :) They love curling up on the cushy armchair or sometimes perch on my work chair while I’m standing. They understand where we’re going when I say “let’s go to the studio…” and jump excitedly, tails-wagging and uber-happy. They are simply amazing studio companions, and give me a sense of time ( which I really need, no phones in the studio and I forget to look outdoors for hours), and due to joint disease need to move around periodically just so things don’t stiffen up on me; taking them out helps with that. They have never proven to be a distraction while I work, but then they’ve been raised by an artist since puppy-hood and are accustomed to my being silent for hours as I work. I live alone on my farm, my reward for having raised 6 children by myself, I think, and I cherish the medicinal solitude and Nature all around me. My dogs are comfort, succor and even inspiration to me, if only because they live life so simply but so pure: all about love. I agree with other posters here, look to animal rescue-shelters for a great dog you can train to be with you as you work. When it’s not too hot, I even take them with me to do plein aire, keeping them on tethers close to my easel. They make me laugh out loud every single day of life, no matter what trials & tribulations may come my way and I humbly thank God to be the recipient of all this love and rich companionship. I pray God doesn’t take either of them from me before I am able to cope with that gaping void, but for now, they are central to my happiness and productivity. In their eyes, there is no judgement, no rancor, none of the negativity humans sometimes bring, only love shining brightly….and they are without question my very most favorite “people”. :) ps—I could never tolerate a human in my studio for hours, they’d be BOUND to distract me ! LOL

From: Jim Lorriman — Jun 04, 2011

You are right and I agree that a dog does make one a better person. I am reminded of that prayer: “Dear God, please make me the kind of person my dog thinks I am!”. That pretty well says it all. My yellow lab, Sunshine, is also cognizant of when things are going badly. He thinks that this is a good time to pat the dog. He is correct. The distraction leads to re-focusing and getting back on track.

From: Linda Saccoccio — Jun 04, 2011
From: Denise Maxwell dmaxwell@infoserve.net — Jun 04, 2011

The other day I was painting en plein air on a trail across from one of the many local beaver ponds. I take my little guy with me most outings. He alerts me to any passers-by, as I’m engaged in my painting, it’s a good little warning. Here however, we had many friends and acquaintances stopping by to chat, as it is a busy spot for cycling and dog walkers and wide open views up and down the path. One of my breakfast buddies had decided he would try to connect with me later that afternoon, as he was curious to see my setup. After a half hour visit, he roared off and would return to see the finished piece. I continued my painting only to look on Zeke and found he was nowhere to be seen. Picture my panic, yelling and jogging in the direction that our friend had gone in, finally I saw him. I guess he couldn’t catch Tom and decided to return, what a fright, evening not far off and this is coyote dominion! What I’ve found with my dog, is that he is pretty smart about my rhythms and is very adaptable on the whole and he has never taken off like that before, but Tom is to him the morning sausage guy. All dogs know who have the treats and who are the treat babas.

From: -Loraine Wellman — Jun 04, 2011

Cats make good studio companions too. However, it could be that they are a little bossier. If I have been painting “too long”, I get meowed over to the contemplation chair. I get to pause and think- and a lap gets provided.

From: Sara James — Jun 04, 2011

Our dog “Joe”, a golden retriever, has become my faithful companion. Joe was a rescue dog who used to live with pigs when he was young. He was uncared for so he began to wander our village in search of food. There were many days that I would look out of the window to see Joe playing with our horses and eating our dog’s food. Yes, my horse would drag Joe along by his leg, ever so carefully and the two of them would butt heads and wrestle for hours. When Joe was two, the village decided that we should keep Joe. While in British Columbia we hike in the mountains to paint, sometimes alone and at other times with two friends and their dog. Joe and I are now wandering the Italian Alps and a lovely valley called the Valchiusella. With a bell on Joe to protect him from the “vipers”, easel, paints and of course some snacks for my companion we walk along the “mulattiere” (ancient roads) in search of material. Joe now has two languages, he loves Italian food and has even found some delightful Italian, dog friends.

From: Denita Tizard — Jun 05, 2011

Thank you! I have been given an opportunity of a beautiful puppy to join our family, and I nearly said NO.

From: Jackie Knott — Jun 05, 2011

As artists, we tend to travel a lot. At the moment I’m in another region of the country enjoying some galleries. This next year will involve even more travel. Because of this we decided not to replace our old dog we lost last year. I always noticed the dogs suffered more anxiety over our absence than the cats. Our dog used to be my shadow for days upon coming home, obviously stressed … our cat is glad to see us return but is back into her routine immediately. Yes, we all love our pets … but one must consider their affection as well. I can’t miss this opportunity to quote the late humorist, Lewis Grizzard (married four times), who had an old black lab named Catfish: “Catfish is glad to see me no matter what time I come home.”

From: Ann van Vesterberg — Jun 05, 2011

The best type of dog to have in your studio is a cat. Period.

From: Ceci Lam — Jun 05, 2011

I totally agrees with your observations on the wealth of having dogs, and of the two primary difficulties. Saying goodbye to a companion of 10 or 12 years is heartbreaking, but the joy and adventure of a new dog is good medicine. Having an ex who uses my garage to restore his British sports cars in exchange for house and dog sitting is invaluable, as I write you from France. Every good home deserves a dog and every dog deserves a good home.

From: Ceci Lam — Jun 05, 2011
From: Misty Beauchamp — Jun 05, 2011
From: Sheila Grabarsky — Jun 06, 2011
From: Cathy Messina — Jun 06, 2011

I love dogs and cats equally well, but because I have a full-time job, have only had cats since leaving home (I miss having a dog and want to get one someday). I think having a good animal around the home is such a blessing. Aldous Huxley once advised an aspiring writer to get a cat–preferably two cats–to learn more about human psychology. I think having pets has made me more alert to my surroundings and less “daydreamy,” which sometimes is a good thing for an artist. Only once did anything bad happen with one of my cats and my paint, and that was all my fault: I did not realize I had a glob of wet dioxazine purple acrylic paint on my sleeve when I pet Dana until I saw it get transferred to her white flank. Fortunately for me, Dana was the sweetest, most trustworthy and gentle cat that ever lived (she died three years ago and I miss her so)–she let me hold her under a running faucet so that I could wash the paint off her fur.

From: Sheila Minifie — Jun 06, 2011

What a wonderful outpouring of appreciation for our hairier companions from everyone. It just flowed out unobstructed, joyfully and quietly in one long digital river.

From: Jennifer Horsley — Jun 06, 2011

I couldn’t agree more that dogs make wonderful studio companions. Strolling into the studio in the morning with a cup of coffee and a furry friend at your feet makes the blank canvas much less daunting. Though cats are equally wonderful pets, I have found them to be less than adequate as studio companions. I love cats. I have never been without one or two or three. But they hamper my process. I had to start using a portable palette so when I see Phineas coming I can put the lid on. He likes to sit in the middle of my palette. Scamper always wanted to be right next to me no matter what I was doing…he would climb up the drawing table which was at an angle and then slide down, all the while trying to grab hold with his claws. The only way to stop him was to put my arm across the board so he wouldn’t claw up my drawing. He would then promptly fall asleep on my arm which was still across the table. It took all this for me to realize why my grandfather never allowed the cats in his studio when I was growing up. I have included a sketch of the cat my grandparents had when I was young.(charcoal on printer paper) Her name was Shoshone. She enjoyed rubbing against my grandfather’s students and their paintings.j

From: Joan Simpson — Jun 06, 2011

I rescued our feral cat Maggie after she was severely battered and nearly frozen to death. I put my paintbrushes down for 8 months and devoted every possible minute to her. She had never felt the warmth of a human touch before that, had no social skills, nor even knew how to play. Well, Maggie is the “Diva” in our house. She greets us warmly and faithfully every day upon our return, plays all the time and even has learned to place her own signature paw prints on several of my paintings. We’re into this 2 years now and it’s been worth every tear, trial and tribulation. What joy she brings us! Give a stray or shelter animal your time and love. I guarantee that they’ll give much more back to you! joansimpson1@verizon.net

From: Bette ewebette@gmail.com — Jun 06, 2011

I will print this one out and save forever – how true. I have my friend Ferghus at my side most days in my sewing studio. He is also a Therapy Dog and we visit seniors. After losing our last dog at age 7 – I was not keen on another dog yet now we have Ferghus age 3,the joy us greater than the heartache.

From: Ted F. Martinez — Jun 06, 2011

I can’t imagine not having a dog as a companion. They know when it’s play time or walking time and they know when it is working time and they are content to catch up on their sleep knowing you are close by. If you are to focused and may not hear some one coming they let you know and when you need a break they are always ready to put their head on your lap for some petting and always ready to accompany you whenever you like. My wife and I don’t have children so in a way our dogs are our kids and their love is unconditional !

From: Vikki Armour Fuller — Jun 06, 2011

Diesel, our beloved Landseer Newfoundland Dog was my constant companion in the studio on Bowen Island. This past winter we were to learn that he had cancer, and sadly would not be with us for very long. I asked for one last sit, in the studio. I felt such a profound and deep closeness to him during what was to be his last painting sit with me. varmourfuller@gmail.com

From: Ann — Jun 07, 2011

I miss our German Shepherd, Mandy, who died of cancer a year ago. Her last days were spent accompanying me while I completed two paintings and started on the third, meant for a group exhibition. The show was cancelled and the third painting has remained unfinished. Whenever I think of picking up the brush to complete it, I’d remember how Mandy would ‘stare’ at the canvas as if in admiration of my art, and tilted her head to one side as if listening to me talk about the work. I guess, though she was almost completely blind and deaf, she could feel my excited vibes.

From: Kate Beetle — Jun 07, 2011

For Joan Simpson, Bless you for rescuing Maggie. I have three cats, used to have a dog who passed on. I haven’t gotten another because I find the cats’ personalities so varied and interesting. Becca stands next to me as I paint, purring, waiting to be petted, giving me the most beautiful green-eyed gaze. Melange stretches her full length to pat at me when she thinks I’ve been working too long. Bert–well, he chases Melie, thus livening things up. I always get slightly older, shelter cats. They are healers, angels, guardians of the soul, which is why cats seem to choose us. It makes me immensely sad when I hear cats slandered, or hear of them being discarded or abused. In many years I’ve only had a couple of problems with wet paint. And there was plenty of fur around with the dog, too, huge drifts of it. I don’t see the difference there. As a friend of mine once said, “Dogs drool, cats rule”!

From: sarastar — Jun 07, 2011

I have found that if I point the fan away from my art and keep my studio well swept that hair from any pet is a minimal issue. Dogs that have hair instead of fur, like poodles and schnauzers don’t shed so they don’t get hair on things any more than you or I do.

From: Kathleen Kuchar — Jun 07, 2011

I have a terrific studio dog, a standard poodle that I acquired when he was 8 years old (his owner died). I quickly learned that he liked to eat my Arches watercolor paper. I wonder if it is the sizing he likes so much. Anybody have a clue what to do about this behavior. Other than that, I call Modie MR. PERFECT as he is a wonderful walking companion and subject for my paintings. I highly recommend an older dog that is already trained and one that has been rescued. I love my poodle.

From: Nicole Hyde — Jun 07, 2011

My heart has long been set on a Coton du Tulear. One day, one day soon.

From: Susan Williamson — Jun 08, 2011

Last week my Cavalier King Charles spaniel Lily passed away after fifteen and a half years of devoted companionship. I hadn’t realized it until I read The Dog Decision, but in thinking over our life together, I’d have to say that my creativity took a giant leap forward during the time we spent together. The fact that Lily loved me unconditionally—and that I had the pleasure of looking after her—has made me a better person both artistically and personally. I say go for a dog, Janet, and I would recommend a Cavalier. In my experience, they’re undemanding dogs and always happy as long as they can just hang around with you. Perfect for an artist.

From: Susan Shaw — Jun 08, 2011

While I completely agree that a dog makes a wonderful companion, I don’t agree with recommending that someone get a dog unless they are totally committed to the idea. A person who doesn’t understand the value of a dog can’t get the same benefits as those of us who value their companionship, and the dog would bear the brunt of the decision, and would be neglected, bored and ultimately depressed.

From: Louise Swan — Jun 08, 2011

I absolutely LOVED your Twice Weekly about the artist considering whether to have a dog around. Give your head a smack lady. Dogs are an artist’s best friend because they are nonplussed when you swear after discovering a boo-boo in the latest creative effort. They also look the other way when you start ‘happy hour’ at 4:00 instead of 5:00 ’cause you are celebrating a successful, finished art piece. Get a dog or two!!!

From: Karen Ma — Jun 08, 2011

Susan Shaw is right, don’t get a pet just because many people have them. I love to see other people’s pets but I give all my love to my humans and we are all very happy about that.

From: Minnie Dunlop-Persey — Jun 17, 2011

My dog looks up at me with that adorable “Is it time for a treat?” look in her face. Then she settles next to my thigh on the couch when I’m reading, looking up at me with that “I know you’re gonna give me a treat!” look in her eyes. Then when I get up she bounds to my side with a whole-body “Izzit time for a walk? Izzit a walk?” And when I crash in the evening, both of us full of supper, she settles down beside the bed with a demeanor that says it all. “This is great: chow, walks, treats, and a comfy pillow! It don’t get much better than this! I think I like this pack!”

From: kanecreative — Jun 29, 2011

After many years of having Rottweilers, we adopted a rescue German shepherd. I am a pastel painter. Turns out full tails are not so helpful in the studio.

From: Valerie Brideau — Aug 18, 2012
   
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