Emily (1996-2003)


Dear Artist,

Many of you know that one of the elements of my art mentoring has been the business of having a studio pet. To the sometimes amusement of others I’ve maintained that my own flourishing has been in large part due to the presence of Emily and other previous dogs. I can also attest to more than a dozen painters who have taken my advice and profited by getting a pet. Today I’m reporting the downside to the concept.


Emily (1996-2003)

When I returned from my recent trip Emily had a small, almost inconsequential cough. She was a bit sluggish. Tim Andrews, our vet, took x-rays and did some blood work. Yesterday morning at 8.30 Emily went in for an exploratory operation and was found to have small nodules throughout her abdomen. Her spleen was removed — causing a loss of blood — and while coming out of her anesthesia she went into cardiac arrest. She died in their hands.

Carol and I are devastated. Emily trotted into that clinic in complete trust and innocence, and that was the last we saw of her. For me she has been my companion for almost 8 years, since puppyhood. She was forever willing to go anywhere with me. To my knowledge she was the first Airedale to travel the entire length of the Mackenzie River. When we were photographing for the cover of my book, “The Painter’s Keys,” she managed to get into the picture. Six months ago she was backpacking with us in the Rocky Mountains. She has watched me paint countless paintings, always with approval.

My daughter, Sara, says that dogs are angels that are sent from heaven in order to help us to be better people. This I believe to be true — they teach incredible lessons — loyalty, patience, playfulness and how to exercise, to name a few. I assumed she would be with us for more years yet. I guess you can’t presume anything. There is an unbelievable vacuum around here today. Son-in-law Richard remembers: “Curled up in a tent. Sneaking time in bed. Gently taking a cookie. Hearing her bark on arrival. Fetching a ball. Greeting you with a toy in her mouth. Tugging on a sweater. Riding in a motor-home. Sharing the back seat of an old model Chrysler. Hiking, swimming, flying, walking, sleeping, eating, boating. Emily did it all with us.”

How did we come to be blessed with her presence, her devotion, her golden life, only to have her taken away? What is this mystery all about?

Best regards,


PS: “We need no advice but approval.” (Coco Chanel)

Esoterica: A couple of years ago, a collector friend from Philadelphia (whom I had never met) was passing through and asked to drop into the studio. When Emily greeted him he burst into tears. He had recently lost his dog. “I’ll never have another,” he said, “They’re too difficult to lose.” I’m now feeling what he felt.


Emily (1996-2003)


Robert writing a Twice-Weekly Letter on the Mackenzie River


Emily — The First Airedale Down The Mackenzie


Robert reviews paintings while Emily looks on.









“Oh gentle goddess of the night,
Keeper of the realms afar,
Light up the milky way,
Polish a star —
Our beautiful Emily has just crossed the bar.”
poem by Lenore Conacher


(RG note) I’d like to thank everyone who wrote on this subject. It was the first time I felt I was physically unable to read every letter that came in. But I did. I read every one of your letters — some of them several times. Many not included here were absolutely wonderful and consoling in our all-absorbing sadness. Thank you so much for your heartfelt friendship. We are now in the process of printing out all your letters about Emily and archiving them in several binders. We’re also printing a large-type abridged edition for the benefit of my parents.

Your letters are a tribute to all animals. I felt that a selection of them ought to be available to all pet owners, grieving or not. In the middle of being bogged down with this feeling of remorse, love and emotion, my daughter, Sara, (who is now in New York) offered to edit the clickbacks this time. She had spent the most part of last Tuesday reading your letters out loud to her husband Richard. The choice in the collection below is hers — a little more personal than usual, perhaps. Hers was a tough job as it was a matter of making a selection from a huge resource. Some wonderful letters had to be left out. We have put other art matters in reserve and dedicated this edition to cross-species love. Thank you, Sara, for doing this.

Many artists mentioned their own animals, both living and dead, and the trials of losing animals. Some mentioned them by name. On Tuesday night I sat at the computer and made a list of all the animals names that had been mentioned up to that time. I visualized all of these important personalities, these spirits, these angels, and the humans that might go with them. I visualized them attending a memorial — Emily’s memorial, or your animal’s memorial. Quite a wag-in.

Sheba, Jeckyl, Agatha, Schwartz, Beansie, Mr Beans, Yo-yo, Pepper, Nirvana, Marquesa, Shembala, Lucky, Beau, Misty, Max, Boaz, Montana, Swannie, Millie, Kelly, Zip, Rosie, Sabre, Israel, Benjamin, Maxy, Kayla, Martha, Piute, Keefer, Bandit, Viva, Freeway, Ranger, Max, Sophie, B’Zing, Betty, Charlie, Molly, Molly, Alvin, Arthur, Sabrina, Mack, Kellie, Rosie, Emily, Chip, Rose, Lucy, Zwartte, Theo, Barney, Rosalita, Molly, Polly, Griffin, Woo, Gus, Bert, Hal, Pete, Scooter, Scoo2er, Charlie, Cedes, Madeline, Emma, Molly, Jewel, Bud, Neko, Tora, Jett, Zoe, Apples, Oranges, Zack1, Zack2, Addison, Katie, Lacey, Lindy, Gort, Dolly, Zac, Delta, Bubba, Susie, Buffy, Kia, Eve, Harriet, Sammy, Comet, Tuppence, Tippy, Sparky, Sassy, Colette, Whorfin, Maggie, Tara, Otis, Opie, Sadie, Daisy, Puppy, Zep, Margaret, Begw, Liesel, Willem, Midnight, Doris, Charlie, Farley, Occitane, Hobbes, Ginger, Sherry, Mama Kitty, Little Kid, Pepe, Cleo, Ludwig, Bayley, Forrest, Marmaduke, Guinivere, Zigfried, Monty, Zoe, Queenie, Fanny, Cleo, Benny, Humphrey, Buffy, Tizzy, Gizzy, Sandy, Duke, Tim, Star, Pepper, Mr Ted, Zyras, Myra, Jack, and perhaps others which I inadvertently missed.

Incidentally, the next letter, Negotiating depression, was written as a spare to be used in case I was not able to get on line while I was in North Africa. When I left on that trip I was actually in the process of trying to answer a bunch of depressed artists directly and personally. “Negotiating depression” is also a bit of a “downer,” and I consider myself to be in the “upper” business, but we decided to send it anyway. Emily had a habit of coming over and “giving a paw.” At a Roman ruin called Dougga in Tunis there was a friendly dog and I remember thinking that a person could not possibly be depressed if they had someone to come over and give a paw.


by Ken Hu, BC, Canada

I’m sorry for your loss. I was just thinking about her recently. I was telling my sister how wonderful and intelligent Emily was. She made so many endearing impressions. I hope you will be fine soon.

(Andrew Niculescu note) Ken looks after the subscriber list and the emailing out of your Twice-Weekly letters. Thus he was the first outside the family to know, and his was the first letter that came in.


Gives to rescue groups
by Patti Eldridge

I so understand what you’re going through and it just broke my heart to read your letter. A dog’s love is like no other. I totally agree with your daughter! I have a new series of paintings that I’ve done with Guardian Angels and dogs and I give a portion away to breed rescue groups. I’ll add your family to my prayer list, to find some sort of peace with this.


Not too soon
by Peggy Small

I write with tears of sympathy. We have lost four dogs over our fifty years of marriage and it never gets easier. They become such a part of your life that the empty space and the silence are impossible to fill. We are soon to find a “good true friend,” as our traveling days are over. I hope that you will feel the same after the necessary period of mourning Emily’s loss. It wouldn’t be fair to expect a new friend to replace Emily too soon. Our thoughts are with you.


The Rainbow Bridge
by Brenda Mickleburgh

I would like to share “The Rainbow Bridge” with you on the loss of your adored Emily.

“There is a bridge connecting Heaven and Earth. It is called the Rainbow Bridge because of its many colours. Just this side of the Rainbow Bridge is a land of meadows, hills, and valleys; all of it covered with lush green grass. When a beloved pet dies, the pet goes to this lovely land. There is always food and water and warm spring weather. There, the old and frail animals are young again. Those who are maimed are made whole once more. They play all day with each other, content and comfortable. There is only one thing missing. They are not with the special person who loved them on earth. So each day, they run and play until the day comes when one suddenly stops playing and looks up! Then, the nose twitches! the ears are up! The eyes are staring! You have been seen, and that one suddenly runs from the group! You take her or him in your arms and embrace. Your face is kissed again, and again, and again, and you look once more into the eyes of your trusting pet. Then together you cross the Rainbow Bridge, never again to be separated.”


Dog knew
by Carol Swann

Last Thursday my friend, studio and life companion Kayla, of almost 16 years left this earth. Although I knew it was her time and she had been gradually declining, to say I’m devastated is an understatement. I believe that I’m among the few who can truly say “I understand what you’re going through.” We are at that same raw edge, looking askance at the long healing road before us…I can barely even begin to contemplate that yet. I keep life in the house by keeping the fire going, can’t bear to go in to the old studio where she was so much a part of my life, or walk the trails we have walked together. Friends come by and notice how different the house feels without her presence. I believe that animals have a greater grasp of the big picture than humans. I built a new studio this year and Kayla refused to settle in there with me, even though I made her a nice cozy bed. At the time I found it annoying, yet in retrospect I believe she knew she wouldn’t be there for the next part of my life and didn’t want me to get too comfortable having her there.


No downside
by Frank Calidonna, Rome, NY, USA

I am sorry for your loss. Yet there is no downside to having a pet. We live longer than they do so there is sorrow and loss. But think of the years of love and affection they give us. I am a cat lover and over the years have lost a few, but would not trade their love for anything.


Dog purifies thoughts
by Tricia Migdoll, Byron Bay Australia

Oh dear, how sad. My dog is only three years old. It will surely break my heart when she finally has to go. Emily looks and sounds like she was an absolute treasure. I am so sorry for your loss. Dogs do indeed have a special presence. I feel that vacuum in the house when my dog simply goes out with my husband somewhere. Did you know that the Zoroastrians (Parsees) believe that the dog’s company purifies thoughts and atmosphere? That is why Zoroastrians have the custom of bringing a dog to see the corpse when someone is dead before disposal of the body. The dog purifies the sanskaras (karma). I think I would go out and get a new puppy — one that is soon to be born. You never know, maybe Emily will take a new body and come back to you.


Dog helps with sobriety
by Jennie Marsh

I am so sorry — but how wonderful that Emily is such an integral part of the Painter’s Keys cover and is therefore immortal. We have two dogs, Israel and Benjamin. Izzy was my first dog ever… and is my ‘sobriety’ dog. We got him about four months after I had become sober. About a year later we adopted another dog, Benjamin. I cannot imagine the past years of our lives without them. They have both been such a comfort through deaths in the family, business failures, and most recently during my husband Mike’s bout with cancer. We always take a risk when we love deeply, because one day there will be sorrow… But… for the joy that animals bring to our lives, I believe it is worth taking the risk. And I would encourage you, when the grieving is over… to welcome another ‘friend’ into your family.


Don’t say no
by Denise Bezanson

It is with deepest sympathy that I write this email of condolence for the loss of Emily, free spirit and happy soul. Truly dogs are special beings put on this earth for the benefit of mankind. I am writing this with tears in my eyes as I think of dear Emily. I am deeply sorry for your loss, but don’t say no to another dog. When we lost our last, we grieved 2 years and our new dog is such a blessing, we wondered why we waited so long.


Richness of the moment
by Larry Marshik

Our family extends its condolences on the loss of your dog Emily. We know just how devastating it is to lose a dog in its prime. Last year we lost our beloved dog Viva to liver disease — she was only 6. Of course, only another dog could help us cope with the empty space she left behind and we finally found one a few months later — but dogs are so individual in their companionship, there is always a special spot in your heart that belongs to only that one. It still grieves me when I realize how sick Viva had been without us realizing it — and yet her steadfast companionship didn’t falter. Trying to figure out why: life is short and sometimes frail and we can’t control it, but breeding, food (use of “by-products”), and possible over-immunization are some of the possibilities we’ve been alerted to. I’d add to what Sara said about dogs that they help us live the richness of the moment by pointing out that “right now” has possibilities (even if we don’t really want to play right now).


Keep talking
by Wendy Rodolfo

I still ache for our beloved Labrador, even though we were lucky enough to have his devotion and example of living life to the full for fourteen years. It’s as if all the lights in the home have gone off. Dogs keep family members communicating with each other, so now you must keep remembering and talking about Emily, it will help.


Paint your tears
by John Ferrie


acrylic painting by John Ferrie

It is with tears filling my eyes that I am writing you this letter. I am so sorry to hear about poor Emily. The love of a dog is the most unconditional love of all. To see the world through a dog’s eyes is to see truth and loving in the most nourishing way. My partner Kelly came into my life with two Dalmatians named Keefer and Bandit. Within weeks of our partnership, I was calling them my own. They ruled our lives as they were the leaders and dictated what we did. I loved walking the dogs either alone or with my partner. I would unravel the equation of a new painting while chasing a stick or running along the beach with them. I often thought that most of my creativity was extended from my life with those two spotty dogs. However, my partner was their lord and master. They would often look at me after he had said a stern “NO!” and knew I would give in to a cookie or a ride to the video store. Bandit was the chosen dog for all the labels of dog supplies at the “Petcetera” stores across Canada. I was lucky enough to spend nine years with the dogs. Sadly, my two favorite dogs passed away within two months of each other. The younger one, Keefer, died suddenly after developing Cushing’s disease. They told us the dog would be sensitive. On a very hot day in June, it was too much for him and he went very quickly. I thought I was fine and handled it as the cycle of life. Three days later I came across a man who was rude to me and that triggered the grieving process. This happened on a busy Granville Island Sunday.

Everyone has a gift for you, sometimes the gift is not what you want, but just what you need. We had the second dog, Bandit put down as his life was winding up. The last day of his life, we took him to the park for one last walk. He fell over and could no longer get up. This was a wonderfully timid dog who ran like a Gazelle. The look on his face told me that it was time. It was 2:30 and with his friends and family, Bandit became a light ray. I remember thinking that death was very beautiful. I kept their water bowls full and put their food out as a habit for two weeks after.

My partner and I spent a great deal of time canoeing on Salt Spring Island with the dogs. I did a painting of my partner and I with the dogs flanked on either side of us standing on the shore of the Gulf Islands as a Christmas present. I painted the dogs’ bodies to look as though they are either swimming, or fading into the water. This spring-boarded a whole new direction in my painting and I did a series called AQUA. With this new series and without the dogs in the studio and their predictable routine, I painted my tears. It was the saddest time and yet, I painted the best work of my life. The new work was pure and raw with emotion and I wanted it to be beautiful. I did a book for the collection and dedicated it to my two spotty friends. Just some thoughts as I know what you are going through. Take some time and paint your tears.


Eugene O’Neill dog book
by Jeri Riggs


Book Cover
illustration by Adrienne Yorinks

I was moved by your account of the joys of owning your beloved dog, and the grief of losing her. I want to recommend a book that a friend of mine illustrated called, The Last Will and Testament of an Extremely Distinguished Dog ISBN 0-8050-6170-3, by Eugene O’Neill. The illustrations by Adrienne Yorinks bring the work to life and the message is wonderfully supportive at such a difficult time.




Time helps
by Lynn Korbel

I’m sure you’ll get a zillion of these letters. Nevertheless, I do want to add my sympathy to the rest. It is so hard to lose a family member, and our pets are family members. I lost my almost-3-year-old Calico cat in June. Same kind of thing. Nothing was wrong. Suddenly, she was attacking the other cat and we humans. I took her to the vet immediately and she had to be “put to sleep.” She had feline aggression disorder which is more common in calicoes than other breeds/types of cats. Who knew? I feel just the same as you do. It’s too hard to lose them and I don’t want to try to replace her. Time helps, but you’ll always miss her.


Grateful for every minute
by Mary Batut

I am truly sorry to hear about Emily and offer my deeply felt condolences. I have met Emily a number of times at Blackie’s Spit as she was out walking with Sara. She was a delight and certainly made me smile. I lost my very loved Viszla, Piute in June and know how empty your heart is right now. I am still looking for him every time I walk in the door. My husband Eric and my daughter Sarah find themselves looking or listening for him in the house. He filled us with joy and delight and was truly a gentle, kind soul. Emily will have left you with years of memories which will catch you unaware at the oddest moments. I find these memories fill me with not only the sadness of loss but with an incredible sense of being grateful for every minute he shared his life with me. I have had pets through my entire life but Piute was without question the one I loved most. I know Emily had your heart because you have mentioned her so often in your letters.


Don’t stop loving
by Mary Harding

The final part of your letter today is haunting me. We must never stop letting love flow in to our lives — no matter what form it comes to us in, i.e. soul mates, or dogs, or human beings who write eloquent letters for fellow artists. All of love is a blessing — and very much worth the pain. Thank you for sharing your work with all of us. “Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket — safe, dark, motionless, airless — it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.” (C.S. Lewis)


Remember with joy
by Eileen McGann


“Autumn Rose”
watercolor 5 x 7 inches
by Eileen McGann

I believe that dogs are perhaps the best proof (sorry Thomas Aquinas!) for the existence of a loving Power in the universe. There was no intrinsic need for there to be such a creature as a dog, who loves unconditionally and gives nothing but joy and approval, who greets us every time we come home and is happy just to be with us. Humans have tried to domesticate every creature, but there is only one kind that reminds us constantly that we are loved. A while ago I said to my partner that I didn’t know if I could bear to get a puppy, knowing that they live such a relatively short time and that losing it would be so devastating. He replied that it is one of the special things about our relationship with dogs, and one of the gifts that we give to them in return for all their love: to be able to be with them for the entirety of their lives, to see them through from puppyhood to old age, being always their friend and caregiver, and finally being with them at their leaving. It may be little comfort now to you, but Emily had you as her constant friend for her entire life, and her life was a good one. She blessed a portion of your life, and your family blessed her whole life in return. When you can, remember that with joy.


Calm soul
by Wayne Ralph


Emily and Dorothy (left)
at Jenkins Showler Gallery

I remember photographing her a few years ago in your Jaguar outside the Jenkins Showler Gallery in White Rock. The last time I saw you, you were walking Emily by the coffee shop at the corner of Crescent and 128th, heading onward towards the trees. She seemed such a calm soul, utterly unflappable.





by Diane Hardouin

I have never written to you before but have read all your emails with great interest. I too have a beloved friend — Alvin — who has been my constant companion for 14 years. When I lost my beautiful 24 year old daughter in a tragic auto accident just before Christmas in 1994, Alvin stayed with me day and night… staring me straight in the eye, keeping a knowing vigil. He sits by my side as I write this note to you. On Friday he had his first close call (after all, he is 14) but he is “ornery” and has held on. He has lots of problems but still manages a good stroll down the beach every day. I hold these times very precious now. I know how you feel and I dread the day I will lose my “shadow.”


A rescue
by Bob Sheridan

I am so sorry to hear of your loss of Emily. Having had a terrier-poodle and having to end his life prematurely after 14 years because of a myriad number of ailments we decided not to have another. After about 4 years my wife and I talked about getting another dog (being prodded consistently by one of our daughters) and found our latest, a mistreated Bichon Frise whose only purpose in life was as breeding stock in a kennel where she had spent 6 miserable years. We named her Molly as she answered to no name. A year has passed since we rescued her and we still have not gained her full trust. But we’re trying. And I think she is learning that we intend her no harm. You need a time to mourn, but you need another dog.


Resting place
by Joan Z. Rough, Earlysville, VA, USA

Your message today really touched me. I lost my dog, Charlie, of 14 years in June. His last months were bittersweet. He often didn’t recognize me… would growl or bark. But when he did know me, he was so happy and played like the puppy he was when I first brought him home. Along with his loss, I also lost a human friend who brought much light to my life. It was a sad and lonely summer. In August my husband and I decided that we were just missing too much and adopted a wonderful terrier mix, who I’m sure was heaven sent by our Dear Mr. Charlie. He is a very active dog and just last week we adopted Molly to be Sam’s best dog buddy. She too is heaven sent, I’m sure. The two dogs adore each other and are very similar in size, color and personality. Unfortunately, Molly has heartworm and though the treatment is easier and safer than it was just a few years ago we still run the risk of something going wrong. If we should lose her though, I feel that rescuing her from unlivable circumstances and trying to make her life more comfortable will have made the experience very worthwhile. The pain of loss is terribly devastating but living one’s life without taking risks out of fear only creates a life unlived. That is the worst pain of all, especially for the rest of the creatures in this world. I’m sending you the following poem that I wrote when we lost our cat, Hobbes, a few years ago.

Speaking of Loss With pick and shovel we dig a grave in the orchard under trees weighted down with ripening fruit / the soil is hard and rocky roots spread like fingers gripping the source of creation / We lower the body in to the hollow just large enough to contain her / tuck her tail around the curvature of earth arrange paws the way she would have. / From here she can watch the river where she followed me on cool evenings / sat purring while I counted geese floating in twilight.

A friend told me the effects of loss are cumulative, each bereavement deeper and darker, making it more difficult to rise to the surface to breathe as easily as we once did. I think loss works like an hourglass, tiny grains of sand slowly refill the emptiness making it natural to ascend into light.


Boisterous greetings
by Jennifer Dray

I considered Emily one of my friends and always enjoyed her boisterous greeting whenever I dropped in to see you. I’m sure you will have many treasured memories of her, but for now the empty space will be an enormous one and hard to bear. My heart feels sad at your loss, but if there is a ‘doggy heaven,’ Emily will surely be there. May I mourn with you just a little?


Part of the community
by Julie Rodriguez Jones, San Pablo, CA, USA

Emily was as much a part of this community of artists as any of us. With Emily as part of your signature photo, it was obvious how much you loved her and seeing her in your letters always brightened my day. I will remember her peering at us, bespectacled with a laptop at her feet. It was as if she was about to send out the next letter.

(Andrew Niculescu note) Emily is depicted at the laptop here — scroll down


Speedboat Emily
by Jackie Ramsay


Emily in the Miss Reveller, Robert’s vintage speedboat.

She was a lovely, lovely dog who will be missed by everyone who was fortunate enough to experience her sweet gentle nature. The moment I read your letter I knew that I had to send some of the pictures taken of Emily in the spring. The day we spent with you both and Emily out on the water was such a delight.






Another Emily
by Jane McGillivary

I had a dog named Emily who died on November 30th 1992 at the age of eight. She was a gorgeous Samoyed. It was a similar situation of sending her in to the vet and then being devastated when she did not return. She was a beautiful absolutely non-judgmental presence filled with gratitude and loyalty. I did not stop crying for weeks and weeks. Perhaps dogs have many lives and she incarnated over with you when she recycled. I am going to watch out for her coming around again! Thank you for sharing your story. I think dogs are angels, too.


Blessing the Bridge
by Cay Denise MacKenzie, California, USA

A book which has received glowing reviews is Blessing the Bridge: What Animals Teach Us about Death, Dying and Beyond, by Rita M. Reynolds. Stephen and Ondrea Levine have written, “This book offers a profound entrance into the mystery of those two gleaming eyes before you. A must read for all animal lovers. A healing book.” I trust the Levine’s implicitly (based on the works they’ve done), so I expect the book is very special, if you are up to reading it. Christmas will soon be here, and the grief of a fresh loss can be drowned out by all the Christmas music, laughter, etc. My husband and I have put up the Christmas tree, but it serves more as a memory tree. It has ornaments with the names of those we’ve lost over the years and want to remember including special pets. Perhaps you can find an ornament, make one or make a series of them that is reminiscent of Emily and your memories of her.


Live the pain
by Perry Haddock

I want to let you know how much I appreciate your willingness to be so honest with those of us who look to you for our artistic twice-weekly “prodding.” To share not only your highs but also your devastating lows shows such respect to us. I know you will someday be able to think about Emily without the pain, but until then, allow yourself to live it.


Greater peace first
by Kathryn Lissack, Vancouver, BC, Canada

I am a huge advocate of pets and have found solace, unwavering support and continuous love from them throughout my life. I am familiar with your pain and I extend to you and your wife my condolences. Emily, I am sure, was equally as blessed to have you as you were to have her. Mourning offers the possibility to congratulate the deceased on her choice to leave when she is ready, not when we are ready. She, lucky dog, gets the greater peace first.


Angels with fur
by Stacey Shulman, Decatur, GA, USA

Having grown up with dogs, I can empathize with your grief. Sark, an artist and author, says that ‘dogs are angels with fur.’ It never seems like we have these angels around us for long enough.


Work revolves around animals
by Lynn Kingham


“Potential Energy”
watercolor by Lynn Kingham

I haven’t written back to your letters before, but I wanted to let you know how very sorry I am to hear about the loss of your beloved dog, Emily. I am an absolute dog-lover myself, and although it sounds silly, it was actually the fact that most of your photos included Emily by your side that sold me on the idea of subscribing to your letters! I can only imagine how quiet and empty your studio must feel today without her there. I have a 13.5-year-old Belgian Tervuren, Griffin, who’s been with me since he was 8-weeks-old. He can no longer climb the stairs to the room where I paint, but I am dreading the day the house is silent. Please extend my sympathies to the rest of your family too. I am just starting out as an artist (just putting together my portfolio), and my watercolour paintings revolve around animals.


To a mouse
by Winterchild, UK

Oh Robert… I just read your email and cried. Last Friday we had to take our 8-year-old daughter’s pet mouse to the vet for an operation… and she too died in recovery. We were heartbroken, the mouse was quite young and my daughter’s first real pet of her own. Like you I experienced the trust in the little mouse as we kissed her sweet head before we left her at the vets and in my daughter’s face. She had faith that Molly would be okay. This has affected me really badly… I keep thinking of both their trusting faces and I feel guilty as hell. I will get through this, but oh boy does it hurt. Sometimes I think maybe I cannot go through this again with pets (we have another mouse who Polly thinks is now lonely) and two cats. I have always had pets. A friend sent me the following email which I would like to share with you… Oh Bobby, I’m so very sorry Molly didn’t make it through. What an amazing vet you have though who was willing to even try. I don’t know of a single one around here who would have cared so much. You are grieving Molly because you love her… doesn’t every living creature out there deserve that same love? Don’t waste it by fearing to love another one… give another little creature that gift… and do that every time, again and again. Love is meant to be given away. Even if a creature has a short life, having the aura of love around it makes its life meaningful and each of your lives more meaningful. I can’t even describe what I mean to say from my heart, but it all comes down to not wasting your abundant heart on grief alone where there are so many little lives out there that can benefit from the kind of love you and the children have to give them. Each time you love something… no matter how small and for how short of a time… you set a vibration free that makes the entire world a better place. Get another mouse… get ten ;-) Teach the girls that the energy of love is never wasted no matter how long or short a life lasts.


A cavern in the heart
by Donna Baspaly


“Where Rocks Live”
mixed-media on media board, 30 x 22 inches
by Donna Baspaly

Exactly one year ago my two best buddies, two twelve-year-old spaniels were put to sleep within a month of each other from different serious ailments. What a vacuum — more like a cavern in my heart.





Through thick and thin
by Lyn Harris

I’m so very, very sorry. My dog is 16 and I too have had her as a puppy. She flew with me in airplanes in Alaska when I was a bush pilot (two blonde females in small planes :-) ), she’s rafted down rivers with me, she’s been with me through 2 marriages, and she too has watched me paint many paintings. I cry with you. And I fear: she too has a consistent small cough, and is more sluggish. This developed over 6 months ago, and they say they don’t know and suggest exploratory surgery. She didn’t do well last time she was under anesthesia. I don’t want to do it to her again. I fear to be where you are at, and have decided against surgery. I cry with you.


Rescuing another
by Karen Rosselli

We lost our dear girl January 4, 2003, and it devastated our family. I found myself thinking I would never get another dog, however, I have recently been looking at the “rescued pet” section of our classifieds. It is very difficult to lose an animal, but even more difficult to live without one. I can’t even imagine spending life without the companionship of “man’s best friend”! Thank you for sharing your story.


Find another
by Bryan Boutry

On a visit to your studio I was greeted by Emily — our conversation was put on hold to enjoy her friendly greeting and to play with her and one of her toys. Emily was intelligent, friendly, playful, faithful, and possessed a great sense of humour. I am sure there was always laughter in her eyes. Emily is in heaven. Please, I urge you, find another Airedale. I hope you do not think me presumptuous, I do think Emily would approve. I feel that you may bristle at my offering advice and you may have every right. Again, please find another Airedale. My tears are falling on the keyboard as I write this.


Memory continues
by BJ Haugstad, Hayfield, MN, USA

Losing a pet can be tough. We have 1 blue healer and 4 cats. I prefer cats but the dog before the present dog I loved. Blue healers have abounding energy. Cedes had boundless energy and she loved to herd imaginary things before she would get into the car, before she would sit in the back seat for a ride to wherever I was going. This ritual of imagined herding was her undoing. We were not alone in our grief, she had become loved by almost everyone in the neighborhood. Children would come to get her lease to walk her. She would walk people to their door out of loyalty. She stole balls from the neighbors when they played catch with their children. You would hear them say “Cedes, give us the ball” as she ran between the two holding the ball in her mouth. Loyalty and acceptance abounded. She came to us out of a pound and we gave her 5 years and she gave us a life-time of memories. People still talk about Cedes and she died 2 days before Christmas 3 years ago.


No shame in love
by Carolyn Smith

I know how you feel. I lost my daughter at seven years old. A dog is a member of the family and I won’t compare the two. The loss is just as great. The presence is still felt, the voice, the bark, the eyes, curling up beside you, it will all be missed. Mourning will be an important part of your healing. It is okay to immerse yourself in it and let go. Each time you will heal. Your broken heart will mend with time, acceptance comes when you take away your guilt, what you could have done, or should have done. True love and devotion is earned and Robert you earned it! She loved you and you loved her, there is no shame in that. Another angel will appear someday, and you will know in your heart what to do.


Allowed another in
by Jack Beal



From a couple owned by two Airedales: In 1998 I was in hospital recovering from an operation when I had a stroke. I was disconnected from the world for two days. During that time, our 12-year-old Scooter went in to the veterinary hospital for an exploratory operation and she never came out again. Her condition was just like Emily’s — nodules — and she died before anything could be done. We, too, were devastated — because of my stroke, I was unable to deal with her death. I still have a hollow in my heart for Scooter which I will now share with Emily. We swore never to get another dog (we were in our 60s then — I am 72 now) but 5 months later we went and allowed another Airedale to control our lives — she is “Scoo2er” and she makes our lives overflow with all emotions once again. Please, get another Emily — she needs someone to boss around.


Nicest people
by Wayne Hall, Edmonton, AB, Canada

Our pets are said to behave solely by instinct and response to stimulus. We are said to behave by a lifetime of learned behavior. Do we really know what the difference is? Somehow, many of our pets become the nicest people in the world.


Loving is risky
by Linda Saccoccio

Loving is risky business, but always worth the pain of possible loss. This is a quote from the movie, Ghost Dog, the Way of the Samurai — “There is something to be learned from a rainstorm. When meeting with a sudden shower you try not to get wet and run quickly along the road. By doing such things as passing under the eaves of houses you still get wet. When you’re resolved from the beginning you will not be perplexed, but you will still get the same soaking. This understanding extends to all.” Fate is powerful and we are at its mercy. May you find the light Emily ignited in your heart and be always warmed by it.


Still humbled
by Ken Gillespie

I lost my dog Humphrey about 2 1/2 years ago after being with me constantly for 14 years. I guess one thing about being a painter is that if you have a dog you are naturally going to spend a lot of time with him or her. It has always amazed me the closeness of that relationship even though a word was never spoken, intellect not any part of it. I have not been as close to, or shared as loving a relationship with more than a few other beings in my time here. I try to grasp the concept of living in the moment, some call it enlightenment. A place Humphrey was every day of his life. I’m still humbled to have spent all those years with such a great presence.


Old crabapple
by Bob Holmes, Nicola Valley, BC, Canada

Helen and I have six dogs buried under our old crabapple tree, each one remembered fondly, and each one, I like to think, adds something to the crabapple jelly that Helen makes every autumn. I always cry when one of our dogs dies. Can’t help it. I know that my elderly and beloved lab Queenie will end up under the crabapple tree sometime, to be joined later by Helen’s feisty schnauzer, Fanny. I only wish that I could join them when my time comes, but it’s not allowed. I am so sorry about Emily; her personality came out beautifully in your paintings and photos. When the time is ripe, I hope you can replace her with a nice warm puppy — a smelly puppy, and enjoy more sunny days together.


Heartbroken cat
by Faith Puleston, Wetter, Germany

I once had a wonderful cat named Ludwig (van Beethoven). He came in as a stray through the cat-flap, his fur was like a toilet-brush, he had a huge Beethovenesque head, a grumpy temperament and he was stone deaf. When I was teaching or playing he would sit on my piano like a Ming vase. I think he liked the vibrations. Then I made the decision to return to the UK. I realized later that it was the wrong decision. Ludwig knew all the time. He was heartbroken. He swapped the piano for my biggest suitcase. Two days before my departure he developed cancer of the jaw in literally hours and had to be put down the day before I left. I should never have decided to leave him. I broke his heart, and he broke mine.


Crossing over
by Marney Ward

A faithful dog is one of life’s great blessings, bestowing boundless love and affection. They nourish the heart, not the mind, which is why the heart feels so devastated when they depart. But the ties of the heart are beyond time and place, and Emily will be a part of your spirit always. John Edward, of Crossing Over, who is reputed to have some psychic connection with realms after this physical existence, often claims he sees an individual reunited with his dog, and can come up with names or descriptions of the animal that other family members recognize. Who knows, Emily might be waiting for you, leash and backpack in tow, when you cross over to the world of spirit. In the meantime, you gave her the most wonderful life a dog could possibly ask for. And she enriched your soul and your art. Let your feelings of sorrow melt in to feelings of gratitude. It’s what Emily would want.


Dare to love again
by Karen Fitzgerald, New York, USA

One of the things about daring to love is that it inevitably forces us to confront the greater mysteries of this life, and asks us to drift back to those spiritual places in our lives. Love sears us. Just as when you sear meat in cooking it, tender juices are sealed inside and the cooking is accomplished to produce great tenderness, so it is with the searing of love. It makes us more tender both inside and outside. That you can share this with all of us is a great testament to what Emily has given you over time. I’ll never forget losing “Mama Kitty” and “Little Kid.” They lived with me for years and were inseparable, moved in a big truck with me halfway across America to New York City to live in a M-F heat-only loft. I cried and cried when each of them passed away. We now have a dog, Pepe — a stubborn beagle that is smart as can be. He too has nestled neatly in our hearts. Dare to love again. We all need the companionship of animals. It is a vital connection and expands all our capacities, especially the ability to communicate and to love.


A sheet of paper
by Gerti Hilfert, Langenfeld, Germany



I keep a print in my small working room: it shows you leaning against your car and Emily behind the windscreen. I love this picture. I printed your words below the photo: “Look three times, think twice, paint once.” It is only a sheet of paper but a treasure for me to keep from you both. It brings some sort of power to me to have my work done as well with arts as teaching Ginger, my Airedale. You are a wonderful character — bringing all this joy and brightness to so many persons in this whole world.


by Sophie Marnez, Lyon, France

Good-bye Emily. Occitane, our Golden Retriever, is our third dog. Emily was right to trot in to that clinic so trusting and confident: you have always done your best for her too, and I’m sure she could not have had a happier life. When she last saw you, she was full of your caring and loving feelings, and she died with these feelings. Of course you are a very sad family today, but wherever she is, she is and will remain a happy dog. Thanks to you. I’m sure she will feel very happy when you find another puppy to pick up where she left, because she loves you too.

(Andrew Niculescu note) Sophie translates all the twice-weekly letters into French.


Inspiring pet
by Sherry Szmigiel, The Pawsitive Pet Art Studio


drawing, 4 x 3 inches
by Sherry Szmigiel

I agree that having a pet helps an artist be inspired, feel loved, and learn those wonderful virtues of patience and loyalty. I had my best friend, Midnight, a black lab for almost 11 years. She was truly inspiration for me because I do a lot of artwork of dogs and animals. She would always be laying at my side no matter what I was doing, always ready to put her chin on my lap if I was feeling down, just to let me know I was loved. Last February she slipped on the ice in our yard, and after having seen the vet and been given the okay, a couple of days later she died in my arms at home. I was totally devastated. No more would I see her all sprawled out on the floor somewhere, or would I hear that long sigh as she settled down next to me. I miss her. We decided to get a puppy to help fill the void. Holy smokes! It will take quite awhile for this one to reach the status of my beloved Midnight. He’s all puppy, and much too playful to lay in my studio for inspiration just yet.


Short visit
by Sandy B. Donn, Florida, USA


watercolor, 17.25 x 22 inches
by Sandy Donn

Animals give such unconditional love and trust, and when we feel we’ve failed them it only adds to the suffering and vacuum of loss. But what we must remember is that we returned their love and their trust — that we did the absolute best for them and we fulfilled the pact between us. That won’t bring comfort now, but eventually it will. Perhaps losing animals is a way to prepare us all for the inevitable. How quickly we forget that this is but a short visit! I am so very sorry for your loss. Everyone wants me to get another pet, but I’m not ready yet. I truly feel like one will find me!


Dog Heaven
by Karyl Howard, Wildwood, MO, USA

It is so hard to lose a beloved pet who is such a part of one’s family. There is a wonderful book called, Dog Heaven by Cynthia Rylant.) It’s quite simple and written for anyone of any age who has a love for dogs! Many good thoughts from my naughty, but well-loved, Cocker Spaniel, Daisy, and me.


Put it in a painting
by Joyce Koskenmaki, Hancock, MI, USA

I too lost one I was extremely attached to and when I plunged into grief it was like a freight train, carrying with it everything I had lost before, allowing me to grieve for what I hadn’t been able to, having shut off my feelings… I held and petted my dead dog all morning, then buried her in the backyard in my best embroidered tablecloth… It took a week or so of intense blackness before I could paint my way out of it. Those paintings I will never sell. I still miss her, and that was 9 years ago. She was very little, a cross between a Yorkie and something else. I carried her around in my purse, and she never barked except when she wanted to get up on the couch. I lived alone and when I came home she was always at the door wagging her tail. She had helped me through a divorce, the loss of my children, my house, my job and both parents… She helped me start my life over. I have never found another like her… If only I could! Put it in a painting!


I will have another
by Jo DuNord, Minnesota, USA

After spending Thanksgiving Day in a home with a 12-week-old Airedale puppy, I can only wish that you would find it in your heart to bring another of these wonderful dogs into your life. I have a 13-year-old Scottie, Otis, and every day I am grateful for him. I cook him a homemade diet and care for him as best I can. I will have another when he goes. Dogs are a gift of God for human beings; how privileged we are to have this gift!


Greatest gift
by Bruce Meisterman

The loss of a loved one is always unbelievably hard. It’s made even more so when it is completely unexpected and one cannot have prepared for it. You will receive many e-mails from those of us who have gone through this. For me, the loss of my best friend Whorfin, a wonderfully crazed yellow Lab, three years ago was the hardest loss of all for me. We had gotten Whorf as a puppy and he stayed with my former wife after the divorce. One year later, he came to live with me. While I was glad to see him, I really didn’t want the responsibility. There would be no dropping him off at a shelter though, he was my responsibility. More quickly than I would have admitted then, he became an important part of my life. I was still going through the grieving process of the divorce from a long marriage and truthfully, he got me through it. The talk of a dog’s unconditional love is true. I may have taught Whorf to sit, heel, and come, but he taught me so much more and always without strings. I’d like to believe I’m a better person because of him. My company always seemed to be enough to make him happy, that and being fed and taken for walks of course. Basic, yes, but simply all he needed. There is a lesson there. On those occasions when I wouldn’t allow him into the darkroom, he would wait for me at the door. And as usual when I came out, he would always follow me wherever I went. He could have been the poster child for co-dependence! What a wonderful friend. The question I still think of is do I get another dog? I’m still wrestling with that one. Intellectually I know no dog will replace Whorf. That would not be fair to the new dog. Emotionally, I may not be ready and that’s okay. So, allow yourself to grieve, you need to. Remember and celebrate all that Emily without thought gave to you. She was one of the greatest gifts you’ll ever receive. A friend told me after Whorf died that for her, heaven is where you see all your dogs. That’s pretty damn good.


A miracle
by Judy Elliott, Trenton, ON, Canada


I have never commented but appreciate your letters very much. No doubt you’ll receive countless other messages in response to the loss of your companion, Emily. I had Airedales as a child and you expressed the very qualities that we loved about them. However, as an adult I was too busy with growing up children and their various pets to claim any as mine. When the ‘nest’ had been empty for a few years, I brought home my Harriet. She died when she was 7 years old in a similar situation. The pain of that sudden loss was astounding. I couldn’t think of having another pet for two or three years. So in the manner of encouragement, keep this time special for Emily’s memory and the joy she provided to you and your family. I write this as my three year old Sammy ‘Sosa’ naps on his pillow next to the computer. He’s a gentle fellow. Kind to children and very complimentary of my work! He can look at me with those eyes and I Know he understands everything… My kind of guy. Did you ever feel you couldn’t love more and then you did? It’s a miracle. Right?


Made a promise
by Tamara Landre, Napa Valley, CA, USA

When you take a puppy home, you make a promise into those deep brown eyes: that you will always love and care for them to the end of their days, and if ever that dog is sick, or in discomfort, you will do your best to make the right decision to keep that dog comfortable and out of pain. When you lose your special companion, though your heart is breaking, know that you have kept your promise. You’ve done your best. That is a thing that only special people can do. People who have learned the lessons that Sara spoke of.


“You out, dog in”
by Shirley Flinn, Lacombe, AB, Canada


“Chukar” drawing by Shirley Flinn

I know from experience it is very painful to have such a loving friend leave this earth. Mark Twain wrote, “Heaven goes by favor. If it went by merit, you would stay out and your dog would go in.” Time will heal the pain, but a good dog will live forever in our memories.





Airedale menagerie
by Gerten Basom

From our family (owner of Kia, our Airedale, age 8) to your family our sincerest condolences. A friend of ours just lost one of his two Greyhounds, a few weeks ago. Also, very sudden. It reminded me of how very precious Kia is to this family. That Airedale way of nuzzling her nose into our armpits, or getting nudged in the crotch or from behind, which for some reason, Airedales seem to feel is the perfect lodging point to ensure a rub or scratch! Wedged in. Our hearts go out to you. Recently, I’ve been thinking of adding another Airedale to our family… especially since we know Kia is getting up in age and yet is still so young at heart. We just ran in to another person who knows Kia’s ‘father’ Colonel Pinkster. That household boasts five Airedales. Can you imagine? I remember visiting there, to ensure that our ‘pup’ had good genes. We then went to see the ‘mom’ and picked out Kia as ours. Airedales are a very special breed. There is however, Nothing… like having a new pup in your arms to cure a bad heartache. I encourage you, although it is very fresh in your household, to honour Emily with the continuation of a pet in your home.


Bear chaser
by Ron Ukrainetz


Ron and his hawk, Rufous

I, too, share your feelings of great loss. The vacuum created in our lives by losing loyal companions is deep. One can find another to temporarily fill the void, but the memories will always be there. A couple years ago, in April, I lost my “All-American-Curb-Setter,” Bubba. He was 18 pounds of intelligence, dedication, and shear enjoyment. Living in the remote mountains near the Bob Marshal wilderness in Montana, we had frequent wildlife visitors. Bubba would chase the squirrels, but never the deer, moose, or elk. He loved to chase bears, though. With his stacca to bounce-bark bark-bounce attack, the befuddled bruins would simply run off, rather that stick around to find out what was making all that racket. We traveled the west for 12 years by truck, boat, canoe, kayak, and foot, he, always providing a humorous episode or just simple companionship during the labors of painting or the enjoyment of fishing. Bubba died from lesions and cancer throughout his whole body two days after we hiked along the great falls of the Missouri. There’s a hole in my heart, but I can remember just what he was doing as I look over paintings completed in his company. I can still smile with those memories. Here’s something that a friend of mine wrote that I’d like to share with you: “Companion’s gone? No —  just out of site. Eyes don’t see, but memories do — He knows, and you do, too. A ray of sun on the lake? No, Dusk is here — There — in the wake– Cut the motor friend, Listen, Drift a bit — He’s there, Always.”


Connection with loyal companions
by Amanda Koh, Oak Park, MI, USA


“Pink Corvette Girl”
acrylic on canvas, 40 x 40 inches
by Amanda Koh

I have been reading your inspiring words for several months now, but your loss of Emily just brought me to tears. I wanted to share my condolences with you, and thank you for everything you have given to me. I just recently obtained my first dog since childhood, while I was in Colorado this summer doing a mural. Her name is Delta… born in Delta, CO — the home to many murals. I thought she was destined to be my companion in my artistic exploration. I was surprised to see that you wrote the same; surprised that you also see a connection with our loyal companions, and our art creation. I believe you are right. May Emily remain with you always, in your heart… and in your art.


Drawing frenzy
by Judith Jones, Pleasant View UT, USA

The death of a beloved pet leaves a hole in one’s life as large as any. I send you my sympathy, and condolences. After I put my beloved Dolly to sleep last spring (aged 12 with cancer), first, I weeded the garden and wept and wept, then I had a Dolly-drawing frenzy… don’t know that it helped any, but it seemed to be the thing to do at the time. Time, time, a time to heal, and then another dog… she would want it so.


by Gail Griffiths



I write you in tears for the loss of Emily. I know the ache, I know the feeling of injustice, I know the anger, and the vacuum. Katie left us in very much the same way and Nick, now 14, has what Emily had only we choose to leave things be, as he’ll be 15 years on Christmas eve. Now that Katie is gone almost 3 years and I cry less and remember fondly more, we added a new little girl to our family. The saying goes… You don’t always get what you want, but you do get what you need. Well, that is Lacey! She is the most spirited lass I ever had the pleasure of loving. I found her baby tooth yesterday as she proceeded to tap it around on the kitchen floor. Precious, so precious I will encase it and wear it as a charm. You’re giving Emily a beautiful gift besides the fullest life I’ve ever heard a dog to have. You’re mourning her thoroughly and she knows it.


Freedom in death
by Michael C. Johnson, Timberon, NM, USA

My wife and I lost one of our favorite friends several years ago. Addison had massive lymphoma, and we had to put her to sleep. It took us a long, long time before we could get another, and even today, we still aren’t quite over her death. Curiously, losing Addison gave us a certain freedom — freedom to do some things that she would have been glad to know about. We left our jobs and our home in Vermont and went to New Mexico, where we did a two-year caretaking stint on a “gentleman’s farm.” I left writing to become a painter. My wife left her job as a librarian to make mosaics and quilts. We still live in New Mexico today, working out of the house and doing pretty much what we want — no more rat race. We both achieved a metamorphosis through Addison’s death.


God spelled backwards
by Deborah Dicker, Belmont, ON, Canada

I think there is a reason that Dog is God spelled backwards. For from our faithful companion we know nothing but unconditional love. There is nothing that compares with the joy from a dog when his/her master returns home. My dog suffers from short term memory loss — I have walked out the back door and come in the front and gotten the same welcome home as if I had been gone for the whole day. They are our earth angels — they just have fur suits instead of wings.


Paintings of Emily
by Ellen Smith Fagan, Connecticut, USA


“Robert and Emily in the 1926 Austin 7”
painting by Elle Fagan

I painted a small one of and you seemed delighted and pinned it up. Now I wish I’d made it larger for you. So I attached a copy of the photo from which I worked and one of our “Apples”…canine cancer struck her at ten, when our relocation was too much for her… Apples and her golden cat friend, Oranges, enriched our lives more than words can say, though I am sure that I could make a book all about Apples’ adventures with us. Her vets in NC had been the best, and sent a pet sympathy card when we lost one of her pups… so I wasn’t happy, in my heart, with the care she received in CT at her dying.



Friends hard to lose
by Holly Boruck, Los Angeles, CA, USA


“Shadows Don’t Fight Back”
oil on canvas, 30 x 30 inches
by Holly Boruck

I didn’t expect to wake up this morning and start to cry. I’ve so enjoyed reading all of your biweekly emails and I send you my most heartfelt sorrow at your loss. I lost one of my dogs this year from cancer. I had rescued him only four years before and when I heard the bad news and knew we only had a couple more months together I wailed that it just wasn’t fair! So short a time with such a loving creature! I spoiled him rotten, cooked all manner of delicacies, and watched him fade away. When we finally went to the doctor’s office it was knowing that I was going to be the one to say ‘let him go’ and end his life… one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. Yes, friends are hard to loose, but I can’t imagine not having them sharing my life. I too believe they are angels.


Never say never
by Betty Loren


Swannie and Millie

Don’t say never again. Just over a year ago we lost both our dogs. Swannie the shepherd to loss of his legs and Millie, the Maltese to old age. I said no more because we were both eighty years old and who would take them if it was necessary. We are still arguing not to. Since then we have taken in three stray cats along with the former two strays that we have. Of course I said no more cats once we lost our Siamese and a stray Persian. Famous last words.


Painting buddy
by Zelda, Canmore, AB, Canada


“Waterfall to Lake Oesa”
oil, 24 x 36 inches
by Zelda

I have a wonderful hiking, tent-sharing, painting buddy. His name is Montana. A Siberian Husky who always waits so patiently for the painting to be complete, whether it be done outdoors or in. We are so fortunate to experience such a relationship with such loyal companions.




Beans to Beansie
by Anne Copeland

Your letter touched a deep spot in my heart and I am so sorry for you and your family for losing your beloved pet that way. I too just lost my little Beansie cat, only 3-1/2 years old. He had a bad heart murmur and a week before Thanksgiving, he suddenly got very ill. As I tried to clean him in the sink, he suffered a major heart attack and died in my arms. I felt horrible as you did when dear Emily passed on. I thought perhaps in some way I had killed him, but it was just his time. Our pets enjoyed the best quality of life that was possible for each of them. Many of us with pets say they have gone to the Rainbow Bridge. I like to think of my Beansie that way. Two days before Thanksgiving, I was drawn to go to the pound. When I arrived, I was shocked to see a kitty I felt sure was Beansie reincarnated. He began to talk to me a lot, and I knew I had to take him home. When he arrived at home, the acceptance by the other animals was astounding —  to them he was Beansie, and he seemed to feel the same way. I feel that Mr. Beans is Beansie returned in a healthy body. He never once looked around the house but acted as though it had been his home all along. Living with animals and losing them makes us all very aware of our own mortality. But don’t let it stop you from living and loving another animal. Emily will live always in your hearts as Beansie will live always in my heart.


Jeckyl, Aggie and Schwartz
by David Oleski, Lancaster, PA, USA



Nothing hurts as much as the loss of a pet. We see them as they see us, with the greatest of love and dedication. Last May we lost one of our three cats, Jeckyl. He suddenly wasted away over several weeks despite our efforts and expenses to figure out what was wrong, and what could help. He was quickly beyond the point of being able to survive exploratory surgery. He was very close to the end when we returned home from a weekend show, so we had him put to sleep. After several weeks of thinking he might pull through, it was very rough to have to let him go. And then just two weeks ago our little girl cat Agatha passed away suddenly one morning. I heard one cough, and she was gone, right in front of me. It was still so very sad, but after what Jeckyl went through it was a relief to see her go with no discomfort or suffering. Now we’re left with Schwartz, my first and oldest cat. I have to jam a pill down his throat twice a day for a thyroid condition, which was diagnosed when he suddenly wasted away to almost nothing about a year ago. Jeckyl was 13, Aggie was 12, and Schwartz is now almost 14. He adores us, tolerates his medication, and he knows how much we love him.


Adopt a dog
by Kristi Bridgeman



Sympathy Robert and Family, You have my sympathy. After 16 years we too just lost our devoted terrier, ‘Sam.’ I have lost several family members this past few years, but pets seem particularly hard for us artists when we are home with them so much. I too swore that there was nothing that would soothe our sore hearts. I still miss Sam, but in the end the only comfort for our family was a new lil’ friend. Use these links when you are ready. This is how we found our new dog. Good luck.


Dog is inspiration
by Cynthia S. Bendix

I am so sorry to hear about the passing of Emily. My own angel dog is also eight and has been an inspiration for most of my paintings and photographs. He is sometimes recognized from my artwork hanging in a local gallery. My dog is my constant loving companion, my best friend and life-saver.


See you later
by Ken

A few years ago I lost my dog, Mr. Ted. He too had been my pal, my best friend, my confidant, my teacher, my soul searcher, my critic, my everything. We were together for thirteen years. Inseparable. One day I will join Mr. Ted in a very happy reunion. And until then, I will rejoice in the many happy days we had together. I hope you can too.


by Angelika B Ouellette, Calgary, Alberta, Canada


Draego and Matrix

The vacuum created from the loss of unconditional love is physically painful. It seems once you have recognized and cherished that kind of love, you cannot help but attract it to you again, and again. It resonates in your heart. My great Dane Zyras, and Mira, the sweetest Abyssinian cat, taught me that. My two beautiful, present cats, Draego and Matrix continue the legacy; just when I thought I might never feel that way again. The joy and wonder my pets have shared with me has allowed me to realize that love is healing as well as powerful. It spills over into all my relationships, be that with myself, my husband and family, or the world at large and the work I do. What a gift.


by Pinar Selimoglu

I have a suggestion. To make Emily worldwide alive maybe you can send us her picture, and we can paint, sketch, sculpture, symbolize her everyone in his/her own way and send you the picture of the work so you can make an album of your dearest with the works of worldwide artists.



Emily and Dorothy (right)
waiting for a call


Richard Thompson with Dorothy








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, 2003.

That includes Mary Jean Mailloux who wrote, “Emily was our internet pooch.”

And also Shirley Corris who wrote, “I love all your writings; this one broke my heart.”

And Torrie Groening who wrote, “Cat footprints on newly printed lithographs, fur in the ink and then that soft lean… there is another being in the studio.”

And Jennifer Seymour who wrote, “We will miss the Emilyness of your letters.” And Grace Cowling who wrote, “More than a few tears dropped gently onto keyboards this morning.”


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