After the arrival of Jewell in 2002, we started to exchange familiarities with our four-footed neighbours. When one dog meets another, protocol demands only a modicum of civility in the form of a tail wag and a deep sniff. Jewell knew quickly whom she liked, whom she didn’t, and who made her go pit-a-pat. When Canyon, the hottie golden, lost his girlfriend to a family move, he told Jewell right away and there followed rainbows and unicorns. She had a string of admirers ranging from Alfie the pit bull to Mooscue the homely but passionate indeterminent with an underbite. Canyon was unknowingly merely acquired as a Spare, as Harry would say.
And it was of course their names that we learned first. It was often months before the human beings exchanged even first names but an obvious connection with a dog functions as character reference; there was a silent consensus to ignore Jewell’s insistence on intimate sniffs as the gold standard for vetting. Brisk walks turned into friendly meanders punctuated with laughter and vet ratings. So friendships grew. And during the Pandemic, these friendships became a lifeline to sanity.
Last Christmas as Omicron crested was a river too far, however. I needed to feel communal. Thus was born the Waggy Drop-off. Theodore and I combed the Internet for great recipes and finally settled on one we dubbed Hard-Tack for Canines. The only ingredients were applesauce, whole wheat flour and peanut butter. Theodore tried to help but all he did was eat the organic peanut butter, so I pounded the very thick dough into submission, applied the bone-shaped cookie-cutters, baked and dehydrated the cookies. Then on Christmas Day all three of us delivered the dehydrated treats throughout the neighbourhood. Jon dressed our two in their seasonal sweaters and we could almost imagine a Bing Crosby Christmas. Happiness all around. And Theodore received some really messy thank-you kisses of ap-woof-al.
Christmas 2022 was more pandemic-relaxed but in the complete absence of snow on the ground, food gifts further lift the spirit. So this year we began to pack treats for the humans too. Jon has developed a delicious very dark chocolate bark filled with roasted almonds and dried cranberries. Pleased to report that all of the recipients- waggers or smilers - were most appreciative and not one of us had a coronary.
(Dog-World also lived on in my studio. Here is a dainty girl, whose portrait may or may not be finished. I’m liking the value study but I shall leave it to Gracie’s beloved Judy to direct me either to stop here or to proceed to the colour foundation. Either way, I'm in love with her gloriously limpid eyes!)