Monday, December 12, 2011

Its the dog's fault. Really.

Ellie, shortly after her arrival.  She sure looks cute, but........

Several of you are aware that last winter we sadly lost both of our golden retrievers, less than three months apart.  First, fifteen-year-old Gus who simply lost his battle with old age, then thirteen-year-old Clare who suffered from recurring cancer.  As goldens tend to be, they were wonderful dogs: Clare was my relentless running partner for many years, and Gus was the kindest and noblest animal I have ever known.  Life without them underfoot just didn't seem complete.

When I began to make murmurings about getting another golden early last summer, the males of the house tried to dissuade me: my son lobbied for a Rhodesian Ridgeback, and my husband requested I consider a Clumber Spaniel.  As I read about both of these breeds online, I wanted to think I was being open-minded -- but really, I was having none of it.  I mean, if it works......why fix it?  (And you know, what Mom wants................)  So, after researching several golden retriever breeders in southern Michigan through the summer, "Ellie" came home to us in September.  

It did not take long for me to begin to wonder if, a) I had been tremendously naive, or b) I had simply forgotten what cute, little puppies are really like -- though I'm quite sure my memory serves me correctly in that I'd never experienced anything quite like Ellie.  I'd envisioned walking through the fields with my beloved golden puppy at a perfect 'heel' by my left knee, (okay, okay.......that was naive), and suffered from delusions of me working at my drawing table with Ellie quietly napping on her fleece mat at my feet. 

This was not to be.  Actually working for any length of time, soon seemed like a distant memory.  Ellie seemed much less like a sweet little puppy, and more like the whirling Tasmanian devil I recall from cartoons as a child.  Even my husband, more dog-savvy and tolerant of puppy foibles than I, was heard to mutter on several occasions, "I think there is something wrong with her."  Listening was clearly a totally foreign (or selective) skill on her part for many weeks, and there seemed to be a great deal of confusion as to who was actually the pack leader around here.  Averaging about every forty-five seconds, I was either taking something out of her mouth that didn't belong there, saving my elderly cat from her puppy exuberance, or removing her from somewhere or something that is off-limits.  (And I'll spare you the potty-training details.)  My life was quickly reduced to a pocketful of "cookies" (food being the only thing that motivated Ellie toward anything that even remotely resembled good behavior), and a vocabulary consisting of, "no", "leave it", "sit", "stay", "STAAAYYY", "off", "leave the cat alone!"...............and the occasional, "good girl".

 I knew (hoped) things would get better; I just did not realize it would take so long!  Over the past two to three weeks and as she approaches five months old, Ellie is maturing and showing signs of the great dog she is going to be.  (Big sigh of relief).  I no longer find myself in the throes of, "What was I thinking?", my old cat seems to be no worse for wear, and life is gradually resuming some normalcy.  So you see?........I didn't fall in a horse trough as some of you may have suspected.

Below are the two small equine works that I have had in progress.  I will be assessing what finish work is needed on the bay horse; the grey requires significantly more layering before it is close to finished.

Tomorrow my son returns home from college, and we will put up the Christmas tree.  I'm doing this with some trepidation..........somehow visions of the cat running under the tree with Ellie in hot pursuit followed by the tree crashing to the floor keep creeping in.  Call me crazy.

Have a wonderful, joy-filled Christmas.........and if you made it through my lengthy 'Ellie-vent', well, thanks for reading.    : )