The sun took its time rising over the frost on the grass this morning, appearing to resist the chilled air as October comes to an end, the temperatures dip, and the days grow shorter. Our corgis, Whiskey and Rye, love the cold wet on their noses that fills them with a superabundance of energy and they come inside to chase each other in mad circles around the furniture, ripping up the carpet and scattering toys under the sofa and chairs that we’ll have to retrieve for them later. (They’re short, but still not short enough to get under the couch.)
After losing our big dogs two years ago, Sheeba (Burmese Mountain Dog mix, 11) and Remington (Yellow Lab, 9), we swore we weren’t getting another pet. They made the journey with us when we moved to Wyoming from Pennsylvania back in 2008 and were the best dogs we've ever had. The pain was unbearable when it came their time to cross over Rainbow Bridge. But the house was too quiet for me while my husband, Ron, worked and I painted at home, and we decided the love and companionship was worth the inevitable. Whiskey and Rye brought with them all the challenges of training (messes on the floor, chewed corners on the furniture AND the walls, holes in the carpet, shredded dog beds, trips to the vet to flush out half-digested plastic bags), but the joy and company they bring by far outweighs the inconveniences and home repairs. Most of the time.
Looking back, there was always some sort of critter in our house when I was a little girl. My dad would usually bring home an animal he “found” and adopt it into the family fold. He once had a pet crow named Jake that would sit on his shoulder and eat out of his hand. He liked to fish and would sometimes come home with snapping turtles – the big ones were for making soup, and he would raise the little ones until they got big enough to release back in the lake. Which probably became soup at some point anyway. And if we didn’t have a dog, we had cats, or guinea pigs, or bunnies, or mice, or hamsters, or even geese. So being pet-less was never a normal attitude for me from the beginning. It just made sense to have one. Or two. (They’re corgis. Take two, they’re small.)
I believe all animals were given to us as gifts from God. Some are for sustenance (Gen. 9:1-3), some for protection, and some simply for companionship. This month I am working on several commissioned paintings of dogs that will be given as Christmas gifts. Most of the pets have passed away and the paintings are love mementos for their former owners, but there is one dog that is still alive and well, the best friend of a young girl on a ranch in a nearby town. Their story gripped my heart, which is private, but was shared with me by her folks who are purchasing the painting for her. Suffice it to say, the dog saved this girl’s life and brought a solid, peaceful anchor to a young soul that was tormented by circumstances beyond her control. It is an honor to paint all of these furry loved ones, and I pray I can do them justice with my brush.
I know someday I’ll have to say good-bye to our little gifts, Whiskey and Rye. And it will be harder than hard. But for now, I will count the blessings they bring and repair the messes they’ve made, and yes, will suffer through all the mayhem to come. God willing, we’ll have a good 12+ years of their shenanigans and smooches, and THEN we’ll be done.