Filed under: art, dog paintings, Paintings -Inspiration, Paintings-stories, pet paintings-stories | Tags: bridge structures, dog walks, doggy story, dogs of Florence, siuslaw river bridge, susan canavarro
The DogWalk (a.k.a. The Dogs of Florence)
© 2006-2012 Susan Canavarro. All Rights Reserved.
- Weeeeee, this is more fun than riding in a car, Max!
- No, Monty, it is not fun and you know it.
- It is too. It’s fun, isn’t it Dox?
- You can be sure it’ll be even more fun when the wind comes up, Monty.
- Oh, boy! Can’t wait! His rump and tail wagging like crazy.
- Dog, if you don’t watch out you’re gonna wag yourself right off the edge. Now stop it!
- Geez, every gall dern Tuesday we gotta take this darn dog walk. What’s it all about Max?
- Challenge, Kiddo. It’s about challenge. Like when we try to eat snowflakes or when we try to follow the cat Scrwuffy up a tree.
- But still…every week?
- Yup. You gotta challenge yourself, Monty, fill up your dog years with learning and insight and adventure. Besides, every Tuesday is Dog Show Day across the river. We may live in a small town, Kiddo, but we still gotta keep up with other dogs, how they’re grooming, what commands they’re paying attention to, what they’re eating, how well they’re running, you know, that kind of stuff.
- Gosh, Max, lighten up, will ya? This is simply an adventure. All it is. Nothing more. Sky is blue. Gorgeous day. Stop trying to turn it into something educational, for cat’s sake. It’s a heck of a lot easier today in the sunshine than it was last week in the wind and rain. So lighten up!
- Who said that? Pipsqueak?
- Yeah. What of it? Don’t be such a sour-puss, Max.
- Hey, Did you just call me a puss? I aint no puss. And I sure as heck aint no sour-puss. I’m pure hound. Pure bloody hound dog is what I am. Everybody stop! Shut up!
- Why? What is it?
- What’s wrong Max?
- What happened?
- I think I see a bird, Monty.
- A bird?
- Oh for goodness sakes. Not again with the blue bird thing, Max?
- Yeah, a blue bird.
- A blue bird?
- Geez, Monty, would you stop repeating everything I say.
- Yeah, REPEATING!
- Be careful Max. Remember what happened the last time you thought you saw a bird?
- Shut up! Will ya?
- But Max, the last time you thought you saw a bird it turned out to be a porcupine with long sharp quills. You got your nose all stuck up, remember? And your tail bit off.
- Yeah, Monty?
- Does this bridge structure remind you of anything?
- Hunger. It reminds me that I’m hungry.
- Hey, Max?
- Yeah, Dox?
- Do you think they’ll be serving dinosaur bones and fish hors d’oeuvres at the dog show?
- Most likely, Dox, and escargot.
- Yea! Let’s car go!
- No, Monty, we’re on a dog walk, remember? You’re such a silly cat!
- I am not.
- You are too, just a plain silly cat.
- I’m not a cat. I’m a dog! And I’m not silly. Hey look, Max, I can turn around up here! Uh oh. Oops! Maaaaaaax! Dog overboard! Dog overboooaaaaard! Maaaaaaax?
- Oh MONTY! A belly flop?
- Paddle, Monty, paddle. You’re really close to the other side. You can make it. Just move your paws like crazy and keep your head above water. We’ll meet you over there.
- The dogs of Florence ran over the bridge beam and skidded down to the water’s edge on the other side.
- Come on, Monty. You can make it!
- Yea! Monty!
- Monty climbed up the bank, sloppy with water-soaked fur. He shook himself in a ripple dance from head to tail. Water flew everywhere.
- Hey, cut that out. You’re getting me all wet.
- Boy, Max, that was sooooo much fun!
- For cat’s sake, you are incorrigible.
- What’s corrigible, Max?
- The word is incorrigible, Monty. And you are.
- Come on Dox, let’s go for another dive.
- No way, Monty. Not me. Let’s get outta here, Max. I’m starved.
Filed under: art, cats and dogs, Confessions, dog paintings, pet paintings-stories | Tags: Belle, blue belle of southview, embrace, florence, oregon, susan canavarro, top dog, Trina
One day, in the quiet stillness of the morning, I crept to the edge of the living room to discover why Trina was so quiet. I wanted to catch her off guard. I enjoyed the covert observation of the cats and dogs in my charge. With wonderment, I recognized myself in some of their behavior.
My life had come down to this: I had become a stalking, peeping, sighing, humphing pet sitter.
I found Trina sitting trance-like, staring at Belle. Usually, she spent her time vying for my attention or begging for food, not off somewhere in quiet meditation. A King Charles Cocker Spaniel, she is black, white, and rust with big floppy ears and wide-open bulging brown eyes. She hungers to hear “You’re a pretty dog, Trina, yes, a very pretty dog. Yes you are.” When she hears those words in that sugar daddy tone, she rolls over to a sexy pose on her back expecting a tummy rub. Her eyeballs roll up disappearing under her eyelids. And she is in heaven. But she is also a very clever, stubborn, demanding, narcissistic little creature. The world revolves around her and her only.
Standing off to the side of the entrance, trying to be invisible, I watched Trina as she sat staring at Belle’s glimmering white back. She looked like she was pondering the question: Should I or shouldn’t I?
Belle, a large white Yellow Lab, reclined on the living room carpet, holding her head up so she could watch the road through the front windows. She waited patiently everyday for her folks to come home. It had been a long wait. I liked to call her BlueBelle because no matter what, she wore a sad countenance. Her folks told me it was her look of hunger, but I think it was her look of depression; she missed her people. She is a good loving, patient, non-demanding dog who is fiercely loyal to her masters and she puts up with Trina’s annoying activities without a nip or a growl of irritation.
This day, Belle paid no attention to Trina at all. When Trina could no longer stand it, when she could no longer resist the urge, the temptation of Belle’s beautiful back, she rose, walked over to Belle’s head and used her own head as a tool to force Belle’s down to the floor. She raised one foot ready to climb on Belle’s back when she sensed someone else in the room. She turned and saw me standing there, watching. She sat back with a humphy sigh, with a how-dare-you indignation, claimed a bit of embarrassment, and barked only once at me. I had foiled her plans.
On another day, with full knowledge that I was watching, Trina climbed on Belle’s back to ride her. She moved her hips rhythmically back and forth, over and over again. When she got off, she stared at me with quiet defiance. So determined to ride Belle, she didn’t care if I watched. After a few seconds, she circled around Belle and climbed on her back again, riding her like she was riding a bucking horse. Trina, bucking power and domination. I’ll show you, I can do anything I want. This is my house, my sister-dog, and if I want to hump her, I will! Hump! Hump! Hump!
Several weeks went by until I saw Trina on Belle’s back again. This time she looked like she had fallen asleep. Too exhausted from her humping to climb off Belle, she lay there for a short time, quiet, restful, then began to ride again, licking Belle’s ears and brow while rocking back and forth. She stopped, rested her head softly against Belle’s cheeks. Relaxed into a trance-like state, her body like putty in blissful orgasmic nirvana, she was not aware I was spying on her.
Suddenly she bucked and rocked a few more times only to relax into a big embrace with her front paws encircling Belle’s fluffy neck. While like this, she lolled her head back and forth in slow movement across the back of Belle’s head. It was a moment of Grace, a moment of one dog showing love for another, an instance of warm fuzzy human-like cuddling. As she turned her head in my direction, she opened her eyes a sexy sleepy crack and in that instant, saw me watching. In utter shock, she jumped high off Belle’s back, straight up like a tarantula, landing on all four feet with her body convulsing in spasmodic barking. She was so angry to have been caught again, but it also seemed like this time she was even more embarrassed by her behavior.
Of course, I had little restraint and broke into a loud belly laugh which turned her bark even more indignant. How dare you laugh at me!
I’m a firm believer that dogs and cats experience emotions and some of those emotions—like love, anger, frustration, longing, and embarrassment—seem to require a bit of thought process. Otherwise Trina wouldn’t give a hoot if I saw her antics with Belle. She wouldn’t jump off of Belle, she wouldn’t react with such vigorous indignation when caught, and she wouldn’t bark at me. Did she know she was not supposed to hump Belle? Was it instinct that told her it was wrong, or had her folks told her No?
My fascination with cat and dog behavior grows. And in this family of creatures, I realized soon enough who the alpha dog was…and it wasn’t me! Recently, a dog expert confirmed my suspicions that their attempts to hump another dog, whether female or male, and/or to hump a human’s leg or foot, is, in fact, their desire to maintain dominance over the pack and a dog’s human family is a part of its pack.
For eight long weeks of pet sitting Trina disobeyed me. She walked me, rather than me walking her. She would not let me pet the three cats or Belle wihtout horning in on the action, reminding me it was she who was to be petted, not the others. We struggled every day. She both surprised and disappointed me because I had seen that she was so good with her owner. Just tell her No when she’s bad, her owner said. She’ll understand.
Well, not so. Trina liked to sit in front of the kitchen stove when I cooked. I worried about tripping over her, about spilling hot oil or hot water on her. I worried that if I dropped a veggie or a piece of chicken, she was on it, charging from her sitting place like the slashing whip of a lizard’s tongue catching flies and ants. Give her a treat and send her to her bed when she gets underfoot in the kitchen—as she was wont to do every single meal no matter how many times I sent her to bed. Tell her and she’ll go to her dog bed. Humph! Not a chance! Never never never happened!
Trina’s behavior with Belle was a blatant symptom of “top dog” syndrome, as was her stubborn disregard for my stewardship. Belle took it all in stride, good-natured lab that she is. As for me, I didn’t want to be handled by a dog or anyone else, so I found it frustrating and wandered the house with much humphy sighing.
© 2011 Susan Canavarro. All Rights Reserved.
Filed under: art, art Exhibits, cat paintings, cats and dogs, dog paintings, Galleries, Landscape Ptgs, Paintings -Inspiration, pet paintings-stories | Tags: Pet Menagerie, Siuslaw Public Library
Pet Menagerie & Landscapes About the Edge
Starting off the New Year, I am showing recent paintings inside the new addition of the Siuslaw Public Library on 9th Street. This show runs from December 21 through March 13, 2011.
The main exhibit, Pet Menagerie, is on the Brubaker Family Wall and consists of mixed media paintings on canvas and paper. The seventeen paintings represent just a few of the animals I’ve cared for over the last four years in my role as pet sitter Sue. With biting argument, Simon convinced me to become a pet sitter. Laying flat on her back, Blue exposed herself at the oddest moments. Bessie running, plopped in my Rocky-Road ice-cream. Knuckles tangled with blinds. Trina demanded attention. Violet was demure. Belle taught forbearance. Tai stole food from Brillo’s bowl and Brillo let him do it. Now Brillo steals from Tai! And soooo big Fred required two cat beds!
And on the rear wall of the new library addition, known as East Wall Galleries A and B, I am showing a few Landscapes About The Edge. The edge is the sometimes beautiful juxtaposition of rigid man-made constructions against the fluid and lyrical forms of nature. For me, it is that edge of contrasts and values that creates life’s drama.
My creative explorations include watercolor, mixed media, fiber arts and writing. I’ve shown my paintings in galleries up and down the west coast from British Columbia to California and Nevada and exhibit my work in regional juried art competitions and non-juried group shows.
A Florence resident since 2003, I am the creator and owner of FlorenceArtists.com, an online web hub for regional Oregon artists and galleries, and I’ve designed websites for local galleries and non-profit organizations. I also contributed to the structural development of Bob and Jack’s Writing Blog.
In 2008 I published Fragments: Growing Up Bohemian Poor In Dementia’s House, a memoir of illustrated short stories. My current writing and painting/illustration project is Confessions of a Florentine Pet Sitter (© 2009), short stories of my survival experiences while pet sitting. And I mean my survival! A few of the stories can be read on this blog.
Have a new year merry and bright
And create with all your might!
Filed under: cat paintings, cats and dogs, dog paintings, pet paintings-stories
Confessions of a Florentine Pet Sitter
Copyright 2010 by Susan Canavarro
I can remember when I was a teenager and a young woman that I always had sense of hope about life. I had unrealistic dreams that I would be cherished by someone, by a famous actor or musician; I had desires to be the light in someone’s eyes. I found the head guy in a folk and rock band and pursued him until I had him only for a few short months; I pursued a wonderful outgoing happy old artist who was a Flax’s Art Supply customer where I worked and he used to tease me about my shiny forehead. I loved it. I was 18. He was probably 45 or 50 at the time. I wanted to date him. I fell in love with Clint Eastwood and felt I had a connection with him because we both lived on the Monterey Peninsula. I know, it’s silly, but surely he would SEE me and be madly smitten simply because I existed in the same town. I fell in love with a guitar player, a second guitar player, a third guitar player, a pianist, a writer, an artist, and last, I fell in love with and married a carpenter. I would sit high on the bluff in Mendocino on a roughly-built wood bench overlooking the Woodyard beach and the wide Pacific Ocean and wait for my love to rescue me. I had hope. I had dreams. I had ambitions. I had not died yet.
I remember feeling this same sense of hope when I began pet sitting here in Florence. No, not for romantic dreams, but a desire for unconditional love from the cats and dogs I was caring for. Am I weird or what?
I wanted to pick up the cats and hold them close to my chest, hear them purring, feel the tickle of their whiskers on my cheek, kiss noses like Eskimos, and feel the warmth of their bodies and soft fur; to have them come when I called their names, sleep on my bed by my feet or head; for them to know, as they often do for their people, when I was sick and tend to me with their own brand of vigilant healing presence by my side. I wanted the dogs I cared for to wag their tails, be happy, excited, come to me for a pat on the head, play fetch with me, let me brush or groom them, and obey me when I tell them not to get under foot in the kitchen. The obeyer’s part never happened!
What they wanted was food and water, a walk, a treat, a pat on the head, a good dog, good cat, beautiful cat, hello Baby, a clean litter box. They needed and desired to be recognized and loved. They needed to be cherished while their owners were away.
I understood why these animals couldn’t love me unconditionally. I don’t love unconditionally – people, or animals for that matter. Trust has to be earned. The pets need to know I’m trustworthy and that trust takes time to build. Even after 3 or 4 years sitting with the same cat, with each visit, it took most of the pets 3 or 4 days before they realized I was “it” for a while, for food, attention and potty habits. Others, the trust never grew. But my understanding of this did not mitigate the pain I felt when one of them ignored me, or wouldn’t let me pick her up, or touch her, or ran from me when I walked in the room. Oh, woe is me.
Every now and then some of the pets would slip into their comfort zone and forget that I was not just the baby sitter. For a few glorious moments, I could feel that they had slipped back into trust and love, and I was fortunate to be the recipient. But it was oh so brief a moment. Back rub, walking up and down my body, sleeping curled up behind my legs, or on my chest or hip. Tail’s up, happy, running to me as I called their names or said hello or clapped my hands in delightful play. Those are the moments I cherish.
Now and then I was pleasantly surprised. However, I experienced the pleasure and then the consequent guilt: should this be happening?
One night Simon gave me a back rub by kneading between my shoulder blades. I wasn’t sure I should tell anyone. I felt giggly guilty at having enjoyed it so much. It felt soooo good. Simon woke me up one morning by walking the length of my body, rubbing against me, and finally settling on the pillow next to my head. He began to chew and pull at my curlers, at which point I got up! Simon had an ulterior motive: to wake me up either because he was hungry or I was snoring. Simon walked in front of the sofa when I was sitting, back and forth, each time rubbing my legs as he went, giving me little “love bites” now and then. He wanted me to know he was there. Whenever he came into a room where I was sitting, I said “Hello Simon” and watched his crooked tail stand tall. A happy cat. I knew then I was doing a good job!
Bessie loved to walk around my body, rubbing up against me. Round and round she’d go, every time I lay down on the bed on the fuzzy. She was a frantic fanatic about it. It was fun. She did not have an ulterior motive other than fun and love. Bessie also lounged on my chest for periods of time, until I had to move. Blue would lay flat on her back, all four legs splayed open, vulnerable, in a brief moment of trust, but when I bent down to rub her belly,
she ran away. She enjoyed riding on the shoulders of her master, and thought once that she might enjoy it with me, but she never trusted enough to ask again.
In rare moments Knuckles a.k.a. Noodles slept next to my body on the bed, or under the covers, but Beans wanted nothing from me but her dinner or to be let outside. Rarely would Knuckles or Beans crawl up in my lap in the TV chair.
Belle (Yellow Lab) of Southview wanted to be in the same room with me.
Trina (King Charles Spaniel) wanted to be wherever anybody was, in the same room, on the same bed or chair or sofa, or at my feet. She didn’t care who was
sitting next to her, just if they would. Francis loved me when I was eating mint chocolate chip ice cream. Violet loved me when I was not in the room. Rhody loved to watch me surreptitiously while she wandered past my chair, around to the other side, tail up, energetic. She was flirtatious, wanted attention, but couldn’t hang around long enough to let me give it to her.
Freddie, Nicky (cats) and Rudy (dog) all wanted to be in the loo with me. Rudy liked to sit right up close to the toilet seat between my knees. Hm-m-mmmmm.
Tai the Terrible steals food from Brillo the Black’s dish while Brillo is still eating. Brillo simply ignores Tai, turns his head while he is chewing, and allows Tai to sneak in with his curled paw to grab another piece of kibble. The kind of symbiosis I like: Tai gets more food and he’s not hungry all night, and I don’t have to tell Brillo to clean his bowl. And no matter if I’m not his master, Tai sits amidst the tall grasses in his front yard, waiting
for me to get home. It’s a beautiful sight to turn in the driveway and see his big fluffy body among the grasses and flowers. The contrasting textures are wonderful. Welcome home, he meows.
When I ponder all this, I realize I am a cat person mostly, despite owning a large St Bernard for thirteen years that I loved dearly, who was my baby, my only child. And I confess, I’m thinking I should get my own cat.
But then again, I couldn’t earn a living as a pet sitter…