Oil on canvas, 12x12.
I've made a number of these minimalist paintings of dogs and cats, and I have to say that I love them all, and this one in particular.
This is Gus, or Auguste Corleone Jacobson, my first dog as an adult. Before we knew about pet stores and puppy mills, before we understood about shelters and rescue groups, Peter and I went to a pet store and he bought Gus for me.
I'd never do that again - but I never regretted it, either. I loved Gus from the moment I saw him. He was as full of life and personality as any dog ever. We brought him home, and he raced around the house, faster and faster, barking at Najim, our Pekingese, and playing, and running and sliding on the floor, and then, all of a sudden, he collapsed, flopped right down, all four legs splayed, and dear God, I thought he was dead.
But no, that was just Gus.
He lived to be 16, and they were 16 fine years. He went fishing and camping and hiking with us in Idaho and Montana and Canada. He helped Najim recover from back surgery, finding a way to play that could engage Najim even during the weeks that he was paralyzed. When Najy was better, he and Gus would fight, on occasion, with a fury of barking and snarling and gnashing of teeth, and never any bloodshed or actual biting. Well, Peter and I were bitten a couple of times, wresting the tiny titans apart.
In Maine, the boys got to peeing around the house, marking territory, so we put them in crates when we couldn't watch them. The crates were side by side, and after a while we realized that they were peeing on each other through the sides of the crates. Nice.
I still miss Gus. He loved to snuggle, loved to ride in the car, loved to go places and meet people. Our rescue bichon, Woodreau, is terrified of everything. He doesn't like any of that stuff. But he is a nice little dog, and I love him dearly, and he desperately needed to be rescued.
But he is no Gus. And really, truly, he shouldn't be.