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The Dog Decision – by Robert Genn

The Dog Decision - by Robert Genn

Yesterday, Janet Badger of Bangor, Maine wrote, "You speak often of your dog, your faithful studio companion. We've owned several dogs over the years but I've found them to be like having a toddler around--you have to know where they are and what they are doing at all times. As a printmaker, I need my focus and concentration, to work without distraction. Is there a perfect breed of studio dog? I think I need a quiet companion, though we can all benefit from morning and evening walks. It's my husband who thinks we should have one again, despite the expense. Can someone who lives happily without a dog learn to live happily with one?"

Thanks, Janet. Dogs are angels sent from heaven to make us into better people. A few minutes of petting a dog releases oxytocins into the bloodstream of both dog and human, reducing stress and lowering blood pressure. Dog people may live longer.

Every puppy begins in joy and ends in tears. Sometime ago I wrote about the loss of our former dog, Emily. The email condolences that came in here were overwhelming. As far as I'm concerned there are two downsides to having a dog. The first is when you finally lose them, and the second, an ongoing problem, is what to do with them when they can't travel with you. Lining up trusted dog sitters is vital.

Having said that, a dog will increase your studio hours and prevent you from wandering off and getting into trouble. Benjamin Franklin said that in order to be happy a man needs "a good woman, a good dog, and ready money." I've noted that none of my dogs have ever criticized my work. A loving tail-wagger in the studio goes a long way in a profession of loners.

For an assessment of breed appropriateness, intelligence and size considerations, you might read Dr Stanley Coren's "The Intelligence of Dogs." I happen to think that dog people are the best people, perhaps because dogs, just like artists, have excellent dreams and fantasies. But there are cat people too, and they are just as passionately converted. Gerbils, weasels and rats do it for some folks, particularly as starters. You have a good husband--I think you should also have a good dog. Forget about the ready money.

Best regards,

Robert

PS: "Just like humans, dogs dream about the activities which they are most familiar with and things that have gone on in the previous day." (Dr. Stanley Coren)

Esoterica: Dorothy the Airedale has a particularly spirited personality. Good for my cardiovascular, she is always eager to go for a walk. Uniquely, she is also content to play ball with herself. She is a happy girl, rather overly bonded but universally friendly. She's fully employed patrolling our property but unfortunately gets poor marks for squirrel and mole control. An occasional garden digger, as I write this she is curled up with dirty feet in a pile of paint rags. To her credit, she steps carefully around paintings when they are casually thrown here and there.

Robert Genn has given ARTAZINE permission to publish from his twice-weekly newsletter. For more of Robert's artistic insight, visit his blog at www.painterspost.com.

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