Our tail-wagging friend

Ten years ago, my partner Jo made a persuasive argument that our lives were missing something fundamental—a four-legged, tail-wagging friend. I, on the other hand, was sceptical. I wasn’t quite ready for the responsibilities of a pet. After some good-natured debate, we reached a compromise: a dog it was. A few weeks later, Alice the Labradoodle graced our lives, a furry bundle of joy, arriving via aeroplane from Christchurch. She was a little furball, her soft coat inviting endless cuddles.

Alice’s lineage proclaimed Labradoodle, but her heart was unmistakably Lab; this translated into an insatiable appetite for almost anything that crossed her path. Tennis balls were not mere playthings; their vibrant green exteriors were no match for her determination. With focused intent, she’d chew on one spot until the rich “fur” yielded, signalling a victorious end to the game. Coloured bouncy balls suffered a similar fate, emerging as peculiar tokens in her poop the next day. Our household floors remained perpetually licked, a preemptive measure against potential crumbs—no need for a robot vacuum here.

Alice hasn’t always been the angel; as a puppy, she devoured part of a prop for my “Follow Me” painting—The Hand of Godzilla. The beast stood no chance against her formidable appetite and puppy teeth.

Alice’s favourite toy is “Kong,” a rubber toy that holds treats. Alice and Kong arrive in the queue when the coffee machine starts, with Alice expecting a treat. An unspoken agreement ensured: no more than three treats for her, paralleled by three cups of coffee for me, any more and a slip into caffeine-induced hyperdrive.

My artistic ambitions never leaned towards animals, but Alice was an exception. Occasionally, she’d present herself in ways too inspiring to ignore. Such opportunities were a creative call to arms, and I couldn’t resist the challenge.

Amid the daily chaos Alice introduced, I found a muse. She was a constant reminder that life’s unpredictability made it beautiful. Over time, her exuberant antics took a more measured turn, and while she retained her boundless energy, the household pandemonium lessened.

Among my collection of photographs, one holds a special place: Alice, eyes fixed on me as I paint. Her unwavering gaze was simultaneously a muse and a friend, silently egging me on to capture her essence on Linen.

Six of my paintings stand as a testament to Alice’s impact on my art and life journey:

  • “Fetch” (2013)
  • “Dream Job” (2016)
  • “Obsession” (2017)
  • “Chilling Out” (2020)
  • “What Now?” (2022)
  • “Temptation” (2023)

Alice had transformed from a mere addition to our lives to an irreplaceable family member—a source of laughter, inspiration, and boundless love. One thing remains certain as we navigate life’s twists and turns: Alice is the irreplaceable puzzle piece that completes our home.





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