My First Dog by Charlie O'Shields

After doodlewashing my first fish it got me thinking about my very first childhood pet, which in this case was a black and white border collie named Misty. I grabbed some references, as I don’t actually have a photo of her, and tried a doodlewash.

I ditched the pen and did just a quick contour line pencil drawing before jumping right in with watercolor for this one. Misty was fluffy and soft, so pen didn’t seem appropriate. I used a limited palette of only Neutral Tint, Dioxazine Purple, Burnt Sienna, and Quinacridone Gold (with a few wisps of white gouache at the end because Philippe said she needed whiskers)

When I was very little, Misty was like a third mother to me (the second being my sister), and was always guarding me everywhere I went. My sister is 12 years older than I am, and always will be. A fact I like to remind her of any time we’re together. When I was a baby and a young child, she was still living in the same house, and the three of us would often go on walks together. At my age at the time, I didn’t walk so much as roll along next to them.

Once when my sister was pushing me around in my stroller we stopped at a store and the sales clerk said, “Your son is so cute!” to which my sister quickly replied, “Oh, he’s not my son, he’s my little brother.” I looked up at her from my stroller with a gleam in my eye, began to mock cry and said, “What? Why would you say that, Mommy?” The clerk looked at her sternly and my sister turned red, not knowing what to say, spun around and simply rolled me away.

Outside we were rejoined by Misty and continued our stroll. Misty always walked very close beside me, sizing up all of the people passing to ensure they were not going to harm her baby. I loved that dog so much, and have such strong memories of her, even though our time together was relatively short.

I remember in our house, there was a flimsy screen door behind the main door leading to the garage. We’d leave the garage door open a bit and whenever Misty wanted to come in from outside she’d pull the door open with her nose. Not being able to negotiate the doorknob, the screen would just swing shut again with a bang, but we’d be alerted to her presence and let her inside. It was potentially irritating for adults, but for a child it was just the wonderful sound of a friend coming home.

This is the point in the story where you could find out that Misty was older and that we didn’t get to grow up together. You could also find out about a certain milk truck driver who wasn’t paying attention while driving down the street. But that’s a story with an ending, and that’s not quite how things would go.

Soon after Misty was gone, we were sitting around the table and having dinner. Everyone was unusually quiet as they were still trying to grow accustomed to the new normal. That’s when we all heard it. The screen door inside the garage swung out and made the familiar bang. We froze, not knowing what to think. My mom went over to the door and there was of course, nothing there.

But over the next couple years, we would occasionally hear the door and I would tell my mother that it was Misty, or more accurately, the ghost of Misty. My mother didn’t believe in ghosts, she was an adult after all. “It’s just the wind, Charlie,” she’d say and I’d inform her that the garage door wasn’t open and ask, “Wind from where?

I just wanted to believe that Misty stuck around a bit. That she just wasn’t ready to stop looking after me. And at a time when I should have felt loss and grief, I felt a strange sense of comfort. Sure, it was from a ghost dog, who was now more ironically named, Misty, but as a kid, this just seemed pretty cool. She was still with me, and all I had to do was listen for the sound of my friend coming home.

Posted by:Charlie O'Shields (doodlewash)

Creator of Doodlewash® and founder of World Watercolor Month™ (July) and World Watercolor Group™. Sharing daily watercolor illustrations and stories while proudly featuring talented artists from all over the world!

32 replies on “My First Dog

  1. OMG! So much to say here…. First of all…… AMAZING Painting. Seriously – to have your talent! (sigh…) Then – I cannot believe you were that clever and witty as a baby in a stroller to think to trick your sister like that! LOL! That totally cracked me up. You had to be under 5 – right? And to have that wit?!!!?? You are a born comedian! then the sad story of Misty’s demise. 😦 But the sweet memories of her “reappearances” with the screen door and “wind.” Oh Charlie – too much loveliness, humor and wonderment for me to handle in one post. Goodness gracious you are a talented one! xo

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Yeah I was under 5! Hehe…and this is all part of family folklore, but it sounds plausible as not much has changed about me! Hehe 😊😊 And you are sooooo sweet to say all those wonderful things Jodi!! 😊❤️😃 I need your number on speed dial so I can call you up each time I feel a little insecure. Your comments are SO appreciated and really help me to keep this thing going!! Thank you so much!! ❤️❤️

      Liked by 1 person

  2. What a sweet story, Charlie! ❤️ And LOVE your painting! You painted the sweet devotion in this dog’s eyes which Im sure Misty had for you. What a wonderful memory of your first pet! 😊❤️🎨

    Liked by 1 person

  3. There was an audible “awww” from me as soon as I laid eyes on Misty, so I think you did a good job in illustrating her from what you’ve written, Charlie. So beautiful, and indeed loving and loyal in the eyes. (The texture in the strokes and the tones you’ve got fooled me – it looked a pastel piece to me at first. Perhaps it’s just the lack of pen that’s caught me out!)

    A very moving and cruel story. A lovely tribute, though, of which she sounds most deserving.

    I like how you manage to slip humour into even the saddest posts – your teasing remark to poor sis is gold. Tsk! What were (ARE!) you like!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hehe…I can’t usually manage a post without a little humor. Not much has changed from when I was being pushed around in a stroller. 😊😊 Thank you so much for your comment Jacob! ❤️😃 I really appreciate the encouragement friend. This doodlewash was a fun experiment in drawing with watercolor…I rather liked the effect. But I won’t leave my pen alone long. Hehe And I haven’t changed much…just a little taller and more gray hair, but otherwise the same. 😉

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Oh, Charlie.. This one made me tear up.. Your doodlewash of Misty is amazing! She does look fluffy and soft!

    I did laugh about your sister.. Once my family was shopping at Kohl’s and my youngest who was around 4 or 5 started screaming that she was hungry. There was a woman close by and said I’m sure she would be fed soon to which my daughter says, “mom never feeds me.” Gah! I could have died by the daggers the woman was sending me.. Lol. Kids! We laugh about it now.. ❤️

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Beautiful and funny memories Charlie. Our family dogs and animals are just as important as our human family. You have certainly captured Misty’s loving spirit. My daughter has a border collie and she has the same intense and intelligent eyes.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Sharon!! 😃❤️ Glad you liked this post! And yes…animals are such a wonderful part of the family! Cool that your daughter has a border collie. I always wanted one again, but lived in the city where it was less practical to have a large dog. One day though!! 😉hehe

      Liked by 1 person

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