Since I’ve already sketched all of my childhood pets that I personally owned, I decided to sketch a memorable pet from my childhood. Meet Luke, he was the little sheltie that my grandmother got after her collie Lucky passed away. Lucky and I were fast friends, and used to do everything together, but this new dog didn’t seem to like anyone beyond my grandmother. Or, at the very least, he didn’t seem to be very interested in me. Each time I’d get close, he’d trot off in the other direction. This made my child brain explode as dogs were all meant to be friendly and love me on sight. I was determined to make this dog like me if it was the last thing I did. After many feverish attempts, I managed to get Luke to sit still next to me. Yet, the moment I moved too suddenly he would rush away without even looking back. I realize now, that something had indeed happened in his past to make him a bit skittish. Had I been an adult, I would have simply left him alone. But, I was a kid and kids must be loved by dogs. It was just how things were meant to be and I was not going to accept it any other way. I set out on a plan to make Luke at least my friend, if not my best friend, and a new adventure was born.
Each time I would visit my grandmother and see Luke, I would slowly go over to speak to him. Assuming he didn’t run away immediately, I would start talking to him about school and other mundane things. He would sort of look up at me in a questioning way as if to say, “why the hell are you telling me all of this again?” But, the fact that he stayed in one place to hear those things felt like a victory. Feeling encouraged, I would ever so slowly extend my hand to pat him on the head. He would flinch, at first, but then get a touch curious and sniff my hand. On the first few tries, I wasn’t able to touch him at all. But, I’ve always had this habit of never giving up. I just keep trying something I want until I make it so. In the case of Luke, this wasn’t going to be an easy task. It would take a couple of years before I was able to make that first contact. Interestingly, though, getting Luke to sit and listen to my ridiculously mundane stories was easy each time. He would sit and calmly listen to whatever I rambled on about, sometimes imperceptibly nodding his head in agreement or sniffing a bit to disagree. Though not much for the touching bit, he was a very good listener and so I forged on.
Then, after a couple of years, that most miraculous moment happened. I reached out my hand and he didn’t flinch or make a move to run away. I made my first contact and he bowed his head a bit so I could pet him properly. I gently touched his fur and even risked a little scratch of the ear, which he accepted in kind. This is the moment in the story that I’m supposed to tell you that from this day forward everything changed. And it did in many ways. But, I was never able to rush up to him with excitement or call him and have him come wagging his tail to greet me. But, I could sit and chat with him or at him and then pet him for a little bit. And once or twice, while telling him something that happened that day, his normally clenched jaw would relax. His mouth would open and expose his little pink tongue, which seemed, at least to me at the time, like a giggle or at least a display of happiness. In his own special way, I think it was. He was hurt at some point in life long before I met him, and though I never knew it at the time, taking the time to get to know him was all he ever really wanted. Sometimes, no matter what we want to happen, everything will simply happen exactly when it should. And still today, I have the fondest of memories of that time I made that unexpected connection while making Luke smile.
About the Doodlewash
Da Vinci Paint Co.: Yellow Ochre, Terra Cotta, Opus (Vivid Pink), and Cobalt Blue. Lamy Al-Star Safari Fountain Pen with black ink in an A5 Hahnemühle Watercolour Book. Want to purchase a print of this doodlewash? Send me a note with a link to this post, and I’ll add it to my shop!
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Creator of Doodlewash®, founder of World Watercolor Month (July), World Watercolor Group™, and host of the Sketching Stuff Podcast. Sharing daily watercolor illustrations and stories while proudly featuring talented artists from all over the world! If you’d like to be a guest artist on Doodlewash.com, contact me!