Though I got Phineas when he was only a year and a half old, he was still fully grown. I’d found him at a rescue and that was there best estimate on his age. Unlike other proud parents, I have no baby photos of him to draw from so I had to use a reference and tweak the eyes a bit to match his. He’s actually a brindle, so he probably had a few more stripes on his face, but I imagine he looked roughly like this. Those silly extra wrinkles on the forehead and those eyes that always seem to be asking a question you couldn’t possibly answer. When Phineas first arrived, he was a little terror of energy, running around the house in circles, stopping only to paw at me incessantly until I did whatever it was he wanted me to do. I was never really clear on what that was and most of my attempts were met with a sad little stare that said, “you’re stupid, but you’re mine, so I’ll make the best of it.” Many of his looks have always reminded me of kids on a playground who just uttered a dare. He was, and still is, a bit mischievous, but it’s exactly why he’s so much fun.

Though not technically a puppy, I had to find ways to keep him amused in those early days. One of our games was shining a laser light on the wall so he could chase it. He’d zoom around the room at an impossible speed. So much so, that he’d often have trouble making the turns, launching into one of those leg-flapping Scooby-Doo moves. It was comical to watch and made me giggle each time. He wasn’t daunted and continued his circuit with limitless energy, until thankfully, he began to slow a bit and it was finally time for bed. If there was still a burst of energy left, I would walk upstairs to find no dog at all. Then I’d hear a panting that I swear sounded like a light giggle. This meant we had just enough time for a game of Phineas hide-and-seek. This is the only game he invented that I knew how to play properly. I’d call out, “Where’s, Phineas?” and wait to hear more little panted giggles before saying, “I guess he must be gone then.” That’s when he would wriggle out from under the bed, jump on top, and stand in the middle, striking a pose that a Roman gladiator might choose after winning a fight.

This morning, as he lay at the end of the bed, far older now and less inclined to race around the house, I felt a sense of pure happiness. His youthful panted giggles have been replaced with light snores, and each one makes me smile just the same.  Though the tiniest bit of gray has shown up around his eyes, they are still the eyes that I fell in love with. Those quizzical orbs that look at each treat before it’s eaten, though it’s the same treat as the time before. The same eyes that shift and soften when he wants to be cuddled, but only for a few moments until a better offer comes along or something out the window seems more intriguing. When it comes to distraction, I can’t possibly fault him there. And each moment we spend together reminds of the first time he jumped into my lap at the shelter. Of all of our differences, the one thing we had in common was a desire to be loved. And that’s the deal we agreed to on that day. Sure, he’ll break my heart some wretched time in the future by leaving us far too soon, but for now, I’m content with remembering those wonderful real and imagined memories of when he was a puppy.

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About the Doodlewash

Da Vinci Paint Co.: Yellow Ochre, Quinacridone Red, Terra Cotta and Cobalt Blue.  Lamy Al-Star Safari Fountain Pen with sepia ink in an A5 Hahnemühle Watercolour Book.
 #WorldWatercolorGroup - Day 15 - Baby Basenji Watercolor - Doodlewash

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53 thoughts on “When He Was A Puppy

  1. As someone who had a Basenji as a puppy (I knew the breeder), I’d say you got the breed down pat. They are interesting dogs. Mine was a bit stand-offish all his life – never a cuddler. He did love it when my then-young husband picked him up and threw him across the room for me to catch. I’d be having a fit at such behavior, meanwhile Warlock would go running back to hubby begging to fly again. I finally convinced hubby it just wasn’t safe, and I don’t think the dog ever forgave me.

  2. I am a dog person and this piece of yours is just heartwarming. It made me remember the lil pup I used to milk fed after school during my high school years and sadly, he passed away last week for old age I guess. 🙁 I remember her personalized bark whenever I arrive. That wanting to be stroked after a long day of waiting… Even more sad because I have been 3 years away from her since I left the country for expatriation.

    So much love for dogs. What an awesome piece you have here, I might add.

  3. “Those silly extra wrinkles on the forehead and those eyes that always seem to be asking a question you couldn’t possibly answer.” you captured both exquisitely…This one puts tears in my eyes. Bella, my long haired alley cat with the attitude of royalty, is 14. She still plays like a kitten. The very thought of life without her is daunting. Phineas most love you even more after seeing his ‘baby picture’.

    1. Aww thanks so much!! 😃💕 Your Bella sounds amazing! Pets are so dear and yet always break our hearts. But it’s so worth the journey. And yeah, Phineas looked at his picture in my sketchbook and sneezed on it. I’m still not sure what really means, but I’m going to call it approval.

  4. Nice one Charlie. Well described. Otto had a green and white tugger as a first toy, and today 3 1/2 years later he still has green tugger, can fetch it from wherever it is in the house on command, and always brings it and drops it on my feet if there is any sign I’m about to leave the house. He’s a terrier and has remarkable skill at destroying toys (four new ones at Christmas), but green tugger is mouthed but rarely bitten. I think it’s a bit like Linus’s comfort blanket. And I think he’s mine….

  5. i do love your stories, Charlie. They always tweak a memory as we seem to have many things in common. I had a dog when I was about nine or ten, his name was Tigger short for Turganese. He was a purebred afghan. His previous owners were transferred to Australia from Canada and they knew an afghan wouldn’t stand the heat. We adopted him. He became my dog immediately and he’d do things only for me, to amuse me, to make me happy and to protect me. We played chase just like you and Phineas. He was the most gentle dog but one day, I was walking him and bigger kids decided to pick on me. They really were fairly dangerous bullies, known to beat up kids on a whim. I threatened them with my dog who was standing there all happy, panting and looking for affection from everyone. The big guy teased that my dog was a wimp and wouldn’t hurt a fly. I totally lied and said he was specially trained, one word and he’d attack. They all laughed and when the leader went to touch me I looked at Tigger and prayed quickly then whispered “sick-em Tigger”. I have no idea how he knew what to do but i swear, all of a sudden I had this snarling slavering, fang toothed 100lb dog lunging against the short leash. The gang never bothered me again and Tigger and I loped home, his tongue lolling out as he stared at me with a look that said, I did good, huh?? He totally got treats when we got home. Best dog ever.
    Your painting is precious, i wish I had painted back then, to capture his long curved tail and flowing black fur would have been fun.

    1. Jennifer I can totally relate to your story, I was 9 years old and we had the Best German Shepherd ever. I was out playing and the neighborhood bully was on his bike teasing me again, I had finally had enough and looked at my beloved girl, Francesca (Frankie for Short, not sure how she got the name?)and said “sick-em Frankie” (I had never uttered those words before). Not even a hand movement or pointing to say go after him, just the words, She took off after him, grabbed his foot, pulled him off his bike and came back to me. Boy did I get in trouble that night when his parents came to talk to my parents that our dog had “attacked” their son! They are our protectors and we love them dearly!

  6. Charlie – your story and painting are awesome. I can totally relate as we have 2 rambunctious Samoyed who run our lives and bark and smack me with their paw while I desperately try to figure out, what is it, this time (walk, feed, pet, play, what, what, what, what, I have tried everything)! I get this look, like you are an idiot, how can you not know what I mean, you have known me for 2 1/2 years already! I loved your story and your painting!

  7. Laughed out loud at this “you’re stupid, but you’re mine, so I’ll make the best of it.” 🤣😁 After all the stories about Phineas, it’s almost like he’s a distant relative, lol, I feel like I know him. He sounds amazing, and I’m glad you got a “used” dog. They’re wonderful! 💕

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