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.
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.