When He Was A Puppy

#WorldWatercolorGroup - Day 15 - Baby Basenji Watercolor - Doodlewash

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

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! If you’d like to be a guest artist on Doodlewash.com, contact me!

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53 Comments
  1. Jansi King 6 months ago

    As a True lover of animals, I was really touched by your delightful sketch and description of your life with Phineas. Thanks so much for sharing, Charlie!!!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 6 months ago

      Aww thanks so much, Jansi! 😃💕 I’m so happy you enjoyed this post!

  2. Mary Roff 6 months ago

    Phineas as sounds like a treasure!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 6 months ago

      He is!! 😃💕 And he’ll also be the first to tell you that! lol

  3. Sandra Strait 6 months ago

    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.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 6 months ago

      Lol… what a wonderful story, Sandra! 😃💕 Yep! That sounds like pure basenji! hehe… they’ve got their own little world. Ours has always been a cuddler, but only on his own terms at all times.

  4. iamjirah 6 months ago

    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.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 6 months ago

      Thanks so much! Aww… that’s such a wonderful and heartwarming story!! Thanks so much for sharing it! 😃💕 Dogs are such wonderful creatures to love!

  5. creatingincolors 6 months ago

    Awww, beautiful story and beautiful “puppy”!

  6. Teri Casper 6 months ago

    Adorable and love your description of him. So fun!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 6 months ago

      Thanks, Teri! 😃💕Yeah, he’s still quite a handful, but totally worth it!

  7. Sharon Nolfi 6 months ago

    I love hearing about Phineas and your relationship with him. The painting is quite lovely, too.

  8. Lisa 6 months ago

    What a sweetie! Both Phineas and you for loving him so. At our house it’s all about cats, but one of them thinks she’s a dog, so I guess that counts right?

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 6 months ago

      Thanks, Lisa! 😃💕 hehe.. it totally counts… and basenjis are a known to be a bit cat-like. I adore cats, but I’m sadly allergic so I’ve never owned one.

  9. smzang 6 months ago

    “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’.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 6 months ago

      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.

  10. Rod Fletcher 6 months ago

    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….

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 6 months ago

      Thanks, Rod!! 😃💕 Awww give Otto a hug from me! He sounds like a wonderful dog! Phineas had a duckie that he took care of for quite some time like that. I definitely think he’s your comfort blanket.

  11. Jennifer McLean 6 months ago

    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.

    • Randi M. 6 months ago

      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!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 6 months ago

      haha!! Yay! Tigger!! Go get ’em!! I love that story!! 😃💕 He totally did good! Dogs are such wonderful creatures… the only ones who live only to please us.

  12. Lori Franks 6 months ago

    Wow Charlie, you made me cry. Our pets are an awesome gift…how is it we can love them so much and they can bring us so much joy? It’s amazing!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 6 months ago

      Aww… thanks, Lori! 😃💕 I know… we love them beyond reason and they will always break our hearts. But, oh, the journey. It always makes it all so worth it in the end.

  13. memadtwo 6 months ago

    wonderful post Charlie–for all those we love and who love us back. (K)

  14. Laura Hale 6 months ago

    What a delightful post and doodlewash. Here’s to those special relationships, canine and human.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 6 months ago

      Thanks, Laura! 😃💕 Cheers to that! Dogs are so wonderful… we’re pretty lucky humans to have them in our lives.

  15. Randi M. 6 months ago

    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!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 6 months ago

      Thanks so much, Randi! 😃💕 hehe! Yes! Those look?! How do they do that?! We’re really just their favorite toy in the end, but it’s so much fun!

  16. Beverly Dyer 6 months ago

    Touching post Charlie.

  17. Nancy Sapp 6 months ago

    Charlie – your painting is AAADorable!! Your description of your “Fur Baby” made me teary-eyed.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 6 months ago

      Aww thanks so much, Nancy! 😃💕 Fur babies are the best! I can’t imagine life without them!

  18. Pamela Smith 6 months ago

    Handsome boy,nice painting Charlie

  19. Kati Brooke 6 months ago

    Awww, he’s precious! I love how you describe your life with him – it’s much the same way I feel about mine with my chihuahua and our other pets.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 6 months ago

      Thanks, Kati! 😃💕 Pets bring so much joy to our lives. I’m so thankful he day I have with mine.

  20. Sharon Bonin-Pratt 6 months ago

    Phineas has you well trained, Charlie – good for him. All your stories about him are full of love and are such fun to read. Thanks for sharing your dog with us.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 6 months ago

      Thanks, Sharon! 😃💕 He has definitely trained me well and thoroughly captured my heart!

  21. Thomas Blanchard 6 months ago

    Awesome rendition of your famous family member! Aww life would be so boring and contain less love without our beloved dogs! 🐕

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 6 months ago

      Thanks, Tom! 😃💕 So true… dogs are the best companions ever!

  22. Delores Azary 6 months ago

    Our fur babies add such a wonderful dimension to our lives! I love hearing about Phineas!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 6 months ago

      Thanks, Delores! 😃💕 Yeah, Phineas is a wonderful fur baby!!

  23. M. Caulder 6 months ago

    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! 💕

  24. Sandra Gilbert 6 months ago

    I love your dog. He has such an awesome personality.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 6 months ago

      Thanks! 😃💕 Yeah, he definitely has a personality all his own!

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