share

Prized Possessions: Episode Five—Dottie’s Last Rubber Ball

January 26, 2010

Remembering Dottie.

If the above embedded video doesn't work, see "Prized Possessions: Episode Five" on Youtube.

Seven years ago my second Alaskan Malamute bitch Dottie (Black Ice's Spellbreaker, AKA Dorothy, Dot, Smudge, Dotster, Dot-T, Sweet-T, well you get the idea) passed away from liver cancer. When I was filming a bunch of "Prized Possession Episodes" the ball caught my eye. It is the perfect post for today, because as always on this day, and most days, I'll think about Dottie. I like to celebrate her life.

It has often been remarked that I am Victorian in my propensity to collect mementos of this type. (And I do admit to a total fascination with Victorian hair pictures!) Some people set it aside with a "well she did spend so much time studying Dickens, after all." Actually, it started way before that, in the Philippines, when my favorite doll was tossed the same day I got my typhoid and cholera boosters. Excuses of the doll's dishevelled and worn state didn't make the loss easier to bear. If anything those excuses seemed to highlight the capriciousness and nonsensical judgment behind the disappearance of loved objects, people, and animals. I have never regretted learning this lesson again and again, early in life.

We each of us approach life's lessons differently, absorb them differently. I have kept a journal since childhood because of the same impulse that causes me to save Dottie's ball. I can capture things on the page, before they vanish.

Desperation is absent from this act. Things change, things go, it's that simple. But as they change I do like a record of now. It all seems as natural to me as breathing.

And that ball, with its toothmarks seems like a journal of Dot's chewing to me.

Dogs helped me learn this lesson—dogs and one budgie.

There is a line between obsession and celebration. Dogs can teach you the joy of that boundary. Birds, well they can't really help much with that. But damn they are pretty to look at, which brings us to drawing, and being in the now, and well—I guess maybe they can help with that boundary after all.

You can view my Daily Dots
on my website. For almost five years, until her death, I drew Dottie
daily and filled 43 volumes with the sketches. Another memento mori.
Another happy celebration of her life.

  1. Reply

    Roz,
    This is sweet and poignant. Your love for Dottie is evident in your voice. I’m sure you’ve hit a universal note with dog lovers, who cherish the time they’re with us, and know it’s all too short. Thanks for sharing this.
    Kim

    • Holly Waldrop
    • January 26, 2010
    Reply

    “It came to me that every time I lose a dog, they take a piece of my heart with them. And every new dog who comes into my life, gifts me with a piece of their heart. If I live long enough, all parts of my heart will be dog, and I will become as generous and loving as they are.” Author Unknown

    Memories of loved ones, whether tangible like Dottie’s ball or ephemeral like the memory of the smell of her fur, are precious. Capture them how you will and treasure them. But mostly, thank you for sharing.

    • Roz
    • January 26, 2010
    Reply

    Thanks Kim, we don’t get enough time with dogs, that’s for sure!

    Holly, a friend in town just sent me this quotation! I love it. I think it is very true.

    Smell of her fur—well I kept one of her rugs (which normally got washed every other week) for several months, just so I could continue to smell her. I would lie down on the rug on the floor. I was a mess. I am grateful everyday to my friends Tom, Linda, Diane, Nan and of course Dick, who got me through it. It was a reorganization of my life to go from four or more hours a day of intense dog time to zip. And no click, click, click of the toenails on the hardwood floors. And no breathing. One of the things I miss most about not having dogs is the sound of their breathing while I’m working at the computer and they sleep nearby.

    But I had such a wonderful time with my dogs, and so many adventures (daily), that now I only smile. Like the time Nan laid a practice track for us and Dottie got up when I gave the command, knowing she’d taken scent, walked two feet, and promptly ate a vole!

    “ACK,” I remember calling back to Nan, “she’ll never start again!” And I remember turning, as I struggled with my hand disappearing down Dot’s throat, the look on Nan’s face (and she’s a dog person).

    I lost the battle to retrieve the vole but the little miss did go right back to work and it was a glorious day. Thank god for strong prey drive in Malamutes!

  2. Reply

    This post left me breathless, as I am seven days into bereavement over my 22 year old cockatiel’s passing at a wonderfully ripe and healthy old age. I’m going back to look at Dottie’s Dots, and draw a few more ‘tiel pictures while I can. Drawing with one hand while holding the kleenix in the other is a unique skill to learn.

    • Roz
    • January 26, 2010
    Reply

    Carol, I’m so sorry for your fresh loss. But how wonderful to have 22 years with your bird! Drawing and holding the tissue is indeed a skill to learn, but it will get easier, both the skill and the grief.

    It helped, and continues to help me, if I spend time with my many dog friends, who live in really great families. It of course also gives me dog-drawing possibilities. Perhaps you can spend time with friends who also have birds so that you can continue to appreciate some of that energy that’s now gone?

    Drawing helps a lot Carol. Breathing helps even more! Sometimes it’s just down to basics.

    • Holly Waldrop
    • January 26, 2010
    Reply

    OH LORD!! On-track attempted vole removal! I LOVE IT!!! Good girl, Dottie.

    Carol, I am so sorry. But Roz is right – drawing does help. I did it during the months I was losing my heart dog.

    I also understand lying on Dottie’s rug. Lost my boy over 2+ years ago. Only last month did I finally open his crate and wash his carpets so the “new” dog (now 17 months old) can use them.

    • Julianna
    • January 26, 2010
    Reply

    We had several different cats over a period of 30 years and lost the most special one 7 years ago. But there is a dark spot on the edge of the bathroom door where he rubbed his lips every day. I could not remove it. We are now happy with a dog in the house, but the painters arrive next week, and I know the dark spot is going away. Maybe the ball is better.

    • Carol C.
    • January 26, 2010
    Reply

    That was very poignant. I’ve been having these feelings quite a bit lately. Our two best dogs are 11 and 10 and starting to show their age. One of them wears the collar of the dog before her (it’s the only one she doesn’t lose!). I definitely have that tendency to hang on to things and I appreciate your delineating the difference between obsession and celebration. I’m grabbing my journal now—drawing is definitely called for!

    • Chris
    • January 26, 2010
    Reply

    So you won’t ever have another dog????
    I know how much you loved Dottie and the Daily Dots are wonderful. Just seems a shame not to let another wonderful dog into your life.
    You obviously enjoy them all so much.

  3. …I’m still crying…I miss my dog Duffy so much…I know how bad this feels. I still have all his toys. Nice memories though. Sniff…

    • Roz
    • January 27, 2010
    Reply

    Holly, I’m so happy you have a new pup. I understand about the crate. I kept Dottie’s car crate in the car for awhile afterwards, her ashes came home sitting on the crate rug, me talking to her as usual. (Our vet was a family friend who lived south of the Cities so it was a long drive home.)

    I hope you are already drawing the 17-month-old!

    • Roz
    • January 27, 2010
    Reply

    The computer, or rather my cable connection is working oddly this a.m. so I’m going to answer the comments here all in one

    Lynn, I’m sorry, don’t cry. It’s a happy thing, that ball. As are Duffy’s toys. It will get better. We have all those good memories of our pups.

    Chris, I would love to have another dog, but I only know one way to have a dog, full-time with its needs addressed, which means 2 to 4 hours of walks a day, 2 hours (and sometimes more) of training. While I can multitask with the best of them I just know I have to be able to take on that commitment. And then there is the issue of travel. When I have dogs I want the pack together…all of this isn’t possible because of other life factors right now. I’m blessed with dear friends who let me have dog-time with some very special dogs. For now that works. But I do need to get over to the indoor dog park in February for sketching!

    Carol, I’m so glad you are drawing your dogs. At 11 and 10 I hope you have several years left with them! But the good thing is that now they aren’t puppies (as long as they aren’t border collies) they will probably nap more and make easier drawing subjects!

    Juliana, I don’t know, maybe the painter could paint around that spot. In 2000, with only Emma gone and Dottie still here, I was sitting on the floor one day in the studio and got it into my mind to make a rubbing of the floor because I noticed there were all sorts of marks left from their toenails, some clearly from when they were playing together and pouncing. I told Dick if we moved we would have to rip up the entire floor to take it with us (he laughed and we both know that isn’t going to happen). This floor is never getting sanded while I’m in the house. I love having that connection. If I paint a piece of decorative paper, something I always do sitting on the floor, when I get up the light always catches these marks and I love the happy thoughts it brings. I’m sure you’ll take some good photos before the painter arrives!

    • velma
    • January 27, 2010
    Reply

    roz–nice. i love old dog tooth prints, too. i have my mare’s last shoes, i use them for dyeing. and some of her tail hair, spun. and dog mementos, well, there are too many dogs, counting pups, but i remember them. i have an inch scar with four stitch dots to remember kate by.

    • Roz
    • January 28, 2010
    Reply

    Velma, it makes me happy to hear that you use your mare’s last shoes for dyeing (I’m assuming as weights to hold things down in the vats?). You get to have her with you all the time.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

RozWoundUp
Close Cookmode

Pin It on Pinterest