Old Dogs, New Dogs

golden retriever, Blitz, pen and ink, drawing, pen, ink

It’s been almost a year since Blitz passed. Soon after, I did this portrait of her as a bit of art therapy.

Our new girl golden retriever puppy was born on the 6th. She will be coming home in about six weeks. I can’t wait.

puppies, golden retriever, puppy, dogs

Our new baby is in there somewhere. She’s the cute one. Photo courtesy of Susan Liptak.

It just so happens her Grandmother, Gracie, is staying with us for awhile. In fact, at this moment she is putting a stuffed toy wolverine in my lap and asking for me to throw it for her. She’s staying with us while I’m running her in the Junior Hunt Tests for her owner and personal friend, Sally. Blitz was Gracie’s cousin.

golden retriever

Gracie is schmoozing for a retrieve with a stuffed wolverine. I think the wolverine is well loved.

This weekend we attended the Marin Retriever Club Hunt Test in Corning, California. It was a double header and we ran dogs on Saturday and Sunday. Mary ran her Sailor, Sally ran her Bella and I ran Sally’s Gracie. Great fun was had by all, especially the dogs. Everybody qualified in both events.

hunt test, AKC Hunt Test, marking, duck, golden retriever

The gunner shoots the live flyer. Gracie and I are at the line watching her second bird go down. Photo courtesy of MaryA Livingston.

Prints available at Fine Art America.

Hunter Puppy


A pen and ink of my old boy “Hunter.” He was the best hunting dog I ever had.

The photo I used for this drawing appeared in the post Forestry Friday … What A Difference A Decade Makes.


golden retriever, working dog, golden, retriever

Hunter’s motto was “It’s good to be Hunter!”

golden retriever puppy, golden puppy, puppy

It must have hurt to be that cute. He was always Hunter puppy to me, even when he was old. Makes me kind of misty.

Pen and ink prints available at Fine Art America.





Sweet Nellie Left Us Today

These were just a few of our precious moments…

Nellie, Burney Mountain, nature, golden retriever, dog, photography

With Burney Mountain in the background, Nellie strikes a lovely pose. She is one of my favorite models. Nellie is very co-operative and will work for dog biscuits.



Blitz steal a stick from her mom.

Blitz steals a stick from her mom.


Snow dog Nellie.

Redtail's Nitro Nellie just being "Boopie"

Redtail’s Nitro Nellie just being “Boopie”

Nellie, snake bite, veterinarian

Mary and Tom dog visiting Nellie at the Vet’s office after the snake bite. She was one sick pup, but it sure perked her up seeing us.

golden retriever, hunting, photography, Pheasant

Our oldest son, Chris with his girl Nellie. This was their last pheasant season.



The morning ritual, " Hey I need some attention here!" Nellie.

The morning ritual, ” Hey I need some attention here!”

The big stick contest. Blitz and Nellie

The big stick contest. Blitz and Nellie

Nellie in her youth at Iron Canyon Reservoir.

Nellie in her youth at Iron Canyon Reservoir.

God got a good dog today.  We are grateful for the time we had together.

These were some posts that featured Nellie.






Mary wrote this post after the hunt test a week ago. I think it complements my latest post. We have another event this weekend.

Sneaking Bliss

There is no greater bliss than live one’s purpose.

Our retrievers are working retrievers. They are descendants of generations of canine companions that hunt with their human counterparts. When harvesting upland game or waterfowl, a working retriever is essential. Often, game lands in an area inaccessible to the human hunter. Enter the well-trained retriever to recover dinner.

The ultimate test for a working retriever is to work in a real time hunt and retrieve dinner for its family. There is a process to test these working dogs to a standard established to determine their readiness as a hunting companion.

In these tests, the retriever’s natural abilities and trained abilities are judged.

Natural abilities: marking and memory, intelligence, attention, nose, courage, perseverance and style.

Trained abilities: steadiness, control, response to direction, and delivery.

 Here are some snapshots of Tim, The Forester Artist, with the girls yesterday. It was a…

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We lost a dear canine member of our family today. Tom-dog you were loved very much. I’m reblogging this post by my wife, Mary. I don’t have anything to add to this today.

Sneaking Bliss

Golden Bo Thomas SH WCX“Our animals shepherd us through certain eras of our lives. When we are ready to turn the corner and make it our own…they let us go.” Author Unknown

We knew this day was coming. The average lifespan of a retriever is 10 years. Tom-dog was 14 years, 8 months when we said good-bye today.

He came home to our youngest son many years ago and was the grand-pup of our first retriever. In the learning hands of a growing boy he was trained into an outstanding hunter and companion.

When his boy grew to manhood, left for college, got married and started his family, Tom stayed with us.  In the years that have followed, this magnificent family member has been greeted by 3 rowdy grandkids that he loved dearly.
Tom-dog always loved kids. It is only fitting that Tom-dog’s grand-pup, Jake, now resides with Tom-dog’s first person and family.

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The Arrowhead

Water Break

During my travels today, I stopped at a spring, so Blitz and Nellie could get a drink and cool off.  They were busy running around, swimming, drinking, and eating some grass.  Then, I spotted a small shiny black object in the dirt.  Upon closer inspection, I saw that it was an obsidian arrowhead. I have no idea how long it had been there, maybe hundreds or thousands of years.  The tip was chipped.  It had probably struck a rock or bone when it had been shot at it’s prey many years ago.  I imagine that once it was chipped the hunter removed it from its shaft to replace it with a new point.  It was probably dropped, lost and forgotten, until now.  As I looked at the features and the delicate workmanship of this point I can see that the maker took great pride in his work.  It was shaped with precise care.  The joy in the workmanship of this little obsidian projectile point was evident.  It was a utilitarian object, but also a piece of art.  I took a picture of the arrowhead so that I could share it on this blog.  It is little piece of art in the forest, and history.  In California we’re not allowed to collect such artifacts.  Maybe in the future, someone else will see it and it will tell them it’s story, as it told me today.  I can only imagine, if I had met the maker of this arrowhead that he would have said to me, “hey check this one out, pretty cool isn’t it.”  I would have to agree.  Like a blog from the past, I was fortunate to take this picture so that I could share it with all of you and I hope you enjoy it.

Obsidian Arrowhead

Nellie In Watercolor, Part 1

Nellie in her youth at Iron Canyon Reservoir.

She is a smart pushy redhead and her name is Nellie.  She is a 12 year old golden retriever.  She belongs to our oldest son although she has continued to live with my wife and me since our son grew up and moved out on his own.  She is very good at dog to human communications.  If she wants out, she rattles the door knob with her nose.  When it is 8:00 pm she comes and reminds me that it is dinner time, even after the time change.  I’m not sure how she does that, but she does it without missing a beat.  When I ignore her demands she shakes her head at me and stares as if she thinks I’m very dense.  If I continue to ignore her she gives me a deep “boof.”  She is quite a girl.

Over eleven years ago she was running in the AKC Hunt Tests.  At the time our son got Nellie we had an agreement with him.  It was that he would have to earn a title with her.  This was to insure that she was trained into a well mannered dog.  So he ran her in the Hunt Tests.  It was a little rough watching a Junior Handler running a Junior Dog.  Inexperience in the case of the both accompanied by lots twitching and fiddling around sometimes made the events a little nerve racking to his parents.  At one event, when the bird was thrown my son was messing with her lead and she didn’t appear to mark the falling bird.  She dutifully ran across the creek, the long way around, and into the field.  She looked about as if she didn’t have a clue where the bird was.  Then she sat down.  We could hear the gallery groan uncomfortably at the thought that this boy and his beautiful golden were about to fail this test.  She looked around the grounds while she sat.  The seconds slowly ticked away and we know the judges were about to tell him to “pick up” his dog.  There was no point in continuing this embarrassing performance.  Without warning Nellie stood up and ran straight to the fallen bird.  She picked it up as if she knew where it was all along and delivered to my son.  This was just one tense leg in a 4 series test, and at the end of the day they both passed the test.

The original sketch I did for the watercolor of Nellie eleven years ago.

Back at that time I started on a watercolor of Nellie.  I sketched it out on a watercolor pad, but never got around to finishing it.  Not long ago I came across the dusty sketch.  I decided to work on it and post my progress on the blog along the way.  Today I’m featuring the original eleven year old sketch.  I hope not to embarrass myself with this process, but after all you know what they say, “paint like no one is watching” or something close to that.


Blaze impatiently waits for her driver.

Blaze rode with me for years.  She loved to go to work and hated to be left at home.  When I would go into my office in the morning she would find the highest point on the truck and intently watch the backdoor impatiently.  She would wait for me to come out so I could take her to the woods.  If she could have driven the truck herself she would have, and I would have been left behind.

She was a tremendous AKC Hunt Test competitor and loved to work.   I painted this of her when she was actively running events.  She would sit in the yard and stare at me refusing to come in until I would come out and train her.  In this watercolor I was trying to capture her intensity and joy of the hunt.

A happy girl.

We logged a lot of miles together a chased a lot of squirrels.  Well, she chased the squirrels.  She was amazing companion and I miss her dearly.