An artist’s thoughts are often very personal in the creation of art. When another artist had me and my family in their thoughts, I wondered what will this piece of art speak to me. This painting speaks of a memory. A memory of time spent together with one I loved.
These were just a few of our precious moments…
God got a good dog today. We are grateful for the time we had together.
These were some posts that featured Nellie.
She is finally done. I hope you all like her. It only took 10 plus years to complete. Not that long to paint, but the procrastination and misplacing took years. Now for one more Nellie story.
The yarder engine roared and the cable snapped tight. Limbs and debris went flying as the yarder heaved the logs into the air. From the bottom of the canyon the logs sailed up the hill until they were suspended over the landing. Then they dropped to the ground with an earth-shaking thud and a cloud of dust.
I was visiting a logging job to go over log quality with the siderod. It was a hot, dry afternoon on the mountain. On this day, Hawk and Nellie, two panting golden retrievers were riding in the bed of my truck. They were my traveling companions. “Okay, guys time for a drink,” I said to the dogs as I climbed into the truck. We pulled out of the dusty landing and headed down the steep, winding road.
After a few miles, we stopped at a flat next to Deadwood Creek. The Forty-Niners mined this little creek during the Gold Rush. Its banks were piled high with the old mining tailings. I popped open the tailgate and let the dogs out. Smelling the water, they both turned and headed down a trail to the creek. As I followed them, I could hear the wind rustling through the leaves. They got right into the water and drank their fill. This was followed by swimming and eating grass along the bank. When they had enough, I started back up the trail, but didn’t call the dogs. I was trying to beat them to the top of the stream bank so they wouldn’t run me over on the steepest part of the trail. When they realized I was leaving they raced after me. Instead of taking the trail, they took a different route. We all reached the top of the bank at the same time. They stopped about fifteen feet to my right and then I heard a rattlesnake. The sound was coming from where the dogs were standing. I frantically began calling them and ran toward the truck to draw them away. They followed within seconds, but it seemed like minutes. Once safely in the back of the truck I quickly examined them, but could find no bite marks.
Unconvinced that everything was okay with the dogs; I grabbed my camera and headed back toward the rattler. When people are bitten by a rattlesnake it is important to know what specie of snake the venom is from. The anti-venin given to treat snakebite is specific to each type of snake. I didn’t know if that was true for dogs so I wanted to identify the snake just in case. When I was within forty feet of the snake it started buzzing loudly. I had a sinking feeling. This snake was really agitated. I got as close as I could and took pictures. It was a Northern Pacific Rattlesnake. I hurried back to the truck fearing the worst. When I reached the truck my fears were confirmed, Nellie was holding her left hind leg up and out.
As quickly as I could, I chained Hawk in and scooped Nellie up in my arms. I loaded her into the front of the truck and sped down the road, leaving a cloud of dust. We were an hour and a half from town. Nellie couldn’t sit still as pain from the snakebite racked her body. She kept leaning against me until she couldn’t stand the pain anymore. She would change positions, move around, and then come back and lean against me again. All I could do was drive fast. I stroked her, but could give no comfort or relief. About thirty minutes after leaving the flat, I was able to get a cell signal. I called Mary, my wife, and told her what happened and that we were an hour out from the vet’s office. She said that she would alert the veterinarian and meet us there.
One very long hour later we arrived the vet’s office. I picked Nellie up and headed for the front door. We burst in and I said, “I have a snakebite here.” Mary was there waiting and told me, “Follow me, they have a room ready for her.”
Dr. Joy came almost immediately and began the examination. She took blood samples. “Some snakebites are dry bites that don’t actually deliver any venom. We already know by the swelling she has been envenomated, but the blood work will tell us how she is responding,” she said. After riding in the truck with Nellie I already knew the blood work would show that she was in bad shape. Once the blood work confirmed that her red blood cells were being destroyed, she was started on antivenin.
There was nothing left for us to do but call our son. Nellie was his, but he was active duty Air Force so she stayed with us. Now we had to give him the bad news. He was very worried for her and we promised to keep him up to date. Later that evening, Dr. Joy called to tell us that they wanted to keep her for observation for a couple of days, but that Nellie had stabilized and was resting comfortably. This was good news.
About mid-morning the next day, while I was at work Mary called me to tell me that Nellie was going downhill fast. The vets shaved her leg to look for an additional bite wound, but they didn’t find two bites, they found six. All bites were on the same leg, but on all sides. The vets started round two of antivenin. Again, we waited for the medicine to do its work.
By the next day she was doing better, and from that point on she steadily improved. She came home a week later. It took the fight out of her for a good long time. Eventually she made a full recovery. To this day, our veterinarians say this was the worst snakebite they have ever seen.
Today at twelve she is still an eager traveling companion of mine. She never likes to be left behind.
When I reflect back on the events of that day, I remember the sound of the wind rustling through the leaves, but it wasn’t breezy that day. I realize that the sound I heard wasn’t the sound of leaves, but the sound of a nervous rattlesnake buzzing quietly. The rattler had been sunning himself and warned us to stay away. I didn’t recognize it at the time for what it was. I believe that when Nellie reached the top of the creek bank she stepped on and stood on the rattler. She is a very stoic dog and didn’t get off of it until I called her. Meanwhile, the rattlesnake repeatedly bit her, because it was responding to her apparent attack. The rocky tailing piles along the creeks are prime rattlesnake habitat. Scouting these sites before turning the dogs loose is now our standard procedure so that none of our dogs have to experience what Nellie went through.
There is a snakebite vaccine made for dogs. However, it has limited effectiveness for most rattlesnake envenomation. It works best on Western Diamondback bites, but provides little or no protection from the Northern Pacific Rattlesnake. If you are considering the vaccine for your dog, talk to your veterinarian. Also, find out which poisonous snakes are most common in your area.
You will find Nellie’s preceding posts here;
Due to technical difficulties I wasn’t able to access all of the photos I planned to use, until now. The Nellie painting was completed some time ago. I apologize for the delay, and I hope you enjoy the post.
As I sat down to upload the latest on Nellie’s progress, she came in and laid her head across my keyboard. I scratched her ears and then got up, because she wanted out. Settling back in to finish the post, I only had to wait about 30 seconds before the “boof boof” came from the front door, so up again and let her back in. Comfy again and ready to start, then she’s back. Head in my lap, because it’s 6:02, and we are late for breakfast. Breakfast is 6:00 am sharp. Back up to feed Tom and Nellie. Tom is our 14 year old golden. Sit down again, but then Tom is done and needs out, so back up. Once more down, and then here comes Nellie and she’s done and wants out. Up again. Finally, down and ready to finish. “Boof boof”, back up to let her back in. Now we can finish. A typical morning around here. I can’t understand why I don’t get more done.
I thought I might finish this painting this weekend, but it didn’t happen. So instead I will just give you another installment. I’ve done most of her final shading, and now need to finish the pheasant and the background detail. More to come.
I have to apologize for taking so long to get to this latest installment of Nellie In Watercolor. Watercolor is supposed to be fast. However, Nellie’s painting is a guilty pleasure for me. As a result, I catch a few minutes here and there to move it along.
Nellie is a dog with many names. All of our dogs get nicknames along the way, however Nellie has the more than all the others. Her registered name is GoldenGlen Redtail Nitro Nellie JH WC. Around here she is mostly just Nellie, Boop or Boopie. She belongs to our oldest son, but lives with us for now. Our son came up with Boopie because it just seems to fit her personality. This also led to Boopster and Boopie Doo. Then there is Nellie Bean ( rhythms with Jelly Bean), Bean, Bean Dog, Nellster, Nellienator, and Fuzzball. When she was a growing puppy she went through an awkward phase like many puppies. Usually their feet and legs grow first and their body has to catch up later. With Nellie, her nose grew first and it was huge. That led to The Nose and Nozzle Nellie. Fortunately, she grew into her nose and became the swan that she is today. Then over the course of one year, she had multiple encounters with a skunk, which led to Stinky and Stink Face. Lastly, an incident with a rattlesnake resulted in Snake Bit, and Snake Bite. Hopefully, no more animal encounters she has enough nicknames.
Here is the latest on her watercolor.
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.
Nellie is a stick dog and so is Blitz, her daughter. They always like to compete over sticks. This particular day, last Winter, they seemed to be competing over who could find the biggest stick. Nellie taught Blitz a thing or two about picking the biggest stick.
Now back to the watercolor. The next stage is the base wash.
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.
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.