by Andy Weddington
Sunday, 17 December 2017
All dogs go to Heaven because, unlike people, dogs are naturally good and loyal and kind. Whippet Angel
Colorado was his birth name.
Still young and rescued, thirteen years ago, his parents (re)named him Jake.
He looked a Jake.
And behaved a Jake.
Same for his of a different litter "sister," Darby, tagged with Smurf at birth.
My good fortune for 11 years was to visit them semi-annually - before and after fly fishing trips.
Always a hearty, hectic welcome - Darby and Jake so excited and happy to see family.
Darby the spirited, electric one.
Jake calm. And cool with an air of indifference.
The pair inseparable.
But came death to Darby a few months ago.
At home, with parents and Jake, and an understanding veterinarian, comforting her to the end, Darby journeyed to wherever it is good dogs go; Heaven according to Whippet Angel.
I suppose dogs mourn, too.
A family favorite photograph of Darby preoccupied my thoughts and work.
I painted her portrait.
And her portrait now hangs in the home of my brother and sister-in-law.
This past week Jake died.
At home, with parents and the same understanding veterinarian, comforting him to the end, Jake, too, journeyed to wherever it is good dogs go; Heaven according to Whippet Angel.
Now with sister Darby forever.
I asked my brother for some favorite photographs.
Jake's demeanor and spirit I well knew.
For the better part of five days I thought about Jake.
And looked at a mounted blank sheet of heavy paper.
Yesterday morning the right approach struck and I painted his portrait - mostly from memory but relying on photographs for basic shape.
When realizing his spirit captured, I stopped; to preserve the freshness.
As I study these portraits together, the polar opposite personalities of Darby and Jake shine through.
As personality should in any portrait, man or beast.
This Christmas will be different.
But still the unconditional love and spirit of a couple of faithful friends endure in the hearts of those who knew them and carry on.
Merry Christmas! Ken and Jeff.