Say their name and instantly they will appear at your feet with that look. It’s all in the eyes – that look that says, “ Yes, what is it? Are we going for a walk? Going to play a game of ball? No, I know..... you’re going to give me some of that biscuit....oh go on... ...ah, you’re looking sad, do you want a cuddle?”
Dogs - this is why we love them and why they're called man’s best friend. They give all the time (except that ball of course!) Dogs live to please you and are so happy when they do.
Lately, I’ve been drawing and painting a few dogs, and as always, especially when drawing, one notices so much more. I recently came across this quote:
“ I have learned that what I have not drawn, I have not really seen.”
- Frederick Franck (1909 – 2006)
This is so true! It’s so easy just to glance at things without really seeing them. When teaching, I’ve found students are so desperate to get a likeness of their subject, they often draw what they believe the object should look like instead of really looking at what’s there. However, if you treat drawing more as an investigation, i.e. why that edge disappears, or how much darker is that area than the rest? - then the resulting drawing is much more interesting, and likely more accurate.
Anyway, I digress. What I learned through my recent drawings of dogs is the particular shape of their eyes, which results in that pleading look. Their top lid is an inverted “V”. In contrast, cat’s eyes are slanted and unless playing, or stalking prey, when their eyes go quite round, the top lid tends to droop across the pupil, giving them a rather supercilious look.
Have you ever seen a cat plead with its eyes? Of course you haven't! When cats want your attention, rubbing madly around your legs, or digging their claws into your flesh, whilst purring seductively will be their modus operandi! And note, this really only happens when a cat wants something, otherwise it couldn’t care less what you do or where you are. Dogs, on the other hand, do care where you are and are masters of the “Oh, you’re not really going out and leaving me all alone? ” look, which never fails to make you feel like the wickedest person on earth!
We don’t have a dog right now. Our loving, nutcase Archie, a Springer Spaniel, died some years ago, and since then we’ve been happy to look after other family dogs when needed. There’s my son’s Cockapoo, Hubert, my sister’s Coton de Tulear, Lagniappe, and the latest addition, my daughter’s chocolate Labrador, Jaffi. A variety of breeds and of course characters, - Hubert is ball crazy, and conveniently for us, sleeps late. Lagniappe is cheeky, picky about her food, and has a rather superior air (that I’m sure comes from living in France).
Lastly, Jaffi, a rescue dog who had an unpleasant start in life, resulting in man phobia, is now calmer and settling down to being as bold and water crazy as any self-respecting Labrador should be.
Dogs come in a myriad of shapes, sizes, colours, and characters but they have one thing in common – treat them well and they will love you forever. Food, shelter, exercise and affection are all they require, and the rewards are beyond measure - undying love, a loyal companion, lots of fun and laughter, and someone to talk to – who listens, attentively..... but won’t argue.