Tag Archives: pets

The Beagle (A Graduation Celebration)

This is Noodle. Her origins are unknown, and we adopted her as a ‘beagle mix’ three years ago. Probably she has a fair bit of staffie in her and perhaps Jack Russell Terrier. I have said that I‘ll get her DNA tested one day to see what she really is, but perhaps that would disappoint. We have always called her The Beagle.

Here she is, in the arms of a shelter staff member, after having done her time as a stray in the pound. If you think her front leg looks a bit weird, you’d be right. Shortly after this photo was taken, her deformed front leg was amputated. Just ten days later, we adopted her, with stitches running half way around her torso. Very Frankenweenie.

We had hopes that she would be an up-close-and-personal-couch-companion for the family. In this expectation she has never disappointed. Despite the fact that there are frequently arguments over who will get The Beagle, (and not just among the children… ahem!) she manages to share herself around with admirable diplomacy. But her skills do not end there. She has a cat-like ability to make herself comfortable which is seemingly enhanced by the lack of one front leg. She‘s able to curl up into a very satisfying ball.

Like anyone loitering around this house for long, she is frequently used as a model for drawings and she has appeared in various books.

Cameo appearance of Noodle in ‘Searching for Cicadas’ by Lesley Gibbes, Walker Books, 2019. With added leg.
Supporting role with added leg and white gown for ‘When You‘re Older’ by Sofie Laguna, to be published by Allen and Unwin. (Her costume has since changed.)
Noodle will even be visiting the Arctic soon, wearing an added leg and a Fair Isle jumper. (‘When You‘re Older’ by Sofie Laguna.)

Legend has it that beagles have a hearty appetite and a talent for mischief. Along with this they have a politically dangerous belief that they need not obey the directives of humans. In this they may be ahead of their time, and not for the novice dog owner. In plain language, they will raid wastepaper baskets, chew up your cushions, take your dinner from the table if you leave room to fill up your wine glass, and won’t come back when you take them to the park for a pleasant stroll. In the absence of genetic proof, we have always found this legend to be the most compelling argument in favour of Noodle being a beagle.

Yesterday I was working in my studio with the fire burning. Everyone else was in their Remote School or Remote Office*. But Noodle‘s favourite too-small-bed-by-the-fire was empty. Upstairs I heard the curious noise of rustling paper. I hastened towards the noise and found that Noodle had opened the lid of the kitchen pedal bin and helped herself to the aromatic baking paper we had used to line the oven tray the night before. (Chicken kiev). Given that the bin is considerably taller than the three-legged, genetically unconfirmed beagle, I considered this no uncommon achievement. Bravo, little Beagle. You have made it.

*Dear reader from the Year 2025, Remote School and Remote Office were plush-lined space ships that hovered over suburban homes in 2020, wherein people went to work or school. Although small pets were generally welcome, Noodle could not manage the rope ladder.

Dogs from the past

Looking at Liz King-Sangster‘s blog the other day, I so enjoyed her lovely paintings of her everyday surroundings. And it reminded me of a time when I used to paint with oils several evenings each week. That was long ago, when I was living in Brixton, London in a shared house, and working in the Aldwych Theatre box office.

During the evenings in the shared flat, comprising two floors above a lawyer’s office (and without a fire escape), wine flowed, cheese was consumed, friends chatted while I painted. Sometimes friends posed for my paintings. Many of those paintings ended up in the skip in the back yard of the rented property, before I caught a plane home to Australia. Some paintings came home by ship, and some went to the people who had posed for portraits.

That habit of painting continued after my return to Australia for a little while. Then work and circumstances called a halt. At the moment, while I am indulged enough by my family to have the largest bedroom of the house as my studio, (we sleep in the smallest bedroom) and there is space enough for computer equipment, drawing board and shelves, there is not room enough to paint at an easel, or even on the floor.

Looking at these two oil sketches of our dog Giddy the Hungarian Vizsla, painted not long after my return to Australia, I notice that it is nearly 20 years since I painted in oils! My goodness, I miss it, despite the fun I have with other media. I remember too, that these were painted after seeing some mid 1990s paintings of dogs done by David Hockney. No, don’t go and compare mine with his! Don’t!

Oh, damn.

You will.

Well, anyway, I loved it that he chose such a domestic subject as a dachshund and honoured it in oils. And I enjoyed capturing our beloved dog in oils in the same way that I had painted my friends in London. Note that the sleeping version is more ‘finished’ and see if you can work out why… Never work with children or animals they used to say in the theatre, but in my experience, they are some of the most rewarding to work with.

Red Giddy

Red Giddy

Blue Giddy

Blue Giddy

These two sketches are painted on wooden trays purloined from the science room of the old Banyule High School which was awaiting demolition at the time that I worked for Greening Australia in a renovated wing. The lip of the trays forms the frame of the paintings; a cheap alternative to proper framing. It’s time I took them to be framed properly. They remind me of the dog and the time.

And it’s also time I found a way to paint again.