“George (Rodrigue) said the reason the Blue Dog enjoyed such popularity was because everyone could see something different, something uniquely personal in the flashing yellow eyes of the ubiquitous canine. He later revealed in one of his books…..that the Blue Dog and the artist had somehow become one. In life, the model for the Blue Dog was his beloved pet Tiffany, who patiently sat by his side while he painted. In his art, Tiffany (since departed) and George were on an artistic journey together, traveling through time and space. They made quite a pair.” (Clancy Dubos, Farewell, Blue Dog Man)
.I notice my blogs of late have been almost exclusively dog and cat related. Is this because I have become a social media lemming and sucker for cute animal videos? I dont think so. More likely its because as modern living gets more complicated and stressful there is an even greater need for simple pleasures and interests that stimulate our heart chakra and cause our blood pressure to go down rather than up for a change. Also, our pets dont live as long as we do, unless you happen to own a Galapagos tortoise or have an oak tree named Fido in your backyard. As a result, our individual experience and family life are marked by distinct time periods that we often associate with our beloved pets growing up. As we continue to learn, grow and age, so do our dogs, cats, ferrets and parrots. These loyal loving creatures bear “witness” to our relatively brief time on Earth and they are crazy about us regardless of our wrinkles, epic failures, and inevitable flaws.
The quote in the first paragraph above was from an article about George Rodrigue, the artist who became famous for painting the Blue Dog. Originally I felt annoyed that somebody could get wealthy just by painting simplistic and/or derivative art that somehow attracts the attention of people with money but no taste….sort of like Thomas Kinkade and his “light-filled landscape” shopping mall shlock. Hey, if anybody deserves to be perceived (mistakenly) as a famous cultural innovator and iconic “artiste” by drawing blue, green or yellow dogs on canvas I think it should have been me. However, I have to admit there was something endearing about the Blue Dog. I figured at least Rodrigue never called himself a “Great Master” or pretended to be painting the Mona Lisa over and over. It was what it was… a strangely hypnotic blue dog. I would perhaps call it a kind of “mini-icon” and a visual “meme” of sorts, one well before many other self-replicating cultural concepts became de rigueur.
However, from a different dog or cat lovers perspective the Blue Dog represents something more important and maybe even somewhat profound. We humans, the so-called “masters” of our beloved pets do have a certain responsibility to be good stewards to all forms of life that depend on us. When someone abuses an animal it violates our deep rooted social values and our instinctively protective parenting reflexes. These are fundamental parts of being human. Good parents generally (but not always) make good people and visa versa. Furthermore, unlike many people, our pets arent very shy about giving and receiving love. Wagging tails, sloppy kisses, and full body licks after we step out of the bath or shower, while not always hygienically recommended, are extremely emotionally validating. In other words, our pets make us feel good and are great company even when we dont feel so great. While we struggle to learn and train ourselves to be more body-centered, more mindful, more empathic, and more compassionate, our dogs and cats seem to do it all already without even breaking a sweat. As a result, love, respect and caring for our animals is not just a vague intellectual concept, a bible verse in Genesis, or a trending topic on Reddit. Rather, they describe human traits that help to define our humanity and what it means to be “humane”. We are closer to being our best selves and reaching our highest potential when we remember to return the favor and “bear witness” to our wonderful pets and their remarkable capacity to love us unconditionally. It is something we never ever forget and just the kind of fond memories that open up our too often closed hearts while also bringing bittersweet tears to our eyes…particularly when they pass away.
As the article above stated, George Rodrigue died several years ago, only to be met on the other side by Tiffany, his blue muse with the large expressive yellow eyes. In the end, we are all unique….and yet really the same. Inventors or artists, accountants or soldiers, we are no better and no worse than our furry friends. We live. We love. We die. So do they. At the very least we can choose to travel that long winding road together and take the journey called life with an open heart and full appreciation for our closest comrades, the ones with four legs and a waggity tail.
The Kind of Pet Videos I cant stop watching: http://blog.petflow.com/awwww-a-great-dane-and-kitten-share-a-birthday-and-a-lifetime-of-love-this-made-me-cry/
About Man, Ape, and the Power of Empathy: http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/06/brian-the-mentally-ill-bonobo-and-how-he-healed/372596/