If the above embedded video doesn't work, see "Prized Possessions: Episode Five" on Youtube.
Seven years ago my second Alaskan Malamute bitch Dottie (Black Ice's Spellbreaker, AKA Dorothy, Dot, Smudge, Dotster, Dot-T, Sweet-T, well you get the idea) passed away from liver cancer. When I was filming a bunch of "Prized Possession Episodes" the ball caught my eye. It is the perfect post for today, because as always on this day, and most days, I'll think about Dottie. I like to celebrate her life.
It has often been remarked that I am Victorian in my propensity to collect mementos of this type. (And I do admit to a total fascination with Victorian hair pictures!) Some people set it aside with a "well she did spend so much time studying Dickens, after all." Actually, it started way before that, in the Philippines, when my favorite doll was tossed the same day I got my typhoid and cholera boosters. Excuses of the doll's dishevelled and worn state didn't make the loss easier to bear. If anything those excuses seemed to highlight the capriciousness and nonsensical judgment behind the disappearance of loved objects, people, and animals. I have never regretted learning this lesson again and again, early in life.
We each of us approach life's lessons differently, absorb them differently. I have kept a journal since childhood because of the same impulse that causes me to save Dottie's ball. I can capture things on the page, before they vanish.
Desperation is absent from this act. Things change, things go, it's that simple. But as they change I do like a record of now. It all seems as natural to me as breathing.
And that ball, with its toothmarks seems like a journal of Dot's chewing to me.
Dogs helped me learn this lesson—dogs and one budgie.
There is a line between obsession and celebration. Dogs can teach you the joy of that boundary. Birds, well they can't really help much with that. But damn they are pretty to look at, which brings us to drawing, and being in the now, and well—I guess maybe they can help with that boundary after all.
You can view my Daily Dots on my website. For almost five years, until her death, I drew Dottie daily and filled 43 volumes with the sketches. Another memento mori. Another happy celebration of her life.