Written August 12, 2015, USA
Isis was my English Bulldog. She was my inspiration, my life, and what made me love waking in the morning, and looking forward to curling up with her early in the evening to help her fall asleep. Isis passed away the day before her fifteenth birthday, and while fifteen is an incredible age for any dog, English bulldogs have an average life of 8-10 years, added to this is that when I rescued Isis, she was not expected to live six days.
To jump ahead, in the last two years of her life, Isis was blind and deaf, and I cannot count how many times people would see me walking her in her jogger (more on that soon) and ask why I do not let her go. When I would come home from a day at my studio I would stomp on the floor causing a vibration that would make Isis wake, and with her gift of scent, she would run straight to me, barking and wagging her little pig tail.
What I learned from her is that even without sight and sound, other senses are just as important. Isis followed me by my scent, and it was amazing to watch her navigate from room to room. I have two other dogs, Aurora, my basset hound, and Anubis, my miniature pinscher. Watching these two acclimate to Isis was amazing. When Isis first went blind she would walk into walls and furniture, so I removed everything to make direct paths for her. But this became unnecessary because both Aurora and Anubis would each walk on either side of Isis and when Isis would begin to walk towards a wall or furniture they would bump her with their bodies and guide her in the right direction. There was never a day that I did not watch in amazement.
Isis slept under my painting table every day and night for fifteen years. Now my friends who know me know I absolutely love to paint and have been known to paint through marathon sessions of 15-16 hours at a time. What almost all of them do not know until now is that these painting marathons were not always because I was lost in my own world of creating, but because Isis was sleeping with her head on my foot and if I moved she would wake. As crazy as this may sound, if you have never seen and heard an English bulldog sleep, I have included a video. Tongue hanging out to the floor, dried like a salami, and the wall-rumbling from the loud snoring. There was just something very comforting to know she was in a blissful dream. In a very eccentric way Isis inspired me to continue to create far into the night.
When Isis could no longer walk long distances she would sit regally in her jogger, like a queen in her throne, as I hiked the canyons and ran along the sea. She sat with her face jutting forward, feeling the wind in her face, and yes, she smiled. She could no longer see the views or hear the crashing of the waves and siren calls of the seagulls, but she would get excited as we ran closer to the beach, smelling the salt air, and feeling the spray of the waves on her face.
Isis taught me that even when we lose things we feel we need, there is always a brighter direction to face. There is a recurring theme in my creations, that of finding the beauty in tragedy. As a tribute to Isis, I now add a small set of two footprints, one representing me, and a set of paw prints for Isis, side-by-side as an homage to our walks in the sand. Because, for me, a butterfly symbolizes life, loss, and the everlasting colorful memories, Isis lived, was lost, and has left me with colorful memories to brighten my days and fill my dreams.
So I ask everyone to close your eyes, open your mind, imagine what others cannot see, and create what others wish to believe.