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A dogged attempt at art fails
What can you do when the family 'children' show absolutely no artistic talent--despite having a Jack Russell terrier for a role model?

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Date published: 7/14/2004


I'M LOOKING at two happy--but puzzled--faces. My dogs, Andy and Barney (also known as the Mayberry Pups), are smiling almost from ear to ear as I sit on the floor in front of them.

They know something's up--they just don't know what. How can I explain that I'm trying to tap into their artistic talents?

Between us are two legal pads. Each has a sheet of carbon paper beneath a blank top page.

This could be a life-altering experiment. But the seriousness of the moment seems lost on Andy and Barney.

I wish they could read. Then I would show them a recent story by The Associated Press about Tillie, a 5-year-old Jack Russell terrier, who is an artist. This talented tail-wagger not only has had her creations displayed in New York, Los Angeles and Europe, but even has her own gallery in Brooklyn.

Tillie's helper in this artistic enterprise is 35-year-old Bowman Hastie. When Tillie was only 6 months old, Hastie noticed the puppy putting some serious scratchings on a notepad.

Hastie experimented with carbon paper, and sure enough, Tillie's furious pawing and clawing produced something akin to the abstract works of Jackson Pollock.

With improved production techniques, Tillie now can turn out original oil paintings with scratch marks in a variety of colors. Mounted works sell for as much as $1,000. There also are T-shirts and other gift items and a Web site. This Picasso of Pooches even made an appearance on "Good Morning America" last week.

One quote from Hastie caught my eye when reading the story:

"My only goal is for my dog to support me," he said. "I've carried her for five years--that's 35 dog years. She can carry me for the next 35 years."

That's when I realized that my canine companions--both of whom are 10 years old--are overdue when it comes to contributing to the family fortune.

And so, here I sit, facing Andy and Barney, hoping for the slightest glimmer of creativity.

If life experience counts for anything, these two should have twice the resources to draw upon as a 5-year-old terrier.

And since both are mixed breeds--Barney is mostly Golden Retriever and Andy is a hound mix--their rich cultural heritage should be another plus in pouring their emotions onto a canvas.

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