The Big R

On June 12th, 2016, after discussing the situation with the vet and family members, I decided it was time to compassionately put to sleep my faithful companion of 12 years, my tiny 6-pound pomeranian dog, Rusty.
Ha! It’s been over four months now and as I wrote that just now, my eyes still filled with tears. It’s amazing how our lives can be so touched and our hearts so affected by “man’s best friend”! Tears are dribbling down my face; I feel silly. 😛

 
Here’s one of the last pictures I ever took of my Tiny Friend:

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Well, I’m not typically into such things, but during his last two days, his “spoil Rusty” days in which he got to do all his favorite things like barking at my daughter’s pet mice as we clean out their cages, I managed to take some samples of his hair and TRIED to get his tiny footprints. Alas, his little feet were too hairy and I was not willing to inflict further discomfort on him to “get it right”. So with the leftover blue paint which I had used for prints, I painted a big R, nearly filling my watercolor “scrap paper” that I always have on hand. You can see it here, upper right corner, along with my scrapbook with the attempted prints. 😛

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Two days later, on June 14th, 2016, we gave Rusty the absolute best departure we could. He was surrounded by family, and felt no more pain, struggled for breath no longer. The vet verified that we did the best thing at the right time — he had a collapsed trachea. He was approximately 14 years old — we can’t be sure because he was a rescue with no known history.

In my grief, I began a new art project that I did not know would turn into therapeutic art. I used one of the 7×14 inch canvases I had purchased for the Librarium project, and I started Faithful to the Bone. You can see both those projects in the pic below — click their links to see more info on each.

With leftover paint from Faithful to the Bone, I added a dark corner to the Big R scrap sheet. At this point, I had no further plans or intentions. I was grieving.

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I had only had one other experience with making therapeutic art, just a month or two beforehand, but I remembered how helpful it had been, how it felt like a sigh of relief let out through my paintbrush. So when I had leftover paint once again from Faithful to the Bone, I sat calmly with it, and just doodled on the Big R. I even painted a faint image of little Rusty in the dark area to the top right. Amazingly, painting all those little marks around the Big R with the Rusty-colored gold paint really lifted my mood, and helped me along on the road to healing.

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And for the last 4 months, the Big R has hung on the wall that I face when I sit at my computer and work. When I look up over my monitor, I can see it hanging there above a sketch of Rusty that my daughter made me for Mothers Day two years ago.

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Here’s the step-by-step slideshow of the Big R, with extra pics:

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