Kaya in the Daisies
My dog Kaya lived to the ripe old age of 16 years. As many of you may already know, she was the muse and mascot of Modern Dog magazine. Throughout our life together, she provided me with countless examples of (crazy) situations we dog parents face and was an almost limitless supply of anecdotes. Kaya's barking, separation anxiety, and stubborn streak almost got the best of me at times, trying my patience to the utmost. To say she was a difficult dog would be an understatement, but perhaps the extra effort I needed to put into our relationship bonded me to that dog in such a way that it nearly tore me apart to say my final farewell. She was an odd dog in so many ways. The craziest things would make her anxious, like getting her picture taken; harmless, you would think, but, nevertheless, it freaked her out. Even though I didn't use the camera's flash when photographing her, I'm guessing she associated picture-taking with lightening, of which she was so terrified that she'd literally tear apart a doorframe trying to get down into the basement in search of a dark, den-like space away from the storm. Needless to say, with such a camera-shy dog, I don't have many well-composed photos of Kaya. (I do, however, have many iin which she's standing at a distance barking at me, or else others where she's got her ears back, all wild-eyed with teeth chattering.) However, about four months prior to her passing while we were out for a walk together, she willingly allowed me to photograph her. It was a magnificent late summer day, the sky was a brilliant blue and the sun was warm and shining when we came upon an amazing patch of green, lush grass with hundreds of small, white daisies blooming throughout it. It was magical and I could visualize how beautiful Kaya would look lying on the grass amidst the daisies. Unbelievably, she let me stage the photograph by first of all letting me lie her down (keep in mind that she didn't like to be forced to do anything... not sitting, staying or being confined in any way), so when she agreed to lay down and have her photograph taken, I couldn't believe my good luck. I thought the sound of the Velcro cover of the camera case pulling open would ruin it all, but my luck stayed with me: Kaya remained calm and relaxed and I got a prize photo of my beautiful, old dog in an incredibly idyllic setting. Now, a year and half later, as I was going through some of my photos I happened upon that one of Kaya. I decided to contact my friend, the talented artist Lisa Graziotto. Lisa thought the composition would work well for a painting and agreed to do the commission. Backlogged with other commissions at the time, it took a while for her to get to it, so when the package with the painting finally arrived, I couldn't get the wrappings off fast enough. Before pulling away the final covering I stopped for a second, overwhelmed with emotion. After a moment's pause, off came the final wrapping and there before me was a breath-taking commemoration of my dog and that lovely summer afternoon we spent together. I will treasure this painting forever. Thank you, Lisa, for providing me with such an amazing keepsake of my Kaya.
Above is the painting of Kaya done by Lisa Graziotto and below is photo I took that the painting was based on.
For those of you thinking of commissioning a portrait of your dog, do it. You can't image how much pleasure it will bring you.