Dog Chews #3: Old School

Dog Chews 3, ink and watercolor, 5x7 in

Dog Chews 3, ink and watercolor, 5×7 in

These two dog chew toys, the NylaBone and Kong, have been around for a long time. The NylaBone is made of plastic and shaped like a cartoon version of a dog bone. It has no flavor or scent, but must be attractive to some dogs since the company still makes them.

Millie gave it a half-hearted chew, leaving a few teeth marks, and then abandoned it. They’re not recommended by most experts since bits of indigestible plastic break off and get swallowed. (Nylabone’s website says that they are non-edible and should only be given to puppies with baby teeth, never to dogs with adult teeth, which I didn’t know when I bought it).

It’s not that Millie is opposed to chewing up plastic stuff though.Yesterday she completely shredded one plastic planter pot and buried another in the yard. At least she doesn’t chew up remote controls, hats and shoes like my son’s dog did in her early years.

The Kong is made of rubber and is meant to provide doggie entertainment and mental stimulation. You stuff the hole in the middle with kibble mixed with Kong cheese whiz spray or peanut butter. The pet store actually sells jars of peanut butter for dogs. Since I don’t eat peanut butter myself, I bought a jar of the dog butter (I’m a sucker, I know!). Millie made a lackluster effort to dig out a little of the kibble-peanut butter mix but didn’t show any interest in chewing on the Kong itself.

A couple days ago she gently and lovingly chewed all the plastic buttons off of my favorite fleece pajama top that I left on my bed. Since she always chews the eyes and ears off of stuffed animals I give her I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.

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Exploring Dog Chew Technology #2

Dog Chews 2, ink and watercolor, 5x7 in

Dog Chews 2, ink and watercolor, 5×7 in

Continuing the exploration of what products will keep Millie busy so that I can have uninterrupted studio time. Sketching them is good practice in seeing and drawing interesting shapes and textures. The green in the background was a green plastic bag they were sitting on that I didn’t feel like taking the time to focus on drawing.

A frozen marrow bone in a package from the pet store or natural food store keeps her going for less than an hour and is noisy (probably bad for her teeth), messy (leaves a slightly pink-stained, greasy mess on the towel I put in her dog bed) and not very nutritious (mostly fat in the marrow). But it doesn’t smell.

The Piggy Twist lasted less than an hour, didn’t smell or leave a mess. The problem with bully sticks (aside from the fact they’re made from bull penises and smell hideous) is that you’re supposed to take them away when they get smallish so they don’t try to swallow that last inch or two whole, which is a waste since those things cost per pound more than prime rib.

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Dog Chew Toy Technology: It’s a Brave New World

Dog Chews 1, ink and watercolor, 5x7 in

Dog Chews 1, ink and watercolor, 5×7 in

It’s a brave new world out there when it comes to doggie chew toys; much different than when I last had a dog a couple of decades ago. My 7-month old puppy loves to chew and it keeps her busy when I’m painting so I’ve been exploring (and drawing) the many new kinds of dog chew toys.

My previous dogs chewed rawhide (now known to not be good for dogs) or bones leftover from making soup (also not good, can splinter), and when naughty chewed the occasional shoe, pillow, kids homework, or dirty clothes (one chewed the arm off my mother’s sofa). Chewing for dogs is like reading a good book for us.

Two of Millie’s favorites so far are in the sketch above: a circular Bully Treat and an ostrich leg purchased from an upscale pet boutique Millie dragged me into when we walked by. The roasted ostrich bone is light and has a texture like honeycomb; it’s all digestible and doesn’t splinter, but it’s huge and while not cheap, for its size it’s not that expensive.

If you don’t know what Bully Treats or Bully Sticks (aka Pizzles) are, prepare to be grossed out. A Bully Stick is a bull penis that has been stretched, twisted or even braided and then roasted. They are 100% protein, entirely digestible (unlike rawhide), take a fairly long time to chew and won’t break dogs’ teeth like bones can.

They’re pretty smelly (even the “low odor” ones), but don’t leave a mess (except the one Millie buried in the backyard for a couple of weeks to let it ripen). It was unbelievably gross. I confiscated it immediately  and now only give them to her when I can be sure she won’t bury it outdoors.





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Winter Wildcat Canyon Walk Remains

Wildcat Canyon Walk Remains, ink and watercolor sketch, 7.5 x 11 in

Wildcat Canyon Walk Remains, ink and watercolor sketch, 7.5 x 11 in

I’ve started collecting items on my daily hikes with my pup to sketch in the studio since I haven’t quite worked out sketching while dog walking yet. Sometimes Millie helps me by carrying the items for me. Once they’re sketched she’s quite happy to shred them into compost for me.

I continue to enjoy spending a lot more time outdoors walking than indoors sitting in front of the computer (hence the gaps between posts!). It’s finally started raining in the SF Bay Area but I got some good rain gear so I can even walk in the rain.

One of our favorite spots to hike starts at the Alvarado staging area of the Wildcat Canyon Regional Park. It’s so beautiful and quiet up there in the Richmond hills and there are many friendly people and dogs out walking off leash.

Posted in Bay Area Parks, Drawing, Ink and watercolor wash, Sketchbook Pages | Tagged , , , , , | 10 Comments

Valentine Carnation and Buzz Ballz Booze Beverage

Valentine Carnation, ink and watercolor sketch, 7.5 x 5.5 in

Valentine Carnation, ink and watercolor, 7.5 x 5.5 in

Do you think people born around holidays grow up to reflect the qualities of that holiday? My friend Judith was born the day before Valentine’s Day and she’s extra sweet. I took her out for a birthday breakfast this morning.

Our waitress must have had a bad day (trying to be generous here). The other waitresses all gave long stem red carnations to their customers. We had to beg for a coffee refill and she didn’t give us flowers.

I started to drive away after we’d said goodbye but felt sad not to have a flower to take home and draw. So I parked again, went back into the restaurant and asked for a flower. And here it is.

Valentine Carnation and BuzzBallz, ink and watercolor 7.5 by 11 in spread in sketchbook

Valentine Carnation and BuzzBallz, ink and watercolor 7.5 by 11 in spread in sketchbook

The other thing on this page is a round plastic “bottle” with pop-top that I found in the street. The product name and contents are equally disgusting: a cocktail of vodka, apple liquor and apple juice called Buzz Ballz. Really? Who is this being marketed to? (And yes, I washed my hands and the container before painting it.)

Posted in Flower Art, Ink and watercolor wash, Sketchbook Pages | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

What the Wasp Wants

What the Wasp Wants, ink and watercolor, 5x7 in (wasp in the flower)

What the Wasp Wants, ink and watercolor, 5×7 in

This wasp just wanted nectar from the flower. My friend Barbara just spent big bucks getting rid of hundreds of wasps that built nests in her attic and were invading her house. We don’t know what they wanted. This is the last of the leftover sketches from our endless summer, now being called California’s worst drought in 500 years.

Meanwhile, I’m still spending time previously used for sketching out hiking with my pup (but from now on I’m going to start carrying my sketching gear on our hikes and stop halfway to sketch). Thinking a morning 4-6 mile hike would tire her out, I’ve been painting in the studio in the afternoons while she attempts to re-landscape the yard. She’s a perfect angel in the house, but when we’re in the studio (that opens onto the backyard) she goes wild, digging up and chewing on random junk from under the trees and bushes that circle the yard, despite her comfy bed in the studio, fully stocked with chew toys.

Today I caught her chewing on an old broken hose nozzle, a piece of plastic pipe, various twigs and pieces of plants, and a stinky chew toy she’d previously buried. Then we play chase while I try to swap her for something healthier. That gives me an idea for some sketching tomorrow–all her toys and chewie things, many which are quite weird.

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Endless Summer Continues: Flowers from Christina’s Garden

Christina's Garden-Echinacea, ink and watercolor, 5x7 in

Christina’s Garden-Echinacea, ink and watercolor, 5×7 in

While the rest of the country is dealing with icy cold, we’re having a warmer-than- summer winter in Northern California. Instead of hunkering down and getting “rainy-day” tasks done at the computer I’m out walking for hours every day in the 72 degree sunshine with my pup. I love it but I miss winter!!!

Christina's Garden 3: Kangaroo Paws, ink and watercolor, 5x7 in

Christina’s Garden 3: Kangaroo Paws, ink and watercolor, 5×7 in

Although these flowers were sketched in a friend’s beautiful garden during the actual summer months of 2013, my roses are still blooming and spring flowers and fruit tree blossoms are bursting out everywhere, despite the lack of rain. It’s weird to see brown dry hills in January.

Christina's Garden 1, ink and watercolor, 5x7 in

Christina’s Garden 1, ink and watercolor, 5×7 in

Every day I look at the weather report, hoping to see rain in the near future, but it’s just not there. They’re saying this may be the driest year in 500 years. I read it’s already the driest winter in California recorded history. Since last winter ended I think all we’ve had are 2 days of minimal drizzles.

Until we get some winter weather, my semi-drought of blog posting will probably continue along with the sunshine that pulls me outdoors and away from the computer.

Posted in Flower Art, Ink and watercolor wash, Outdoors/Landscape, Sketchbook Pages | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments