TAE Gallery: artwork, photography, poetry, songs, and book arts

WOOF

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The inspiration for this work was an homage to a friend’s beloved dog, who recently passed.

My name was Ozzie, given to me by my first owner when I was a little puppy. I have no memory of this occasion. I’m not sure why, but I was then passed along to a new owner.

As I grew up, I became aware of myself. I loved eating, which was a highlight of my day. I was playful—that’s for sure—and totally enchanted by balls.

Before my first birthday, I was taken by another owner named Charlene Perlson. She didn’t really like my name and tried to change it, but I would not respond. “Okay,” she said, “you shall be Ozzie Bernard. And since you are now family, you shall be Ozzie Bernard Perlson.” I never had family before, but this felt right, and I felt important. I quickly fell in love with Charlene.

She sent me to dog training school. All I learned was to “sit” on command. I really wasn’t a very good student—too excitable, I think. But I learned how to “do it” outdoors, which really helped our relationship.

There were two big cats in our house. I knew nothing of cats, so I was naively unintimidated. They knew about dogs, however, and soon taught me the household rules. Their days were full of sleep, so they weren’t a whole lot of fun. I would listen to them, and I learned to purr. I did that all my life.

Charlene would go off to work, leaving me with the sleepy cats all day. I would find one of my balls (tennis balls were my favorite) and chase it around. I would hide the ball and run all over the house, searching for it. I was ecstatic when I found the ball. I would joyously repeat the game until I was tired, and then go purr with the cats.

When Charlene returned, I would jump with excitement. Maybe that seems a bit silly, but I loved when she was home. She would rattle my leash, and I would grab one of my balls. Going out for a walk was one of my favorite times of each day.

The neighborhood folks and kids loved me, and I loved them more. They all knew my name and would pet me by rubbing my back and behind my ears. I would become delirious with joy and jump up at them. Charlene would always say, “No!” but I would do it anyway.

We would go to the park to play catch. That was a lot of fun. Charlene wasn’t a very good ball-thrower. I would chase the ball and catch it, and then carry the ball to a stranger who could throw it farther.

I hated being wet, whether it was from baths, the rain, or puddles. On one afternoon walk, we came upon a really big puddle. A father and his young son were on the other side of the puddle. The boy was splashing in the water, but his dad wasn’t happy. I hopped into the puddle and splashed around with the boy. It was fun.

In the last year of my life, I lost my hearing and my eyes darkened. Still, I found enjoyment in my old ball game of hide and seek.

When Ozzie Bernard Perlson passed away, Charlene lost her “heart puppy.” One afternoon, while in her garden, she pulled up a particularly large weed. In the dirt, among the roots, was a well-chewed tennis ball.

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