“I am in tears, while carrying you to your last resting place as much as I rejoiced when bringing you home in my own hands fifteen years ago.”

This ancient Roman epitaph on the tomb of a beloved dog simply and perfectly shares the joy we all find in our pooches and the anguish we bear at their passing. I thought I’d be writing today about our weekend at MonsterPalooza, but we came home to find our little girl ailing. Kiita succumbed quickly and we are broken-hearted. The grief we feel makes plain how much we loved. She is all my mind can go to right now, so I thought today I would let our shared love of dogs speak through the brilliance of artists through the centuries.

Throughout human history and even in pre-history, we have honored and revered our friendships with dogs by creating imagery of our most dear companions.

Clockwise from upper left: Pre-Columbian Colima Dogs, Han Dynasty Figure of a Dog, Egyptian Anubis, Medieval “Dog Priest”

The Jennings Dog, also called The Duncombe Dog and The Dog of Alcibiades is a 2nd century AD Roman sculpture

Pierre-François-Grégoire Giraud, Un Chien

We are inspired by their joie de vivre.

Norman Rockwell showcased the love between people and dogs like few others

Lisa Reinertson: Dogs Playing, UC Medical Center Sacramento CA. I’ve always loved this idea for public artwork at a children’s hospital. Lisa said she wanted to create a respite for patients and their families and knew we all can be uplifted by watching the joy of dogs at play.

Giacomo Balla: Dynamism of a Dog on a Leash. “Like a dog with two tails” indeed!

More times than I can recall, I’ve seen people enjoying hanging out here in the dog swing in Santa Fe.

Through them, we learn the meaning of devotion.

Edwin Landseer: The Old Shepherd’s Chief Mourner

Anthony Van Dyck: James Stuart, First Duke of Richmond

Burgundian Tomb with Dog and Monks, at the Louvre

Relief sculpture of St. John of Nepomuk. This bronze devoted canine has been burnished to a golden glow by viewers giving him a pat as they pass by.

Awake, asleep, big, small- it doesn’t matter, we love them all.

And that adoration shows in our portrayals.

Thomas Gainsborough: Pomeranian Bitch and Puppy

Rembrandt Bugatti: Standing Pointer

Andrew Wyeth: Night Sleeper

Giovanni Battista Tiepolo: The Toy Spaniel of the Infanta Maria Josefa de Bourbón

Edwin Landseer: Sleeping Bloodhound

Franz Marc: The White Dog

Rosa Bonheur was able to render the soul and spirit of her charges.

William Wegman’s portraits of his Weimaraners stir the imagination

James Ward: Dash, a Favorite Spaniel

Tamara Carey: Lounging

Antoine-Louis Barye: A Pointer Pointing a Pheasant

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec: Follette

Robert Bateman: Screened Porch

Gerrit Dou: Dog at Rest

Even Gods and Goddesses have their devoted canine companions.

Jean-Louis Lemoyne, A Companion of Diana

Gian Lorenzo Bernini: The Rape of Proserpina with Cerberus, the “Hound of Hades,” Pluto’s three-headed dog

Kunst & Ambiente Bronze Sculpture Diana and Hound

Friends to the end through our sorrows and joys, they are always by our side.

Charles Burton Barber: A Special Pleader

Frank Cadogan Cowper: Mariana in the South

Charles Wellington Furse: Diana of the Uplands

John Singer Sargent:Miss Beatrice Townsend

Diego Velázquez: Cardinal-Infante Don Fernando of Austria

Anders Zorn-Virginia P. Bacon

William Hogarth: The Painter and His Pug

They make us laugh (speaking of pugs)

Mark Newman’s love for his pugs is legendary (as are his pug sculptures!)

Jean-Honoré Fragonard

Roman Sculpture of Greyhounds

Giuseppe Castiglione: Jinchixian, a Chinese Greyhound

Jacque-Laurent Agasse: Black Water Dog with a Stick by a Lake

No matter what, they always steal the show.

Alex Colville: Woman and Terrier

Erte: Borzoi

Pieter de Hooch: Man Handing a Letter to a Woman

Seeing ourselves through their eyes, we never looked better.

Pavel Patrenko: The Prince Imperial with His Dog Nero

Lucian Freud: Guy with Speck

Jean-Léon Gérôme: Diogenes

So as we say a sad farewell to our Kiita, here’s a small glimpse into the joys and adventures we shared with her.

She was, of course, an accomplished artist’s model – her first gig was sitting for our “Hot Diggety Dog”

She refined her natural talent for design and redecorating throughout her life… “Who, me? I didn’t even notice you went and left me here all alone.”

She made us laugh. She shared our tears. She inspired our art and loved beyond her years.

Dogs help us to love and be loved, to find the joy in the simple things and to become better beings by their example. Art helps us to share our humanity, our greatest loves and losses – those things that are near impossible to put into words for us visual folks. Letting ourselves plumb the great depths of the whole spectrum of feelings can only help us create art that speaks with more wisdom and understanding.

We know that the breaks we feel in our hearts right now are just expansion gaps so more love can come in later on, but it hurts and it’s hard. I hope that all of you have the opportunity in life to love freely, whole-heartedly, without fearing the end, as dogs do. It is a beautiful thing. And for those whose adored fur babies have passed on, I hope that they are somewhere out there in another place waiting to show Kiita the very best trails, where they can run together with abandon, as only dogs can.