Monday, August 4, 2008


I have two of the most beautiful border collies you would ever want to see. They are from the same litter - sisters. When we first got them, I thought I was going to go crazy trying to train two dogs at once, and two that are so very smart! But eventually, they trained me and now, six years later, all is well.

Because there are two dogs, one has to be dominant. This painting is of Meg, the "submissive" dog who allows her sister, Tess,  to believe that she is the dominant one. (Meg, obviously, is the smarter sister.) Since they were tiny, we have had trouble feeding them. Unless Tess somehow communicates to Meg that she is allowed to eat, we cannot get Meg to even have a bite. There is growling, and snapping, and showing off their pretty teeth and gums, but it is all posturing except that often,  Meg won't eat. She has actually gone for 6 days without so much as a mouthful.

Lately, I have been watching The Dog Whisperer on National Geographic channel. Caesar Milan is an amazing "trainer of people and rehabilitator of dogs", in his words.  A few days ago, when we were putting in time between a wedding and the reception, we dropped in at Chapters, and picked up one of Caesar's books to read.  He gave some suggestions for the exact situation we face with these two siblings - so we began the very next night. Honestly, it took 2 times before the years of snarling and growling and posturing was over. Meg has eaten every night since then - every night! And Tess? She leaves and goes into her kennel until we call her to tell her that she is now allowed to eat!

This painting was a joy to do. It came together quickly and easily, and I hope to do one of Tess at some time. These dogs are wonderful companions. Even though they are outside dogs, they are very affectionate, and work hard at getting us to throw their balls until we are all exhausted. They howl beautifully with the coyotes, and relieve the porcupine of quills every couple of years or so. The few gophers that have ventured near the house have met their end quickly and efficiently. They play tag with one another around the house - one hides in the grass, the other runs around the house, up to the other, touches her on the nose, then the second one runs around the house while the first rests in the grass. They are great dogs - and keep us laughing and having fun!

If you would like to purchase this painting, or commission a painting of one of your pets, please contact me at


Michelle said...

Hee! I recognize that signature Border Collie posture!!! The detail around the nose is really bang on - very touchable looking like a soft doggie nose.

What a special painting - these ones that are done for love always feel so satisfying. I can't wait to see the companion piece.

theresamillerwatercolors said...

Hi Joanne! I loved reading your account of Meg and her sister Tess - and the fantastic rendering of Meg, too! I have cats, and although they are not as much fun as dogs are, they are wonderful, too.

CONGRATULATIONS on the photography contest! I love photography and I love YOUR photography! I checked out Misty Mountain and it reminds me of Ansel Adams, my favorite American photographer! You are awsome!

Jean Victory said...

Hi Joanne,
Congrats on the photo contest, that's wonderful! Keep up the good work!

Frank Gardner said...

Great portrait Joanne.
We have three female dogs and they sometimes decide they want to try that growling at dinner time too. It is usually the little fox terrier who thinks she rules though. She is wrong, but the others put up with her youthful game.
Congratulations on the photo contest as well.

Joanne said...

Hi Michelle,
Isn't it true that Borders have that classic stance - ready to work! Intense and focussed! That is definitely our Meg.
Not sure when the companion piece will be done - but it will definitely be done with the same feeling of love and appreciation for this breed of dog. :-)

Joanne said...

Hi Theresa!

You will not believe this - but i also have 2 cats in addition to the 2 dogs! We originally had one cat to keep down the mice population (we live on an acreage), but when our daughter moved to Latin America, she left us with one of her cats - so now we have 2. Fortunately, one is mostly an outside cat, so that keeps the shedding hair to a lower level.

Thanks for the wonderful encouragement with regard to my photography! I do love to get out there and capture moments which are special to me, hoping that others enjoy them too. You make me want to take time off work to just spend searching out those unusual photos!

Glad to hear you are having a great summer with your daughter. It is so fabulous to have a close relationship with your child! Enjoy the rest of the summer.

Joanne said...

Hey Jean...
Thanks for stopping by. I have missed seeing your name on my blog. How are you fairing this summer? Are you healthy and able to spend time with your son? Keep on painting, Jean - I look forward to seeing each of your pieces.

Joanne said...

Hi Frank,
Aren't creatures funny? They definitely each have their own personalities, and it is interesting to watch the interplay of pecking order among them. Meg and Tess are sweet dogs, as is our original cat, Echo. The cat our daughter Kim gave us (Catch) had a very difficult time transitioning to our home and the other animals when she first arrived. She hissed and spit at all of us. But after close to 10 years, she has mellowed out to the point that you would not know she is the same cat - except that she is Queen over all the other animals. If any of them are causing a problem, she is the one who tries to "discipline" them all! So very, very funny!

Glad you are back home. I am looking forward to seeing your next pieces.

By the way, i have picked up some oils and will some day soon get up the courage (and time) to try a first painting. I have NEVER worked with this medium before, so it will be a new learning and exploration for me - fun I hope. Perhaps frustrating at times. But ultimately, progression in my painting career.

Thanks for stopping by, Frank! I appreciate your comments very much.

Jean Victory said...

I've never heard of the dog whisperer on National Geographic. Maybe I'll check it out because my Chihuahua is awesome but she freaks out when people come near me when I'm eating. She basically protects my food because she thinks it's hers also. Beautiful rendering of the dog...I've never done animals, is it hard?

Joanne said...

Oh Jean! Aren't animals just the funniest creatures ever??? What a disappointment for your dog when the food she has protected so well is all gone when you leave the table!!!

You know, I have only done a few animals - horses, zebras and now this dog, and in thinking about your question, I realized that I find animals to be not as difficult as portraits of people and some flowers I have done. They are pretty straight forward. I think you should try to paint your Chihuahua - it would be fun, and you might find that animals are another subject matter for your portfolio!

I really recommend watching The Dog Whisperer. It is a great show for anyone who owns a dog. Take care, Jean.

Anonymous said...

Awww! I love your portrait of Meg. An adorable-looking dog. One of my dogs is part small border collie. I think Cesar Milan is terrific!

Thanks for stopping by my blog. I've missed visiting here.


Joanne said...

Hi Paz!
I would love to see a picture of your dog! Yes - I think Caesar is a miracle-worker with so many of the dogs in that show! It is just amazing how they respond to him.
How are you feeling? I am hoping to hear that you are well on your way to total health. It has been fun to read your guests on your food blog - but there is only one Paz!
See you again soon.