October 19, 2004

Juno is Gone

Juno passed away late yesterday.

Usually, I try to keep this blog about the studio and issues surrounding painting without getting too far out into the periphery of that surround. And even though I consider this blog to be among other things, a bibliography of sorts, my dogs have certainly been a constant companion in the studio.

With rationale aside, we loved them so... we loved them so.

Eleven years of owning large dogs and eighteen years of owning animals is over. No more animals for a while. A new-now.

Despite having this sentimentality alarm lit on my dashboard, I think a small tribute to her and the era of owning dogs is fitting. An era, one that had lasted for us eleven years.... is over.

So click the link at your own risk all you no-nonsense, hard bitten, clear eyed Spock people. I hereby warn you.

Tears won't stain your keyboard.

Juno des Ombres Valeureux. Juno fresh from the farm.

Check out the meaty ears... don't get upset, it's a breed standard, a French thing. Juno does look she's been through the grinder though.

But Juno was our second dog.

The first was Index:

Puppy Index in the backyard, Echo Park.

One day Stephanie came home with a dictionary of dogs. We had just bought our first home in Echo Park. Echo Park is on the tail end of the Santa Monica Range. The first suburb of Los Angeles, some of the streets there were too steep for cars, so they built stairs instead. Our house was on such a street.

Every night, we would look through the book and after many nights of pillow talk, we alighted on the Beauceron as the favorite: strong, devoted, requiring a firm hand... well, here's the description from a random website:

The Beauceron is a brave, faithful and highly intelligent dog. Fearless, vigilant, and patient, the Beauceron has an aptitude for obedience training and is known for his quick and thorough?understanding of his master's desires. They are an excellent natural guard dog whose appearance and demeanor command respect. The Beauceron is happiest when it is working or exercising in wide-open spaces. They are instinctive herders who will herd everything in sight unless trained to do otherwise. Calm, obedient and very loyal, the Beauceron is always eager to please its master. They like to know who is boss and then they follow. They are generally good with children if they are raised with them from puppyhood, although this large energetic breed can be overwhelming to a small child. Even as a puppy at 3 months old it can weight 40 pounds. The Beauceron can be very protective. Thorough training with a firm master is absolutely necessary. The Beauceron will obey commands from all members of the family if trained to do so. This breed is sociable with dogs they know, but they are highly territorial and will not tolerate an intruder.

Oh yea, we were house robbed a couple of times. That was no small factor.

Here's index, fresh from the farm.

The names have to conform to the alphabet. 1993 was an "I" year. The breeder bred working dogs and some of the work was protection, so sometimes the names got a little visceral: Havok, Champion, the famous Glock (our name, his name was really Gluck), stuff like that. We wanted a strong name but a little more neutral with the agro. Exasperated, we were having lunch at our favorite Mexican Restaurant in Highland Park: "La Abeja", flipping through a telephone book as we were waiting for our Enchilada Verdes (muy delicioso, my friends) and I realised that there it was at the top of every page: Index des Ombres Valeureux.

Les Ombres Valeureux are the breeders in Aguanga California, desert country south of Palm Springs, North of San Diego, big rock country like the Flintstones. They matched us with both dogs, studying personality and tracking behaviour with notes and color collars. Index was the empath, protective of the underdog puppies.

Here's some history from their website:

The Beauceron is a distinct French breed of herding dog. Though almost unknown outside of France, the Beauceron has a long history. It is a very old breed developed solely in France with no foreign crosses. The Beauceron is a dog of the Lupoid type. The earliest record found so far of what is thought to be this breed dates back to a renaissance manuscript of 1578. In 1809, the abbey Rozier reported plain dogs guarding flocks and herds. In 1863, Pierre Megnin differentiated, with precision, two types of these sheep dogs: one with a long coat, which became known as the Berger de Brie, the other with a short coat, which is know as the Berger de Beauce, or Beauceron.? Like other sheepdog breeds, the Beauceron is easy to train to assume tasks other than the care of flock or herd. These dogs are used by the French police and Army in much the same manner as German Shepherds are used in North America. The calmness of the breed, and its ability to follow commands without hesitation, has been well illustrated during both major wars in Europe.

When we came to the Skinner's place to choose our pup, Juno was kind of to herself, probably pissed off with the ear job. She was the oddball, not the runt but she went off on her own.

Here, two young vital animals in full bloom and vigor. Winter holidays, 1995.

Index loved to play ball. I mean PLAY BALL. He would take line drives as hard as I could pitch them and drop the ball in your hand for another round. After a few years of this I began to develop shoulder problems. Rotator cup?

Index died when he was five, lymphoma. A gut wrench I knew we would experience again as we did yesterday. I had a studio in ChinaTown LA then.

Juno traveled with us from LA to Texas for a year and now to Spain (most of this transistion is in blog archives). We could hear her barking in the cargo hold of the plane as we landed in Barcelona. Later, as we disembarked, we found her all alone in her crate in baggage claim. No one checked us out, anyone could have taken her.

It was in Texas that we learned of her Mast Cell Tumor. We had it cut out but the biopsies were of the worst grade. The vet estimated six months. That was over a year ago.

Every day was a gift. We spoiled her terribly, but she was too good a girl to let it go to her head.

I'll miss the morning walks to the beach. We have no yard to speak of, so we had to take her out three or more times a day. And since we were living on borrowed time, each walk was a clarifying experience.

Walking out on the rocks will reverb with those mornings for a long time to come.

Our house was a fit for three, and now we have to live in it enough for it to feel a fit for two. One thought was to travel, to get out, to go to Haarlem for the opening or go to Rome or something. But once we returned, the house will still be a place fit for three. We would expect to see Juno come around the corner any time now.

We decided to stay put, to live out a new-now, to make our house fit for two. Every little thing has lack: the end of the meal with a scrap for treats, get out of bed and try not to step on her tail, even the simple act of walking down a street begs the loving chatter: "Let's go! Let's go! Easy girl. Heel. Good Girl! No, don't eat that bubble gum. Good Girl!"

Emotional phantom limbs.

Dogs aren't people. But they seem more like eternal kids, furry ten year olds.

Dogs don't complain when they are sick. They don't dwell on it, they aren't probably capable of self consciousness and hence, self pity. So they don't compound a bad deal with regret.

Index wanted to play ball as his liver was failing. Juno gave us lick and wanted a belly rub as the Vet inserted the last needle.

Goodbye Juno, baby girl.

We love you.

Posted by Dennis at October 19, 2004 8:54 AM


Sorry to hear about Juno. Ironicly my family cat, Andy, of 22 years too died yesterday. My brother so shook up, forgeting about the time change for CST to EST called me at 12:45am. "You will be ok", I told him, "just take some time to youself, think about 'im (and let him go)". Hope all goes well. -JD

That was a beautiful tribute so many good memories.
Love & Miss you guys.

Thanks guys.

I have to stop looking at this post.

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