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24” x 36”, acrylic on board, 1976
Those who have had a dog who hikes with you will know the special relationship I had with my dog, Smallwood. There are dogs of all shapes and sizes and purposes. Most of them enjoy a hike or a stroll with their master more than anything else in the world. But not all masters choose to do this as a regular practice. Maybe they do not enjoy it themselves. In my case, I have always enjoyed hiking almost as much as my dogs. This has been true since boyhood.
Smallwood was mostly Labrador retriever, but his grandmother was a Newfoundland, so I named him after the premier of Newfoundland who brought that province into confederation with Canada . . . Joey Smallwood.
My Smallwood had the wide head of his grandmother and weighed over 100 pounds, so many people thought he should be called "Bigwood". He died after twelve rewarding years. We had many wonderful times together exploring the world of nature. Sometimes we showed things to each other, but mostly we ambled together, but on separate wave lengths, mainly sharing enthusiasm, exercise and the joy of being alive. I have always felt it is much more fun to share these things.
This painting was done several years ago when Smallwood was in his prime. It is in rolling farm and forest country which was cleared by the pioneers and has remained virtually unchanged since then. The cedar rail fence was put in place to divide a portion of the pasture for some long forgotten reason. I cherish these relics of our forefathers. Nature is, of course, evolving. You can see the young sumac, a pioneer tree, which is encroaching on the pasture. This will prepare the way for the forest trees which will take over in the next generation. Another habitat will be produced for future companions to explore.