In Chattanooga, there was a café near the pedestrian bridge I used to frequent. Over the counter hung a tasteful painting of several women sitting on the grass in the nude engaged in conversation. Seemingly staring back at anyone looking at the painting was a small blue dog with yellow eyes that didn’t quite belong in the scene. Every time I went into the café, I was mesmerized by the painting and the dog. Finally, one day, I asked to speak to the owner. I was told the owner was seldom there and the lady asked if there was any way she could help me. I told her that I was interested in buying the painting. She smiled kindly into my then very young face and gave me an art lesson on the first George Rodrigue original Blue Dog that I had seen to date. Needless to say, I don’t own one. Many years have passed since that first encounter. I have visited a showing of his work featured in a traveling exhibit in Memphis, and I’ve been to the Rodrigue Studio in New Orleans that focuses on nothing but the blue dogs. Rodrigue interjected his beloved, deceased pet into a Cajun folktale to create what’s become a now iconic symbol.
Looking at the Blue Dogs always stirs in me a variety of emotions. At the base of my emotions, there is always an underlying sadness for the separation of the artist and his beloved pet and muse. Animals can stir in their owner’s such devotion. They give unconditional love. I understand this very well, especially since Beasley.
She was so small when we brought her home. Even though her breed was small, she seemed exceptionally small. We wondered if she had been separated from her mother too early, or maybe she was just the runt of the litter. I carried her around constantly. We loved and nourished her, and she returned the favor. We walked her proudly down the sidewalk and laughed as she ran back and forth in and out of the water that would puddle after a rain as though she were a retriever instead of a Westie. She had such personality. She could wrestle forever with our other Westie, and she never neglected to tell any dog large or small within the vicinity that she was the one in charge, just in case there was any doubt in the local canine community.
Beazie had my schedule all figured out and always watched the door when it was time for me to return home. She would greet me with a grin and a rambunctious bark or a longer scolding bark if she felt I’d been gone too long. To relieve stress, some people kickbox, jog or garden. I found gently stroking the softest, white fur ball asleep on my lap a wonderful way to relax before bed, cathartic even, and Beazie was happy to oblige.
This dog taught me how smart and feeling animals can be. She never met a stranger, would dance with anyone even if they had two left feet, and showed great empathy around sadness. I love and miss her every day. Perhaps, Rodrigue’s Blue Dog is so iconic because the love of dog is so universal, as well as the anguish of that unforgettable loss.