Omar learns about personal space

Is life overwhelming? Add puppies!

linocut of stunned, confused looking Great Dane Harlequin puppy

Detail from “Omar learns about personal space,” hand-colored linocut

Finally, some production, and a new print that I’m pleased with. It’s been a tough winter to get studio work done…
…applying for new day jobs, taking on freelance (illustration and web design), learning new skills/putting in extra time at dayjob with the end of a 16yr project and start of new job duties, overwintering too many chickens, so many blockprint ideas that I don’t know where to start, getting one of those colds/coughs that never seem to end, and then the puppies. That’s right, puppies. Plural.

A new Ivan, and a brother?

Fall, 2015: Finally, the Green Bay breeder had a new litter of pups (Great Pyrenees), and there were males this time, so we would probably be getting our new Ivan. James wanted Ivan III to have a playmate, so I asked:

“instead of another Pyr, how about a different big breed dog?”
“What did you have in mind?” he asked.
“How about like, I don’t know, a Great Dane? A Harlequin Great Dane?” I replied.
“Can you find a reputable breeder?” J asked.

So I started looking for a breeder. Would you believe that within about 24hrs, I’d located a breeder…that lived about 20 min away…one of her bitches had just had a recent litter…2 Harlequin males still available….born 13 days before Ivan III?!?? Would I like to meet the pups, the breeder asked, tomorrow night? Crazy perfect. Thank you Facebook friends!

4wk old great dane puppy with one black-patch eye, sits on floor looking at viewer

Omar the Harlequin Great Dane at 4-1/2 weeks.

Omar the Dane

It was love at first sight that night we met the pups, only 4-1/2 weeks old. Tiny things, but substantial and heavy little guys for their age. Kandy (the breeder) met us at the New Glarus Middle School gym (her daughter had basketball practice). She brought a big canvas bag with her, and then carefully brought out each of the males for us to look at. Omar, with his one black patch eye, mostly white face with black-freckled nose, beautiful grey patches as well, and huge body (he was the first one out, and the biggest), well, there was just something about him. I looked at him, and the name “Omar” came back at me. By the next meeting to see Omar at 6-1/2/wks, I was sure: Omar the Dane. I couldn’t believe he was going to be mine. He had this intensity, goofiness, whimsy and stateliness about him. It was the start of my love for this breed. There’s something about the Great Dane shape that I am fascinated with—the short hair that thinly covers all the bones, muscles and details of large dog anatomy, that huge nose and head that makes the body seem undersized,and that other-species feeling like you’re looking at something part horse or beast. My Little Pony.

A Day in the Life of Omar the pup

I have photos from the day of his birth (courtesy of Kandy), and then photos from each meeting before we brought him home and then of course photopalooza once he got to the farm. More photos than I’ll ever use, many scenes that will make great prints or paintings, and more ideas than I’ll ever be able to portray artistically, but that’s ok. Better to have too many ideas than none. I don’t understand when I hear of artists’ having a dry spell, because I will never have the time to be able to make all the art that I want to. Even if I could do art all the time, no day job, even then I couldn’t finish them all. So, as a wise prof once told me many years ago…After you make your list, “pick your favorite and start with that one.” So here it is:

Omar learns about personal space

hand-colored linocut by S.V. Medaris: Great Dane puppy looks confused/startled as growling terrier prepares to attack for a 2nd time

“Omar learns about personal space,” hand-coloured linocut, 14in x 20in. Edition of 10. 500/300 (framed/unframed). Now showing at Artisan Gallery in Paoli, WI


We did “the meeting of the old and new dogs” straight from the book…Introductions outside of their territory (we used James’ shop), have someone else be sitting with pup, while you have your older dogs come in one by one to meet the pup. We did all the other intermediary steps, walked Omar on leash on our walks, until finally we felt like they could all experience short periods with Omar off leash in the dogyard. At 8-1/2 wks he slightly outweighed the “littles” (the 2 jackrats) by this time, so we knew he wouldn’t get seriously hurt, but we would have to watch and correct everytime he was too rough with the littles. The littles could get hurt. Big praises for being gentle, quick corrections every time he tried to go galumphing up to Dexter or Zuzu, paws swinging and slapping down. Well, at one point, Zuzu took matters into her own paws…. Omar went running up to her and sort of tackled her, and she kind of went a little batshit crazy. She was quick and sharp, nipping at his face and growling. Omar stumbled back, dazed and confused as to what was happening, for a couple of seconds, as Zuzu wound up to run at him again (to be sure he understood that you DO NOT TACKLE THE ZUZU). That moment—of Omar processing what had just happened and Zuzu charging forward again to be sure Omar trully understands the error of his ways—is this scene portrayed in the linocut, Omar learns about personal space. linocut of small terrier growling

The Terrier code of ethics

Evidently, Danes don’t really recognize personal space as a thing. But for Jackrats (and from what I hear from other dog owners, terriers in general) personal space is everything. You watch where you step and how you look and how you pass another and you watch that eye contact. There is a lot of posturing and glances and slight lip curls and whispery growls if someone’s space is being invaded. As a dog owner, training a new puppy to coexist here, I have to read those signs and tell Omar to “leave it” or step back, and tell Zuzu to “chill” before someone gets growl-nipped. It’s better now—we can all be on the couch together at same time as long as people and dogs are staggered in the seats, and well, Zuzu needs to be in her special crack in the cushions, and Omar has to not swing his head wildly in her direction nor slam his paw down. There is a lot of hand/paw holding these days and that’s ok.

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