an ode in ink with love, to a bird dog

You know those cheesy bumper stickers you see that say "who rescued who?" with the little paw print? That's pretty much how my heart feels about Daisy all the time. When we adopted her four years ago, we didn't know exactly what we were in for. Rescuing a dog, any dog, is a feat in itself, especially one with issues. Daisy was just old enough that she had a lot of skittish, nervous energy built up from whatever happened before she went into the kill shelter. The experience of watching her transition from a frightened rescue that wouldn't eat, or climb a staircase, or walk outside in the city- to being super playful, and all around so much more relaxed pup has been really rewarding for me, to say the least. 

She's certainly one of the quirkier rescue dogs out there. An adorable, ginger colored Ibizan Hound-Beagle mix that will go immediately from wanting to be chased at full speed tirelessly, to taking her seventh nap of the day, usually curled up like a donut. Naturally when your dog is particularly cute it means everyone wants to say hello and give them all of the love immediately. This is usually followed by the realization, or my having to explain that although she's real cute, and has made immense progress since we first got her, she is still an incredibly timid pup. She's timid in a way that makes you just want to bundle her up and tell her everything will be okay, but that's not the way it works with rescue dogs. 

Men have always been the ultimate struggle. I have my standard disclaimer that always starts with, "hey, she's probably going to bark, a lot". It's a bark that sounds like she'll rip you to pieces if you give her the chance, but she won't. She's just nervous. Give her some space, give her a minute and she'll come around. Knock on wood she always comes around, if you're patient with her. I like to say she plays hard to get, because once she knows and trusts you, you're golden.
With our usual routine upended, Daisy and I have been spending even more time together than usual. There's just been something about life recently, or more specifically our transitional situation, that has made me feel particularly connected to her.

The patience this creature has taught me, and continues to teach me is invaluable. I knew I was entirely capable of loving a dog this much, but never appreciated how much I would learn from her.

Which leads me to this tattoo.

A while back I stumbled upon the artist Christina Malman, best known for her work featured in The New Yorker from the 1930's-1950's. I loved everything I saw, but the drawing that had my undivided attention was from the beginning of her career "Woman and a Dog", 1935. I looked at that picture for a long time, not entirely sure why I loved it so much.

A friend pointed out just a couple of weeks ago, it looks a hell of a lot like me and Daisy, a detail that seemed too significant to ignore.

As I tend to feel the urge to get tattoos when sudden, transitional things in life happen, a fitting way to mark the occasion in my opinion, now felt altogether like kismet. My left forearm has also felt like prime real estate for a long time, as I've been waiting for just the right moment, the right "thing" to adorn the space. 

And so, here is my long awaited adornment- my ode in ink, with love, to my bird dog.

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tattoo by Rachael Shelly 

 Black Vulture Gallery | Fishtown, Philadelphia