Tuesday, December 06, 2005

dolce i guido

These little guys are Italian greyhounds who live with a painter I work for occasionally. The studio is cluttered with carved glass platters in a head-high vitrine, old furniture from the flea market, three white-draped birdcages that house massive, noisy parrots. There's a back door into a little garden, visible through the windows which have replaced the back wall. It's very, very cold, and as you can see, these pups have their own comfy chair where they sleep under an animal-print fleece blanket for hours.

The first time I worked for this man and the group that meets weekly in his studio, I was about to set my things on the chair (which is next to the model's stand) when I noticed a long, skinny paw sticking out of the folds in the fleece. And then another. And then several more. Altogether, I counted seven, which seemed like too many no matter how I did the math.

So I peeked. And la voila, two whole dogs.

They're both rescued. Guido, the larger one, was the first. Dolce is not his littermate, she came along later. The painter learned of her from an airplane seatmate, knew by the time the plane touched down that he would have to take her. She loves Guido. He's not so sure about her, but he tolerates her tiny seven-pound self, perhaps because she's a heat source. Every now and again while I'm working they'll crawl out of their nest and come running around on the stand and floor, their long toenails clicking on the old paint-spattered wood. Monday I had my back to the group, with my right leg stretched out behind me, and occasionally I could feel a tiny cold nose sniffing at the immobile foot, its exact position marked on the floor with an "L" of blue tape.

Another artist had brought his own dog, a black lab with a head roughly the size of a toaster, and Dolce was incensed, barking and growling ineffectually at the intruder. Who slept with his glossy head between his paws most of the session. The artists laughed, the space heater buzzed, the parrots squawked from their post near the front door, Charlie the lab stirred and licked experimentally at my foot.

God help me if I ever need to write another resume. How do I explain all this?