For: Sudan and Northern White Rhinos

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My newest totem animal piece is in honor of Sudan, the last male northern white rhinoceros. You may have heard that he died a few days ago from a leg infection and age related problems. There are only two northern white rhinos left, both older females. The western black rhino was declared extinct in 2013 and unfortunately the northern white is not far behind. Scientists are doing what they can to attempt the creation of a “science lab” offspring but any success in achieving such a feat is uncertain.

Extinction from natural causes can not be prevented but this sadly could have been. The northern white rhino, a subspecies of the southern white rhino, has arrived at such a fate due to poaching and loss of habitat. It is truly sad to know there is still so much negligence in the world. So many humans still believe they are truly superior to any other living creature. It’s sickening.

Please, animals are not here for our amusement. They are not here to decorate our homes. We do not need to wear them to look good. We do not need to kill them to slice off a horn, some skin, a skull, a lucky foot on a keychain….Seriously? Why? Stop spending money on this shit people! It is terrible, cruel, horribly selfish and ignorant.

(Ahem)…Anyways…

…my latest piece was very calming to create (if you can believe it, haha) and I’m very happy with how it turned out. I still need to add the color but this will mostly be shading. I mean, it’s a white rhino so the color should be easy! This piece remained simple but sometimes that’s how it goes. It seems to work with this gentle giant’s demeanor. I will have a new totem animal post ready for Monday morning with the symbolism for Rhino.

Is there anything you’d like to add about Sedan or northern white rhinos? Share your thoughts in the comments below! Thanks for stopping by.

Until next time,

“Since the beginning of time, we have been the guardians and the healers of the forest. We have too long forgotten the magic powers of nature. The time has come to call on them again. Remember: all the magic of creation exists within a single tiny seed.”

 

Sources:
http://time.com/5209390/sudan-rhino-rhinoceros-northern-white/
https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2018/03/northern-white-rhino-male-sudan-death-extinction-spd/
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/20/science/rhino-sudan-extinct. html
Ending quote from the movie, Ferngully: The Last Rainforest
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DeSoto: A Heart of Gold

RIP DeSoto

It’s hard to say goodbye when someone has been at your side for ten years. On March 10th, I had to say goodbye to my greatest friend, DeSoto. He had been with me nearly his entire life. I received him from a friend of a friend when he was no more than a few months old. He was so tiny at the time with big dopey ears that stood straight up. He came everywhere with me; he was my shadow.

DeSoto has been all across the country with me. He was with me when I had my first place in Ohio. Then we moved to Tennessee, back to Ohio, then to New York where we have been for the past seven years. He would sleep by my side every night and even after I got married, my husband had to compete for his place next to me. DeSoto was always there. His love was truly unconditional and he expressed it often. He would squeal with joy every single time I got home like he hadn’t seen me in years; even if I had just ran down the street and back. Usually the knuckle head would be so excited, he would headbutt me in the face. It hurt like hell but I couldn’t be mad. He could not contain his excitement!

He was a mutt. We guessed something between a rottweiler and a black lab. Don’t ask me where those pointy ears came from though. That will always remain a mystery. Regardless of his pedigree, he was a very handsome dog. He had a shiny black coat and was always toned. He loved to run, although, his beloved Sasha could always outrun him. He was an incredible jumper as well. He could easily clear any backyard fence he came to. No matter though. He would never run away. He would just come to the front door and paw at it, as if he was knocking to come in.

He was very obedient. He wanted to please anyone and everyone he met. He was your typical happy hound and he loved being a dog! He was good at it. He would be so hard on himself if he did something wrong, I could barely scold him. Half the time, I didnt even know he did something wrong until he would rat himself out with his guilty manuerisms.
He was a good boy. He had an affect on everyone that met him. His genuine happiness rubbed off on all. I miss him dearly. I believe we were meant to be together. He wanted nothing more than to just be with me. I am a huge animal lover and have always had a strong connection with every creature I meet but DeSoto was so much more. It’s hard to explain. I literally feel like I’ve lost a peice of myself. Everytime I open the door, I’m sad he’s no longer there to greet me. I often feel the need to let him outside so we can chill in the sun together but then I remember he’s gone. He would always be there when I was sad to comfort me and let me hug him as long as I needed. Now when I cry, it’s for him and I want nothing more than to squeeze him tight.

I guess it just takes time. Time heals all wounds, right? I just need to keep thinking of the great life we had together. I am the luckiest girl in the world to have had such an incredible friend at my side. DeSoto taught me to enjoy every second we have. There is no need to dwell on the past. Everyday is a new day and our attitude is what makes everything brighter. DeSoto was a friend to all and had no prejudice. We could all learn a thing or two from such a loyal and loving heart.
This is for you buddy. I miss you tremendously but I will always stay positive and embrace everyday, just like you did.

Until next time,

“Our bodies are prisons for our souls. Our skin and blood, the iron bars of confinement. But fear not. All flesh decays. Death turns all to ash. And thus, death frees every soul.”

 

Sasha: Queen Shepherd

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Our heavy hearts invited the rain to stay for the entire day. Our beloved Sasha passed away yesturday afternoon. She lived a long life of fourteen years, celebrating her birthday in December. Our beautiful white shepherd was often confused with a wolf. She is much smaller than one but her beauty and grace tricked many people into thinking she was one. My husband and I could start howling and she would join in, elegantly arching her head back and closing her eyes.

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I loved rubbing my face in her big bushy mane. Her mane consisted of the long white hair that was eventually shed all over the house. Although, her regal fur coat was the perfect attire for her persona of being the queen. She got along with all dogs, as soon as they realized she was the boss. She never submitted while every other dog would. I always felt like she needed a crown.

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Though she was a royal, it did not go to her head. She was smart, compassionate, and polite. She loved children. I have never met a more caring dog then she was. When my son was an infant, she would also watch over him. Even though she had a tongue the size of Texas, she always gave him a delicate kiss on his cheek. If the other dogs around were wrestling, she would bark at them, grab them by the scruff and demand they settle down! There was no rough-housing allowed indoors, especially near the baby!

She was the greatest judge of character. There were few people she disliked but the ones she did always had a way of proving her judgement right. After the first couple times of getting “burned”, we completely avoided people that Sasha didn’t approve of.

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She loved to go swimming and was great at it. Tennis balls were her favorite toy and she would eagerly retrieve them when thrown in the middle of the creek. She had a strong paddle, swimming to the deep and back in no time. She was also one of the fastest dogs I had ever known!

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Sasha certainly was fit to be a queen. She had looks, intellect and charisma. All who knew her, loved her. Aside from being a huge sweetheart, she was a peace keeper. She will be deeply missed. The tears are rolling in like the rain so I am saying goodnight.

Good night sweet Sasha. I know you are at peace now. I know in your next life you will forever touch the hearts of your new family, just like you have ours.

Until next time,

“A heart of gold stopped beating, two willing hands at rest, God broke our hearts to prove to us he only takes the best.”

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Our kitten comforted her in her last days.

A Farewell to Phantom

“There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats.”

~Albert Schweitzer~

 

I’ve been sitting at my computer, at a loss for words. I really don’t know what to say. I have known so many people who have lost pets in the past six months. What can you say? I’m sorry for your loss, that sucks, or I feel for you.

Those phrases don’t cover it! We all know how it feels. I’m sure everyone has felt the heartache from losing a pet. They’re not just pets though. They are friends. Friends that adore your attention. Friends that want to be in the middle of your business at all times, just because they love spending time with you. They listen every time you need them. They sleep by your side every night. A friend that is literally always there! At that point, they become family.

That’s probably why it hurts so much when we can’t see them anymore. They were always by your side and then they’re not. It takes some time to get use to. You just have to remember the life you gave them. As much as they were there for you, you were there for them. They had a good life!

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I would like to dedicate this post to Phantom, a gorgeous cat with two different colored eyes(as you can see). A friend of mine recently said goodbye to him. That combined with his striking beauty compelled me to draw him. I hope I did him justice!

Rest in Peace Dear Phantom.

Until next time,

“Momma always said dyin’ was a part of life. I sure wish it wasn’t.”

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Shout Out to Pete

We have been having some great weather in my neck of the woods. I hope the same goes for you. I can’t wait to spend all my days outside again! I plan on doing some outdoor sketching this year. I haven’t done that in quite some time.

At the moment, I am finishing up a beautiful cat portrait. He was my aunt’s cat who was recently hit by a car. It’s always sad to hear those things. Such a shame. Now that the warm weather is here, there will be little friends scurrying across the roads everywhere! Make sure to keep an eye out for them. Pete was a handsome boy. Here is an animal shout out I did for Sweet Pete.

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Here are a few other sketchbook pages I have done recently. I’m keeping this post short and sweet. Thanks for checking in today. Enjoy your week!

Until next time,

“After all, tomorrow is another day!”

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Our white shepherd, Sasha. She’s 15 years old, our old wise woman!
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A cryptid studies page I did based off of the book “Cryptozoology A to Z” by Loren Coleman.
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A few of the insects I have photographed and then sketched.
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A skull I drew from my anatomy book.

 

 

Albion: The Wisdom of a Horse

I came across a “note” that I wrote on my Facebook page last year in September. It was still meaningful to me so I figured I should add it to my blog! It is about a dear old friend named Albion.

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“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”
“I have been suffering lately from artist’s block or perhaps more of a mental block….For some reason whenever I start to feel a little off (okay, a lot off) I always pick up a picture of Albion and for some reason I am compelled to draw him. He was a black Tennessee Walker that my parents owned years ago. At the time, I saw him as a pretty typical horse. He wasn’t the tallest I had seen, he wasn’t the blackest I had seen and conformation wise he was just your average horse. Smooth gate as far as Walkers go but I had no special interest in the breed.

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He was always the head of the herd and peacefully lived his life into his twenties. But looking back I remember Albion would always stand his ground. He didn’t take “you know what” from anyone! He wasn’t mean though. He was always so calm, going about his business. He was a pleasure to ride and he always seemed like he knew something. Like he was an old soul and he had so much experience in life. When you looked into his eyes, he looked back at you with a gentle wisdom. He gave you reassurance or a feeling of guidance just from starring into those big endless eyes. Even though so much time has passed since he’s been gone, I can still look at his picture and see those eyes. He’s still looking back at me and reminding me that beauty is all around us and when I draw his image it’s like he is still living through me. His essence or perhaps his guidance is still around me. He reminds me that art isn’t about making money or creating a masterpiece every time or even to show off a talent. It’s about allowing the universe to show me the beauty that is there every day and sharing it with everyone! Sometimes before you can see it you have to feel it, and when you do, it’s as if the blindfold has been ripped off your eyes. You see the world in a whole new light. And though he be but a horse, Albion will always remind me of that.”
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“Everything has beauty, but not everyone can see it.” -Confucius

After reading that again, it made me smile. It reminded me of Albion. He passed away in February, six years ago. Albion was such a beautiful soul. He reminded me of a Chief. Calm, wise, compassionate, and always a lesson to teach. I took a photo of his hoof a while back and entitled it “Grounding”. That’s just how I saw him, grounded. He seemed connected to everything and therefore he had more of an understanding of everything. He was patient and kind. He was versatile, smart, a leader and a friend.

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“Get yourself grounded and you can navigate even the stormiest roads in peace.” – Steve Goodier

I have a lot of respect for that horse. I believe everyone has a totem animal or a spirit guide, whatever you want to call it…guardian angel? I know Albion is. He’s very powerful. Most horses are. I haven’t met one yet that hasn’t left a lasting impression on me. I’m starting to think that horses are more connected to things than we could ever understand or even begin to explain. It’s like I said in my note, you have to feel it. Quiet your mind and talk with a horse sometime. It’s like jumping into a canyon of intellect.

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“There is just as much horse sense as ever, but the horses have most of it.” – Author unknown

 

I think it is time that I follow in Albion’s hoof prints. My mind has been scattered and unfocused. I am so easily distracted that the slightest breeze can blow me off course. This is when I can think of Albion and how calm and connected he was. He reminds me to stay grounded, plant my hooves in the dirt and become rooted once again. In doing so, I can stand firm like a tree and less like a balloon caught in the wind.

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There is nothing so good for the inside of a man than the outside of a horse. – John Lubbock

Albion had many lessons to teach. I keep trying to write about him like he’s still alive. Like he is still teaching me. Maybe he is. Maybe he’s my spirit guide? All I know for sure is he was a beautiful and wise ol’ horse.

What’s your story? Has an animal ever shared their wisdom with you? Animal lover to animal lover I would love to hear about it! Share a comment below!

Until next time…

Can we have one last ride? Yep, I’ll saddle up.

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Albion and my mom.
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Always a welcoming expression!
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Ooooh, Look at the kitty!

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Back in the day…

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Pagan Holidae: A Horse of Leisure

There is a new Pegasus in the spirit realm. His name is Pagan Holidae. He is a short and stout palomino with spunk and spirit. His best friend in fact was called Spirit. This Pegasus named Holidae galloped across the physical world, as a horse, alongside my mother. This is their story.

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My mother, being a bookworm and knowledge junkie, had many subscriptions to equine magazines. One of which was entitled “trailBlazer”. She was reading an article about proper saddle fitting and how to avoid discomfort for your horse. The images used for the article had a unique saddle in them, atop a horse, demonstrating proper saddle placement. My mother awed at the saddle. She had been searching many years for the perfect saddle and there it was being used as a reference in an article. She wanted one for herself, provided it fit her horse properly. She looked everywhere for it. She couldn’t even find information on the kind of saddle it was, let alone the saddle itself. She searched online; she searched every tack shop; she even tried contacting trailBlazer magazine to see if anyone knew anything about it. Still, nothing.

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A year or so had passed and my mother had forgotten about the elusive saddle. The time had come to add another equine familiar to the barn. She started searching online for horses for sale. She came across a beautiful little palomino called Special Edition. Unfortunately he was in Colorado; my mother was in Ohio. She took a chance. He was portrayed as an amazing trail horse with a great temperament and my mother knew he was “special”. She contacted the owner, Susan Gibson, struck a deal, and the palomino was on his way to Ohio! My mother changed his name to Pagan Holidae. (Can’t blame her, a horse named Special Ed? Funny but no thank you.)

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Oh, before you think this origin story is over, did I mention that Susan Gibson was the editor for trailBlazer magazine. Light-bulb! My mother took a long shot and asked if Susan knew anything about the saddle published in that article from a while back. Come to find out, the saddle was Susan’s and Holidae was the horse in the article! Susan had it custom made in Chile specifically for Holidae! So Susan sold her the saddle. What are the odds! My mother asked the universe for the saddle in the magazine and a year later she gets THAT exact saddle and the editor’s horse to go with it! Talk about the law of attraction!

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Photo by Laurie Schmidt

Holidae carried my mother all across the country. One of the most relaxing things to experience is a good ole’ fashion trail ride. That’s what Holidae was built for. That was Holidae’s demeanor. Relaxation. Calm. Quiet. Chill. On the trails at least. Don’t let him fool you though. He could be quite a stinker at times too, when his “grumpy old men” attitude kicked in. He played the tough guy card but underneath that yellow fluff was a kind soul. He would always have my mother in mind when they were trail riding; carefully bending around tight spots to ensure he wouldn’t bash her knee into a tree. When he was in the pasture grazing, he would perk up when he saw her coming. She would give a little whistle and he would come running up to her. There isn’t much on this planet that is stronger than the bond between horse and rider.

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Photo by Keith Schmidt

After many happy trails, my mother eventually retired him. He developed Cushing’s Disease which is a dysfunction of the pituitary gland. She gave him a calm, quiet and chill environment to relax in, as he did for her. Sadly, Holidae closed his eyes for eternity last week. Though his eyes have closed, his heart remains open. That’s the power of a horse, my friend. Even in death, the companionship of a horse lasts forever. Each horse has a lesson to teach. Holidae’s lesson was to sit back and enjoy the ride! Relax and don’t fret because you never know when the world will drop off your dream saddle and a palomino to carry you away! R.I.P. Pagan Holidae. You will be missed.

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8″ x 11″ graphite/colored pencil drawing “Little Friend” A butterfly takes a rest on Holidae’s mane

I also would like to pay my respects to Susan Gibson who also passed away this year. Perhaps her and Holidae are together again, soaring through the clouds.

“For one to fly, one needs only to take the reins.” ~ Melissa James

Until next time…

So long, partner!

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24″ x 24″ charcoal and conte crayon on canvas “Together” Holidae & Spirit

 

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8″ x 11″ pencil drawing, “Holidae Grazing”

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Best Buds
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Photo taken by Keith Schmidt
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Photo taken by Laurie Schmidt

Dodger: A Big Bad Pit

Have you ever met a dog that you swear just loved to get a rise out of you? For me, that was Dodger. It was a game to him to see how much it would take to annoy me. What do I expect? He was my father-in-law’s dog! When my family and I moved from Ohio to New York, we stayed with my in-laws until we could find our own place. I was able to get to know Dodger very well during our stay. He was an oinker, that’s for sure! The couch was his throne. He wouldn’t jump down for you if you wanted to sit. He wouldn’t move at all actually. “I was here first”, it seemed like he was saying if you tried to move him.

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You’re crazy if you think I’m moving.

He was pretty lazy most of the time. With us bringing our two dogs in the house though, it gave him something to do. They would wrestle and run around outside.

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Swing your partner ’round n’ ’round!

Dodger had a hard time keeping up though. He wasn’t the fastest seeing how he had broken his leg before the humane society found him, where my in-laws got him from. It never healed right so he kind of hobbled around like he had a peg leg. They should have dressed him up as a pirate for Halloween! That would have been awesome! Anyways….the drawing I did was a classic pose for him. He had to stick that peg leg out when he sat down because it wouldn’t bend properly.

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Full view

You would have never guessed he had a bum leg though if you left the garage door open when you let him out.  I’ve had to chase that dog down the street so many times I can’t even count. If we didn’t notice right away, he would usually find a neighbor or another dog outside and go chill with them, until we realized he was gone. One time we were looking for him for 45 minutes. Come to find out he was at the neighbors across the street hanging out in the backyard. They gave him water, food, attention! Why wouldn’t he want to take a stroll through town? It’s a town of dog lovers!

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Puppy Love

Yea…Dodger and I have shared some words in the past! He knew my buttons and he would push every one of them. Then he would snuggle up to me on the couch and kiss ass until I forgave him. Jerk. But then he did something that I couldn’t forgive for the longest time. I started working on this drawing of him. I would work on my art at the dining room table. It was a nice big space and I could leave my stuff out until dinner time so I could work on it through out the day. Bad idea.

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EVIL!!!!

There was no furniture safe from Dodger. He would jump in that chair and jump right on top of the table. Why? So he could see farther out the window and bark at that “killer lady” that walks down the road minding her own business! Yep…muddy paws all over my drawing. A few indented scratches from his claws. I was about half way done with the drawing and he friggin’ gets mud all over it. My immediate thought, “I @&*$# hate this dog!”

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Nothing like a good roll in freshly cut grass!

I tried so hard to get the mud prints off my picture. I tried erasing them. I tried thinking of ways to cover it up. Nothing was working. I was furious. Well that’s it! I can’t work on this picture anymore with out being mad at that damn dog. So it got tucked away for a loooooong time. No like a really long time. I actually had forgotten I started it a couple times.

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Now don’t get me wrong, Dodger was a great family dog. My son spent a lot of his toddler years pouncing on that dog, laying on him, patting his head maybe a bit too hard and Dodger took it all.

He never grumbled, growled, whined or complained. My son was allowed to do whatever he wanted. Luckily for Dodger, my son adored him and treated him like a best friend. He taught my son what a real “man’s best friend” should be. The uncontrollable slobbery kisses in his face were a constant reminder. I couldn’t really hate a dog that was so good with him.

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Do you see Santa yet?

Another lesson Dodger taught my son was the loss of a pet. Dodger passed away this past year. Of course, everyone was heart broken. Dodger had been in the family for a long time. He was always there, causing shenanigans, and then he wasn’t. It was odd at first. After a while though, it kind of felt like he never left. For me at least. I have so many memories with him it’s like I just saw him yesterday.

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You’re seriously sticking that camera in my face, again?

I started going through some unfinished projects I had and I came across the Dodger portrait again. I wasn’t mad about the mud anymore. I was actually happy about it. Now that he was gone, his paw prints were like his signature. A little piece of him to keep forever. I realized instead of trying to get rid of them, I had to make them part of the drawing. I stuck it back on the easel and had a new found desire to finish it. I wanted it to look good. And this time, I knew it could, even if it had a little mud on it. So if you were wondering about the random paw prints throughout the picture, now you know the rest of the story.

Dodger was a knuckle-head but all said and done, he was a good dog. R.I.P. buddy.

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