Sunday, March 28, 2010

Greyhound Painting by Terry Albert

I have recently finished a large (16 x 20 is large for me) acrylic painting of two greyhounds for Greyhound Pets, Inc. in Woodinville, Washington. My relationship with this group goes back to 1993, when I did a series of black and white drawings that I donated to their founder, John Hern, for a brochure they were developing. Like most greyhound groups, they rehome dogs that are retired from racing.

The main drawing I did for them way back when ultimately became their logo, and they still use it today (See it at left). A few months ago Jack Richardson, an executive assistant for the group, contacted me about doing a color version of the drawing. Greyhound Pets, Inc. has grown to the point that they have their own kennel facility, and the painting will hang in their lobby.

Jack is donating the painting to the organization, and plans to make limited edition signed prints to present to major benefactors and board members. Greyhound Pets will also sell smaller prints of the image for fundraising.

I am thrilled and honored to be a part of this project. I volunteered for rescue groups and served on the board of directors for the Humane Society of Seattle King County and Seattle Purebred Dog Rescue when I lived in Seattle. In California I helped found Southern California Labrador Retriever Rescue, and volunteered as a foster home for Southland Collie Rescue. So as you see, rescue is dear to my heart.

The number of homeless greyhounds is incredible. Greyhound Pets will drive to a track hundreds of miles away and bring home dozens of dogs at once. They need medical care and are not trained to be housepets. It’s a big challenge, but the dogs adapt quickly and go on to make wonderful pets, as the thousands of dedicated adopters can tell you.

I hope someday we won’t need greyhound rescue and that racing will be a thing of the past. It may not happen in my lifetime, but one can dream. 
Bookmark and Share
© 2010 Terry Albert. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

New pet portraits by Terry Albert

I have several new pieces to share with you that I created for an upcoming show. The Canine Art Guild will debut its "5 x 5" show on April 1, but I wanted to give you a sneak preview of my entries, plus a few more.

Every piece in the show is 5” square, and I found I love this small format. I really got on a roll, and produced 5 paintings, but I can only enter 3, so you get to see a couple of extras. Each is for sale for $95 framed (except for the Lab, which is not for sale).

This beautiful Viszla, Sherman, spends lots of time flopped on my couch, and I could paint him in about 10 different poses, all a jumble of toes and nose. He’s a frequent visitor, and I love him.

This one is not in the show, because I finished it after I had already entered the others. I took a photo of this scene almost 20 years ago one morning in Huntington Beach. I was taking picture of my brother Dan surfing, but you know me, always sidetracked by dogs. I loved the silhouette against the bright morning sun. These two were having a great time together. 

This Chow was photographed at a dog show while his owner brushed out his piles of fur. It’s a long laborious process, and he patiently endured the primping. This painting is also not in the show.

Tally is one of my favorite Labs, and she has been a pet sitting client for many years. As you see she is the happiest dog on earth, and I loved capturing that in this painting. She is actually a Lab/golden mix, bred for Canine Companions for Independence. Her puppy raisers kept her when she didn’t make the cut, and she is a beloved pet. I did another painting featuring a CCI Labrador many years ago for the Labrador Retriever Club National Specialty Show.

And last but certainly not least, this little sheltie is my Bonnie, I call it “My Bonnie Lass.” I adopted her from Sheltie Rescue about 5 years ago. She is enjoying a quilt I bought at an estate sale in Kansas City several years ago while sightseeing with my Aunt Bobbie. I love bight colors, and this quilt and the dog are very special to me.

I hope you enjoy my latest creations. Contact me if you are interesting in purchasing one of these works. Thank you!   
Bookmark and Share
© 2010 Terry Albert. All Rights Reserved.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Safety on the Trails

Poway is a saddened city today. A 17 year-old girl was attacked, raped and murdered while she went running along a local trail just outside of town. Chelsea King was a Poway High School student, and a member of the cross country team here. What can we do to stay safe on the trails?

As a mounted park ranger I have warned people not to run or hike alone because of mountain lions. It never occurred to me that runners or hikers might be at risk from dangerous people, not just animals.

Lake Hodges, where Chelsea was attacked, is a beautiful place to walk, as are Blue Sky Ecological Reserve and Lake Poway. The City of Poway has almost 100 miles of trails, and part of our job as rangers is to keep our citizens safe as they enjoy the outdoors in our “city in the country.” We look for safety issues, such as holes or collapsed trails, fences that are down, vandalism or other hazards. We carry water for hot and tired hikers. We give directions and advise the public on the quickest or easiest way back to the parking lot, and we help if someone is injured.

But even in my volunteer job as a ranger, I rarely patrol alone. The only time I did not feel safe on my horse was once when a drunken man approached me at Lake Poway, and grabbed at the reins to keep from falling down. One advantage of being on a horse is I can move faster than most people on foot if I have to. 

Watch dogs
I walk the trails with my sheltie, Tux. Even though he is small, a dog is a good deterrent to criminals. Just the fact that you have a dog at your side might be enough to make it too much trouble to attack you. I have read the same advice about home burglaries. Criminals will pick a house with no dogs, because it is quiet and they don’t run the risk of getting bitten.

In the dog community there is a lot of talk about Black Dog Syndrome. Many people are afraid of them. One of my pet sitting clients has a Giant Schnauzer. Anyone who encounters this dog gives him a wide berth until they get to know him. His owner is a single woman, and I bet she bought this dog with safety in mind. He is the biggest teddy bear in the world, but at 125 pounds, he is an imposing presence, and he makes it known he will not back down.

On the other hand, a black Lab would probably lick an intruder to death.

Safe hiking with your dog
Kidding aside, here are some safety tips:
• Work up to distances and steep hills slowly. Your dog will do his best to keep up, and he will collapse from heat or exhaustion rather than quit.
• Even relatively cool days can be too hot for a dog. Don’t assume that because you can handle it, he can too.
• Hot asphalt will burn your dog’s paw pads. If it is too hot for your bare feet, it’s too hot for your dog’s.
• Carry water and a collapsible bowl.
• Keep the dog leashed. Local trails have poison oak, rattlesnakes, coyotes, bobcats, skunks and mountain lions. Besides, there are leash laws in most areas.

Your safety
• Don’t zone out while listening to your ipod. Be aware of your surroundings and the people who approach you from either direction.
• Carry pepper spray and a cell phone. But remember, some trails in the hills and don’t get good cell phone reception.
• If you are uncomfortable, get out of there. If someone needs help, you can call for help from a distance.

Check out this safety information on the City of Poway website. And download a brochure about hiking with your dog from the Blue Sky Reserve web site. If you don’t live near Poway, the information is helpful for people who hike anywhere.

Photos: My horse Ari and I on patrol at Lake Poway, shortly after the 2007 fires. Casey, a Giant Schnauzer, poses with me to show he is really really big.

Bookmark and Share
© 2010 Terry Albert. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

When horses need homes

The economy has taken a terrible toll on pets and their families. As people lose their jobs and their homes, the pets often end up in shelters or abandoned.

I have several groups in my email address book. One is set up as “horse friends,” and another is “clients,” for my pet sitting clients. It seems like all I send out any more is notices about an animal that needs a home. My clients and friends have responded generously, adopting dogs, cats, horses, and even a pot-bellied pig, while passing the word on to their friends and coworkers. I worry that I will wear out my welcome because I send out all these sad stories. After volunteering for years for dog rescue groups, I know how hard it is to find homes for homeless pets, even purebreds.

A horse is an even tougher sell. You have to pay for boarding or live where you can keep one at your home. They are more expensive than dogs to care for. I figure I spend $75 per month per horse for hay, plus $50 every 8 weeks for hoof trimming. It costs $135 for Ari, who gets a full set of shoes every eight weeks. Plus, they need vaccinations twice a year. My horses don’t need grain or special supplements. That would add even more to the monthly total. No wonder people give them up. So horses need a home that can handle the work and the expense.

Horses are usually considered livestock rather than pets, and a horse that isn’t rideable is often sold so the owner can get a new, sound animal. Sell a horse too cheap or give it away, and a precious mount might end up in a slaughterhouse.

Thoroughbreds– who are retired young due to injuries or because they aren’t winners–flood the market. The Bureau of Land Management culls wild herds by offering their mustangs for adoption. Besides the sound, healthy, young horses being sold, thousands of untrained, retired or unsound horses are looking for a home every day. It breaks my heart.

So here I sit, receiving email after email offering a nice horse free, or almost free, to a good home.

Last week my heart melted when I read about a woman who had just taken in four thoroughbreds she’d bought at an auction to save them from slaughter. Now she needed to place some of the other 25 rescued horses she was holding at her farm. One of these horses was “an elderly Icelandic mare.” I rushed out to see her.

“Lucy” had been with Gunilla Pratt for three years, serving up pony rides and parades to her daughters and their friends. The girls have grown, and are now showing full size horses, and it was time for little Lucy to move on to a permanent home. It didn’t take much to convince me she needed to come to my house.

Star and Ari (also Icelandic horses) are so bonded that when I take Ari out, Star throws a three-hour tantrum. It’s gotten to a point I don’t even want to go riding, especially if there are visiting dogs at the house. Star’s uproar gets all the dogs barking and I can’t let the commotion bother the neighbors. Maybe Lucy will be good company for Star while I am riding.

Lucy arrived on Sunday of this week, and I christened her “Honey Bee” for her rich golden color–she is a beautiful dark palomino. She also resembles a pumpkin pie with whipped cream on top!

After lots of showing off by the boys, Honey has settled into the herd (see photo at left of her with Star). I know nothing about her background. I am guessing she was imported from Iceland. Gunilla thinks she is about 20-25 years old.

My friend Saskia, who gives lessons, did a test ride in the arena, then we went out for a short ride on the trail with Honey and Ari. (I am on Ari, shown below)I had no idea if she would be too hot to handle, or a perfect lady. She appears to be perfect. I look forward to sharing her with lots of children. 

I love her.

Bookmark and Share
© 2010 Terry Albert
Photos © Les Walker, Sycamore Canyon Photographic Arts
(858) 231-3699 • (858) 231-4123 
All Rights Reserved.