I don’t believe I have ‘talent’ for painting, mainly because I learned how to do it and practiced and practiced. If I have any talent at all, it is only the ability to include an atom of my soul into some of my paintings. Often I’m driven to produce a piece of work and I don’t really understand why, but I follow the inspiration doggedly (ha ha) when it calls. So, even though working on Flying Fox, Red Kangaroo and Appaloosa paintings, I left them all to paint someone’s dog, when they hadn't even asked me to (Yes, call it lack of focus if you will, but…) The need to do this came after reading a story, from a collector of my artwork in the UK, talking about her younger days.
Chantal's story is from many years ago, in the days when only a handful of people cared for wildlife. Back then the untrained were ignorant of the negative impact close association with a dog would have on a young animal destined for the wild. What touched me about this story is that the ‘hunter’ became protector and friend. Something I see occasionally with ex-kangaroo hunters who become extremely dedicated macropod carers or supporters later on in life. This particular aspect spoke to me in the story.
My aunt sent me this photo (it’s a very old one that’s been scanned, hence the poor quality) of my lovely Golden Retriever. We lived at Draycote Water Sailing Club at the time, out in the middle of nowhere.
This was taken when Ross was a young dog and had been out walking with my dad. He came home with a baby hare in his mouth. We had to bring up the hare (Douglas) who adored Ross as much as Ross adored Douglas. They were inseparable for over six months before we released Douglas back into the wild. We didn’t try to tame him, but he lived in the flat with us, used a litter tray and had us wrapped around one paw. We bottle fed him on warm milk with glucose and liquidised dandelion leaves. No idea where the recipe came from, no internet in those days. We took it in turns on 4 hour feeding until we had him on solids. Not so easy I can tell you, but it was summer holidays so no school. Shirley and I worked in our family’s newsagent shop in Coventry on a Saturday and Douglas had to come with us. We tucked him into a sheepskin mitt and he sat on the shelf between the cigarettes. He just snoozed between feeds, he was so good.
We’d done everything we could to make him self-sufficient, ready for his release and hoped he would survive in the wild. My dad used to swear that on a dog walk, a few weeks after Douglas was released, a hare was sitting on the bridle path. Ross went up to the hare, they nudged each other and then Douglas hopped off. I’d like to think it was true, but who knows?
Samantha "I'm a person who feels I live in paradise and truly love Australia after immigrating here in 2003. I work as a foreign exchange trader, live with my true soul mate, husband Albert. I have a passion for Aussie wildlife and became a registered wildlife carer in 2005 and can say I feel truly privileged to be able to raise and rehabilitate orphan wallaby/kangaroo joeys. I love these creatures with my heart and soul. My dream is to be able to help struggling volunteer wildlife carers, financially, so that they can do what they do best without worrying how to pay the next vet bill"