Friday, July 1, 2011

Jill Smith & Bumble, Zippy, and Gus

Who is in the photos at right and below?

My name is Jill Smith and I am an artist. I love to create works of art using watercolor and (of all things) concrete. I make sculptures using a process called Faux Bois. It is very labor intensive, but the results are beautiful. I also do furniture and architectural renderings.

Bumble is a Bulldog and at 4 is the baby of the crew. Zippy is an English Bull Terrier and is 8. Gus is a Labrador Retriever and is 9.

[Editor's note: a week before this posting, Bumble died in an accident. R.I.P.]

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

I enjoy having coffee every day with the pups out on our deck (in the summer months...that is). I can't think of a more relaxing way to start a busy day!

What's brewing?

I usually enjoy a cup or two of Colombian coffee with a little half and half.

Any treats for you or your dogs on this occasion?

The dogs always enjoy getting a horse treat while I am sipping my coffee. Don't tell the horses!

How were you and your dogs united?

Gus the Labrador is my husband's dog and he came to us after our bulldog, Benson passed away. Gus is such a sweet guy and always wants to please. Zippy was a gift from my husband when he saw how upset I was when I lost my sweet Bull Terrier, Comet (Zippy is a whole new ballgame).

Bumble (aka Leon) has an interesting story that I am sure most folks can relate to. One day my husband was on his way home from work and spotted a Bulldog with it's owner in their front yard. I don't know why ... but he stopped to meet the owner and pet the dog. The owner of the dog said that one day she planned to breed her dog. My husband gave the nice lady his card and told her to call him when she did. Well, two years later (and two dogs later), my husband called me and have got to come here and just look at these babies. There were only two of them. I said....we already have two dogs (that do not get along) and we do not need another one. He said...well you can at least stop by and see them. I said no. Then...a day or two later...we were driving past this house and my husband pulled into the drive. He basically had to force me out of the car....and then I looked at the pups. I said okay....let's go....of course I was already in love with the little white round roly-poly one. For days I tried and tried to forget about that cute little butterball. husband came home from work and he had the little white dog with him. He said that he just borrowed her for an hour. I on earth was I going to say no again??? I did though....I just kept thinking that Zippy would never get along with another dog and it would be a disaster. Another day or so went by and I just could not stand it any longer and I just gave in. We negotiated a deal and Bumble was home. She actually has been very good for Zippy and he loves her! We call Bumble the "go between dog" because she is the little bridge between Gus and Zippy.

How did they get their names? Any aliases?

Gus is named after the Black Angus cow. His real name is Angus and Gus for short. Zippy was named Zeb when we got him and I renamed him Zippy...well ... because he is quite active and he was already accustomed to a "Z" name. Bumble is named after the abominable snowman in Rudolf..."Bumbles Bounce".

Do your dogs inspire your art...or distract you from it? How so?

The dogs are a constant inspiration for my art. I have many watercolor paintings depicting them and concrete sculptures. Then there is my blog which has been totally taken over by the dogs. I also love to take pictures of them...I have been asked why Gus is not featured as often as the other two on my blog. It is purely because every time I try to get a picture of him he usually has his tongue stuck to the lens of the camera. Not easy to get a good shot of something when it is that close. They also "help" me when I am working on concrete. Usually by carrying my tools off. Of course when I need help lifting something they are no where to be found.

Do your dogs have a favorite place to go for an outing?

Gus loves to go swimming in our "neighborhood" ponds. When he was a pup he would lie down in his water dish dreaming of a swim. Bumble and Zippy live for their daily walks (a tired dog is a happy dog). We are lucky enough to have lots of wooded areas that we hike through on these walks. We go in all sorts of weather. They love the snow until it gets to deep to walk through. Many of my paintings are ideas that I get while out on these hikes.

Squirrel, postman, cat...?

They prefer a good deer.

What is each dog's best quality?

Gus's best quality is his friendly attitude. He lives to love people. Zippy's best quality is his loyalty (sticks to me like glue) and also his ability to entertain himself. Bumble's best quality is her huggability. She is super soft and squishy. Bumble is also the dog that keeps my giant pumpkins safe from vermin. She takes her job very seriously.

If your dogs could change one thing about you, what would it be?

Well...I would hope that they would not change a thing. I mean....they get great food, live in paradise and have their every need catered to. I just wish that I were one of them.

What is each dog's proudest moment? His/her most embarrassing?

Gus's proudest moment...When he thought he got rid of Zippy would probably be his proudest. Ha. Actually if you look in the Black Labrador breed calendar 2011 from will see Gus.

Zippy's proudest moment was being on the cover of Dog World Magazine [photo credit: Close Encounters of the Furry Kind].

Bumble's proudest moment was being chosen to be on the cover of Evelyn David's Brianna Sullivan ebook series. She is also an amateur meteorologist and predicts weather with her toungeometer. She is pretty good at making an accurate prediction and is an atmospheric wonder.

The most embarrassing moment...there have been so many...Once I took Zippy in for one on one dog training. Zippy and Gus were fighting and I was trying to get a handle on it. I had already been clicker training Zippy and he was doing really well...he knew all of the basic obedience commands and could heel like there was no tomorrow. Anyway...the guy I went to was a behaviorist and I thought he could help out with our tense situation. Soooo... I signed up for a nine week training session (this incident happened 8 weeks into the training). I also need to mention that if Zippy sees a ceiling fan he goes psycho (and I truly mean psycho). The training room has a ceiling fan... So...I walk into the very nice training room (this was a really classy place) and the ceiling fan is going full speed...I noticed it right away and thought I better get out of here. I turned to walk out...leash in hand when Zippy noticed the fan....Too late!!! He pulled the leash out of my hand and the trainer said...let's watch him and see what happens....well after he bounced off of the walls for a moment...he jumped up on a table that had some magazines lying open and then the trainer went a little crazy... Zippy on the table shredding magazines and the trainer scrambling to get to him and me just standing there.... I finally gathered my senses and ran over and grabbed the leash and pulled Zippy off of the table. The trainer turned off the fan...and just stood there looking at his magazine. I said... just let me know where I can buy you another magazine and I will be happy to replace it....he said (with a low voice) can't replace that is from the 70s and it had a long article about me in it... Needless to say...I felt very bad about it. I said well...I guess I will see you next week.... He said yes...we will sit down and talk about whether or not you should extend training. I showed up the next week and he told me that Zippy did not need further training. It was really pretty comical. By the way, Gus and Zippy get along enough to be in the same room now.

Bumble's most embarrassing moment was when her head got stuck in the bulldog toilet brush holder. She is sitting next to the toilet brush holder in one of the photos.

Gus is too happy go lucky to have an embarrassing moment.

Visit Jill Smith's blog. Her paintings and faux bois can be purchased at Glen-Scott Gallery in Blowing Rock, NC and also at The Wren's Nest in Valle Crucis, NC.

--Marshal Zeringue