Friday, 26 March 2010

Beardies in Watercolour

Beardies in Watercolour
Original Watercolours by Jean Haines

The joy of being an artist and being owned by two Bearded Collies is that I always have two willing subjects to paint. I love their characters,expressions and willingness to please. Not a day goes by where I don't smile because of their antics or poses and these are often caught in my work as a professional watercolourist.

This week I picked up these two paintings from a new gallery that is about to open and the owner asked if they were for sale.These aren't as they are going to a very special home. When I paint  for someone with them in mind I cannnot part with the painting for any other reason.
And so Baileys breeder Carol Wessen who is responsible for the Barbudo Beardies will have a surprise in the post.

Carol and Ed kindly looked after Bailey for us a while ago. Ed adored Bailey when he was born and to this day their relationship is unique.What always hits me when I visit Carol and Ed is their strong evident love for all of their "girls" and each new puppy that comes into the Barbudo line. So many families are so happy with the special bundle that they come to know and love over the years as their own Beardie bond grows.It must be such a special  feeling knowing you are giving  more than a puppy a new home. You are creating and giving love for years to come.

This Barbudo Puppy  is one of Baileys nephews.


Saturday, 20 March 2010

Babesiosis and the " Miracle Dog"

                                                                 "The Four Amigos"
Original Watercolour by Jean Haines
Taffy, Bailey,Sally and Buffy 

For Beardie lovers Taffy is a Brambledale Beardie and towers over his  companions in this scene who are all Barbudo Beardies. He simply didn't stop growing so he is like a small donkey!

This last week has seen Taffy daily recovering from Babesiosis . It is very hard to look into his bright eyes today and consider that we nearly lost him a week last Thursday. His lethargy and difficulty to breathe was so extreme. He was suffering  from aneamia badly. Hardly able to stand my husband gently lifted him in and out of our car  at the vets and animal hospital and I knew in my heart that this really was the day we would be saying goodbye to our so loved pet.

If it wasn't for the amazing team at Anderson and Sturgess in Hampshire without a doubt Taffy would not still be here. But he is and also in  really good health getting stronger each day and amazing us with his vibrant  zest for life. Try opening a cat food sachet without him noticing or even going to the pet food cupboard. He is there faster than you can say "Taffy"!

What happened? 

The blood tests have all confimed Taffy had a rare problem  which has hardly been seen in UK. This will be from a tick bite that occured whilst we lived in Asia. The spleen suppresses this kind of problem so Taffy has been fine for all of his life until his spleen had to be removed earlier this year. Without it the crippling affect of the tick bite rose to the surface very agressively and  would have killed him..

With the right treatment Taffy is making a full recovery and we are so grateful to the veterinary team who saved his life.

Taffy will now be monitored at the hospital on a regular basis  in order to help other dogs who may  become ill in this way in future.  To know what we went through may help someone else feel hope or encouragement if their pet  falls drastically ill somehow eases all the tears from last week.

But to hug this giant of a dog is the very best gift I could have had especially as he came home from hospital on Mothering Sunday last week after his blood transfusion and initial treatment.

He has earned his new nickname from everyone at  the local vets and the hospital.

" Miracle Dog!"


Probably all  dog owners are aware of these tips but if you notice your dog becomes lethargic too quickly, the colour of his gums turn pale to white dramatically, the breathing becomes laboured or the pads of their feet become  very cold to touch please  take them to the vet as quickly as possible. Early detection of many health issues leads to the best chances of saving your pet. Early action in Taffys case saved his life.


Monday, 15 March 2010

Painting With Beardies!

Taffy trying to steal yet another hat!

I have no idea why Taffy likes my hats so much but whenever there is a chance he will quietly sneak up and consider stealing one! This photograph was taken after a Watercolour Workshop in May 2009 when some wonderful art friends from all over the world visited. After the weeks workshops we painted on location in Hampshire. The weather was chilly and I kept  very warm in winter clothes. I was painting a bridge over a canal. Bailey happily watched as the younger dog while Taffy was his usual self looking to see how he could become more involved.

Jane thank you so much for forwarding this lovely photograph and memory to me. I loved that day and it will soon be time to reunite  yet again, share painting and have a chance to create even more wonderful memories. I cannot wait!

The good news is that Taffy was allowed home from the animal hospital yesterday. He is now on treatment which we have to order especially as this is not a common problem to deal with if you live in England.  It will be a while before he is 100% recovered as he is still very aneamic but his spirit is so cheerful, his tail wags non stop and he is loving his new health diet on top of being spoilt of course!

We are so relieved he is still here.

It has been a very emotional roller coaster this last few days but we are on the winning side now!


Saturday, 13 March 2010

Fighting Spirit

Taffy with me in Belgium. He had just " stolen" an empty water bottle which he adored to gain a reaction from me . I used to laughingly pretend it was "naughty". Fun games turned into training sessions leading to all manner of interaction between myself and my comedian of a pet. Just before this shot was taken I had been sat painting and Taffy had decided enough was enough  urgently wanting my attention for a play break. He often used to try to  get my hat from my head too. I made this myself and Taffy constantly tried to knock it from my head when I was sat quietly working.

Fighting Spirit.

Finally discovering what  is wrong with Taffy in many ways is a huge relief. Babeseosis may sound frightening and Taffy is still a very sick dog who needs time to recover. But I know from the specialists advise that Taffy has a good chance of  recovery and I know what I am dealing with. I have been here before in much worse circumstances.

We rescued a beautiful puppy in China who we called Buddy. In fact we rescued his sister too and my sons called the cute pups Buddy and Holly which raised many a giggle when I used to call them on their daily walks. I had put my foot down at calling them Homer and Marge!

Buddy who looked like a black bear cub had severe hip displacea at birth but you would hardly know it. I was told he would never see four years old. I took him swimming  regularly to exercise his hind  leg muscles minus putting weight on them, I kept his weight to a healthy level and simply loved him. He had tick fever at the age of five and we were told he wouldn't make it through to the weekend. It took six months of very careful  nursing but Buddy pulled through and saved my own life when I was attacked a few months later. He was a gorgeous dog who eventually died in my arms at the age of thirteen.  Until the very end he was a happy character with a great quality of life and no suffering. In fact I look back at the day Buddy passed away and feel the moment was beautiful because it was right. He was tired and needed to go.

Taffy does not. His eyes are shining and he is deteremined to be here. Because of his fighting spirit  I feel strong about aiming to aid him to survive.

You have to know Taffy to understand  my way of dealing with him.He is in fact a very stubborn animal. He has been called a donkey sized dog on many occasions and when he sets his mind to something  there is no arguing. If he doesn't want to  walk in a certain direction there is no changing his mind. There was an old house near where we lived before and Taffy used to in his tracks whenever we approached it. All the coaxing and treats in the world would not make him go anywhere near the old building.We joked it was a haunted house and he knew a ghost was living in it at the time!

He is a lovable character and has the determination to see this through.

I have enormous amounts of patience and I am determined to pull him through it.

To go through such major surgery recently and recover so amazngly really doesnt leave me wishing him to fall at this hurdle.

So with hope, help from the very best medical team and love Taffy this morning  looks as though he has a far better chance than two days ago when the outlook was very emotionally upsetting.

Wish us luck.

We learn from these painful experiences just how much love our hearts can hold.

And  agonising as it may be that is no bad thing.

To know you are so capable of loving and being loved in return.


Friday, 12 March 2010


I know many wonderful friends all over the world are now very concerned about Taffy so I will keep this blog updated as a check in point.

It seems as though Taffy may have babesiosis . A tick related disease that may have lain dormant for a long time until he had his spleen removed recently. Still in hospital he will be starting a course of treatment tomorrow.

Hopefully he will be home on Sunday to continue his treatment here.
He is a fighter and he isn't giving in. 


Taffy Update

  King of the Castle

It seems like ages since I added news about Taffy to my beardie blog. The last few months have been a roller coaster of emotions as we  nursed our wonderful Bearded Collie Taffy to a full recovery from major surgery.  The  amazing specialists  at the animal hospital discovered a problem with Taffys spleen and it was removed. The road to recovery was one full of hope because each new day saw this beautiful dog gaining strength daily. On many occasions he played on being ill to his advantage when it came to persuading us that he really could only manage to eat freshly cooked chicken or fish. We were advised to feed him little and often. Gradually a pattern arose where he soon worked out that my waking each day meant a delightful breakfast for him. He soon also worked out that he now had a small lunch meal too which he had never experienced in his life before. You could say this lovable rascal soon worked out that being ill wasn't all that bad at times! Licking his lips he would longingly watch his bowl being filled and I would have to remind myself just how seriously sick he had actually been.

His energy level  continued to rise and walks were soon getting a little longer each time until he could manage a short walk on his  favourite country tracks. The photograph above really makes me smile because he always seems to wish to be higher then either Bailey or I on these adventures so this is a typical pose and expression. The " King of the Castle"

Bailey  was thrilled to have his best buddy back and they fast  returned to being inseperable and "double trouble"! The daring duo always on the look out for something new.

Taffy and Bailey lovingly known as "Double Trouble"

 Everything has been going so well and Taffy  surprised everyone with his fantastic return to health. Nicknamed " Miracle Dog" we all believed our troubles were way behind us and that Taffy had several good years ahead of him to enjoy.

Sadly yesterday things took an unexpected turn for the worse which came completely out of the blue.We raced Taffy to our own vet  who contacted the hospital and  we drove Taffy to Winchester to see the specialists. He seemed to become very weak so quickly.  Very aneamic with little strength, no interest in food or water and his breathing was badly affected. All hope seemed to disappear of  a second  possibility of recovery or miracle.

We have had to leave him at the hospital overnight for a blood transfusion. Today we wait for any news or hope the hospital can give us that he will  remain our " Miracle Dog ".

It seems he ate this morning and looks brighter.

As I type I have no idea what the problem is or Taffys future. 

I have Bailey wandering around like a lost soul and the house seems so odd without my furry donkey sized dog annoyingly nudging my arm when I am in the middle of a painting. He is intelligent enough to know if he  nudges my right arm I seem to make an unfriendly noise because as a professional artist he ruins my  brushstrokes. However if he nudges my left arm he gets a pat on the head. I am right handed and he has worked this out over the years. 
Nudge Jean's left arm = Good noise.  Nudge Jeans right arm = Cross noise!

I hope I can come in and add to this blog positively soon because poor Taffy has done so well in the last few months. To have this setback now seems too unfair. We all thought he had only happy walks to look forward to from here in.

Every dog owner I am sure will read my message and completely understand the heartbreaking feeling of fear looking into our pets eyes and wanting to help them without letting go.

They say when the time is right to say  goodbye you know.

I don't.

I looked into Taffys pleading eyes yesterday and I saw a dog that refuses to let go of me. He is fighting with all  his  power to be here.

We can't let him down so we are giving him every chance we can.

If anyone in UK has a pet that is ill I cannot recommend this animal hospital highly enough. The team are so wonderful and I believe they do perform miracles.

The waiting room yesterday was full of  incredible "survivors" . Dogs recoveing and winning struggles against cancer and all odds.

I am praying Taffy will be one of the survivors too.