Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Goodbye 2013

It's hard to believe that this is the last day of 2013. It has been such a busy year that it's hard to believe that we're at the end. So much has happened, and time has marched quickly by.

First Dave and I were busy doing our thing - promoting our books, attending conferences, and providing workshops. We hit the NAEA Convention in Fort Worth in March and the VAEA Conference in October. We provided a handful of workshops at a variety of schools, art centers, and universities. We even put on our own retreat in June, and we are planning another for June 2014 (sign up now for some big discounts). We had a joint art exhibit at Eastern Carolina University in Greenville, NC in August, and we both exhibited our work at a variety of other places as well. We have also been working on a couple of new ideas for books, and we're hoping that 2014 will bring a new book by the Journal Fodder Junkies.

Of course there's been my regular teaching gig at an elementary school in Leesburg, VA. It's my 18th year of teaching, and my second at Tolbert Elementary. I can't believe that I've been teaching for nearly two decades. My students continually astound me with their creativity.

On a more personal note, 2013 was also a year of loss. We began the year with the loss of our beloved shepherd/chow Percy. In November my uncle, one of my mom's younger brothers, lost his battle with leukemia. Uncle Ed was always ready with a joke and had given nearly all of my cousins and me silly nicknames. He was only 60.

Most recently, my wife and I had to say goodbye to another beloved dog. Poi (pictured at the top of this post) lost his battle with cancer. He had to have a couple of surgeries and quite a few chemo treatments, and the year saw him slowly deteriorate. In the end, he passed away in my wife's arms just a few days after Christmas. We miss him terribly.

Here's hoping that there's a lot less loss in the new year.

2013 saw a new direction in my art as I became enamored with web imagery. I explored drawing it, painting it, and cutting it out of paper. I even began a collaborative project based on it. Although I have always seen this type of imagery as dealing with connection, I never felt like I had a lot of meaning and intention behind it. I found that intention as I wrapped up the year with two pieces that utilize the web imagery to explore our connection to places - specifically the places that we have lived and called home. I began my "Home" series with a painting where I overlapped maps of the places I have called home. Using Google Maps and a projector, I projected each address onto a 20"x30" piece of paper, and used red acrylic paint to create the web. I created a second "Home" painting using my wife as the subject. As a former naval officer's wife, she has lived in many places, so her painting is much more dense than mine. I'm looking forward to exploring this idea more in the upcoming year.

And so that's just a small smattering of some of my happenings in 2013. I hope that you all have had busy and prosperous years, and here's to a happy, healthy, and productive New Year.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Snow Days

Some unexpected ice and snow hit Northern Virginia over the last two days, and school was cancelled. Needless to say, I took full advantage of the two snow days by spending some quality time in the studio working with my web imagery. I've been struggling with what this imagery really means, and I have been working with ways to make it more purposeful. Up until now it has been rather random.

Today I had a bit of a breakthrough and decided to incorporate my interest in maps and places. Using Google Maps, I looked up five places that I have called home, and projected them onto a 22" x 30" piece of Strathmore mixed media paper. I traced each location with pencil allowing the lines to build up and create a somewhat random web of lines. It's hard to see the light pencil lines in the above photo. They're a bit easier to see in the detail below.

I didn't like the horizontal format from the tracing, so I turned it vertically, and began painting the main "veins" using Golden's new High Flow Acrylic. This new paint is thinner than their fluid acrylics and has the constancy of ink. It is well suited for my needs with this painting.

I slowly filled in the rest of the painting to create the intricate web, but I wouldn't say that I am finished with it. I need to erase a few stray pencil marks, and I may add some smaller details. Then again, I may leave it as is. Now that I have a digital image of it, I plan on projecting the image and details of the image into other works of art including some of the collaborative pieces I have in the works.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Journal Fodder Junkies: The Retreat Registration

Are you looking for a great deal on this Black Friday? Are you looking for the perfect gift for the creative types in your life - or even for yourself? Well, the JFJ have both for you.

We are excited to announce that registration is now open for our Summer 2014 Retreat. So, if you weren't able to join us last June, and you want to save $50, $100, or even $150, act now. We are offering both Early Bird and Artistic Accomplice Discounts for our June 26-29, 2014 Retreat.

Register now for our four-day visual journal retreat, and you can save on the regular $450 fee. Our Early Bird Discounted rate of $400 is good now through February 28, 2014. Fifty bucks savings not good enough? Then sign up with a friend or two or three, and save another $50, $75, or $100. In order to take advantage of these discounts, all registration fees must be paid in full at the time of registration, so make certain you click the appropriate Buy Now button after you submit your registration information. For your security and convenience, we only use Paypal for all of our registration payments, so we can accept all major credit and debit cards.

New this year, we will be able to offer 3 graduate credits through Shepherd University in Shepherdstown, WV for those educators seeking Professional Development credit. This option will require additional payment and coursework, and more information will be forthcoming. Make certain that you meet all of your state requirements in regards to Professional Development/Recertification.

For more info on the Retreat, visit the Retreat page.

To register, go to the Registration page.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Connection and Collaboration: A Call for Participation

As I mentioned in my last post, I've been exploring a web image that represents my connection to others, and in the vein of connection, I am looking to undertake a project that calls for Creative Collaborators. As I have explored this idea, I've been feeling the need to involve others, and this is where you come in.

I've had a few people ask how I make this imagery, and that has trigger an inkling of an idea. I want to include others into my process and have this idea evolve into a true community collaboration. I am picturing a simple process - have others create their own web imagery, share it with me, and I'll create a work of art that responds to and incorporates their imagery.

If you are interested in collaborating with me, it's quite simple, so follow these steps.

1. Email me saying that you're interested, and I'll email you back with an agreement for collaboration and other pertinent info.

2. Watch the how-to video that I posted on YouTube.

3. Make your own web image. Be as elaborate as you wish.

4. Photograph or scan it, and email it to me. Make certain that it's a good quality image. I find my iPad takes great photos for this purpose.

And that's it. The rest is up to me. I'll make a piece of artwork incorporating your image. What that exactly will be? I'm not certain, but I won't make an exact copy because it is important to me that you retain all the rights to your original work. I'll probably do some layering or such by projecting your image onto a large piece of paper. I just don't know. I'm looking forward to seeing just where this collaboration will take me. I'm looking forward to the discovery.

I hope that some of you will want to be Creative Collaborators. Thanks in advance.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Process of Discovery

As artists we must pay attention to the things that we keep coming back to for they hold our greatest potential.

We can intellectualize art as much as we want and have grand reasons for why we make it, but it all starts with a small seed of intrigue - a technique, a line, a color, a notion. We come back to this seed again and again revisiting  that technique, that line, that color or that notion, and slowly it grows into something.

At least that’s the way it is for me. I latch onto something and explore it over and over again until I can discovery the meaning of it. Usually it starts out as an unconscious mark to fill space in my journal or a simple thing to try something new. That is how all of my work has started - my Excavation series, my Palimpsests, my mixed media pieces. Over a great period of time I come back to the idea again and again. I play with it, cultivate it, develop it, and finally figure out what it means to me.

So, it is the same with my latest fascination. For much of the last fifteen years, I have explored imagery that has dealt with Connection - connection to self and connection with others, and the latest iteration of this Connection imagery is a web-like image that first grew out of a tree/artery image (see above) in a journal more than five years ago. Over those years, I have revisited that image, and pushed it and pulled it. I have explored a variety of materials from ink and marker to acrylic paint and paper cuts. Something about it fascinates me, and I am still trying to discovery what it exactly means to me.

It’s web-like, and tissue-like. There is a definite organic quality to it - like blood vessels or microscopic views of cells. I tend to use red a lot though I have explored black and blue as well. I know it’s about connection - connection to and with others. My Excavation series was all about the connection to myself - about digging deep and going within. The web is about the ties that bind us to others, but I’m not particularly sure how or why. But that is the fun of art - the discovery. If I knew what it all meant, what it all was to look like, I wouldn’t have to make the art. It’s all about the process of discovery.

I do know that this line of inquiry needs to grow larger in more ways than one. I do know that I want to involve creative collaborators, and I have some ideas in the works. I’ll share more soon. Until I hope you enjoy my latest direction.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Great Week

I'm happy to say that after weeks of feeling tired and aimless, I've had a great week and feel like I'm heading in a good direction.

It started off with a visit to art dealer Grey Carter's house last Saturday. Grey is a collector and dealer of Visionary Art and represents a variety of artists, many of whom have been featured at the American Visionary Art Museum. It is always inspiring to see the work of other artists, and my wife and I were particularly taken with the work of JJ Cromer. I was inspired to get it into gear and start cleaning and organizing the studio on Sunday.

Also, on Sunday, I was able to take in the artwork of good friend and metal sculptor Brian Kirk at an artist's reception at a local winery. I taught alongside of Brian for nine years when I taught high school art. Over the last few years Brian has been exploring rust prints and has devised a way to have steel objects, shapes, and plates rust onto watercolor paper. The results are unpredictable and very stunning. At the reception, I ran into another artist/teacher friend Steve Loya and his wife, and we spent the rest of the afternoon at another local winery catching up and having a lovely time. Steve is a longtime friend and author of the blog Go Flying Turtle. His Splotch Monsters are amazing.

So it was an art filled weekend, and though the week wasn't filled with as much art, I had a great week at school. Teaching art at the elementary level can be an amazing experience. The kids come up with some incredibly creative things, and their curiosity can't be beat. Too bad many of them lose those qualities as they grow. I also had time to finish the cleaning and organizing of my studio (See the photo above). I now have space to work, and I can actually find things. It was nice to purge.

To cap off a great week, I was able to work on some of my own art last night, and I feel like I'm getting back into the groove. And afterward, I spent the chilly evening relaxing in front of a perfect fire in the backyard fire pit. It is so calming to watch a fire burn.

What a great week. I feel like I'm opening up and letting the universe in.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Art of the Carolinas

In two weeks the Journal Fodder Junkies will be returning to Art of the Carolinas in Raleigh, North Carolina once again. We will be teaching two journaling/mixed-media workshops, and there is plenty of room left in both. So if you are in the Raleigh area or wish to take a trip to North Carolina, we hope to see you there. Click the links below for more information. It's not too late to sign up.

Art of the Carolinas - Raleigh, NC

Friday, November 8 - Alternative Approaches to the Self Portrait, 5:00 PM - 8:00 PM, $119

Sunday, November 10 - The Illustrated Manuscript: A Chapter in the Book of You, 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM, $119

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Turning a New Leaf

My life has swung amazingly out of balance lately. I have been feeling tired, disconnected, scattered, and woefully out of touch with myself. I've been feeling overwhelmed and pulled in many directions, and I've been forgetting a lot of small details. Unfortunately, this has been a familiar feeling over the last few years.

My studio has shown the effects of this mental imbalance with all its clutter, piles, and mess. It has been almost a year and a half since I thoroughly cleaned and organized the studio making it a difficult and uncomfortable place to work. So, I haven't worked there much. Although I have done some small works and have started a few larger pieces, I have allowed myself to be pulled from my work. I am feeling the effects tremendously.

I am trying to shift the balance, and this past weekend, I began cleaning and organizing the studio trying to purge the clutter and make sense of a lot of junk that has accumulated. I haven't quite gotten it completely cleaned and organized, but it's well on it's way and not the frightful mess like the picture above. I'll share another photo of the studio when I complete the overhaul.

I'm hoping that this major studio cleanse will be the start of a shift back to center to a state of greater balance and peace of mind.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Upcoming Workshops

Are you struggling with your art? Is your inner critic rearing it's ugly head causing doubt and frustration? Then we have the answer. Actually we have two answers, and both involve joining us for one of our upcoming workshops to get your creative juices flowing.

We will be teaching two classes each at Art Unraveled in August and Art of the Carolinas in November, and registration is going on for both. So, come and join us in Phoenix and/or Raleigh and jump start your art with some new ideas.

Art Unraveled - Phoenix, AZ, July 29 - August 6

Sunday, August 4 - Cultivate Creativity, 9:00 AM - 4:30 PM, $145

Monday, August 5 - Facing Doubts and Just Letting Go, 9:00 AM - 4:30 PM, $145

Art of the Carolinas - Raleigh, NC, November 7-10

Friday, November 8 - Alternative Approaches to the Self Portrait, 5:00 PM - 8:00 PM, $119

Sunday, November 10 - The Illustrated Manuscript: A Chapter in the Book of You, 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM, $119

We hope to see you at one of these.

Sunday, June 30, 2013


Although this summer has already been busy (Dave and I had our retreat, and I taught a weeklong journal camp for kids), I have had some time in the studio. I have been woking in the journal as well as on some small scale mixed media pieces, but I have also been working on some pieces that are starting to move into new directions.

For some time now I have been enamored with topographic imagery, and I have explored it a lot in my journal over the last couple of years. I love maps and the way they connect us to each other and our environments. I love how they are representational of those connections and relationships. I think the main reason why I have been attracted to topographic ideas has a lot to do with how they can not only show how high something is, but also how far something recesses - thinking of canyons and rifts. On a flat surface, the lines of elevation are only shapes and how close or far away from other lines, represents the steepness or flatness of an area. But once those shapes are cut out and stacked up, they begin to show the form. As a lover of paper, I am fascinated, also, by how a flat surface can be used to create form. More specifically, I like how the paper can create a form that recedes into the surface - how it can stack layer upon layer. I even experimented with some thin drawing paper back in February.

In the example above, I used twenty-five 11x14 inch sheets of Strathmore Imperial Watercolor paper to create the recession. Using a very sharp X-acto knife, I cut each piece individually beginning with the top layer. I haven't glued them yet, and I think that I want to cut out a couple more recessions that bleed the edges and break up the surface a bit more. The stack is about a half inch thick, and I'll probably glue it all together and seal it with Golden Soft Gel Medium and mount it on a cradle once I am finished cutting. I love the white relief, so I have no plans to paint it.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

JFJ: The Retreat

Dave and I were extremely fortunate to conduct our very own art retreat this week. It was an intimate affair with just five participants, but for four days we explored the visual journal at the Embassy Suites in Ashburn, VA, just 30 minutes from my home.

The group gelled very quickly, and we ended up eating lunch together and hanging out far beyond our scheduled time. Since we had the same room for the entire four days, it didn't take long for the art bomb to drop, and with three big round tables, everyone was able to spread out in order to take full advantage of the small group size. Besides sharing our perspective on the visual journal, we initiated several of the group into the ways of Farkle - a dice game where newbies swear that you're just making up the rules as you go.

With the creative energy and the camaraderie, it was fantastic group, and we felt very lucky to have Kathy, Kristy, Joe, Nicole, and Jackie join us for our inaugural retreat. We are definitely going to have another retreat next year hoping that it will become an annual tradition. We have even tentatively set the dates, June 26 - 29, 2014. We'll confirm up those dates later in the summer or early fall, but if you weren't one of our fortunate five this year, don't miss out next year.

Mark your calendars.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Layer 2

With the second layer for this series, I used Prismacolor watercolor pencil. Along with watercolor paint, watercolor pencil is one of my favorite media. I am particularly fond of using the pencil to define shapes by shading into the negative space and leaving the positive spaces untouched. This pushes the negative spaces into the image making them seem to recede from the surface. The spaces within the shapes seem to stay on level with the surface, thus starting the push and pull that I desire.

Since I worked on several pieces at once, I was able to experiment with a variety of color combinations and a variety of shapes. This watercolor pencil work begins to lay the compositional foundations for the pieces.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Layers - Step 1

I've been working on a series of small 4x6 inch layered pieces, and when I work small, I usually use the same process for each of them while experimenting with color, application, and imagery. So I've decided to share my process as a bit of a tutorial, and to let you in on what goes on inside my head as I work.

Layer 1 - Watercolor

With this series, I cut up a few pieces of Strathmore Mixed Media 400 Series paper and then began experimenting with watercolor. I relish the versatility and the transparency of watercolor paint, and I enjoy playing with brush strokes, stamping, and stenciling. I can quickly add a starting layer without much thought, set the piece aside, grab another piece, and try another color or another technique. With this piece I used mostly vertical brush strokes, and varied the value of the color. I didn't cover all the paper and left some white showing. With other pieces in this series, I stenciled using plastic mesh, stamped with bubble wrap, and painted random lines and shapes. I try to push myself out of my comfort zone and use colors and techniques that I normally don't use.

Stay tuned to see how this piece evolves.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Studio Time

Despite the sheer exhaustion from teaching elementary art, the busyness that springtime entails, and constantly trying to promote the retreat. I have managed to make it into the studio a few times over the last few weeks. Besides working in my journal, I've managed to begin a series of small 4x6 inch layered, mixed media pieces. I enjoy the small size because I can work on several at the same time often following the same basic process but experimenting all the while. Some pieces will grow into finished work, and others will stall and stagnate, but it is all part of the process. I'll reveal more as they develop.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Have You Registered?

June is quickly approaching, and we're hoping to have our very own retreat. But we need your help, and we need people to register ASAP. We're getting to a point where we are going to have to decide if we're going to have it or not because we have yet to meet our minimum. If we don't reach the minimum by May 15th, we're going to have to cancel, and we don't want that.

So many people have said they were coming but haven't registered yet. If you've been waiting to register or simply have been putting it off, don't delay any longer. Even if you can't come, we still ask for your help. Please share this as much as you can. We ask that you please post on your blog, Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest. Your friends, family, and readers may be interested, and we would greatly appreciate the help.

Details for Journal Fodder Junkies: the Retreat
Thursday, June 20, 2013 - Sunday, June 23, 2013
Embassy Suites Dulles - North/Loudoun in Ashburn, VA (just minutes from Dulles International Airport)
$450 for 3 full days of journaling madness
Participants are responsible for all lodging, meal, and transportation costs.

Please visit the retreat page for more info and to register. Don't forget to click the Buy Now button just below the registration form to complete the registration and reserve your spot.

We hope to see you in June.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Free Downloads

I've just created a page on the JFJ website full of free PDF downloads. Right now there are 30 downloads available. Most are resources that I use in my elementary art classroom, but some deal directly with the journal. More are planned for the future. Let me know if you want to see something specific or if you have comments, feedback, or questions.

All are protected by copyright, and are for educational purposes only. By downloading, people agree not to reproduce, display, sell, modify or distribute any of the material without written permission.

They are completely free for download, but there is a Donate button for anyone wishing to show their appreciation and support monetarily. I appreciate any support.

Click here to go to the Downloads page.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Art at hypnocoffee, Purcellville

Thanks to Dave, I hung a show at hypnocoffee, a local coffee shop in my town. Hypno has only been open for a few months here in Purcellville, but their shop and roaster has been open in Shepherdstown for a while now. Dave, who visits the Shepherdstown location nearly everyday, talked to the owner, Tony, and got us both shows. Dave's work adorns the walls of the Shepherdstown shop, and mine the Purcellville shop. It's cool to have simultaneous shows.

So if you're in Purcellville, VA or Shepherdstown, WV, make certain to stop by hypnocoffee to take in the art work of the JFJ and have a great cup of coffee. Hours are 7:30 AM to 6 PM everyday.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013


I love layers, and I love paper. This is an experiment that I did today with cutting layers from plain, white drawing paper. This 9x12 experiment uses a type of image that I have been exploring a lot lately. It has ten layers of the 90 lbs paper and is glued together with Elmer's glue stick, hence the buckling. But it is only an experiment, and I'm hoping to do more in the future. I would love to do this with a thicker paper, a bigger size, and more layers to have the relief effect more apparent. I'll just have to see where it goes.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Showing Up

In an attempt to show up more, I have been documenting the days that I work in the studio, as well as the time I spend working on art or in the journal outside of the studio. By marking this down on my calendar, which is in the back of my journal, I can see just how much I am showing up, and it becomes a great motivator to show up even more.

How do you find ways to show up? How do you stay motivated?

Friday, February 8, 2013

Show Up

I have been having trouble showing up lately. Work, life, and sheer laziness have been keeping me from the studio, my art, my journal, and this blog. Although there is a natural ebb and flow to the creative process, I have been feeling disconnected from myself lately. I am working on finding small ways to reconnect.

What keeps you from showing up? What distracts you from your creative ambitions? What gets in your way? Why do you allow it? What are your priorities? How can you find small, meaningful ways to connect to your art and show up more?

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Journal Fodder Junkies: The Retreat

Now that the new year is in full swing, we can turn to promoting our biggest event of 2013 - OUR VERY OWN RETREAT. After teaching workshops across North America in 2012, we decided to try something a bit closer to home, and we have booked a space at a local Embassy Suites in Ashburn, Virginia. We are offering three full days of Journal Fodder Junkie madness from June 20-23, and will share ideas, techniques, and concepts taken from our two bestselling books. But don’t worry, we have enough surprises in store to keep it fresh, exciting, and new.

The cost is $450 which covers the tuition for the workshop, and we are limiting this special retreat to 30 people. Participants are responsible for travel, lodging, and food expenses, and we do have a special rate with the hotel.

For more info or to register for the retreat go the retreat webpage. Hopefully you can join us for this amazing journey, so make certain that you reserve your spot soon. If it’s a success, maybe it can become an annual thing.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Inspirational Blogs

I am very honored to be considered a Very Inspiring Blogger by my good friend Erin from art-is-try and Artistry Studio. I met Erin more than four years ago, and I have been amazed at her journey from middle school art teacher to thriving artist. I am often jealous the she has been able to make a permanent exit from teaching public school - an exit that I would like to achieve someday soon. I am still humbled to be part of her journey.

As for my own rundown of inspirational blogs, I don't spend much time online line gleaning inspiration, and I stick only to a handful of tried and true blogs and websites. These are my top three.

Erin of art-is-try would be first on the list. I guess we're part of the mutual admiration club, but when I look at her stuff, I am completely blown away by what she does. And she does so much. She creates beautiful journals, amazing encaustics, rich journal pages, and amazing photos. She is so thoughtful with her comments and feedback, and she has been a great artistic accomplice always encouraging and nudging.

Steve of Go Flying Turtle would have to be next. I have known Steve since we were freshmen in college more than 21 years ago. Although Steve has stepped away from the land of blogs and such, his blogs are packed with years of old posts. Steve loves to draw from nature especially using his own photos as reference, but you'll find all types of artistic adventures on his blogs and website - mixed media, acrylic paint, photography, and comic art. And that's not to mention his reviews of music. His Splotch monsters are a delight, and here's hoping that Steve comes back to blogger-land some time soon.

Author Patti Digh would have to round out my top three. I have three of her books, and I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to meet her three years ago when she gave a reading in Cullowhee, NC. I enjoy her website and the blog that she shares with two friends, 3x3x365. Patti's words are always inspirational, and she really makes her reader's think. She often shares the work of her Verbtribe workshop participants and full-heartedly believes that anyone can write. On 3x3x365, she and two others share a photo a day everyday of the year accompanying their photos with poignant words. I want to be Patti Digh when I grow up.

I wish that I had a longer list of inspirational blogs. I just don't get around the ol' Internet like I used to. You can always check out my list on the sidebar for a few other blogs and websites of note.

Thanks so much to Erin for making feel appreciated, and thank you to everyone who visits and lingers a while. I hope that my blog can continue to be an inspiration. Now if I can just get back in the groove of regular posts.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Goodbye, Percy

We said goodbye to our sweet, three-legged shepherd/chow mix, Percy, last night. His health had been going downhill for the last few months, and helping him end his suffering was the only humane thing to do.

Percy came into our lives more than 11 years ago, and filled them with such joy. Before we adopted him, he was left with a fused back leg as a result of being hit by a car. Although his back leg was fused straight and virtually useless, it never slowed him down. The countless groundhog, rabbits, and squirrels that he chased and hunted down in our tiny backyard was a testament to that. After several surgeries to try to get his back leg workable, we decided to amputate, and Percy was better for it.

He enjoyed nothing more than carrying on in the backyard, and he so enjoyed his furry brothers and sisters especially a couple of cats who were always special to the boy. Percy devoted much attention to our cat Pop, as she would prance in front of him rubbing on him and flirting with him. We always teased that they were an item. Percy also loved playing with Aloysius, our orange tabby. Aloysius, or Squishy as we call him, would flop down in front of Percy and raise up his paws, and Percy would play bite, mouth, paw, and bark at Squishy. They would carry on and on, only stopping when Squishy was covered in Percy drool.

As he aged, Percy's back leg grew weaker, and then not too long ago he was diagnosed with liver disease even though he never showed any outward signs of its advanced state. Slowly it became hard for Percy to walk as his single back leg grew weaker. It started out as mere slipping as he tried to stand or walk on our hardwood floors. Eventually, we had to assist him in standing and walking by grabbing hold of his tail and using a sturdy harness. His appetite became uneven, and near the end he simply nibbled on dry food as he laid in his bed.

Several weeks ago, sores opened up on his feet and elbows. Nothing helped, and we ruled out causes that might be easy to fix. We had to resort to an e-collar (or cone) as a way to keep him from chewing on his sore paws. As the sores on his body became more numerous and as it became more and more of a struggle to stand, walk, and breathe, we made the decision. My wife stayed home with him one last day yesterday as they watched a Harry Potter marathon together. I'm sure Percy thought all the while that he could still take Fluffy, the three-headed dog. We had our last evening with him last night as we said goodbye and were joined by our friend Marcia. In the end our wonderful friend Dr. Krisi Erwin helped Percy peacefully and comfortably go to the Rainbow Bridge.

My heart is heavy and broken, but I know that his suffering is at an end. We will miss our guardian, and the house will seem so much emptier without him. But we are very grateful for having the chance to love our Percy dog.

Goodbye, sweet boy.