I don’t have favourites.
I love dogs so much that we have three! I don’t (really) have a favourite, but I’m certainly their favourite human, especially for one of them and probably for all of them. It helps that I’m the one that feeds them of course. As a family, we have always had small dogs but we were persuaded to get a Germain Wire-haired Pointer and we’ve never looked back. Don’t get me wrong, I love our little 10-year-old smelly Jack Russell – Pippa. She’s grumpy, stubborn, lazy and will bite the ankles off any other dog that gets too close. But Doug, our first GWP, he’s all dog and also, without a doubt, a bit human. So, because he added so much to our family by being incredibly well behaved, easy to train, loyal and handsome….we thought we’d get another one! The two of them would look so great together strutting about in their huge gentle way. Ha ha ha. Angus. Yes, he’s loyal, loving and easy to train but he’s not a handsome GWP. He a big clumsy ball of fluff that somehow manages to attract dirt like a magnet. He’s also the happiest and daftest looking dog I’ve ever known.
I could go on talking about them, but that’s not the point of this post. I’ve illustrated a lot of books featuring dogs over the years. When they haven’t been title characters they’ve been featured in scenes about families and communities. Because they are just part of life. So I was delighted last year when I was asked to illustrate a series of three children’s books about rescue greyhounds. It’s a breed I didn’t really know much about other than the fact they seem to polarise people. The supporters and owners of greyhounds are a passionate bunch. They adore the characters of the dogs, their expressions and mannerisms. I can really appreciate this from having GWPs. But greyhounds also come with a whole load of rules attached to owning them. They have to be kept on a leash and muzzled when in populated areas for example. This comes from dogs being bred to race, treated badly and rehomed without guidance.
Kylie Miller is the author behind the book series. So far two have been completed. The first one, Albert, is out in the shops. The second one, Teddy is being printed. And the third one, Dotty, is still in the sketching stage. Kylie’s inspiration for writing the books comes from being involved in rescuing greyhounds, so the characters all exist. But although I haven’t met any of them it’s not difficult to find inspiration for drawing them. They have similar characteristics to my own dogs. They loll about, sleep on their backs and stare at you like you are the most important thing in their world. It’s been great trying to capture all that. I hope I have many more opportunities to illustrate dogs in the future.