The Dog's Tale

The Dog's Tale 1

The Dog's Tales: a series of posts in which Tilly has her say....

All these fairy tale posts are well and good,  but I admit to feeling neglected this week. I am, after all, the Muse of the studio (a role I perform to perfection, I think), yet for all the attention I've had here lately, you'd think I was just a dog.

Ah, but I must be patient. My People are artists, and artists are odd, absent-minded creatures, easily distracted. It is my job, as Muse, to take them in hand when they've strayed too far into imaginary bring them back to their physical senses, their animal bodies (why do People have so much trouble with this???), to the present moment and the everyday magic of the good smelly world around us.

So I push my cold nose into their hands and give them the stare that means: "Let's go for a walk." (My People cannot resist The Stare.)

The Dog's Tale 2

"Okay, okay," they say at last, laughing, closing the computer, putting down the book or paintbrush, and we head for the woods. People, I've learned, must be walked at least twice a day if they're to stay happy, healthy, and creative. (Use The Stare if your People resist it.)

I leave you with these words by Lao Tzu, which sums up my life philosophy:

"In dwelling, live close to the ground. In thinking, keep to the simple. In conflict, be fair and generous. In governing, don't try to control. In work, do what you enjoy. In family life, be completely present.”

People know this. They just need to be reminded. And that's where we come in.

The Dog's Tale 3

The Dog's Tale

Tilly plots to be the first Canine Poet LaureateThe Dog's Tales: a series of posts in which Tilly has her say...

We're supposed to be out of the office during this holiday weekend, but I've snuck back in while my People aren't looking so I can write up my Saturday post. My paws are a little clumsy, but if I sit up like a Person, I can just about manage the computer by myself. My post today is my first piece of canine poetry:

Ode to the Neighbor's Cats

Thou still unravish'd demons of fur,
      Thou taunting creatures of tooth and tail,
As brazen beasts as e'er there were
      Whilst over garden wall do sail:
What evil does thou plot today
      To taunt a brave and noble dog
Who's honor bound to chase away
      All cats who set foot in this yard?
 What beasts are these, half Siamese?
      What mad pursuit? What fleet escape?
What howls and barks? What wild ecstasies...


But wait, but wait...what's this?

The Path on Nattadon Not Taken

Oh no! I hear my People coming!

The Path on Nattadon Not Taken

Quick! Turn the computer off!


"Me? What am I doing? Uh...nothing."

Dog Howl

"Just sitting here chewing my bone...."

P.S. There are more of my poems hidden in the picture captions. Just run your cursor over them. Love, Tilly

Into the Woods, 4: The Dog's Tale

Tilly Coming Down From Nattadon Hill by Stu JenksThe Dog's Tales: a series of posts in which Tilly has her say....

I've been asked to give my thoughts on woods and wilderness from a furry, four-footed perspective. It's simple. We should spend more time there.

My People are intelligent People, and so I don't understand how they have gotten this matter precisely backwards. We spend some time each day outdoors, but many more hours in the House or Studio. Surely it is obvious that this is the reverse of what life ought to be?

My People like poetry, and so I present this poem by Mary Oliver to make my case. This poet belongs to a dog named Percy. Percy is very wise.

Percy and Books

Percy does not like it when I read a book.
He puts his face over the top of it, and moans.
He rolls his eyes, sometimes he sneezes.
The sun is up, he says, and the wind is down.
The tide is out, and the neighbor's dogs are playing.
But Percy, I say, Ideas! The elegance of language!
The insights, the funniness, the beautiful stories
that rise and fall and turn into strength, or courage.
Books? says Percy. I ate one once, and it was not enough. Let's go.


Photograph above: "Tilly Windling-Gayton Coming Down From Nattadon Hill" by Stu Jenks.

The Dog's Tale

What's this behind the oak?

I am the luckiest dog in the world, with woods and hills and fields to roam in, rivers to jump in, Evil Cats to guard my territory from, and plenty of Dastardly Squirrels to chase. Every day brings new surprises. Sometimes a deer bounds through the trees, or I flush a pheasant out of the grass. Sometimes I discover fresh fox poo (my favorite!), or wildflowers growing in a perfect circle where fairy feet have danced (we dogs can see the fairies, of course).

This week I spied a strange dark shape behind the old oak at the bottom of the hill. I thought it might be hedge witch or a troll (I found a troll quite close by last year) ...

...but it was another wild pony, down from the moor.  And she wasn't alone.

And she has a baby! All wet and wobbly and cute as a pup.

Behind her was a foal, still wobbly on its legs. I kept my distance, as I've been trained, but I wagged my tale, and the foal came walking over...while Mama Pony did the funniest thing.

Good grief, what is that pony doing???

She knealt down on the grass, rolled over and over, and kicked her legs. What fun!

What larks! hat joy! Can I join in?

First she rolled left, and then she rolled right...

It looks like fun!

...and then she rolled some more.

Maybe me and the baby could be friends. I could take her home and show her all my toys.

The foal battted her big eyes at me while the Mama jumped up and shook her tail...

But maybe she's still just a little too young.

...then Baby wobbled over to Mama, had a little cuddle...

Come back when you're older! I'll be waiting!

and they trotted away.

The Pony Dance 1

At home, I demonstrated for my People.

The Pony Dance 2

"First she kicked her legs like this," I said,

The Pony Dance 3

"and then like this and this."

The Pony Dance 4

I often do interpretive dance, and now I've learned some excellent new moves.

The Dancer's Reward

My People liked my Pony Dance much better than the last one, my Rolling in Fox Poo Dance. This time I got a nice new bone. Last time it was a bath and a telling off....

The Dog's Tale

Studio Bench 1The Dog's Tales: a series of posts in which Tilly has her say....

I like to stretch out on this bench by the studio, feeling the sun on my fur and thinking deep thoughts ... sometimes about bones. Sometimes about cats. Today, I am thinking about Zoroastrianism.

Here's what it says in a book called Symbolic & Mythological Animals by J.C. Cooper:

"Nowhere is the dog more venerated and cared for than in Zoroastianism. The Avesta and other sacred books say the dog symbolizes sagacity, vigilance and fidelity and is the pillar of the pastoral culture. It must be treated with the utmost kindness and reverence. Every household should not only give food to every hungry dog but the dog should be fed with 'clean food,' specially prepared, before the family itself is fed. At religious ceremonies a complete 'meal of the dog' is prepared with consecrated food and the dog is served before the worshippers join in the communal meal. A prayer is said as the dog eats."

I told my People that they should become Zoroastrians so that I can have special food and be venerated.

They said, don't be silly. You're already venerated plenty.

They have a point.

Studio Bench 2

Tilly's prayer at the end of a very long winter

Waiting for spring, 1

Please come, Lady Spring. Bring sun, soft rain, and mud gentle under paw and foot; swell the streams and wake the Wild Ones from their sleep. Oh, please hurry and come.

Waiting for spring, 2

I am dreamimg of grass river banks and bird song; of bluebells, stitchwort, pink campion; of tender young bunnies that I...umm, will not chase. And lambs. And I won't chase them either.

Waiting for spring, 3

I am dreaming of warmth, and doors standing open, and roaming from house to garden as I please. Of lounging near our front gate and bar- ....umm, not barking at all who pass by.

Waiting for spring, 4

Please come, Lady Spring, and bring Summertime with you. We didn't see much of her last year -- perhaps she's forgottten the way to our hill. So please bring her along, with her sweet peas and foxgloves, her salt sea winds and her cool woodland shade. But if Summer can't come yet, please come by yourself, and I'll keep you good company here.

Waiting for spring, 5

Winter was fun, but he's outstayed his welcome, sitting soused by the fire and refusing to budge. Our wood stocks are low, our spirits need thawing, my thick winter coat has now started to shed. Please come roust him out, send him back to the northlands. Please come just as quick as you can.

Waiting for spring, 6

I'll show you my hillside, my best spots, my secrets. You can sleep in my dog bed and share all my treats. Your favorite flowers are almost in bloom now. The bird choir is gathering, and my People have set you a place at the table. We're ready. I'm ready.

Please come.

Waiting for spring, 7Happy Spring, Festival of Ēostre, Easter, Passover, [insert your celebration here], from all of us at Bumblehill.

The Dog's Tale

Tricks & Treats 1The Dog's Tales: a series of posts in which Tilly has her say....

How to Train Your People to Give You Tasty Snacks

Step 1: Sit down and stare with Soulful Eyes. Sigh if needed.

Tricks & Treats 2

Step 2: Shake hands when you request your treat. This will impress them with your good manners.

Tricks & Treats 4

Step 3: Once you've mastered the techniques above, you are ready for the Prairie Dog Pose. For extra treats, combine it with Soulful Eyes and The Sigh from Step 1.

Tricks & Treats 5

Notice the paw position here. Paw position is crucial.

Tricks 5

Step 4: The Standing Pose is a Master Level move requiring strength, balance, and agility. You must stand up without bracing yourself, and maintain the pose long enough to differentiate between a Stand and a Jump. When you've mastered the Stand, your People will be putty in your hands. Use this power wisely.

Treats & Tricks

Do cuddle your People after their training sessions. This reward will reinforce the training and lead to future snacks.