Not Just Any Dog

It's been less than a month since I settled onto some stone steps with good shade to do some sketching with my students in Pienza, Italy.  It's hard NOT to find a good spot to draw in this sweet town.

We had decided to leave the easels back at home (that week...our home happened to be a villa in Tuscany!). And to, instead, on this warm day, fill our sketchbooks with the lines and colors of  Pienza.

I had only made a few contour lines when a sweet old lab moved into the alley.  Glad to have a model who happened to resemble my sweet old lab, Blue, I quickly sketched in the pup before she decided to move on to sunnier stones.

Meanwhile, her Austrian companions took these photos with the promise to send them to me on their return home. We exchanged information and I happily agreed to send a copy of the finished drawing which included their sweet dog, Afra. 

It was not until I received Herwig's email and photos that I learned Afra's story:

Afra in younger years was in action as a therapy dog. Like all therapy dogs, she worked in the background without big publicity .
She touched the soul of dementia patients to conjure up a moment of peace, contentment and happiness in their faces,
as well as she helped people with psychological injuries and people with intellectual deficits or autistic traits.
In her active time she accompanied all these people.

Her activity also was honored in the year 2011 with an Austrian stamp.

In the meantime, Afra has become an old lady with more than 13 years and accompanies us, even when we travel to Tuscany.

During I’m writing this, Afra lays beside me and sleeps.

As a final gift....Herwig tells me that Afra's full name is Blue Dun von Straßburg – Kärnten.  So she shares a first name with my beloved Blue.

This is why I travel and paint, paint and travel.

Judy Rider, Me, Susan Grant and Susan Powers


  1. I love this story! It makes my heart sing today. Thank you!

    1. Thank you, Pam! I'd like to grow up to be more like Afra :-)

  2. Awesome, both you and the story!

  3. You couldn't make these things up...just goes to show that when you show up in life...magic happens in the most incredible way! So happy Blue let you know he is still hanging out with you!


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