Portfolio > Finding the Light

oil on canvas
60” x 48”

My family got Harvey as a puppy. One side of his face was white, the other black. When we were deciding what to name him my mom asked me what Two-Face’s name was. I answered, “Harvey!”

We had another shih tzu named Suzy (though I always wanted to write it ‘Tzu zee’). She was a little older and already trained to use the doggy door. Harvey learned to go outside very quickly. I sat down next to the door with him and when Suzy walked through, I pushed him along after her. That was all it took.

When I left for college, mom told me that Harvey waited at the window every day for me. I made it back regularly the first year and then spent the summer home. The next year I came home less often. My third year of undergrad Harvey came to live with me and my roommate. Harvey took better care of me than I did of him. Then I spent a few weeks studying abroad in Rome. I would ask mom how Harvey was doing, and I got the same response as years before. Harvey spent the summer waiting for me.

The next two years Harvey kept waiting for me, but in smaller intervals. I was trying to finish school. Trying to make the best paintings I could. Sometimes I would fall asleep in the senior studio and the janitor thought I was homeless. He almost called the cops on me before the department head reprimanded him. I brought Harvey to campus some nights. Once we had to hide from the janitor in a large box another student had outfitted for napping and reading.

After I graduated, Harvey stayed with my brother for a couple months while I was at a residency. The residency where I met Mel. I was ready to leave Arkansas and move to Buffalo, but without living there no one trusted me to be a real person enough to give me a chance to rent a room. The only place I found was a slum house. They didn’t allow animals (probably for the best) but I only intended to stay there until I could find a better place and a job. I did within a month. The only problem was that on my drive to Buffalo I ran over something in the road and blew my engine. So no car meant no way to get back to Fayetteville for Harv.

Once the school year was over, Mel drove me down to Arkansas and we were all together. The next few years were the best of his life. Especially once his teeth were removed. We went on walks every day. Hiked up mountains. Played in the snow. I would let him walk off leash way too much. He got so comfortable running down the stairs and out the door that sometimes he would start the walk without me. I would run around looking for him, but if he was smelling something (which he always was) he would completely ignore everything else. One time I thought I had lost him for good, but then an hour or two later he came walking to the house on a leash with the person who found him. She said that she brought him inside but after he was done hanging out, he wanted to leave. So, she let him lead her home.

These years it was Mel, Harvey, Hermione, and I. Mel left to go to a post-bacc program and then it was just me and the animals. Before she could finish the year, Mel came back home. We were in lockdown.

Best year for our family. We were all together and had no obligations. We went to the studio, but no more 40-hour work week. Harvey got so much attention; went on so many walks. He was never waiting.