One day, I received an email from a young lady whom I did not know. She introduced herself very formally and told me her name was Apocalypsebunny. She said she was from England, that she was an artist, and that she belonged to a community of artists in an online social network called deviantArt. There, she had an online website where her work was exhibited.
She explained to me how she had been searching the web for an image of a special person or animal – she was not sure what it would be – to complete an imaginary creature she had created. She was lacking the correct image on which to base the head. She went on to say that after an extensive search of the entire web, she came upon, of all things, our dog, Casanova’s picture, on the home page of the Blyss Kennels web site. She explained how highly she regarded Casanova’s photographic portrait depicted there. We greatly admire it ourselves. Actually, it is the logo we use for Blyss Kennels. Casanova’s head is exquisite, and it is one of his finest features. However, she believed Casanova’s head had the components for which she had been searching for a long time. It would complete the head of a fantasy creature she had created and would allow her to move forward in a project of her work that had been stalled for some time. She asked if she could have our permission to use elements of Casanova’s head for that of her fantasy creature in her work!
I was never so shocked in my life to read a message. I was flattered that she had selected Casanova, our very own dog. Moreover, I felt most honored, too, that she extended the courtesy of asking for our permission to use the photograph. Had she just taken the image and used it, we would never have known. Access to the deviantArt website is password protected, and I never would have found it. However, she gave me a URL to where her work resided so I could view the kind of art she created. There, she had drawings of the fantasy creature on which the likeness of Casanova’s head would be applied. It was definitely fantasy style art, not realistic, although she had several pictures of horses and flora that were quite realistic and beautiful. I could tell she had a deep love for animals and nature. It was truly an extraordinary request.
After several messages were exchanged between us, clarifying how this image would and would not be used, I granted the young artist permission to use this photograph of Casanova’s head. I granted her complete artistic license with it. I also understood his head would be greatly modified and not exactly replicated. My husband and I took it as a complement. We felt flattered that our dog was selected by her, and very proud of Casanova.
During our many exchanges, the young artist told us she had visited many dog websites, and had selected borzoi as her choice of dog because of their inherent beauty. Even then, she had gone to many other borzoi websites, some of which were for very renowned kennels, and she selected Casanova of Blyss Kennels over the others. This is Casanova – he never earned a conformation point in the show ring. Yet, on his own merit, he was selected by an artist to be a model, and his image inspired an artistic vision to find expression.
I felt very good about this online experience, yet I wondered if I would ever hear from her again. The weeks passed into months, and once in a while I thought about her. Then, one day, I received a message from her that contained an attachment. She wrote me a lovely message concerning how pleased she was with how her modified image of Casanova’s head for her fantasy creature had turned out, allowing her to complete the project. She thanked me again for allowing me to use Casanova’s portrait. She included several URLs for me to visit at deviantArt where the creature could be found, and yes, the attachment contained a lovely finished portrait of the fantasy creature’s head – the modified head of our very own borzoi, Casanova. The attachment contained a formal portrait of the head as a gift.
So, yes, Casanova ~ Lara’s River of Dreams ~ is a very special borzoi in ways never previously imagined. He has always been a special boy to us because he was our first borzoi. When he first came to us, he was far more than we ever imagined. He came to us as a young adult dog. We thought he would be “just a dog” – and we were in for a big surprise. A borzoi is never “just a dog”! We learned so much from him. No previous assumptions about dogs applied; we had to start from scratch. We learned about sensitivity, patience, nuance, emotions and respect. It took a lot of time and study. Yet, far away, an artist saw his photograph on a website and saw his special qualities the picture captured: his unique spirit, his delicacy and sensitivity, his great capacity for love, and more. The young artist understood all of that immediately. Those were the qualities she wanted to capture for her fantasy creature to be complete.
I confess that I had reservation when I granted her permission. She was a stranger, after all. And, this was deviantArt, a very bold, and trendy, modern style of artistic expression based Los Angeles, far from our New York City tastes. I was also a little bit frightened that Casanova would be defiled in some way. However, I took a blind leap of faith and trusted the young artist after the exchange of several messages had passed between us. I remembered what it was like to be young, and to reach out, to ask, to try to grow, to learn, and how hard all of that was… To trust was easy. I gave the young artist her chance with my dog and hoped for the best. The results were a surprise for sure; something different from what I would have commissioned but a resounding success. I am so pleased with both the portrait and the outcome of my relationship with the young artist whose career I plan to follow closely. After all, I have an original. Interestingly, she gave the portrait a name, “Elegance”. Casanova would like that.