My blind dog is stuck out in the garage. Much like me, his sight continued to degrade with age. The drug store readers are barely cutting it anymore, I’m already at the highest 3.0 magnification level and regularly switch from one pair to another several times a day. For an artist, for someone immersed in the world of color and form, sight is everything…well, for all of us really. We each experience transitions from the page to the screen and it means I have my non-prescription glasses on nearly 18 hours a day. Added to that, I become increasingly aware of small missteps in depth perception as I’m backing up, or in simply walking from the car to the door if the landscape is unfamiliar. Aging sucks.

It’s part of the reason I feel so passionately about the work of the Southeastern Guide Dog Organization and what it does for people of all ages. They train amazing dogs with even more amazing people. I’m particularly fond of the work they do with Veteran services in helping those with debilitating difficulties transition to independent living. It’s also why I am so thrilled to be participating as a guest artist in their upcoming Puppies on Parade community-based fundraiser. The puppies are temporarily fostered out to area artists who use talent and creativity in designing and producing dogs of splendor for public display and donation in a built-in dog bowl.

You’ll love seeing the creative outpourings these artists have brought to the puppies. And I’m reminded as I paint that not all blindness or eyesight problems are caused by aging. When I think about the fact that I can paint at this time, I have tremendous gratitute for the absence of hereditary factors, disease, accident, and more that might render you or me unable to navigate life without a trusted canine aid.

And so my dog is named “Value,” and he’s partially finished here in my make-shift garage studio which is not so beautiful and not so sophisticated. Life is like that, right? We’re now on five coats of Rustoleum Bright Coat Metallic Finish in silver and the first coat of Delta Creative Ceramcoat Glitter Explosion in gold. I have also hand-assembled an original fabric art collar out of ribbons in a nod to Sarasota’s circus history to give Value a little more oomph. And then there’s the glass-finish spray paint I caught sight of over at Lowe’s, but have to go back to get – it’s supposed to render a mirror-like effect that I think would be amazing for the finishing touch.

The parade and fundraising event, originally scheduled for late summer 2020 has been postponed due to Covid until a future date to be announced soon. We’ll keep you posted and hope you too can consider this humanitarian cause in your holiday gifting. In the meantime, I keep feeding Value and watering Value, and singing to Value, and admiring Value, and brushing Value, and keeping Value from running out in the road. I pour my love into Value because he gives so much love back to others and he could care less that my artist fingernails in Election Blue look like this is real life. He could care less and so could I.

Shauna Lee Lange of Sacrosanct Gallery exhibits and writes about art and environment especially in environmental art, climate art, eco art, and art of the natural world. She lives in a quiet house on the Florida Gulf Coast where she reads, thinks, draws, and networks all day long.