I have a dog. His name is Pushkin. A strange name for a dog, one would think. Alexander Pushkin was a Russian author of the romantic era and is considered by many to be the greatest Russian poet. Now, my dog has some Russian ancestry, and when he was drunk, he got really poetic and romantic. I use the past tense here, because Pushkin is old now, he does not drink so much any more and his poetry has become very solid again, hard to get it out …he is still a romantic bugger though, and tells me very often how much he loves me when I hold him in my arms. Pushkin has learned English and Spanish in the meantime, but when it comes to such deep feelings, he goes back to his native language… and blushes much, as you can see on his portrait! The green thing around his waist, in case you wonder, is a kick boxing green belt. I’ll tell you about it later.
Anyway, a wonderful Russian lady called Ludmilla gave me that dog many years ago. She was the mother of a Russian painter with whom I had an art Studio in my previous life. I felt lonely quite often and had thought to buy a dog. Now, some Russian friends of Ludmilla wanted to get rid of one, not being able to deal with him any more especially because of his alcohol problems. This is how Pushkin became mine!
Now, I love to have a drink from time to time, red wine, champagne, beer, but I really don’t like alcoholism, it does change the people in a very bad way. So I decided to try to cure Pushkin. I could not face sending him to a detoxification home though, so I tried with him the only way I knew: sport! At that time I was learning kick boxing, and I simply took Pushkin with me. He really got into it, and we gradually made our belts together. And as soon as he got his yellow belt, I gave him the most wanted job in the world:
Miki’s Body Guard!
He took his job very seriously, especially when I was sleeping. He sat by the side of my bed, the whole night long, without closing one eye -at least I think-, holding a big banner, and written on it:
Miki’s Body Guard”
“Rude Boy” is by the way the label of a Spanish company selling stuff for kick boxers. It is an incredibly cute name and label, I love it! On the painting above you can see Pushkin proudly taking care of Miki (at the bottom of the sketch is written is Spanish: “Miki duerme aqui…”, Miki is sleeping here.. I obviously had no room left on the page to draw myself sleeping!)
In the meanwhile Pushkin is much more advanced in kick boxing, and is a green belt now, like me. But we both stopped our kick boxing career as I met Kevin, thinking I didn’t need to learn self-defence any more, and even less employ a body guard! So, green belt it is, and green belt it will stay!
As I said at the beginning, Pushkin does not drink so much any more. But it was a long process to get him clean, alcoholism is not really easy to cure, especially not when you are a Russian dog. Sometimes Pushkin fell back again, and instead of guarding my body in the night, he drank a whole bottle of champagne. In the morning I found him there, holding with a shaky hand a banner stating that he was sorry, that Rude Boy was drunk… poor thing, he looked so tired, and so guilty, I always had to forgive him!
I have many more stories and sketches of Pushkin from that time. I was focussing on learning drawing, especially portraits. Having no children, I often took him as a model…
His glorious days of body guard and model are finished now, but I still love him loads and he still spends his nights by the side of my bed… both eyes closed now!