Before July 15th I had two English Bulldogs—both the best dogs I’ve ever had. Brijett is 12 years old and one of the toughest (and most strong-willed) dogs I’ve owned. She’s not much of a cuddler, enjoys time alone, is very demanding when she wants something, and would probably sleep all day if we didn’t wake her up for food and potty breaks. Beckham was my 8-year-old boy who was perfect. After having a dog like Brijett(very independent), I wanted a mellow dog who enjoyed being around humans, was very affectionate, and enjoyed cuddling. I got that in Beckham.
From the moment we brought him home, he was perfectly everything I had wanted in a dog. He had a sweet and precious demeanor—family and friends told me to certify him as a therapy dog. He would have been the perfect dog for visits to hospitals and retirement homes. He had this sensitivity to him that I had never experienced with previous dogs I owned. I look back and regret not certifying him because I know a lot of people would have benefited from meeting him.
Losing him unexpectedly on July 15th was heartbreaking and a complete and utter shock. Without reliving the details again, we didn’t feel it was his time to go. I always hoped he would cross the rainbow bridge peacefully, at an older age, with us by his side. For all the ways he enriched our lives, that’s the ending he truly deserved. Life decided differently, however, and now we will learn to live without him. We are doing our best to remember our favorite moments with him and stay grateful for the 8.5 years we were blessed to have him.
After losing him, I’ve become more aware of how he changed the atmosphere in my studio. In memory of him, I wanted to take a moment and talk about all the ways our pets impact our creativity and change the dynamics of our workspace.
They Help Boost Our Creativity
- Having pets(especially dogs) encourages more outdoor activity—walking improves creative thinking and fresh air encourages more creative responses than sitting.
- Beckham loved being outdoors, which meant I was outside more often than if I was on my own. The experiences we had outdoors inspired many of my paintings/collections.
They Encourage Gratitude
- Gratitude helps us savor and appreciate the time we have in our studio. It keeps us humble and grateful for our ability to create for a living.
- Most pets I’ve met are easy to please and thankful for any time and attention we give them.
- I often look at dogs and want to live with the same gratitude for every moment/thing I have on earth. Beckham taught me to be grateful for my blessings—family, monetary wealth(or even lack), nature(flowers, birds, sunshine). Everything made him happy, which encouraged me to be the same way. Taking this spirit of gratitude into my studio helped put me in the right mind frame.
They Help Lift Our Mood
- Having pets is an automatic mood booster. Many studies have found that people with pets live longer--spending more time outdoors and having faithful companionship were two main factors in those studies.
- Owning a business comes with its ups and downs. Additionally, running a creative business means you’re constantly guarding and protecting your creativity from anything that’s a hindrance to it(stress, anxiety, depression, hectic schedule, etc.). Having Beckham in my studio helped keep my stress levels low, encouraged me to breathe deeply, and helped me maintain my happiness even when things got tough. Whenever I was stressed or anxious, one cuddle from Beckham would make me feel better!
They Teach Us to Take Breaks(impacts focus and creativity)
- When you have pets, your attention is sometimes diverted—from food/potty breaks to them simply needing your attention. Sometimes it feels like a hassle, but taking breaks is one of the best things you could do for yourself! Taking breaks helps us to reset and clear our minds, which helps us stay productive and focused the rest of the day.
- Without my dogs, I would lose track of time and skip meals more often. When I get into the creative flow, it’s hard to break free from that. Having dogs, however, has taught me to put the brush down and give my body and mind a break. Inevitably, I am a better artist when I allow myself to take a breather every once in a while.
They Help With Isolation
- If you’re an artist, you understand how isolating the job can be. We spend several hours of our day, alone in the studio. Imagine trying to be an artist in an office environment—yeah, that wouldn’t work! Too many distractions hinder the creative process, which is why we need a more isolated work environment.
- Isolation isn’t good for the human spirit, however. Having Beckham in the studio helped with the pitfalls of isolation. Even though I didn’t get much human interaction during the day, at least I wasn’t alone. Because I wasn’t alone, I felt mentally healthier daily.
They Make Us More Mindful of The Products We Use
- Having a pet in the studio exposes them to some of the harmful ingredients found in the products we use. On the upside, however, it makes us more mindful of what we are using, why we are using it, and if the products we use are necessary.
- From the moment I started painting, I knew I wanted to paint with oils. I also knew that I needed to do a lot of research because of the toxic ingredients used to oil paint(mostly from paint thinners and mediums). Since Beckham was frequently with me in my studio, I didn’t want to risk compromising his health. I knew I could protect myself by wearing a chemical respirator, but they don’t make those for dogs. So, I became more mindful of what I brought into my studio. Because of Beckham, I am thankful I can say I operate a studio free from harmful toxins.
If you bring a pet to your studio, cuddle them for me, and don’t forget to thank them for all the positive ways they impact your daily atmosphere.
Here are my favorite pictures of Beckham in the studio with me: