Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 in Review!

2009 is coming to a close and I promised a poll!

Really, I've gone through phases over the years of making huge lists of resolutions or none at all. New Year's eve is a fun date on the calendar, but it's meaning is more symbolic than anything to me. However this year the planets have aligned such that I'm finding myself very reflective the past week or so, particularly about my art business.

Although it's technically been over a year since I started Cat-in-a-Box this still seems like a good time to call an 'anniversary' and take stock. This year has been an exploration and a bit of an experiment - for someone with no background in the business side of art it has been a huge learning experience. I've gone about some things in a pretty inefficient or backward manner, but I've learned every step of the way. In the last six months I finally feel like things are falling into place (though it may not look that way from the outside).

The main purpose of this post is to address, what else but the blog! Anyone who's followed the blog since it's inception will know that the subject matter has been a bit random - from posting progressions of works-in-progress to showcasing new art, talking about the technical side of the media I work in and peppered with some more personal entries. This has been a bit of planned randomness to help me get a feel for blogging and see what people are interested in.

Now there are analytics and numbers that can track what entries people are looking at (and I have a tenuous grip on such things so I will be looking at them) but call me an old-fashioned gal, I just can't look at numbers alone. So the purpose of this post is really to ask for feedback from anyone who's reading this blog entry:

~ what things have you enjoyed about my blog?
~ what things did you skip over?
~ what would you like to see that isn't here?

If you have a moment please leave a comment, or take a quick second to fill out the poll to the upper right of this post (it will be up for one week). If you'd prefer to send an email, by all means - send it to, or use the 'contact' sheet on my website (please note that the website is undergoing some revisions so if you hit upon an ugly page please ignore it and come back next month! :D).

In 2010 I want to take a more directed approach to this blog, and continue the newsletter as a companion to the blog. If you have not signed up for my monthly newsletter please consider doing so! Your feedback will be tremendously helpful in both areas!

Now this being an art blog we need at least one image! So here's the latest 100 dogs sketch:

(you can read more in the Newsletter, and also see this dog's bad habit :D)

See you next year!!

~ Pam

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy Holidays!

Happy Christmahanukkwanzakah!

Whatever you celebrate everyone here is hoping that you have a happy midwinter holiday season! Our Christmas tree is up and our little four (and three) legged family members are all with us for the time being.

This will likely be Laurich's last Christmas with us - the old man will sure enjoy his gift (he still hasn't caught on that his gift is always a nasty, smelly bone from the pet store... or at least he never complains at our lack of imagination in gift selection!)

And Dufus wishes to express his extreme enthusiasm for the holiday and the jingly neckband.... (either that or he's plotting my demise?)


For those of you who read my previous dog sketch post here, the sketch has been turned into a scratchboard - completed just in time for Christmas! I can show this one because Cali's owner has seen it already... after Christmas I'll have another board or two to show off *wink*.

'Cali' 5 x7" Scratchboard

After this weekend it will be time to start preparing for the new year. A great time to evaluate status and set some goals. My art and studio business have changed and grown in the last year, it will soon be time to figure out where I want to go in 2010. I hope you come along for the ride - or at least stay tuned until the next post (hint: There's gonna be a poll!).

Merry Christmas one and all!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Ballet inspiration

My husband and I went last night to see The Nutcracker performed by the Aspen/Santa Fe ballet. Though it's traditional and rather girlie, we both had a great time. The dancers are just amazing - the strength and control they have goes beyond impressive. The costumes were so lush. The whole thing was just a visual feast.

Watching something like that - the music and movement, the colour and grace - just makes me want to draw or paint. I came home and just sat with the cats sketching for a bit. Some of the sketches are random gesture drawings out of my brain and some are from references of ballet dancers I pulled up.

Thanks to Oude School (Flickr) for the reference for this one ^^^

A deviation from my dog challenge and pet portraits, but in the hours after the show I could totally understand why Degas and so many others have chosen to use ballet dancers for subject material over the years. Maybe next time I drag my hubby to the ballet I'll take my sketchbook along :D

Sunday, November 29, 2009

100 Dogs Challenge - #2 and #3

The 100 dogs challenge continues!

These two sketches are prep work for a current scratchboard commission I am working on. I was lucky enough to meet little Cali in person this summer - the first sketch is from a photograph of her when she was younger, the second is from one I snagged.

'Cali' (5 x 7" and 7 x 9" graphite on paper)
(c) Pam Boutilier, 2009

She is adorable from any angle, but the first sketch is the one that speaks most to her mom's heart so that is the one we are using for the scratchboard.

I knew when I started the project that it would take awhile to get 100 sketches done, especially with the hectic nature of the holidays as well as the upcoming shows and art events I hope to enter, and that is exactly why I did not put a time limit as part of the goal.

Having set it out that way I find that even though it may be a few weeks before I get to the next sketch, I'm already looking forward to it! I have a pile of reference photographs that I am eager to work on and, like Jazz, maybe some of them will speak to me more loudly and get developed further. Artistically this project is shaping up to be a very valuable tool.

I'll keep you posted as more sketches emerge!

~ Pam

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Original Cat-in-a-Box

A little reminder of the namesake for my studio today!

I am in the process of shuffling around studio space (moving to a whole new room, yay!) which has caused a lot of chaos and not a lot of blog posting (I promise more art coming very soon!).

I grabbed a fresh file folder box to replace the beat up one I was using for recycling and before I even got it into the room Dufus had decided to try it on. Any of you out there with cats know about this behaviour :D

~ Pam

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Sneak Peak Sunday....

My current project-in-progress (well, one of them anyway)- recognize this one?
(hint: Check out my last blog post

Monday, October 19, 2009

Going for 100

This post is a bit of a non sequitur, but by posting it here I make it real, so here goes.

Something in the October issue of The Pastel Journal caught my eye - it was an article entitled 'Going for 100' by pastelist Marla Baggetta about her self-challenge to paint the same small landscape 100 times. I am focusing more on scratchboard and whiteboard these days than the pastels, but the basic concept applies regardless of your medium. It's not a new idea - on WetCanvas there are very often challenges such as '100 x in 100 days' ranging from subjects, subject groups, media, etc. People often do similar challenges without the time limit.

The reasons for such a project are many - for many animal artists it is a way to explore a range of species or breeds, giving you a framework to systematically study their differences. For some it is a way to stretch their knowledge of a particular subject - to capture it from different angles, maybe even in different media. Marla Baggetta's goal was as a practice in gesture painting. She limited herself by time and size so that each painting was spontaneous. Her rationale was that if I know I'm doing 100 versions of this same scene I will mentally relax. Some of them will be crappy, some of them will be great (refer to my previous blog entry about the paralyzing effects of worrying about perfection). Also, by using the exact same scene for all of the paintings she was able to put away worries about subject, composition, etc and focus on the subtleties of colour and value instead. This, in turn, led to taking more chances and working sometimes outside of her 'box'.

I've been intrigued by this idea for some time and it falls on my perpetual 'someday I'll do that' list. Well, fellow procrastinators out there know that particular list rarely ever gets accomplished. Unless you say you're going to do it in your blog and newsletter... then you have enough external pressure to fuel you (right? Hm, we'll see I guess).

So... I'm officially announcing my self-imposed 100 Dog Challenge. My personal goals are to explore some breeds that I may not otherwise ever 'get around to', to shift my focus away from the end product (like Marla Baggetta said - not all of these are going to be masterpieces), to loosen up with my sketching and to produce 100 dog sketches!

1) 100 dogs, any media on paper is acceptable

2) Limit to roughly 1hr/piece (ie I will try to not spend more than 1 hour on each one - this promotes the 'gesture drawing' component of this project, this is not a hard and fast rule)

3) No time limit to complete this project (between my other art commitments and full-time job I think that would be a bit too much)

4) I will only include sketches from this post onward (no cheating here :D)

5) I will post all of the sketches (even the ugly ones) here on the blog as they are completed

And to show that I'm really serious about this, here's my first sketch:

Jazz (9 x 12" graphite on paper)

This is a beautiful doggie I met at the Basalt Sunday Market. I loved the way the light caught his face as he sniffed the air. It took a bit more than an hour (closer to 1.5 hours - see, there I go breaking the rules already!). I might turn this one into a whiteboard, if I do I'll be sure to post it in a future entry.

So welcome along for my 100 dogs journey! I hope you enjoy the art - comments are always welcome!! Let's see what 100 dogs does for me, and if any of you are artistically inclined I encourage you to consider your own 'Going for 100' challenge!

And in other news...

If you prefer to get your Cat-in-a-Box blog fix straight into your email inbox sign up for my new NEWSLETTER!

~ Pam

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Inspiration is for Amateurs

"Inspiration is for amateurs, the rest of us just show up and get to work."

- Chuck Close

I came across that quote on and it clicked. So often my art starts to lag, and almost invariably that correlates to my own mental state, a state which I am increasingly learning to associate with 'waiting for inspiration'.

What it really consists of is self-doubt... I start to get all kinds of ideas of things I want to do, I look at other people's art (which is, in itself, a great way to get inspired), but then I start overthinking it. I think 'if I want to do that, I should really plan it out perfectly so it comes together well' and 'I have all these reference shots of the cats, but if I could only catch this one in that angle of sunlight - maybe I'll wait until I can get some morning sunlight shots'. And before you know it three weeks has passed and I've talked myself out of starting the project before I take blade to board (or pastel to paper, or whatever medium I'm avoiding at the time).

The idea behind the quote above is that sitting, waiting or planning for perfection is all well and good - but if you are trying to be a professional artist (ie. if you want to make any money from your art) that's just not good enough. Few people would produce enough to be viable (okay, *I* would not produce enough). But more than that.. focusing on perfection is stifling. First you limit what you are willing to try, then you limit yourself more. You stay in your safety zone because you know you can produce something of a certain calibre. But if you do this for any length of time you don't grow as an artist. You stagnate. And the worst part of it is that stagnant art is very obvious - and not all that appealing. It's a bad vicious cycle.

But it's such an insidious cycle - one I've fallen prey to many times. Knowing that I'm susceptible to this I've taken the title quote, printed it out in big font and stuck it above my drafting table - so each time I'm sitting staring at a blank board (canvas, paper, etc) waiting for inspiration I can hear Chuck telling me to get off my keister and just do SOMETHING. In really dire straits just grab the nearest object and make it into a still life - I know in the past I've surprised myself with how much I like some of the most unlikely subject matter once I got working with it (I recall a particular cupcake a year or so ago...). It may not turn out to be the primo best work that I've done, but then again it might.... and at the very least I'll learn something from it!


In other news...

If you've been following my erratic blogging efforts you'll know that I've been attending the Basalt Sunday Market with a little booth for the past month (really it's been a fair amount of work, being the first time I've set up a booth or sold prints - that is my excuse for the aforementioned erratic-ness of the blogging).

Each week I set up my easel and work on a piece - the board that I've been working on is a 16 x 20" scratchboard that I posted a teaser detail of a few weeks ago. Sandy was close with her guess - at least the textures were right! Here's an update:

This is Ben - the Belgian draft horse that I had in vet school. When I moved we had to sell Ben, he went to live on a big Belgian farm and finally decided he was okay with the harness after all (thanks for the bruises, Ben!).

Even on a 16 x 20" board this doesn't come close to his real size - in reality his head was the length of my arm, meaning that if he was nuzzling my armpit I could just reach his poll (the very top of his head between his ears) with my outstretched fingers! Any horsey people out there can see how I used the 'natural' approach to grooming :D

And a close-up detail of his muzzle (so soft!):

Anyone who is in the Basalt area this weekend (Sunday, Oct 4th) stop on by and see "Ben" (the scratchboard) in real life! This is the last week for the market, after this I'll be working in the studio and working on that whole discipline thing I recall mentioning some time ago! ;)

~~ Pam ~~

Monday, September 14, 2009

Extra! Extra! Read all about it! The website is live!!

And we're off and running!

The Sunday Market went great - minimal sales (everyone had a slow day for sales, the wine vendor near me only sold two bottles all day) but I achieved the goals I had set out to do.

With this venue and timing my goals were to practice setting up and running a booth (check) and to get some exposure. I worked on my 16 x 20 scratchboard and plenty of people stopped to watch and comment, I got to talk about scratchboard and hear plenty of pet stories. Basalt is such a dog-friendly neighborhood, my hubby put out a big bottle of water for all the dogs that were coming by which often resulted in the attached owners stopping in for a peek. We handed out business cards and brochures to anyone who would take them - if even one person orders a commission then the Market was a great success!

Our booth (not the best picture - it looks pretty crowded here but it really was pretty streamlined)

Band dogs taking five:

Another shot of the Market:

And... as an added extra surprise a photographer with the Aspen Times decided to take my picture!

Plus I got a couple of hours' work done on my big board - I luckily have no problem working with people looking over my shoulder, my biggest worry was working on an easel as I usually use a slightly inclined drafting table. The easel worked quite well, I was surprised! I won't use it in my studio where I have the drafting table available, but if I do ever wish to work outside (and the next few weeks at the market I will most certainly be doing so) I know I can quite comfortably!

I also mentioned a newsletter - as soon as I work out a couple of kinks I hope to send out the first issue - it will essentially mirror the blog, so you blog followers have a head start - but if you wish to receive the newsletter and you aren't sure if I have your email address just send me a quick note at Pam(at) Once I learn a bit more I'll have a sign-up on my website (or here on the blog), but until then I'll be working from my email list.

And last, but by no means least, this weekend was also the launching of! Check it out! There's a bit of content to add and some tweaking left to do - but the website is live and Cat-in-a-Box is officially launched!!

So all in all a successful weekend - but very little sleep. Framing and matting and last minute things (those little things like title/price labels for the pieces) kept me up until 3am the morning before the market, then we got up at 7am to go to the market. But coffee and adrenaline kept us fueled through the day and it was, all told, a thoroughly enjoyable experience! We're looking forward to next week's market!

If you're in the Basalt are come and visit us at the Sunday Market!

~ Pam

Sunday, September 6, 2009

A long delay - but with an explanation!

To my blog readers - apologies for the inordinately long delay since my last post! It has not been without good reason, I've been very busy getting ready for the 'official' launch of Cat-in-a-Box Studio!

We're coming up on a year since this blog was started! In some ways that's shocking ('It's been a whole year??') and yet at the same time I can't believe it's only been a year! Though Cat-in-a-Box was conceived in September 2009, it's really been gestating all this time. I've made some sales and read lots about marketing, I've worked on finding my artistic style and enjoyed exploring different media to see what suits me best. But despite fits and starts there has been no defining moment that's felt like the shift from 'work in progress' to a real business. With my artwork that moment is when I sign it - and I've been feeling that I need such a moment for Cat-in-a-Box.

And that moment will come on September 13th!

When I realized that I need some kind of defining event for the business launching I decided that it will be my debut at the Basalt Sunday Market. I signed up for the market this spring - it's your standard small-town market with booths and a variety of merchants. The town of Basalt is charming and I go to town as often as I can. The market itself has been lively and crowded each weekend that I've visited (it runs every Sunday from July through October) and my block will be the final quarter - from September 13 - October 4th.

But a launching takes more than a market booth! The other arms of the launch will be the opening of my website and the Cat-in-a-Box Newsletter which will serve as a companion to this blog! Links to everything will be posted next weekend when they are launched!!

So if any of you blog-readers are in the region of Basalt, Colorado - please stop by the Sunday Market!

And everyone else, thanks for bearing with me this past month - now that the preparatory work is over I can get back to regular blogging - for your patience I'll leave you with a glimpse of the scratchboard that's on my drafting table right now. This is only a small portion of what will be my largest board yet (16 x 20").

Can you guess what it is?

~ Pam

Friday, July 17, 2009

Another Whiteboard - Nessie

In this post I'd like to share with you my second full whiteboard. The Rosie board went so well that I think I'm addicted now! But they are a time-consuming art form - so in the process of doing Nessie I also worked on a couple of black and white scratchboards.

Nessie is one of our cats - a little tiny lilac point siamese with a very big mouth. She is all demure and dainty until she gets her panties in a knot at 2am and decides to announce her opinions to the household. Sleeping is her favorite pastime (though that could be said of most cats, I guess), and I am convinced that this feline would be very happy if her little paws never tread upon anything that wasn't a human body (seriously, you can't sit more than 5 minutes in one place without this cat clambering onto your person).

I chose this reference photo because of the peaceful expression (she really is rather lovely when she's not talking) and the dramatic light. I have a thing for the effect of a backlit cat ear - you get to see just how thin that skin is, and the delicate outline of light reflecting off the tiny, fine hairs of the ear margin.

This image is a bit washed out -I purposely decreased the contrast and increased the light so I could see the direction of hairs and small details in the darker areas (my reference shots always undergo some photoshopping before they are appropriate to use for scratchboard).

This piece will be done on a 6x6" Whiteboard with Ampersand inks. The preliminary sketch is transferred onto the whiteboard with graphite (basically I use a graphite stick to cover the entire backside of the sketch in my sketchbook, then retrace the lines with the page laying over the whiteboard). The first inking I do is the background - you can see my graphite guidelines from the preliminary sketch. It takes several layers of ink to get a nice, deep background color - this one is using alternating layers of black and sepia ink:

And continuing with the base painting (The scanner made this image warmer than it truly appears, but it gives you an idea). I've exaggerated the light in her left ear, it will get toned down as this continues and I want to preserve that look of translucency and backlighting:

And now the scratching! The repeated layers of scratching and re-inking is what gives us more depth. In the next series of images you can see how I start by scratching in the darkest areas, re-inking them (though hard to see on a small scan this leaves beautiful, subtle texture in the shadowed parts), and then scratching the medium-value areas, and so on.

Some detail shots (larger than life):

And here is the final portrait:

"Nessie" 6x6" Ampersand whiteboard, scratchart and ink (c) Pam Boutilier, 2009

Thanks for checking in!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

This is what you get for listening to Kenny Rogers

It's coming up on my mother's birthday soon, she would have been 72 in a couple of weeks. I'm using that as an excuse for the fact that I spent a couple of hours last weekend hunting down old Kenny Rogers, Merle Haggard and Charley Pride songs on YouTube. I guess it's no wonder that the next morning I woke up with an image in my head - an image I couldn't shake. I kept hearing the lyrics to 'The Gambler' and seeing this cowgirl studying her cards. So I decided to not let it slip by.

While the image was fresh in my mind I dug out my old cowboy hat (a souvenir from the Calgary Stampede) and found some playing cards. It was in my head that poker involved 5 cards - and sadly neither my husband or I were sure, but aesthetically 5 cards worked so that's what I went with. After a half hour of my incredibly patient hubby helping me shoot reference shots from different angles, and another hour of cutting, pasting and manipulating the images in Photoshop, I finally finished a good reference shot to work from.

Now my intent was not to copy this exactly - it's not going to be a portrait, and I don't look like a cowgirl. So I reshaped it a bit in photoshop and I reshaped it more when working on the scratchboard. She started having a hardened sort of look, which I really liked so I developed that further - at this stage it was a bit more of a grimace than I wanted...

The next steps were to soften her mouth a bit, and lay out more of the scratching (hat, hair, hand) and continued reworking of her face. I have not done much human skin before - it is a very different creature on scratchboard than fur!!

After this I relaid shadows with ink - in this way I get fading textures into the darkness instead of a sharp demarcation between light and shadow.

Lastly... numerous little touch ups and of course my favorite bit - the cards! And here is the finished picture....

"Know when to hold 'em" 9x12" Ampersand scratchboard

Some detail shots:

I hope you've enjoyed this board, I sure enjoyed doing it! I plan to offer prints of this one, as soon as I get my business side up and running fully. Watch for posts!

Oh, and does anyone know if 5 cards in your hand makes sense for poker?? (I really need to learn to play poker some day!)

~ Pam

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Rosie - Adventures in Whiteboard (Part II)

Welcome back!
If you haven't seen Part I and would like to, please take a look here.

The next stages of the process are more fun to look at than to elaborate on. Basically, with the underpainting done we start a looooong series of layers of scratching, painting, scratching, painting. The scratching starts with the darkest areas - individual hairs and details are scratched, then a thin layer of ink applied to color the scratches (though not as dark as the underlying painting), once that is dry further details are scratched. Kind of like reverse Ukranian Easter eggs!

As we continue on I get to work on my favorite areas - the eyes/nose/muzzle. My favorite in general because this is where the personality and expression is. The eye received at least 5 layers of ink and scratching.

Because of the flash in this photo there was no reference detail available for her forward foreleg (photos with flash are never good as art references, but this one had enough other positives that I wanted to use it anyway). To compensate for this I've added some shading and approximated the hair directions - it's not ideal but the best I could do with the material I have.

And a surprising development.. my overall favorite part of this piece ended up being the claws! To think I was dreading them when I started it... they looked difficult to do (both from a textural and a color standpoint). It seems in every piece there's one bit that is my favorite - in the dachschund scratchboard it was his little toepads. Sometimes it's an eye or an ear. In this one.. the jagged claws with long quicks that we could only trim back so far and grew like weeds!!

And after about a month of scratching and inking and scratching and inking we end up with a finished portrait!!

"Rosie" Ink on Whiteboard, 2009 (c) Pam Boutilier

I hope you've enjoyed this little foray into a new medium! Having seen some examples of my pastels, (black) scratchboard and now whiteboard which ones do you like the most? Leave a comment with your thoughts!

~ Pam

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Rosie - Adventures in Whiteboard (Part I)

Last time I alluded to the fact that I'm working on a new technique. I've completed a couple more scratchboards (and find that each one teaches me something more.. my scratching technique continues to improve).

But sometimes a gal just needs color.

Now there are two ways to do color with scratchboard - one is to start with the standard black scratchboard as you've seen in previous posts, and to apply washes of color (generally with ink, acrylic, or other media). To prepare for this one must 'overscratch' the board, basically scratching off a bit more of the black than you would if it were going to remain black and white. After the colour washes you scratch more, and continue alternating until you get the effect you're going for. Ending up with something like this:

'Mother's Arms' 9x12 Ampersand Scratchboard (c) Pam Boutilier 2009

The other way is to use whiteboards. A whiteboard (WB) is the same as a standard scratchboard (SB) but does not have the india ink layer on the top - it's just white clay and very smooth. Before scratching you must apply your surface medium and this allows you to play with colour! Many media can be used - ink, paint, coloured pencil... the effect is slightly different for each.

If you want to see some amazing scratchboard and some very good instructive information please check out Diana Lee's website: or better yet check out some of her posts on (which is where I'm learning all of this from)!

Following is my first attempt at a whiteboard - this is done on a 6x6" WB using inks in the form of Inktense Pencils (by Derwent) and Liquid ink (Ampersand). I really like the deep, vibrant colour achieved with inks - though the colour range isn't as dynamic as you can achieve with coloured pencil. My biggest frustration with the Inktense pencils is that, because they are water soluble, the ink is never fully permanent - so it is difficult to go back and do new layers without mobilizing some of the earlier ink and blunting your scratching efforts.

'Emma' 6x6 Ampersand Claybord (c) Pam Boutilier 2009

After my practice piece I was ready to jump in so next I tacked a 9x12" WB - only this time I chose a reference photo that I thought I could work with. The Emma photo was not really detailed enough for scratchboard, but was perfect for practice. For board #2 I chose this old photo of my girl, Rosie:

As always it starts with a sketch;

I decided to crop it close and change the position of her eye a little to better reflect her personality. Rosie was my dog - an English Bulldog rescue. We had 10 years together before she passed away in 2006 from complication of lymphoma. That's a pretty good age for a bulldog - and she got to boss lots of folks around in her ten years!

Next is applying the ink - after my experience with the pencils I decided to go with all liquid ink (Ampersand ink). Thanks to a wonderful oil painting class I took a couple of years back I feel pretty comfortable with colour mixing - which is good when you only have yellow, blue, green, magenta, black and sepia to work with!

At this stage it reminds me of pop-art.. but remember, the ink will be scratched through so this base layer has to be very deep and dark if you want real depth in the final image - it seems I actually learned quite a bit from that little practice piece above!

Next time I'll post some further stages and the finished product.

~ Pam

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Scout - a tribute

Some of my favorite pieces are memorials of dear friends we have lost. Scout passed away unexpectedly last fall - below is Scout's portrait on scratchboard and a wonderful write-up from her owner.

~ Pam ~

Sometimes you don’t love a pet for what the pet can do for you. Scout came to us at age 8 from a very devoted family who was moving to England. They wouldn’t consider selling their house and four cars, or finding a place in London, until they had settled their Scout in an ‘acceptable’ new family. The family left us a long list of instructions for her proper care—none of which seemed to apply to the doggie we came to love for her own goofy self. I loved the notch a Westie took out of her ear when she was just a new puppy, and I loved that she got me to go walking when it would have been easier to be a couch potato. I laughed at how devoted she was to me when I was dealing with food. None of us loved the stentorian snores or eye-watering flatulence. We appreciated that dropped food never made it to the floor, but we could have done without the smiling drooling face that watched us eat every bite on our plates. Above all, we loved that sweet, sober—sometimes smiling—face and the dear beast who relied on us to love her just for being who she was. I hope we really were ‘acceptable’.

~ Scout's 'mom'