This was the first pet portrait I ever painted. After my beloved Romeo passed away at almost fifteen years old, I was so sad. I missed his presence and he left a giant hole in my heart. I was going through old photographs one day and came across this one that so captured his spirit that I was compelled to get my acrylics out and paint that face. Now, when I look up at his portrait hanging on my wall I am flooded with memories of all the fun and adventurous times we shared together. A few of my favorite memories are below. Do you have a Romeo with a favorite memory? Send me a note and if you are interested in a portrait of your dog or pet, click here.
I brought this big guy home with me when he was 8 weeks old. I have had other Old English sheep dogs before and I love the breed but, this guy stole my heart from day one. I named him Romeo and that he was. I loved the fact that he had one brown eye and one blue eye and he sure new how to use it. He would swing his head so that his hair fell over his brown eye and he would look up at me with that one big blue eye and would get anything he wanted.
I raised him as a puppy and he was my beloved companion for almost 15 years. When my two girls were growing up he was a guardian dog and had a strict policy about violence- as in none. The girls could yell and scream at each other as much as they wanted but if they started to get rough he would get in between them and growl. He was a lover, not a fighter.
He was an Athlete. Romeo ran miles and miles with me. I used to run three to five miles every day. My favorites runs, and his, were along the seven mile stretch of Bay Shore Boulevard in Tampa. There was usually a cool breeze coming off the water and there were steps at several points along the boulevard that led down to the bay. Romeo would often dart right down those steps and into the water. He loved to swim. especially, if it was hot. After a bit he would climb out, shake off leaving a puddle and we would continue on our way. I always felt safe with him by my side. Old English Sheep dogs are generally prone to hip dysplasia which never plagued Romeo and I always attributed it to the fact we built his muscles up as running all those years.
Most all dogs love to stick there head out of a moving car window. Romeo was no different. I had a little Miata convertible and he loved to ride around town with the top down. He would sit in the front seat of that car for hours if he thought it would eventually lead to a ride.
My favorite memory of this lovable old dog was when I lived in my little cottage house in the Seminole Heights area of Tampa. My place had a back screened in porch that stretched the whole length of the house and hung over a spring fed creek that flowed past on it’s way into the Hillsborough River. The nearest neighbor to my left was across a small pond that sat between us. One night while sleeping soundly I was awakened by a light flashing across my face. I woke up in a panic to what appeared to be someone with a flash light behind my house. I looked at my clock to see the time and it was off, my landline was dead and I had no electricity. all of my worst burglar nightmares came flooding in. I grabbed my cell phone and went into my closet. I had a long narrow closet perhaps eight to 10 feet with a laundry basket full of clothes at the far end. I plopped down on the pile of laundry and dialed 911. The operator answered and I hurriedly explained my situation saying I thought someone cut my phone line and power and were trying to get in. The kind lady on the phone said to calm down help was on the way. She asked where I was…. “In the closet” She asked if anyone else was home… “Just me and my dog.” She asked what kind of dog…. “An Old English Sheep Dog” She said that sounded like a BIG dog…… “He’s in the closet with me”
It turned out that a car hit a pole with a transformer which killed all the power and phone lines in the neighborhood and the light was my neighbor across the pond checking things out with a flashlight. The cops came and left and my closet comrade and I went back to bed.