A shaggy dog story

A shaggy dog story.  A lady walks into a gift shop and squeals.Not because the “famille en masse” holiday at Centre Parcs has finally pushed her over the edge but because she has just spotted her two beloved rescue dogs on a greeting card, and has absolutely NO IDEA how this can be.

Growing old “These are my dogs. No really,these are my dogs, they don’t just look like my dogs, THESE are my dogs”
“Yes dear, lovely, how very interesting”. Humour the customer, we’ve got a live one.
Card purchased, husband tracked down. Unsurprisingly he hadn’t entered the gift shop, choosing instead to walk on. Really?! Incredulity abound.
You see behind all my greeting cards is a story, some interesting, some not, but this one has delighted my canine loving soul to its very core.
About one hundred years ago (O.k, nine to be precise but I’ve had lots of kids in between) I saw a photo of two dogs and fell in love.I knew just how I’d draw it and I knew what I’d call it.I knew the dogs were called Woody and Barney.I knew the snap belonged to a Mr.T. Morris of Surrey and that it had been placed in the Battersea fan magazine “Paws”.What I didn’t know was the owner’s address and whether or not he’d be flattered by my interpretation of his photo and give his permission for me to draw from it.
So I played it safe and designed the card with two labradors but it was awful, a completely contrived cliche and I just couldn’t get Woody and Barney out of my head.
So I took a gamble and drew the original dogs with their new seaside pier background. I put Mr.T. Morris’s details on the back of the card in the hope he’d see the design, be happy and get in touch. This was all pre recession when “the little dog laughed” was the new hot dog on the greeting card block. At the time I was also working on a book project with Battersea Dogs and Cats Home which involved lots of people sending me their stories and photos of their beloved rescuee’s. So in my artistic arrogance and getting rather carried away with my role of the researching author/illustrator I honestly thought I would quickly track down Mr.T Morris of Surrey. Not so.page 1 Later on I published another book which was a creative archive of all my card designs and put another call out for the elusive Mr T, but still no luck.I’m hazy on the exact number of Mutts and Moggies cards I have designed over the years, it’s well over two hundred but I do know that I can count on one hand those that I am proud to put my name too. And all my favourites have one thing in common, they don’t sell. If I love it then it will be a commercial flop, this is true of all bar one design, Growing Old Together. And now for the lovely bit and the brilliance of social media.
The lady who squealed in the gift shop, Mrs S. Morris of Surrey, posted her astonishment on our Facebook page which rather bizarrely I had just updated the week before with the Growing Old design. A flurry of posting began and finally the search for Mr. T. Morris of Surrey was over and many assumptions, questions and ponderings were finally laid to rest.
Woody Barney
The brown dog was Woody and the patchy dog is Barney.Yes Barney is still ALIVE! At a cracking fifteen years of age and despite the recent removal of a rather nasty tumour he is in fine fettle. Woody sadly passed away in 2006 but enjoyed a very happy few years with the Morris’s. Mr.T Morris of Surrey is not an OAP or as I had begun to assume 6ft under but in fact a spritely forty something. He’s a policeman and a keen photographer which explains the brilliance of the original picture. Only someone who has a camera permanently within arms reach could have captured that fleeting moment in time where the two rescue dogs were sat, facing in the same direction both with an air of peace and utter contentment.
And the T stands for Trevor. TREVOR!!! I would never have guessed that but I think to me he will always be Mr.T.Morris of Surrey. When you’ve cello packed the number of growing old cards that I have done in my lifetime some phrases remain indelibly printed in your mind. And I’ve saved the best bit till last. After nine years of looking at Woody and Barney’s backs I have now, for the first time ever, seen them from the front.
Woody is just as I had imagined, a proper boy dog, a dog’s dog, an ideal extra for Lady and the Tramp or a helper in the search for the missing Dalmatian puppies but it’s Barney I got completely wrong. I had imagined him being quite pointy faced, a bit Lassie looking. He is totally gorgeous and hand on heart, the type of dog I would have rescued. A square, handsome, yummy gorgeous doggy face. A true heinz 57. barney 2
So now what? Well a trip is in the pipeline to meet up with the superstar Barney, turns out he is rather an aloof old boy so I doubt he’ll be as excited as me by the whole event. I have spoken to the lovely Sarah (gift shop squealer) and as well as our shared love of canine furrys,(she’s a professional dog walker) it turns out she is also outnumbered at home with three young boys, therefore my arrival in her local park with my four little boy ragbags won’t phase her in the slightest.
In the meantime a long overdue Growing Old goodies box is heading her way and all that remains to be said is a genuine heartfelt thank you to Trevor and Sarah for being everything I hoped they would be when they finally saw the card. They have ensured an illustration I hold very close to my heart is now even more special and has a dedicated spot forever. xxx

Comments

  1. I saw the card “Growing Old Together” on another website while looking for a gift for a friend. I was so taken with this picture of the two rescue dogs Woody and Barney that I wanted to know their story and information about Anna Danielle. My search brought me to this website and I now know about the two lovely dogs. I have one rescue dog Charlie, a Jack Russell who is approx. 12 years old and I’ve had him since he was about a year old. When I got him I had another rescue dog, again a Jack Russell named Daisy who was then 12 years old and had been with me since she was approx. two and a half years old. Charlie was very taken with Daisy and they were very happy together and as I have been a keen amateur photographer most of my life, I have a large collection of photos of them together. Sadly Daisy is no longer with us but she lived a long and happy life and had a lovely friend in Charlie. I think your picture of Woody and Barney caught my attention because it so reminded me of the happy times I spent watching Daisy and Charlie being happy friends and company for each other.

  2. This coaster has been on the shelf in our lounge – it captures a feeling, hard to explain, that can be applied to humans as well as dogs, and it makes me smile everytime I look at it and recall our lives together, reminiscing and looking into the future – what has passed and what is coming. Great thought provoking picture.

    • Hello Diane, my gut instinct is we’ve probably sold out but bare with me and I’ll have a hunt around Little Dog Towers as we do have areas with unpacked boxes from shows and there is always a chance of finding one. I’ll be in touch, kind regards, Anna Danielle

    • Hello Stephanie, we are expecting a new range of china gift mugs for Spring and I can confirm that Growing Old Together is in that mix, however it will not be exactly the same as the one you purchased previously. If you’re on our mailing list you’ll be notified when our new stock arrives. Alternatively, if you use social media then you’ll get updates on any of our pages. Many thanks for your kind enquiry, all the best, Anna Danielle

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