Want to take a moment to thank everyone who has supported me in my journey in 2018, not just professionally, but more importantly, personally.
This piece titled, The Lone Wolf, will probably be the most personal thing I’ll share here. Although it wasn’t the life I chose to live these past 8 months, it’s one that I’ve been slowly learning to embrace. It has been minimal but truly meaningful.
A large chunk of why it has been so meaningful is due to the handful of friends, connections, and of course, my four-legged companion, Holly, who have picked me up and helped me through one of the darkest moments in my life. Through them, I realized that the worst thing that can happen to you, can sometimes turn out to be the best thing.
Never take your past for granted. Instead, be grateful for the experiences and from there, begin the next chapter in your life. Just make sure it’s a meaningful one. Beauty will inevitably emerge!
As one of my close friends recently said, “Remember, you’re in control. Live a life with GRATITUDE, KINDNESS, & LOVE.”
Thank you, all, from the bottom of my healing heart for your friendship, stories, & memes.
Time certainly flies and not a day goes by where I don’t think about Riley. It’s been two years since her passing and I have found so much peace and comfort over the past year due in part to what With One Line (WOL) has grown to become.
When WOL got off the ground, I never intended to receive countless commissions for pet portraits, but I quickly learned how many people out there were searching for a way to ease their pain and keep the memories of their lost companions alive just like I was. I’ll never forget that a customer once told me that Riley’s memory lives in each piece that I create. It was such a blessing to have read that, because, for those of you who don’t know, Riley was the impetus to WOL and a way for me to help cope with her passing. What started out as therapy for me has now evolved into something beyond any words that I can conjure up.
I am utterly grateful for all those who have shared their stories and allowed me to play a small part in their lives. I hope that the portraits help serve as a reminder of the memories you have shared with your pet(s).
Today, Mother Nature is a little less whole with the passing of the world’s last male Northern White Rhino, Sudan, who died Monday, March 20, 2018 at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya. I am deeply sadden by the event and my heart truly goes out to all of the keepers at Ol Pejeta Conservancy who cared and guarded for Sudan’s life.
We are so fortunate to be given the opportunity of living on this planet alongside many majestic species. Yet, I am constantly sadden by human’s display of greed and corruption, which has caused the number of species, particularly rhinos to fall dramatically.
In honor of Sudan, I created a few one line drawings and completed a few days before his passing.
Since the launch of WithOneLine and its efforts to bring awareness to animal shelters and wildlife conservation, I’ve dedicated some time each week to help make an impact in our community. Back in March, after going through an extensive orientation, safety class, and one-on-one training, I became an official volunteer at the Franklin County Dog Shelter (FCDS), located in my hometown of Columbus, Ohio. It was an easy decision for me to choose to commit my time there, because it was where I adopted Riley from when she was just 7 weeks old. FCDS helped give me the best 8 years of my life, so I want to make sure to give the dogs at the shelter the best opportunity to find their forever home!
Every day, there are over a hundred dogs on the floor ready to be adopted at FCDS. Some dogs are fortunate enough to leave the shelter within a few days, but others are less fortunate. They either get overlooked because of their breed, size, age, etc., or they get returned after being adopted out. Whatever the case may be, the consequence of a dog that has been there for an extended period of time can result in severe mental break down. During my short time as a volunteer, I’ve witnessed firsthand the struggles some of these dogs are faced with and it’s utterly heartbreaking. The effects that these dogs have to endure when left in a stressful environment like the shelter and kept in isolation with very little human contact and interaction is tragic. Luckily, there is a great group of ongoing volunteers who help mitigate this and I highly encourage anyone who is looking to make a difference in these dogs’ lives to sign up and become a volunteer. Because a shelter is only as good as its volunteers are plentiful.
In 2008, I adopted my very first dog from the Franklin County Dog Shelter. Her name was Riley (formerly Betsy), a teensy seven-week-old Beagle Shepherd mix who pawed, cried, and gnawed her way from inside her kennel and into my heart. As someone who wasn’t fortunate enough to have pets growing up, you can imagine how unprepared I was for the journey I was about to embark on. Oddly enough, a void I didn’t know existed at the time was immediately filled by this four-legged critter. Over the course of 8 years, Riley became the heart beat next to my feet. She grew accustomed to my constant baby talk and I to her relentless mewling that only went silent the second a leash from the palm of my hand was revealed – a sign that adventurous walks on endless fields of green grass and car rides while hanging her head from the backseat car window were to be had.
It wasn’t until 7 months ago that our journey together came to an unforeseeable end when the unimaginable happened.
Riley managed to get loose from our yard and was struck by a car.
The feeling of numbness immediately consumed me when I found her body tucked beside the post of our mailbox. I knew right then and there that a chunk of me had gone with her and there wasn’t anything I could’ve done to bring her back.
I remember pacing back and forth in distraught as my wife tried to console me. We gently placed a blanket over her, reached down and caressed her little paws for the last time as we cried together. That was that. The only thing that crossed my mind during the moment was no matter how many times I was told that having a dog was the best thing ever, I was never prepared for that feeling of losing one; losing a companion.
Author, Garth Stein once said, “The dog doesn’t become a part of your family, but instead, your family becomes a part of the dog.”
The best thing we can do for dogs is to provide them with a home and an opportunity to live an enriching life. When we give dogs a sense of purpose, we truly become a part of them. A dog is the only thing on Earth that will love you more than he loves himself. When Riley left us and headed towards the Rainbow Bridge and into the meadows, I only hoped that she knew we loved her as much as our hearts could possibly love another and that she was the perfect companion we could’ve asked for. Maybe one day we’ll be able to tell her ourselves.
Tragically, an estimated 3.3 million dogs end up in animal shelters each year and about half are adopted. So in honor of Riley’s life, WithOneLine’s mission will be to help bring awareness to adoptable dogs (just like herself) and to help end the stigma that a lot of these shelter dogs are faced with.
Each month, WithOneLine is committed to donating portion of sales to animal shelters and wildlife conservation.
I believe with one line, we can help save one life at a time.