The Unofficial Mayor of Graton, California
painting of Mr. Ryder Some lessons I learned from Mr. Ryder:

A good friend listens to you, even if they don't understand a word you're saying.

Sometimes a four-word vocabulary is sufficient, providing the words are walk, frisbee, and fast food.

The art of compromise resolves many issues.
Photo of Mr. Ryder Mr. Ryder's Story (as told by his Mom, Betty Ann):

"Mr. Ryder's known history began the day I adopted him from the pound at a cost of $17.00. He was five months old and strikingly handsome. His mysterious origins and genetic makeup remain a constant source of speculation from strangers. Border Collie? Australian Shepherd? What mixture of breeds accounts for Mr. Ryder's long legs, naturally docked tail, and weight of 67 pounds?

Ryder's movie-star good looks and panda bear appeal worked well to his advantage, as his behavior left much to be desired. Dominant and slanty-eyed like a wolf, suspicious of every hand that reached out to pet him, Ryder chased cows and cats, and nipped at the heels of my two rescue donkeys. He chewed shoes, carpets, and a rented video which cost me $40 to replace. He'd jump from the car after I'd load him up, but if I left without him, he'd be angry and hysterical when I returned. When I did manage to get him into the car, he'd make such a screaming racket that friends soon learned not to ride with us. 'What does he want?' they'd implore, as we'd stop the car every five minutes to see if Mr. Ryder had a bathroom need. No one seemed to be able to figure out WHAT Mr. Ryder wanted. In desperation, I installed an electric fence around my property and hired a personal trainer for him.

For weeks, the trainer despaired of Ryder's potential as Man's Best Friend, and jokingly referred to him as Attila the Hun. Verbal commands were practiced daily, and I learned to alter my tone of voice during these sessions. Words like 'OFF!' 'RIGHT HERE!' and 'NO!' had to be spoken with sternness to produce the desired results. No more room for 'PLEASE'.

That was light years ago, and since then, Mr. Ryder and I have made many compromises. He now comes when I call him (most of the time). He still gives occasional chase to cats and donkeys, and continues to sing restlessly while traveling in the car, but his eyes now reflect a sweetness when our gaze meets, and he is generous with his affection. When he realizes by the tone of my voice that a bath is inevitable, he actually climbs into the tub. He shakes a paw with strangers on most occasions, and has learned the secret of winning new friends by looking deeply and intently into their eyes, often eliciting the remark that they can see inside his soul. When people ask his name, I introduce him as Mr. Frank E. Ryder, my husband, my companion for life, my darling boy."


Prints and greeting cards of this painting can be purchased
on my Artwork for Sale page.

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All images © Alison Whalen