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Bathmat Art

 

A few months ago there were suddenly little pieces of yarn everywhere, sticking to the rugs in various rooms, looking wilted and lonely and very fat next to the long multicolored threads and tiny pieces of jagged fabric Mom leaves everywhere from her quilting projects. The green of the yarn was very pale, so I didn’t connect it right away with the more pronounced green of the gradually balding bathmat. At first I assumed it was Cricket tearing up the bathmat, making a nest for herself the way she does on my bed, scratching holes into my sheets. But then I woke up early one morning, and there was little Butterfly, curled up in a corner of the bathmat, cooling her forehead against the white bathtub.

The artist at rest.

The artist at rest.

I should have noticed the signs earlier, when I discovered her ducky on the mat in the morning. But there was no bathmat art to go with the stuffed animal, so, I thought maybe Cricket had brought it in there or it had been kicked across the threshold by mistake. There also must have been early works that I did not recognize as such, small smushes of the mat from one side or another. I probably assumed it was my fault, that standing in front of the sink, brushing my teeth, I’d moved the mat out of place. But then there was the abstract rose. Butterfly must have spent quite some time nudging that mat into the shape she’d dreamed of in her mind, an abstract, three-dimensional green rose, with no stem or thorns.

I think each work of art starts as a practical attempt to achieve coziness. Often Butterfly actually prefers to sleep on the hard wood floor, eschewing beds and rugs and all manner of soft things, but sometimes, and I don’t know when or why, the bathmat calls to her.

"This work is not yet ready for viewing, Mommy."

“This work is not yet ready for viewing, Mommy.”

Bathmat art is full body art. Butterfly doesn’t rely solely on her paws or her teeth, she uses her head and shoulders, and she kicks it with her back legs and even pushes it with her belly. Her first love was paper art. She ripped and chewed magazines and crossword puzzles and even books, if I was silly enough to leave one within her grasp. But maybe she started to get paper cuts on her tongue and the inside of her mouth, or maybe she had trouble seeing her artwork in the dark and decided to go to the bathroom over night, which is where we leave the light on. (Mom has tried to turn it off, but I need at least one light on or else I will bang into my treadmill in the dark, and since the most likely place for me to aim myself in the middle of the night is the bathroom, I figured, that’s the light that should stay on.)

I wish I could capture Butterfly in the act of creation, but she guards her bathmat art process very carefully. There’s an architectural quality to her latest works, a sense that she’s designing tunnels and bridges and maybe a highway overpass.

The Fat Inchworm

The Fat Inchworm

Abstract Tree

Abstract Tree

Bridge and Tunnel

Bridge and Tunnel

She hasn’t figured out what to do with the loose pieces of yarn yet. They seem to only be a by-product of the larger works, spread across the apartment for future use, but given time, she may decide to collect them into little bundles and make fiber art. That’s something Mom has wanted to try for a long time; using bits and scraps of thread and yarn and fabric to create something new. This could be a project for them to work on together.

Recently, when I had to go into the city for new medical tests, I was anxious. I was especially concerned about the closed MRI, being fed into a dark metal tube head first, and immobilized for forty five minutes or so. Not fun for anyone, but especially not for someone with claustrophobia. I had my prescription of valium, and a Ziploc bag filled with chocolate, but I was missing something.

I really wished that I could bring Butterfly with me to the MRI. The space would have been too small for both of us to fit inside, but if I could have just felt her leaning against my feet while I was inside that dark tunnel, that would have been comforting. But she gets anxious in the car and they’d never let her into the hospital, because she’s not small enough to hide in my pocketbook.

I was missing her very much, and then I sat down in the prep room where the nurse was going to put in the IV (for the contrast), and I saw a small, bent, piece of green bathmat yarn on the floor. I must have had it on my jeans or shoes without realizing it. And yet, it didn’t drop off as I walked to the car from the apartment, or from the car to the hospital, or anywhere I wouldn’t have noticed it along the way. No. It dropped right there on the floor as I was sitting in a chair, waiting to get a needle stuck in my arm, contemplating small spaces and certain death. It was as if Butterfly was sending me a message, that she was there with me in spirit and I wouldn’t have to be in that dark tunnel alone.

My girls.

My girls.

I tend to be a pretty logical/rational person, but I always keep my heart open to the possibilities, to the little messages the universe likes to send out to let us know that not all coincidences are just coincidences. I don’t quite believe that I have angels following me around stopping trucks from barreling into me, or turning off the flame on the stove when I forget. But I do believe in some sort of electricity that connects us to the people we love.

And I’ve become a great supporter of bathmat art.

Bowtie?

Bow Tie?

 

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About rachelmankowitz

I am a fiction writer, a writing coach, and an obsessive chronicler of my dogs' lives.

118 responses »

  1. I love doggie art in all its forms. We have nose art on the one window the dogs can reach.

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  2. I love this! It’s so adorable, and funny. 🙂

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  3. I didn’t what this story to end! So wonderful. And how wonderful is that for you to have that little green thread, that little piece of Butterfly with you? I got goose bumps. I so love the captions you give to your photos, Rachel. I’m surprised Butterfly didn’t close the bathroom door on the artwork that was not quite ready for viewing! 🙂

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    • She hasn’t figured out how to close doors, yet. She learns everything at her own pace, so now I’m worried that I will be locked out of the bathroom for hours at a time. Oy.

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      • Oh, I am laughing! I will wait for that post!!

      • Sounds cool,but I also can’t imagine being locked out of the bathroom! 😀
        Thank you so much for writing that beautiful story and making my day, Rachel. It made me feel so happy and enertained,and your doggies are just too adorable! 🙂 Butterfly is so talented! I occassionally see Fufu and Lorie messing around with a towel on the ground in our house…I never saw it as art until now! 😀 Again,thank you!

      • They just need the right materials to express themselves. It takes a while to figure out what works for each individual dog, though. Cricket likes to be the artwork herself. She poses all day long.

  4. This is so beautifully written, Rachel. Perfect!

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  5. Another great post! My dog Danny is jealous.

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  6. Our Chicki is yet to discover Bathmat Art, though she is certainly into Bedspread Art. 🙂 Another wonderful post! 🙂

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    • Cricket believes in lifting up the bedspread, tunneling under, and scratching the sheet until holes appear. She makes this horrifying screeching noise while she does it. Butterfly finds this upsetting.

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  7. Sweet, and I have a question not related to the bathmat art, “Can
    you really take chocolate into an MRI or was it for beforehand?”

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  8. We have lots of doggy mat action at our place too, although sometimes the Newfs prefer the cold tile floors in the kitchen.

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  9. I love your writing. Your powers of observation and attention to detail are wonderful. I think you should write a mystery/detective book starring you, Cricket and Butterfly. I hope everything went well with your MRI.

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  10. I rearrange everything to my taste. It’s called landscaping and if humans can mold their environment, why can’t I?? As for cosmic significance about a green thread, I can send you a LOT of significance (that got me into hot water and it is called mailing the evidence away). How about the fact that Cricket and Butterfly love you and that’s what is in their power and exactly what you need? Give them (and yourself) a hug from me.

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  11. I loved this one.
    Finding love and comfort in a little piece of green yarn.
    And what better love and comfort than doggie love and comfort.

    My cousin used to have a Yorkie that would wait until company came and drag his favorite bathmat to the middle of the living room, roll it up in a little ball and start humping it.

    I’d prefer Bathmat Art to Bathmat Porn any day.

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  12. I’m so glad that you had a piece of bathmat art with you especially since it was accidental, the universe was reminding you that you have Butterfly watching over you. I have had my fair share of closed MRI”s so I know from experience how difficult it is for someone with claustophobia. Our dogs are such lifesavers. 🙂

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  13. It would be awesome if you could catch Butterfly in her art creation 🙂

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  14. How delightful. My cats have fun with my bath mats. Have a great evening and Sunday.

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  15. Love the bathmat art, Rachel — and love this post! I agree with you totally about coincidences not always being just coincidences. Your girls were with you that day at the hospital, definitely.

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    • Cricket really wanted to be there with me, so she could stop in at all of the restaurants along the way to the hospital. She would have gladly been eating dumplings while i was in the MRI.

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  16. Creative little devils they are. You must support their art. Too cute.

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  17. …and intuitive. When I was sick a few years ago, Buddy, who we had only adopted one year before, sat at my bedside every minute, refusing to leave except to go outside to relieve himself or to eat. When I had to go to the hospital, he always sent along one of his handkerchiefs that were tied around his neck from a visit to the groomer as well as one of his favorite stuffed animals…Ginger sent hers too but did not stay as loyally by my bed side (which does not mean her love for me is less, just different). The love of a dog, I fully believe, is a connection, an honor and has purpose.

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  18. Love it! She’s an artistic genius! I bow down before greatness. 🙂

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  19. That’s great, Butterfly! Please send me a first row ticket when you have your first vernissage :o)

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  20. you look like a bath matt you are so cute woof

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  21. I love your post! My Banjo does this on the beds. It has never occurred to me to think of it as art! He goes to a lot of trouble to create his “bundles of art”; sometimes it looks like there is a person lying there,under the covers. I always have to laugh at the “creation” because of how hard he must have worked on it. Thank you for this new insight!

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    • I’ve tried to take pictures of Cricket’s version of bedspread art, but it ends up looking like that picture from the Little Prince of a snake eating an elephant. Cricket is more about process, and Butterfly is more about result.

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  22. I never really thought about it like this before. Not that we have actual bathmats, it’s more on the lines of bedding that gets rearranged into various more comfy mounds for Maggie to settle herself in or prop herself against. She’s broody at the moment so all babies have their own little cocooned area.
    I love the bathmat art pics, especially the tunnel and bridge!

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  23. Lovely post!

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  24. Aw butterfly the artist! Lovely post. Poppy is a big fan of paper art also, she has a particular love of tissue art. She is advancing onto using my suede and leather coasters as media but I discourage that!

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  25. As a fellow claustrophobe I really loved this story – AND your girls’ ART!

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  26. Underborrowedskies

    Hope you’re ok… Those MRIs are awful!

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  27. Super cute and exactly how I would perceive the yarn while you were waiting! Yay for bathmat art and the love from our furry friends.

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  28. I love your story! and yes, messages from the universe exist : )

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  29. Fabulous post! She is a true artist 🙂

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  30. Hi Rachel – Charmingly written (and illustrated.) I think your little Butterfly was with you in that scarey hospital space. I also think that some dogs do create art and that Butterfly has quite the future in front of her — as a dog, and as a dog who makes art. Good luck with the medical testing. Hope you’re feeling 100% very soon.

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  31. I can so identify. We have all kinds of doggie art. The paper art is a fav here. Luke, Daisy Mae and Trooper like to bring us “notes.”

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  32. That’s lovely. My little dog also likes sleeping on the bathmat, although so far she hasn’t displayed the artistic tendencies of Butterfly….. And she loves ripping up paper and cardboard packaging, which makes a terrible mess but seems to keep her happy.

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  33. Another wonderful post, Rachel. Butterfly is quite the artist and how great of you to appreciate her art the way you do! I am always so touched by your outlook on life. Your writing gives me a sense of calm and peace. Thank you for that. 🙂

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  34. Coincidence? Probably not. Your Butterfly was hard at work creating her art, sending a little reminder with you for your testing…I will see you real soon Momma! 🙂 Tender post! Hope everything went well with your MRI! 🙂

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  35. Whenever there’s a thunderstorm, Pearl makes herself into a piece of living toilet-mat art by wrapping herself around the pedestal. I think she feels reassured by its cool solidity!
    I love the way Butterfly communicated her reassurance to you when you were having your MRI. Dogs are very good at making use of the invisible connection they have with us – no over-thinking to clutter up their intuition.

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  36. Wonderful post! And I agree, our animals let us know they are with us in spirit, when they cannot be there in person-I had a foxhound once who would remove the dishes and bowls from the table and carry them to a place in the dining room–he then arranged the bowls and plates in interesting patterns. I had the presence of mind to take some pictures of them-animals are creative beings too and have their own ways of expression just like us-I love Butterfly’s “installation pieces.” 🙂

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  37. I have the same exact bathroom mat same color also and my BabyGirl has made her own artwork of this mat. My windows are brand new and it didn’t take long at all for the “girls” to design them with their nose art.

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  38. Bathmat art FTW! hurhur

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  39. Dogs are so special, and between them yours seem to cover every mood. It’s like she sent the bit of bathmat to let you know she was there in spirit if not in body. My dog has a thing for pillows. She usually just pulls the covers down and moves the pillow to the center of the bed, but once she put one in her “dog cave” (the area between the bed and the wall where she likes to sleep in the daytime.) She also arranged three of them into a triangle once and made herself a nest out of a blanket between them. They do get creative sometimes. No bathmat art from her, but the bathmat is her go-to sleeping place when she’s not feeling well.

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  40. It is great Bathmat Art ! How else could they express the artistic and creative side of their personality ? !!! They are such genius creatures ; my hubby keeps telling them ” I know you are humans others don’t … ” and we strongly believe it ! Have a splendid day, Doda 🙂

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    • I used to worry that the girls weren’t getting enough of a chance to express themselves. No more! Cricket is giving a very articulate speech in favor of going outside every five minutes as I write this.

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  41. OH, I love the bathmat art! I hope your dogs are “with you,” at least in spirit, each time you need comfort.

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  42. Great article! I loved it! My dogs too are a fan of bath art 🙂

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  43. Hi again; I hope you’ll approve my comments, including this important petition which explains itself, surely could use some more signatures:
    http://www.thepetitionsite.com/183/444/734/natural-balance-pet-foods-please-stop-dealing-with-china-and-covance-labs
    Thanks Rachel.

    Reply
  44. Tweeted this lovely post 🙂

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  45. Love your writing and your sweet pups! And thank you for liking my painting of Peanut! If you like my style and ever find yourself wanting a painting of your own cuties, please let me know. I’d be honored. 🙂

    Reply

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