After moving to New York to study painting at the Art Students League, I took in Willem, an adolescent Samoyed that my neighbor left behind when she moved to London. He had a crush on an Afghan puppy that we used to see on our walks along West End Avenue, and he loved chasing squirrels in Riverside Park.
With California in my sights, I reluctantly found a home for Willem in the Adirondack Mountains. He had lots of acres to play on, big white Great Pyrenees dogs on the neighboring farms, and a young family for companionship. It was hard to leave him, but he was happy.
In San Francisco, I got a bluepoint Siamese kitten and later adopted a tabby-Siamese mix. The two cats had great fun chasing each other up and down the long hall in our Victorian flat.
A few years after earning a bachelor of fine arts degree in printmaking from California College of the Arts, I was a painting assistant to Lowell Herrero. He taught me a thing or two about cats, color and composition in the years that I worked for him. I will always be grateful for that.