nookie_2Whenever there’s a slow news day, they’ll run a heartwarming story about a cat calling 911 and saving its masters life or a dog who saves a family by barking relentlessly during a fire. Although these heroes are certainly worthy of media attention, I’d like to pay tribute to the millions of dogs and cats who are more than just companions.

As long as I can remember I’ve had an animal in my life that’s been less of a pet and more of a sidekick. They’ve shared the joy of a new romance with me, as well as the pain of heartbreak. They’ve celebrated business triumphs with kisses and wags and helped me get through dozens of setbacks with nuzzles and licks. When you confide in a dog or a cat, you know one thing for sure…they’re not going to gossip!

In the late 70’s I brought Nookie, a Cairn terrier, over from Harrods in London and he helped me get through some pretty hard times. I remember once I came home after a hard frustrating day and laid down on my back exhausted with tears running down my face. Nookie came over, stood on my chest and dropped his favorite toy, a nasty little hand puppet name “BaBa” on my face. At first I started gagging, then I started laughing uncontrollably. I can’t think of any human who was able to change my mood faster than Nookie could; it was like having a monkey around without all the empty peanut shells.

As a tribute to him, when I was recording my album for Casablanca, Art Munson, Joe Klein and I produced a track, “Is The Puppy Hungry?” that featured Nookie and his friend Lester ( Joe’s dog ), barking in rhythm to a reggae track. When the president of the label, Neil Bogart heard it he said, ” This could sell a million records, but not on my label!” I was crushed, but Nookie and Lester kept right on playing.

Animals can make a positive difference in your morale which becomes essential if you have health problems. After sharing my life with Nookie for 12 years, he passed away. I felt lost for quite a while and didn’t want the responsibility of having another dog. 13 years ago, when my friend Allan Rinde got married and moved to Nashville, he asked me to take care of his cats, because his wife, was allergic to them.

whop and streak

I’ve always been a dog person and didn’t even know how to properly pet a cat. It wasn’t long, however, before they had me trained. When I had a spinal operation, my hands closed up on me and my 25 pound cat Whoppy would lie on my right hand to open it up. It wasn’t long before his girlfriend Streaker would lie on my left hand and open that one up as well. I can’t tell you how many times that touching them while they were purring calmed me down when I was stressed out. I don’t know how long they’ll be with me on earth, but I thank God for every minute we’re together.

A couple of years ago I started using acrylics to create animal portraits on quartz, which I called Petz Rock.  I’m really proud of what I created. If you’d like to see some of my favorites, click onto http://artiewayne.com/petz.html

Copyright 2009 by Artie Wayne

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