Literally there are hundreds of images of this little gal in my catalogs. These are not anywhere near the best, just convenient and just a few. She probably survived more adventures than the images that I was lucky enough to catch of her in my distracted state of early adulthood. I imagine that she had used up at least 9 of her allotted lives, and that has actually been confirmed repeatedly by many respectable sources.
Delhi-dog was originally the by-product of my Aunt Barbie's super-old, mangey mutt, Boots, who got a little too friendly with Ruby, the too young to be fixed, but not too young to have pups, Beagle. And as my mother might say, "they ate spaghetti together, like the Lady and the Tramp, and then they had pups." A rather poisonous beau from my previous lifetime adopted one of these so-called spaghetti pups, and after much deliberation, play, and napping with the sweet little dumbo-eared pup we named her Delilah. Delhi for short. She had more names than any dog I have ever known. Most of which were completely ridiculous, or made no sense what-so-ever... Delhi-dog, Del, D, D-dog, Deli-sandwich, Hero, Dilweed, Doobie, Dilbert, Scooter, Tooter, Tooters, Tootie, Toots, Tuesday, Princess Tuesday, Delilah Hooker the Southern Belle, D-Wee, Doodle, Noodle, Nonna, Nonie, The Queen, Butterfly, Goldilocks, Scoob, Grasshopper, Choochie, Choochie-Chachie, Chachkee, Tutchka, Tootsie, The Matriarch, just to name a few... ehhmm... I am sure that this is not that unusual for anyone who has completely fallen head over heels in love with a tiny, sassy, beagley, spunky, seal-colored, little ball of sleek inky fur. Honestly, even if it isn't, I don't know if I care. It was the way it was. My little wash and wear pup had claimed me within moments of our first sniff of one another, and as for Winston-the beau, well, let's just say that she got over him more quickly than anyone might have guessed.
Delilah was college educated. She would walk to the studio with me at night and we would sneak into the locked suite on rooms by prying one of the casement windows open and then climbing/crawling/crashing into the empty dark space that made up MU's photo area. We would print in the crusty, creepy, sulfury, darkroom until the wee hours of the morning as often as possible. Del on her little make-shift roll-up bed under the enlarger cubicle with her soup bone, and I, with some leftover beer or wine from the previous weekend. Sometimes friends would join us, but mostly it was just us. She was sooo small early on that I could take her just about anywhere. She would go with me to the photography studio nearly everyday. Old Professor Olie Schuchard just loved her to pieces and even when she pottied in front of the studio film processing sink, (and he slid in it!) he still let her hang out with us. Commonly she would ride around in the front of my overalls, in my zipped up fleece, in my backpacks, to parties, to the store, hiking, biking, camping, and traveling, lots and lots of traveling after music and all that that entails... We were completely inseparable and she was my raison d'etre. She gave me purpose enough to not self-destruct as so many young folks tend to do. Every morning no matter how badly I wanted to hibernate, we would get up and go out into the world to do her business and to just be.
She was the grand diplomat of dogs when it came to her canine relations. It was not uncommon for us to throw great dinner parties in college where there were more dogs that humans in our house. Del raised many surrogates, mediated many fights, instigated all forms of household terror and destruction, and melted even the most aggressive of canine/human demeanors. Cats even loved her. In fact, her first real away from home roommates where two feline friends, Mina and Maya. Miny (pronounced Mee-nee) liked to sleep curled up in a Kleenex box together. And they often bonded over mouse hunting in our Columbia apartment.
As she evolved into a much more mature pupper she went on to graduate school with me. In my U-city studio she had her very own handmade palette futon where she perched, everyday that I could bring her, surveilling the happenings of the Wash U photo grads and their mishaps. She was my ride along companion. She undoubtedly earned her honorary MFA and charmed many people into changing their minds about dogs along the way. When she didn't go with me she would bust into my roommate's room and demand to nest in her covers. Many times we would say that we had to "make Delhi into the bed" or we would come home to find our beds completely dug up and Del lounging somewhere way deep down in the pillows.
I went away for a summer to live in Florence, Italia where I was a TA for my professor Stan Strembicki in the WU study abroad program. Poor Del lived with my parents while I was gone and it was absolutely gut wrenching for me to leave her. My parents had always lived with dogs and of course adored their dogs. In fact, at the time that my parents were married my grandfather had some 26 dogs living on his property at one time. Most of these were puppies, and no he was not a breeder... and no he was not a hoarder or anything other than proof of the whole spaghetti slurping phenomenon that Lady and the Tramp proved to be true... ...Yikes!... I can't even imagine what you must think. Oh well! Anyhow, my parents up until D's entrance onto the scene, had never really let our dogs sleep in the main part of the house, much less in our rooms, unless it was either killing cold, storming, or the 4th of July. Miss Del changed all of that single-handedly in one night. My naive parents left her to roam the house that first night that I was officially gone--their biggest mistake. Old Del was crafty, and she was a professional snuggler to boot. Worst of all, she was a notorious tongue kisser! Sneaky about it too! Very carefully and undetectably she wriggled her way up between the sheets at the foot of my folks bed, army crawled up into their pillow space and proceeded to sleep there until morning on her back with her paws peeping out just over the folded back bed covers. My father had turned over in his sleep to face her at some ungodly hour, of course thinking that it was my mom. He found very rudely and silently that the tongue that was stealthily licking the inside of his mouth was most certainly not that of his bride. Nor was the breath! Yep, completely digusting! When I came home at the end of the summer it was clear that things had changed--from then on dogs were allowed in the house, and not only that but Del, especially, was allowed on the furniture, in the beds, in the pillows, and even allowed to jump up on laps, (when invited of course!) Somehow I don't think it was her kissing talents that won them over in the end though.
Sweet Del! This is only a tiny snippet of your story, but I really needed to remember you today old friend. They just don't make them as true blue as they use to. I often tell Finley stories about you and without a doubt I will continue. You will forever be my little seal-colored, ghost-face with a rhino bump on your nose, even when we draw you or paint your image in words. Thank you for giving me the incredible honor of having had a raison d'etre--you.